Sheila Butler was born in 1938 in the United States, now residing in Toronto, Ontario.
Butler is an artist and teacher who exhibits internationally, her work is both expressive and figurative.
Butler is a founding member of Sanavik Inuit Cooperative, Baker Lake, Nunavut, and a co-founder, with Diane Whitehouse, of MAWA. Butler has acted as Artist/Coordinator for several national and international art exhibitions, combining art production with arts administration. From 1973 to 1989 Butler taught at the University of Manitoba and the University of Winnipeg, moving to the University of Western Ontario until retirement from teaching in 2004.
Butler’s small graphite and water colour drawings were begun tentatively in her Toronto studio and brought to a northern resolution and focus in the “Art and Cold Cash” drop-in centre during a month-long residency in Baker Lake. Butler often selects subject matter that slurs between northern settlement and southern urban concerns, seeking pictorial means to represent the cross-cultural inflections soprevalent in everyday life in the contemporary Canadian Arctic. This somewhat fragile focus also shifts in some drawings, suggesting a distinctly northern ambience of skidoos, fur-edged hoods and float planes.
Butler's work is grounded in representational drawing and painting. Her practice is characterized by collective work with other artists, especially in relation to activist art projects relating to feminist goals and to aboriginal issues. In addition to pictorial wall works in traditional materials, Butler has exhibited fundamentally two-dimensional works.