Friday, 26 October 2012

An Open Letter to the Art Gallery of Ontario

I am writing to express my extreme displeasure with your repugnant marketing campaign that accompanies the Frida Kahlo exhibit as described in the Toronto Star's Oct 20, 2012 article "Unibrows rule in Toronto in celebration of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo"

Your actions here are repugnant because:
  • It endorses a commercial view of the beauty ideal for women, in particular mocking natural facial hair
  • It was clearly developed by wealthy and privileged women who conform to the ideals of fashion magazine attractiveness
  • It is racist toward all woman of Latin American, Mexican, Spanish and South American descent, who are differently hirsute
  • It trivializes the work of an artist who struggled her entire life to have a successful career from under the shadow of Diego Rivera
  • It rips off the work of a Canadian artist, namely the film “Stupidity” by Albert Nereneberg
  • It is not even clever

You are a tax-funded institution and are only entitled to your suck at the public teat if you conform to the Ontario Human Rights Code.

The Art Gallery of Ontario is racist and anti-women, and steals from artists.

The person responsible for this abhorrent promotion must be fired, an apology issued, and a donation made to a Latin American women's art collective.


  1. I am publishing the AGO's first response to my Open Letter...

    Caitlin_Coull at
    Oct 30 (1 day ago)

    Dear Mr. Fox,

    On behalf of the AGO, I sincerely apologize for offending you.

    The Gallery conducted extensive research before planning the unibrow promotion, and found many primary sources (including Kahlo’s own journal) that describe how proud she was of her appearance and, in fact, her eyebrows specifically. She purposefully chose to wear her brows in this fashion to show that she did not conform to societal ideals of feminine beauty. Frida had an awareness of the role of costumes and appearance in forming one’s identity, and this awareness affirmed her right to be different. The unibrow was intended celebrate that and honour her fearlessness.


    Caitlin Coull
    Art Gallery of Ontario

  2. Another comment received to the Open Letter

    Dear Alan,

    Thank you for sharing with me your open letter to the AGO objecting to the marketing of the Frida & Diego exhibition. In response to your question about how to file a complaint, the AGO receives municipal funding through the City of Toronto's Cultural Services department. You can direct your complaint to Cultural Services staff through their website: As your complaint deals with discrimination by a publicly funded organization, you may also want to contact the Ontario Human Rights Legal Support Centre for advice: If you have not done so already, contacting the AGO directly to have a dialogue about the campaign may be fruitful. I hope this information is helpful in directing your complaint.



    Councillor Adam Vaughan
    Ward 20, Trinity-Spadina