Skip to main content

OCAD U remembers faculty member Frieda Johles Forman

Feminist Art Conference OCAD University September 2015

Cover image: Feminist Art Conference OCAD University September 2015. Looking Forward Looking Back panel with Paula Bourne, Frieda Johles Forman, Sheila Sampath, Fannie Gadouas, Lillian Allen, moderated by Johanna Householder.

The OCAD University community mourns the passing of Frieda Johles Forman on June 9, 2024. Forman taught the first-ever women’s studies course at the Ontario College of Art (OCA) before it became OCAD University.

"Frieda Johles Forman founded the first interdisciplinary feminist art conference at OCA in 1971 through her work with students on consciousness-raising and art creation inspired by the women's movement and equity issues occurring on campus,” says Associate Professor Ilene Sova.

“When I was working on the Feminist Art Collective at OCAD U over the years she was an inspiring and impactful intergenerational advisor on the project over many years,” she continues. “We also worked together on the project of archiving the Women's Kit, a feminist educational resource created in 1972. She was a tireless energetic supporter of women identified artists and gave of her time and expertise generously. She will be a greatly missed voice in our arts community.”

Assistant Professor Dr. Pam Patterson fondly remembers Forman.

“I worked with her at the Women’s Educational Resource Centre for 10 years and she informally advised me on my doctoral work in feminist art education – which, thanks to her inspiration, I was able to realize as one of the first of two arts-informed research dissertations at OISE,” remembers Assistant Professor Dr. Pam Patterson. “She was a feisty, brilliant and extraordinary woman.”

Frieda Johles Forman and Associate Professor in the FOA, Ilene Sova working on the Feminist Art Conference in NYC, June 2015.


Frieda Johles Forman was born in Vienna in 1937 into a Yiddish-speaking family. After the war, she and her parents migrated to the United States where she attended Hebrew Teachers’ College in Boston. She later taught Hebrew and Jewish Studies. She also taught Women’s Studies and Philosophy at the Ontario College of Art in Toronto, where she founded Kids Can Press.

She also founded, and for two decades directed, the Women’s Educational Resource Centre at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE) at the University of Toronto.

A trailblazer of feminist Jewish Studies, Forman was the researcher, an editor and translator of the groundbreaking collection of Yiddish prose fiction by women, Found Treasures: Stories By Yiddish Women Writers (1994). She also authored The Exile Book of Yiddish Women Writers (2013), Taking Our Time: Feminist Perspectives on Temporality (1989), and Jewish Refugees in Switzerland During the Holocaust: A memoir of Childhood and History (1994).

Forman’s funeral will be held on Tuesday June 11 at 12:30 p.m. at Benjamin’s Forest Chapel.

The Shalvi/Hyman Encyclopedia of Jewish Woman
In Geveb, A Journal of Yiddish Stories