Artist, educator. Roy Kiyooka was born on January 18, 1926 in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan. Kiyooka studied with J.W.G. MacDonald and I.H. Kerr at the Provincial Institute of Technology and Art (now the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology and Art) (1946 to 1949). He would subsequently study under James Pinto at the Instituto Allende in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico (1955). Kiyooka was also a participant at the Emma Lake Workshops (1957-1960) at the University of Saskatchewan with Will Barnett, Clement Greenberg, and Barnett Newman. Upon returning to Regina in 1956, he began teaching at Regina College (now the University of Regina). He arrived in Vancouver in 1959 and began teaching at the Vancouver School of Art (now Emily Carr University of Art + Design) (1960-1964) and, later, the University of British Columbia (1973-1991). Kiyooka, one of Canada’s first interdisciplinary artists, was highly influential in the Vancouver scene. Arriving in Vancouver an already respected painter, he challenged a generation of artists to move beyond regional styles and seek inspiration from international art currents.
During the 1960s, he rejected painting and began writing poetry and taking photographs. As a part of the rejection of a modernist aesthetic, he eventually took up performance, film, and music. He also taught at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design (now Nova Scotia College of Art and Design University) (1971-1972) and Sir George Williams University (now Concordia University) (1965-1970). His work was included in many group shows, including exhibitions at Hart House at the University of Toronto, the Art Gallery of Ontario, the University of British Columbia Fine Arts Gallery, the National Gallery of Canada, Museum of Modern Art, and the Vancouver Art Gallery. Kiyooka had solo exhibitions at institutions such as the National Gallery of Canada, University of British Columbia Fine Arts Gallery, the Vancouver Art Gallery, and Catirona Jeffries Gallery. Kiyooka’s work is included in numerous collections, such as the Art Gallery of Ontario, Canada Council Art Bank, Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography, Musee des beaux-art de Montreal, Musee d’art contemporain de Montreal, the Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery, National Gallery of Canada, and the Vancouver Art Gallery. He was also awarded the Order of Canada by Governor General Jules Leger in 1978. Kiyooka passed away in 1994.