Shary Boyle

Outside the Palace of Me

Sep 23, 2023–Feb 25, 2024

"Outside the Palace of Me is a contemporary art fun house"—New York Times. Read the review.

"The Canadian artist's solo show ... warrants as many descriptions as she does: transportive, theatrical, whimsical, and captivating, to name just a few"—Wall Street Journal. Read the review.

Shary Boyle: Outside the Palace of Me explores the forces that create our inner and outer selves, both individual and collective. The multisensory solo exhibition of new works by the Canadian visual artist includes exquisitely sculpted ceramics, life-sized automatons, two-way mirrors, a coin-operated sculpture, and an interactive soundtrack. To help realize her creative vision for the exhibition, Boyle enlisted a team of collaborators, including a scenic designer, costume artist, robotics engineer, amusement park innovator, and acrylic nail artist. Each work in the exhibition is a testament to slow, skilled, passionate handcraft.

Adopting the structures of theatre, Outside the Palace of Me functions as a metaphor for the construction and presentation of self. Within its confines, the audience alternates between the role of observer and observed as they engage with an array of uncanny characters and objects—from the miniature to the monumental.  Gouache, ink, and acrylic works on paper add a supporting cast of complicated narrators to Boyle’s deeply imaginative, idiosyncratic, and unsettling realm.


Shary Boyle (Canada, b. 1972) works across diverse media, including sculpture, drawing, installation, and performance. Highly crafted and deeply imaginative, her practice is activated through collaboration and mentorship. Boyle’s work considers the social history of figurines, animist mythologies, antiquated technologies, and folk-art forms to create a symbolic, politically charged language uniquely her own. Boyle’s work is exhibited and collected internationally. She represented Canada with her project Music for Silence at the 55th Venice Biennale in 2013, and her work has been featured at the 2017 Gyeonggi International Ceramic Biennale in South Korea and the 2021 Kaunas Biennial in Lithuania. Boyle is the recipient of Canada’s Hnatyshyn Foundation Award, the Gershon Iskowitz Prize, and holds a 2021 honorary doctorate of fine arts from the Ontario College of Art and Design University.

Outside the Palace of Me is organized by the Gardiner Museum, Toronto.

Generous funding was received by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature. The exhibition was funded in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council and with the support of the Consulate General of Canada in New York.

We acknowledge the support of the Canada Council for the Arts.

Image—Installation view of the exhibition Shary Boyle: Outside the Palace of Me

The exhibition catalog includes a critical essay from the curator, a dialogue with the artist, more than 150 full-color images, and the artist’s commentary and visual index of photographic and art historical references for key artworks in the exhibition. MAD Members receive a 10% discount.

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