127 Hogarth Avenue., Toronto, ON, M4K 1K5, Canada      |      647.226.7269      |


Dessa Harhay was born in 1981 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, to a jeweler mother and an architect father. She grew up through her teens in Toronto, but moved to Montreal to attend Concordia University. There she remained for some years, meeting the people with whom she would eventually form The YPF, a Canadian-based art collective. The YPF would go on to create a body of group works which were exhibited locally and internationally. They still continue to exhibit and create art together. Also while in Montreal, Dessa was a primary curator for Galerie Accidentelle, a Montreal-based gallery featuring exhibitions from a wide array of contemporary artists. In 2007, Dessa spent the year traveling the United States, eventually finding a home in Chicago, where she lived in a large warehouse with a group of artists. She gained much influence from the creative atmosphere there. After some time, she decided to return to her home city of Toronto, where she currently works as an artist.

A common theme for Dessa is animals, and her adoration of them has lead to these being a large source of inspiration in her work. She was even lead to curate a cat themed art show in Montreal, where a central element of the exhibit was live cats for adoption in association with Cat Rescue Verdun. Many cats found homes due to this exhibition.

With a BFA double major in Communication and Cultural Studies and Studio Art from Concordia University (Montreal, QC, Canada), Dessa is endowed with a strong anthropological sensibility, and a sensitive cultural radar. She also works as an illustrator and graphic designer under the design company { + = - } (plus equals minus). Her commercial works have appeared internationally for companies including Joe Fresh, Intr-Version Records, Itsus International, Industry Clothing, Howick Brand, Dose Magazine, Warrior Magazine, Worn Fashion Journal and others. Her artwork has appeared in solo and group exhibitions at venues such as Jeff's Electric Gallery (Los Angeles, CA, USA), the cruise ship Queen Mary I and Open Gallery (Long Beach, CA, USA), The Drake Hotel (Toronto, ON, Canada), and Leonard and Bina Ellen Gallery and an exhibit in association with Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal (Montreal, QC, Canada).


A work always surpasses its intended meaning once it meets the eyes of the audience. No language is implicitly finite. I aim to create whimsical works that illuminate with playful, non-binary sentiments. My work commonly embodies animal imagery and atypical situations which wink at surrealist inspiration. Much of the work is done on raw materials, such as wood or canvas. The work draws upon lyrical musings, and anthropological ponderings that call into play a wry sensibility.


2002-2006Concordia University (Montreal, Canada), BFA Double major Studio Art and Communication & Cultural Studies.
1999Boyne River Natural Science School (Boyne River, Canada), an intensive, immersive arts residency for four exclusively selected students per school.
1995-1998Northern Secondary School (Toronto, Canada), Arts Intensive gifted program.


2010Locale Honorarium: a specially selected grant given to one artist per city (Toronto, Montreal, Calgary) for exemplary work.
2005Art Matters Festival: awarded funds for production of six paintings for exhibition.
2004FASA Grant: for the execution and exhibition of "Days Are Numbered - Aftermath" in September of 2004 by The YPF.
2002Art Matters Festival: subsidy was given for artwork production.
2001Art Matters Festival: subsidy for artwork production.
1999Boyne River Natural Science School fully subsidized artist residency.
1996Gifted Arts Special Achievement Award presented to one outstanding artist per year.
1995Gifted Arts Special Achievement Award presented to one outstanding artist per year.


| dessa harhay |Personal website.
The YPFOnline portfolios of members of The YPF.
Plus Equals MinusArt and design collective portfolios and website.