Many of the paintings make use of anthropomorphized animals or hybrid figures, derived from a number of different sources and references such as early fairy tale illustration, early advertising which relied on fairy tale, and 19th century illustrators like J.J. Grandville (admired by Walter Benjamin), whose use of dressed animals allowed him to skirt censorship restrictions and comment on current affairs. The works also draw on archival and contemporary photographs, and these references sometimes interact – as in the case of an archival photo of Albert Henry George Grey, 4th Earl Grey and former Governor General of Canada, dressed in a Puss in Boots costume, apparently derived from a specific illustration by Gustave Doré.
"As they have done for centuries, these kinds of hybrid figures may suggest questions about our hopes and aspirations, past and future, the changing relations of social classes, dress and consumption as display or camouflage, and the relation of humans to the environment, both historically and today."
Carol Wainio, December 2012
Carol Wainio was born in Sarnia, Ontario in 1955. After studies at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design and the University of Toronto, she earned an M.F.A. from Concordia University in 1985. She taught in the Visual Arts Department at the University of Ottawa from 1987 to 1989 and was an assistant professor in the Department of Visual Arts at Concordia from 1989 to 1998. She lives and works in Ottawa, where she is an adjunct professor at the University of Ottawa. Her exhibition The Book, curated by Diana Nemiroff for Carleton University Art Gallery, contains works from 2002-2010 and is currently touring in Canada. A comprehensive hardcover catalogue is available. An exhibition of new work, Old Masters, also appears at the Kitchener Waterloo Art Gallery, March 8 - April 28, 2013.