Shirley Wiitasalo received a Governor General’s Award in Visual and Media Arts in 2011. The Canada Council for the Arts, which grants the Governor General’s Awards, commended her art, citing her "highly celebrated talent as a contemporary painter" that "has received critical and public attention throughout her career." Undaunted by the medium’s rich history, Wiitasalo creates work that is unpredictable, challenging, and new. From her evocative imagery to her recent explorations that employ a more reductive vocabulary, Wiitasalo is interested in unravelling the mystery of painting itself. Her paintings have been exhibited in solo exhibitions at The Power Plant in Toronto (2000), the Kunsthalle Bern in Switzerland (1993) and the Art Gallery of Ontario (1987). She has also participated in several important group exhibitions across Canada, including at the National Gallery of Canada (1989), and internationally at the Museum Haus Lange in Krefeld, Germany (1994), the Fodor Museum in Amsterdam (1984), 49th Parallel in New York (1982) and the National Museum of Art in Tokyo (1981). Wiitasalo received the Toronto Arts Award for Visual Art in 1993 and the Gershon Iskowitz Foundation 1998 Annual Prize. Her work is in many major national public collections, including the National Gallery of Canada.