Heir/Looms

The Formation of a Tangible Trail of Nostalgia

  • Meichen Waxer’s Fake Mourning Series. Photo Jessa Alston-O’Connor

  • Meichen Waxer’s Fake Mourning Series. Photo Jessa Alston-O’Connor

We all have that materialized memory of a family member, friend, or story. Something that we hold on to, appreciate and value greatly for its seemingly everlasting existence, its sentimentality. Something tangible that prompts us to remember.

Heir/Looms is an exhibit that features the connection made from an individual’s present to their past, linked to memories, heirlooms and inheritances.

The show, curated by Nicole Dawkins, featured the works of 12 Canadian contributors who, each in their own way, created a fibre-based link from their present to some element of their history. The artists, crafters and designers worked with embroidering, hooking, weaving and the use of small accessories like buttons or pieces of jewelry.

The exhibit’s vernissage was held on Friday, Aug. 26 at Studio Béluga, 160 St. Viateur Est, Suite 508A), and runs until Aug 30, 5pm. “What was really great about the opening, while not all artists were able to be here, [was that] what brought them together in the first place was the nature of their fibre arts.

“The theme reached out to a relatively small niche, bringing people together who otherwise may not have met or even had their work together,” she continued. “New connections between the artists and people involved with contemporary textiles allowed them to get to know each other, as well as each other’s work.”

Dawkins also explained how the idea for the show changed from the first submission call. Originally, people were asked to submit work placed before an inherited piece, creating an explicit connection to an artifact.

Feeling that this would have limited or simplified the show., Dawkins opened it up for interpretation, though some contributors did conform to the original idea—as was seen in work by Samantha Purdy, who cross-stitched a Ukrainian Easter egg, and featured it alongside an original egg that had been in her family for generations. The less-constricting version of the exhibit allowed featured works like Karl Stuart’s weaved portrait of his brother who had passed away as a young child.

Stuart, who was a witness to his brother’s tragic death, created a woven portrait based on a family photograph of his brother, to honour his memory for what would have been his 40th birthday.

Heir/Looms recognized that nostalgia can include and be inspired by both tangible and intangible fragments of personal history. Textiles were featured not only as art to be interpreted by its viewer but also as history interpreted by its successor.

Catalogues of the work featured at the show can still be purchased on Etsy: http://www.etsy.com/sh op/HeirLoomsExhibit

This article originally appeared in The Link Volume 32, Issue 01, published August 30, 2011.

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