Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Riffs on Pattern

Last night I attended the last “Riffs on Pattern” talk that was taking place at the Textile Museum of Canada. This lecture series was an extension of the Textile Museum's “A Terrible Beauty” exhibit that I enjoyed so much, and when I heard that craft historian Sandra Alfoldy and artist Jeannie Thib would be speaking, I immediately signed myself up.

Sandra Alfoldy addressed the semiotics of pattern from a feminist perspective. Yikes, you’d think! But it was an incredibly interesting discussion about the social expectations that are reflected through specific patterns (ie Burberry plaid = traditional + English + upper class) and how various textiles read as visual signs based on our own perspective of the world. (what one interprets as oppressive may be viewed as orderly to another) Amazing, the amount of baggage one wee piece of fabric can carry! Both the production and consumption of woven patterns are still viewed as ‘feminine’…after all, tasks involving quilts and linens generally went hand in hand with the duties of motherhood, protection and utility.

(Alfoldy mentioned one artist/forensic anthropologist from the east coast who will be showing her repeat patterns based on the female pelvis. Keep your eyes out for Layola Leola Leblanc's "Pelvic Envy" exhibit this fall at the Mary E. Black Gallery in Halifax. Nice!)

When Jeannie Thib spoke back in April, she shared an overview of her career as an artist, emphasizing pattern and its connection to the surface. Her concepts are incredibly intriguing, and it was fascinating to hear her thoughts on how she relates materials to process to history to beauty to order to irony to scale…in her eyes, they’re all connected and must be considered during the creative process. This made me wonder about my own artwork and why I choose to work with the materials I do. How do those materials relate to the content of the piece? What connotations do they bring? Does the material relate to the setting in which the art is shown? So many questions.

Both lectures were quite a treat…I really enjoy this type of discourse, so it's unfortunate that they're so very rare.

(the image above is Jeannie Thib's "Folio #4" 1998, kozo paper, ink, thread, screenprint)


  1. Leola Le Blanc10:22 AM

    Hi Mary, I read your comments on "Riffs on Pattern" and noticed your mentioning my work "Pelvis Envy" exhibited at the Mary E Black Gallery in Halifax, Nova Scotia. I just wanted to point our the correct spelling of my name which is Leola Le Blanc. I do appreciate your positive comments and thank you for the mention. I hope to have the show travel through to Toronto and can let you know when this happens.

    thanks again

  2. Lee-oh-laa...a beautiful name. (one that deserves proper spelling!)

    I've got two friends in Halifax that went to your show and quite enjoyed themselves. Your concepts sound very intriguing...if your work does travel Ontario way, please give me a shout. I'd love to view!