1919 – 2007
Kay Murray Weber was born near Ayr, Ontario, on November 5, 1919. Ayr was a tiny farming community situated in the Southern part of Ontario, between three lakes: Huron, Ontario, and Eire. Her family had been farming the land there for nearly one hundred years (Ayr was founded in 1824). She was born and raised on the farm, and spent her days in the fields and the barns, helping her parents in the daily labour of farming. But she did more than help; often, when she was not required to feed the chickens or milk the cows, she would get out a pencil and a piece of paper (she probably carried them in her smock, always ready for use), sit herself down in the hay, or even on a calf, and sketch the things around her. There was the farm, with its vistas of fields and trees, and the barns with their shelves of tools and odd-shaped implements. And the lighting! When the sun had set, or before it had risen, a lantern was hung in the barn, a lantern that cast dim shadows into the corners while illuminating a small sphere with its diminutive radiance. These childhood experiences laid the foundation for her later interest in landscape and still life.
In 1942 she moved to Toronto. Not a long journey for us in the twenty-first century – a hundred kilometres or so – but for Kay Murray Weber it was a journey into a different universe. Her childhood revolved around the few hundred inhabitants of Ayr, who knew each other and worked, for the most part, within the community. Now, she found herself in a vast conglomeration of houses, enterprises, factories, centres, smelly brickworks, plush hotels, shops – almost one million people who hardly knew each other and worked at jobs that Kay Murray Weber had never heard of.
She was there to study art. She attended The Ontario College of Art, where she began her studies under two distinguished teachers: Fred Hagan, who taught printmaking, and Jock MacDonald, who taught painting. Her abilities were quickly recognized; she received an IBM Scholarship to help with her studies, and at the end of her course she graduated with honours.
Her life was set: she would be an artist.
Printmaking became a significant part of her work, and she became an internationally acclaimed print maker. In this she was following an illustrious history, the heritage of a technique honed by Rembrandt, Goya, Dürer, and Toulouse-Lautrec, among many others.
She continued to be honoured with awards throughout her life. She had exhibitions in Canada – Winnipeg, Montreal, Ottawa, Calgary, Burnaby, and Toronto – and in the United States, including the Miriam Perlman Gallery in Chicago. Her work was known and appreciated in Europe, with exhibitions in England, Yugoslavia, Poland, and Austria.
Kay Murray Weber was elected to the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts, the Ontario Society of Artists, the Canadian Society of Graphic Arts, the Canadian Society of Printer-Etchers and Engravers, and the Arts & Letters Club of Toronto. Her work can be found in numerous public collections throughout Ontario.