Thank you
for visiting my site.

 The photos, artwork and writing on this web-site were all created by me, Canadian artist Debbie O'Rourke.

They can only be used with my permission. C'mon, do you know how hard it is to make a living at this?


Contact me at:

 Debbie O'Rourke <>

It's getting to be a long story. I graduated from the Alberta College of Art in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

I then moved to Toronto, Ontario, Canada, a truly international city as well as a lively art center. In order to improve my drawing skills, I slaved as a factory artist for over a decade in the garment district. Unlike most other art-related jobs, embroidery design actually placed me at a drawing board for forty hours per week. I was one of the last crest designers factory-trained to design in the tradition of the forties and fifties-style bowling shirts, club, school and team logos. Later, I applied this background to the needs of fashion and costume designers.

 My artwork has been informed by my experiences as a mother, educator, nursing aide and palliative care worker. During my pregnancy, I was dismayed at the lack of artistic imagery available to help me to understand what was happening to me, or to anticipate the experience of labour. After the birth, my artwork was less than welcome on the cultural scene. When my labour drawings were rejected from an anti-censorship show, I realized that I would have to do the job myself. Two years of research culminated in1992 in the group exhibition Birthtales, in which forty visual artists, writers and story-tellers expressed the emotional experience of giving birth. It drew powerful artworks from artists in Canada and the U.S, many of whom had produced large oeuvres of work on this subject that were previously unshowable. Women's health activist Bonnie Burgess helped me to coordinate the event which took place concurrently at the University of Toronto Medical School (under the auspices of Dr. Miriam Rossi) and A Space Gallery. The show had a large public following, and was declared to be one of the most beautiful ever to take place at A Space.

I began writing at this time, and published my first critical essay in Artword magazine in 1993. That began a relationship with this organization that persists to this day. Artword is no longer a magazine but it is a theatre and an art gallery. Former editor and current managing director and curator Judith Sandiford mentored me in the creation of this web-site. Meanwhile, my art criticism has also been published in the Canadian magazines Espace, Matriart and C. I focus on artists whose ideas as well as artwork I find intriguing, artists whose work can teach me. Many of them have a concern for their culture and people that goes beyond the aesthetic. My latest piece of art criticism, about the Child Abuse Survivors Monument, will be found in the Spring/Printemps 2002 issue of Espace sculpture magazine, published in Montreal Canada.

I was still working on the subject of birth when the AIDS pandemic forced me to say a premature good-bye to many friends and contemporaries. Initially, Milkweed Patch was the vehicle to heal from these losses as well as to explain death to children. But over the years of its creation, it established its own sense of identity and purpose. Scarborough's Cedar Ridge Gallery and the Cornwall Regional Art Gallery (both in Ontario, Canada) exhibited Milkweed Patch as a work in progress. Then my association with an artists collective called WE, gathered together by the charismatic sculptor Khang Pham, led to Milkweed Patch premiering at A Space Gallery in 1999.

Through various artists' residency programs, I now help young students to explore their relationships to nature, art and science.
I continue to write and make art.

Elegy: pencil, marker and acrylic on vellum