Art Textiles of the World: Canada
By Sandra Alfoldy, Alan C. Elder, Lisa Vinebaum, J. R. Carpenter
Telos Art Publishing
Openness to technology, responsiveness to the environment and a capacity for contemplation, are among the qualities of the 20 Canadian artists chosen by publisher Matthew Koumis to represent a composite of the textile
arts in their far-flung land. The book is the 13th Koumis has published in the Art Textiles of the World series.
Sandra Alfoldy, who teaches craft history, traces Canada’s textile history, touching on the contributions of Native peoples, French and British colonizers, and immigrants. Alan C. Elder, curator at the Canadian Museum of Civilization, compared Canadian textile art in general to the catalogne, a traditional striped fabric: “The work of our artists combines transnational concepts with regional approaches; it is flexible—both physically and functionally—and it relates to individuals—both makers and consumers.”
J. R. Carpenter, a writer and artist, describes how the Canadian textile community networks through schools or through projects launched by institutions: “Textile production is basically the struggle to join many small parts into one large whole….Mapping our movement through schools of thought and circuits of community reveals a substratum of connections that stretch across the great swathes of country in between us.” Contending that textiles implicate the body, Lisa Vinebaum, an artist and theorist, discusses those among the 20—Kai Chan and Laura Vickerson, for example—whose work engages the body.
Among the featured artists, a number of whom were born elsewhere, are accomplished weavers like Marcel Marois and Joanne Soroka; mixed-media artists who favor installation like Joanna Staniszkis and Jennifer Angus; and devotees of the stitch, such as Dor-othy Caldwell. Technology prods, among others, Barbara Layne, who makes electronic jackets and Jacquard weavings with leds; and recycling plays a role in the work of Mindy Yan Miller, whose installations using such items as Coca-Cola cans comment on labor, memory and landscape, and of Barb Hunt, who reflects on death and war through used fabrics.
Though these artists have much in common with their U.S. counterparts, one puts down this book persuaded that Canadians bring a distinct flavor to textiles.