Saturday, 3 December 2011

Surface Design Journal-Canadian Perspectives

Barb Hunt's The Old Lie
Each year the Surface Design Journal publishes an international issue with a focus on another country.  This year it was Canada's turn and I was asked to write the lead article.  It was released in late October.  Several months prior, Patricia Malarcher started discussing the article.  What was distinctive to Canada?  Where there any unique historical textile traditions?  I started out looking at things like the hooked mats on the East Coast, etc.  But a hooked mat from Maine looks a lot like a hooked mat from New Brunswick.  That started me thinking about regionalism in Canada, which in turn made me consider how our population is strung along our border.  I recalled how the cowboy culture of Alberta that I experienced out in Banff was similar to the culture I experience south of the border in the same region.  But I didn't expect a readership of textile artists in the States to be interested in a social studies lesson.  Patricia and I agreed that I would discuss regionalism, multiculturalism, etc as seen in the work of contemporary Canadian textiles.  It wouldn't be a dog and pony show with lots of artists but be more exclusive.  So, I picked Barb Hunt from NL to talk about the Canadian position on international peacekeeping, pacificism, etc.  Her work (seen above) made from military uniforms to depict the map of the world was a great starting point.  The piece is called the Old Lie - and represents the military presence through out the world.
Kai Chan, Silk

To discuss Canada's early recognition of gay marriage, multiculturalism, language and tolerance I picked Kai Chan's work for its lyricism and nuance.  Kai can do so much with subtle grace in his work and he touches on these issues.

Sharon Kallis, The Ivy Canoe
The third artist that I selected was Sharon Kallis from B.C. - who by the way is featured in the current issue of Canadian art.  Sharon works with teams of volunteers and communities learning their concerns and talents.  They harvest invasive species and use them as natural raw materials for her fibre creations: quilts, boat sized baskets and installations.  The work of Kallis allowed me to talk about the Canadian landscape, our relationship with nature and touch on colonialism as seen through the lens of ecology.  To quote Kallis, "There is a uniqueness to everyone's mark and what they make even if everyone is doing the same action.  It's like the saying about Canada being a mosaic.  We are part of the ecology and it is important that we don't dominate it."

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