Donna Ibing
“I decided I’ll do penis paintings because the problem is the penis.”
Alternate View
Donna Ibing, feminist, shit-disturber, printmaker, painter, consciousness-raiser, all around badass, has been active in the art world since she graduated from the Ontario College of Art (OCA) in 1971.

Dirty Donna at the Inc.

Ibing found a home with the Hamilton Artists Inc. when she wandered into an opening with a neighbour in the mid 1970s. She instantly felt a difference in the air, sensing kindred spirits in the DIY space. This began a long love affair with the artist-run centre.

It was here that Dirty Donna found the environment ripe to say what she wanted to say. Ibing held two major shows at the Inc. that skyrocketed her infamy, ‘Spring Drawings’ in 1978 and ‘Males Nude’ in 1983. She began her interest in the gender dynamics of nudes during her time at OCA, and quickly found that galleries would gladly show female nudes, but never the male.

‘Is that all we are to you?’

Ibing uses her voice to humorously point out the obvious but oft-ignored inequalities that exist in the art world, “Male artists can expose women and put them on the wall and they can be the icon and revered and untouchable and it’s hard to live up to. But they don’t want to do that. They don’t want to be the naked person on the wall. One time, I did a part of that ‘Males Nude’ series that was an outline of a male nude and just the hands and the penis were painted. This guy came to the opening, he looked at it and he said, ‘Is that all we are to you?’ And I said, ‘Really you’re actually saying that like you don’t get the point? Hello, you’ve been doing that to us for five hundred years!’”

Image: Donna Ibing. “The Best Parts” (Males Nude Series). 1982. Acrylic on canvas. 36 x 48″. Courtesy of the artist.

Donna Ibing. "Taps" (Male Nudes Series). 1982. Canvas, taps. 36 x 48". Courtesy of the artist.

“My son told me this one time he learned in history in high school, the teacher said, “Nothing ever changes unless by revolution.” And I at first said, Oh, no that can’t be true that’s horrible, that’s…and then I started thinking about it. Yeah, that’s right. They’re never going to change unless you do something about it and make them change or embarrass them or whatever. So, I thought okay I have to do that…I’m going to do…like I’m going to be badass.”

– Donna Ibing, 2018