About a year ago I was teaching a course called “Building a Career as a Visual Artist” for the U of A’s fine arts certificate program when two students began a serious discussion about what was considered art. Now this topic can be discussed on many different levels but in this case it had to do with fine arts vs. crafts.
Considering that my major at the Alberta College of Art and Design in Calgary was Textiles and Metals, you can understand how I voted but it was very interesting to me to see that there is still a stigma to what is often associated mostly with women – textile art.
Blame Louis XIV, the Sun King. He wanted to have complete control over all aspects of the arts so he separated all the disciplines into Academies. Up to that time, all the arts were inter-related. It took almost 400 years to break the control of the academy of painting and judging by the discussion in the class, this break hasn’t been successful for textile art.
It is a brave soul, therefor, that bucks the tradition of what is considered art and craft. One such person is Judy Weiss, an award-winning, Edmonton-based textile artist. I saw her latest work at the Stony Plain Multicultural Center last weekend as she, and Sharon Willas Rubiliak, explored what it meant for homesteaders to have “landed” on the prairies in western Canada.
The imagery was, by virtue of the show’s theme, realistic in its depiction but it was interesting to see how the artist’s work has moved beyond the expectations that one might have around such a theme. Judy uses many techniques and processes to arrive at her intended design: quilting, embroidery, resist dyeing, sophisticated “tie-dye” effects, and felting.
Judy’s work has toured and been exhibited in Canada, the United States and New Zealand. The show is on until September 29th. For more info and to view her other works of art, check out Judy’s website HERE.