Toby Graser

Selected Works  |  Port Saint John Gallery  |  July 7 – September 1, 2023

About the Artist

Toby Graser was born in Montreal, March 18, 1937. In 1960 she and her husband moved to Fredericton, New Brunswick. In 1993 she moved to Saint John.

Toby studied art at the University of New Brunswick under Molly Lamb Bobak (1967-8) and Bruno Bobak (1970); and at Sunbury Shores – St. Andrews under John Fox (1970) and Ronald Bloore (1971). In the 1980s and 1990s, she participated in a number of workshops, most notably at Emma Lake, Saskatchewan and Triangle Artists’ Workshop in Pine Plains, New York. Nevertheless, she considered herself as a self-taught artist. 

Graser is an abstract painter in acrylic, collage and mixed media on paper and canvas. She has had over 50 solo shows and participated in many group exhibitions across Canada, New York and Mexico since 1969. A major retrospective of her work toured Canada between 1992 and 1995. Her work has been the subject of numerous publications and is in many public, corporate and private collections in North America and Europe.

Graser’s paintings can be described as genuinely expressive, as work which conveys visual strength, and which flows from within. Toby Graser claims that for her, “the true importance of art lies in the realm of the imagination and of feeling… trying to make visible what is felt as an urge, a sensation, and an emotional response. The challenge is to create a work that is complete enough to convey to the viewer a clear and direct image, but to have that image function not as an end but rather the beginning of a continuing aesthetic experience. I mostly paint from my instincts and emotions and rarely think through the ‘meaning’ of a work… leaving that to the viewer.”

Graser always works in series, exploring the imaginative possibilities of a particular combination of shape, color and texture. She has been drawn to collage “for its power to express the sense of something beneath the surface, a peeling away of another dimension, another time, and another life.”