“Botanical Beadwork : Explorations of the Natural Form”
Beadwork is both art and memory. It is the result of centuries of intercultural exchange between Europeans and First Nations. Realistic natural motifs expressed in dyed porcupine quills or animal hair and shells are enhanced or replaced by colourful glass beads made in Bohemian, French, Russian, German, and Italian factories. These motifs are further integrated into French and English needlework patterns on a backdrop of home-tanned hide or fine black and red wool, creating an art-form that is both ancient and vibrant.
In my work at Festival du Voyageur’s historic Fort Gibraltar, I use beadwork as a launching point to discussing Indigenous women’s roles in the fur trade as skilled producers and astute traders of consumer and luxury goods, partners to powerful men in a new capitalist economy, and as economic and spiritual cornerstones in their own communities. I encourage my historic interpreters to try beadwork as a way of understanding the difficult and painstaking labour that these women put into their lives. I hope this exhibit succeeds in doing just that: connecting you to our collective past through a unique art-form.
Many of the pieces in this exhibit focus on botanical themes. I’ve tried to create both realistic and fantastic forms of plant life in Manitoba in much the same way as Indigenous artists have, but I’ve also tried to draw on influences from pop culture, French embroidery, and my own imagination.
My success as a beader is entirely due to the patience and guidance of several people.
I am thankful for the enthusiastic support I’ve received from Amelia Fay, the curator of the Hudson’s Bay Company Collections at the Manitoba Museum. Many of the pieces in this exhibit are copied or inspired by the beautiful works in the HBC Collection, and without Amelia’s help, it would have been even more challenging to reproduce these pieces.
I am also indebted to Jennine Krauchi, who I’ve worked with over the past few years, is one such expert whose expertise, generosity, and kindness make her one of the best beadwork teachers one could ever hope for. It is due to her perseverance and patience that I’ve been able to go from anthropologist by training to artist by accident.
And finally, I am thankful for the love and encouragement provided by my family of birth and my family of choice. Thanks Mum, Suzie, and Jaisen! And also, thanks to Deb and Neil, Caylie, Joey, Garrett, Christy, and last but not least James. Your pragmatic approach to my art and your patient support is always appreciated.
My interest in beadwork started when I was young. Despite not being Indigenous, I was inspired by beautiful Oji-Cree beadwork from St. Therese Point in northern Manitoba in our home. My mother, being a labour and delivery nurse at St. Boniface hospital, acquired these pieces, like pairs of moccasins and a tikinaagan (cradleboard), as gifts from women whose children she delivered. As I grew older, my interest in the past deepened, as did my passion for speaking to strangers about topics I like.
JELLY ROLLS & FAT QUARTERS QUILTING CLUB
TEXTILE ARTISTS OF MANITOBA (TFAM)
The Textile and Fibre Artists of Manitoba (TFAM) is an inclusive group of diverse Manitoba
based artists whose foundation rests on the four pillars of education, networking, exhibiting and promoting
fibre as an art form. TFAM’s membership includes emerging and established artists as well as teachers and
designers. All forms of fibre-based art are encouraged and created. Many members have been recognized both
nationally and internationally for their work. ‘Manitoba Moments’ will be our first exhibit as a group.
Exhibition Statement: In any season, rural or urban, Manitoba is a beautiful province. TFAM members have
recreated their special moment or memory of Manitoba in fibre. Which one will resonate with you?
The work of over 20 TFAM members is represented in this exhibition.
FIBRE ART NETWORK
October 1 – November 16, 2019
Exhibit Statement :
Conversations is an exhibition based upon the conversation between two artists. 24 partnered pairs through joint discussion will set the boundaries for their imagery so that the two pieces will respond or relate to each other.