The MacKenzie Art Gallery is proud to present a major exhibition featuring the internationally acclaimed Canadian multidisciplinary artist Shary Boyle with the opening of Outside the Palace of Me on Friday, April 5, 2024. Boyle invites visitors “backstage” into an immersive world of exquisite ceramic sculptures, life-sized animatronics, two-way mirrors, a coin-operated “star”, and an interactive soundtrack. Boyle’s Palace functions as a metaphor for the construction and presentation of the self.

Encountering a two-way mirror at the outset, audiences are invited to engage in a series of role reversals, transitioning from observers to performers. Surrounded by intricately crafted figures brimming with allusions, visitors confront an array of characters representing various experiences shaped by gender, family dynamics, race, class, alliances, and resistance. Wall paintings and paper works amplify these themes, introducing a cast of complex narrators. Concluding the performance, visitors find themselves on the other side of the mirror, prompted to peer into someone else’s perspective, thus completing their transformative journey within the Palace.

“Boyle is a rare artist who consistently shines a light on the dreamers, the loners, and the makers… all characters who live by a code that we often struggle to understand,” says Director of Programs Crystal Mowry. “She shows us poetry in the chasm that can form between who we are behind the scenes and who we become on the public stage. Using clay–a material that has united makers around the world for millennia–Boyle reminds us that a fundamental part of being human is confronting how culture is formed and performed, whether in resistance or without question”.

Curated by Dr. Sequoia Miller and circulated by the Gardiner Museum in Toronto, Outside the Palace of Me explores the forces that shape our inner and outer selves, as individuals and as part of a collective. The exhibition unfolds across a series of scenes, delving into the many influences that shape our identities. Critically interrogating colonialism, misogyny, racism, and societal pressures, Boyle’s works also underscore beauty, longing, and the human capacity for empathy.

Collaborating with an ensemble that includes a scenic designer, costume artist, robotics engineer, amusement park innovator, acrylic nail artist, and other creatives, Boyle transforms the traditional art museum into a space that elevates the chorus, and urges viewers to embrace the nuanced, and sometimes paradoxical, understandings of human nature in the 21st century.


Join us for an evening of celebration for Shary Boyle: Outside the Palace of Me on Friday, 5 April. An Artist conversation with Shary Boyle begins at 7 PM in the Shumiatcher Theatre, with live American Sign Language (ASL) interpretation. At 8 PM visitors will enjoy an exhibition viewing and reception in Craft Services Café by Crave.


Shary Boyle (b. 1972) is from the Scarborough area of Toronto. The recipient of a 2021 Honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts from her alma mater, Boyle graduated from the Ontario College of Art in 1994, developing a studio practice centered on figurative drawing, painting, and live performance. Creating deeply imaginative, idiosyncratic, and unsettling worlds, Boyle was an early innovator of live-drawing techniques using overhead projectors referencing shadow puppetry and cell animation. Boyle often collaborated with musicians and artists of other disciplines for these performances, activating her practice with a characteristically inclusive spirit.

Boyle began making sculpture in the late 1990s, modelling small polymer clay figures. Seemingly naïve and otherworldly, these flesh-like works incorporated fantastical imagery and often had an explicitly sexual aspect. She began working with ceramics in 2002, following a workshop on cast porcelain figurines and lace draping, approaches typically associated with elderly hobbyists. Boyle began researching the European history of the porcelain figurine, critically appraising its Enlightenment roots. The resulting works, exhibited at Toronto’s The Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery in 2006, balanced highly refined and seductive surfaces with startling, sometimes disturbing imagery: a noblewoman holding her own bloody head in her hands, a lady consumed by delicate blossoms, a reclining damsel with an arching ouroboros of heads terminating between her legs.

Shary Boyle continues to work in sculpture, installation, drawing, and performance. Her multidisciplinary artworks were the subject of a major touring exhibition, Shary Boyle: Flesh and Blood in 2010–2011. She represented Canada at the 55th Venice Biennale in 2013 with Music for Silence, and co-curated the collaborative touring project Earthlings in 2017. Boyle has performed and exhibited extensively, from Los Angeles, New York, Paris, and Icheon, South Korea, to remote communities such as Dawson City, Yukon Territory, and Inuvik, Northwest Territories. Her work is widely represented in private and institutional collections, including the National Gallery of Canada, the Art Gallery of Ontario, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, and the Gardiner Museum.


The MacKenzie Art Gallery is Saskatchewan’s oldest public art gallery, and is committed to creating transformative experiences of the world through art. With a permanent collection that spans 5,000 years and nearly 5,000 works of art, we encompass both the University of Regina’s vast collection and one of Canada’s largest collections of Indigenous art, the Kampelmacher Memorial Collection. Through art, education, and immersive programming, the MacKenzie brings fresh perspectives that transform how people experience history, themselves, and each other.

The MacKenzie is located in Wascana Park, Oskana Kâ’asastêki in Treaty Four territory, the traditional—and contemporary—territory of the Nehiyawak, Saulteaux, Lakota, Dakota, and Nakota people, and the homeland of the Métis Nation. We are grateful for the support of the Mackenzie Art Gallery Operating Endowment Fund at the South Saskatchewan Community Foundation, as well as the support of our core funders: the Canada Council for the Arts; SaskCulture; the City of Regina; the University of Regina; and the Saskatchewan Arts Board.



Mackenzy Vida

Communications Coordinator

MacKenzie Art Gallery

(306) 584-4250 ext. 4271

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