Monday, 18 June 2012

Barb Hunt nominated for the Bronfman Award of Excellence in Fine Craft

Thanks to Barb for sharing these images of her work.

I wanted to tell you that Barb Hunt has been nominated for the Bronfman Award/Governor General's Award.  I am so excited for Barb.

This piece of Barb's is especially poetic.  It is a very large piece and creates an environment of its own.

Here's an excerpt from the 1500-word nomination statement that Anne Manuel, Executive Director of the Craft Council, sent in:
Over the past three decades, textile and fibre artist Barb Hunt has crafted a compelling body of work that not only speaks to the craft traditions of Newfoundland and Labrador but to our core sensibilities as Canadians. 

What I like about Barb's work, like this metal dress, is that it never looks dated.

Barb Hunt received a Diploma in Studio Art at the University of Manitoba, where her thesis work was in printmaking, and she completed an MFA, specializing in fibre, at Concordia University, Montreal.  She has shown her work in solo and group exhibitions across Canada and internationally, and was recently included in the Tournai Triennale, Belgium and the Lodz Biennale, Poland. Her work has been featured in nine books as well as numerous journal articles. She has been the recipient of Canada Council grants and awarded residencies in Canada, Paris and Ireland. She teaches in the Visual Arts Program at Grenfell Campus, Memorial University of Newfoundland, where she received the President’s Award for Outstanding Research. 

Barb Hunt's steel dresses evolved from her interest in the traditions of mourning in her adopted province of Newfoundland and Labrador. These traditions encompass hand- made textiles: hand-cut shrouds and the repetitive and reparative act of knitting.  The fragility and the enduring strength of lace and femininity is interpreted in steel.

After the completion of her MFA, Hunt’s work as a textile pattern designer in Montreal influenced the designs on the steel dresses. Each metal dress is fabricated from a single sheet of cold-rolled steel. The dress shapes vary, and delicate forms are cut out to resemble textile patterns, images from nature, or forms traditionally associated with "femininity".

This work originated as a way of investigating the social constructions of identity and gendered subjectivity.  Hunt explains, "I use the meanings culturally inscribed onto materials and processes as a way of examining the construction of gender. I am particularly drawn to feminism's acceptance of domestic activities as a valid approach to contemporary art practice. Thus, I consider the making of these steel dresses as “sewing with fire”. I interweave both contradictory and supportive correlations between material, image, and process in order to hypothesize alternative visions of identity."

Barb Hunt's knitted landmines are perhaps the best known of her work.

I chose this section to share with you because not everyone associates metal with Barb's work.  I have a piece from her doily series in my personal collection that many folks when they see it in my living room say "Oh you have a Cal Lane". Barb's career is much more diverse than many of us in the crafts community realize.  What is so impressive about her body of work is how consistent the high quality is despite the range of media and modes of expression.  It's great stuff.

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