|Yards and Yards: Mary Desrosiers, Sheridan Textiles||| Print ||
Most of my vivid childhood memories involve art or textiles. I can clearly remember choosing which colours to use on a sweater I was painting at my cousin’s birthday when I was two. When I was seven years old, my mother taught me to knit . I recall sitting at her sewing machine for the first time, sewing along lines drawn on paper.I took all the Art classes my high school offered. Mrs. Devenish was my fashion teacher. She encouraged my wild and crazy ideas, like sewing a skirt out of upholstery leather on a domestic sewing machine. Being a tall, plus size teenager, I found there was nothing available in stores that suited my emerging sense of style or fit my body quite right. This desire and dissatisfaction is what led me to take Fashion Arts Design and Production at Seneca College.
My favourite classes at Seneca College were Textiles I and II. I especially enjoyed that the science of fibres was then combined with a relevant textile technique for projects.Weaving, free motion embroidery, shibori, and discharge were my favourite despite their time-intensive nature. I really enjoyed cutting yards and yards of denim strips, baby serging the edges and weaving it together to create panels running down the front and back of a dress in my graduating collection. My design advisor in final year also happened to be my textile professor, Zita Harper, who recommended meeting with Rachel McHenry, Sheridan's Textile Program Coordinator at the time. I was very excited to continue my education at Sheridan College.
My Textile studiomates and peers in Sheridan's Ceramics, Furniture and Glass studios were not competitors, but a community. It was an excellent environment for sharing skills and developing one’s work. Collaboration is something I hope the faculty will encourage more in coming years. The dynamic of sharing skills and working with peers in other disciplines creates an interface to learn beyond one’s own studio.
I came to realize what I was doing was not as important as why I was doing it. For my graduation piece, entitled Transformation, I decided to not only challenge preconceived notions about knitting regarding value and size, but make an unspoken statement about how I changed during my time at Sheridan. I chose knitting because I really felt it is the best visual representation of the time it takes a craftsperson to make by hand. The resulting piece was over twenty five feet long and thirty inches wide, taking well over a hundred hours to knit. The installation of the piece furthered conveyed my opinion of transition, that it is a fluid state. It appeared to be a waterfall cascading from the ceiling. As the piece undulated down the wall, the colour shifted from an avocado green to a striking neon orange. This bold use of colour is typical of my work, which can be characterized by one word: combination. Whether it is vibrant colour, bold mark-making, interesting textures, or the layering of disparate materials, my work has a quality of the unexpected to it.
I am currently establishing myself in Hamilton’s developing art community. Together with some of Textile’s graduates, we are working toward the creation of a shared studio space. I am also teaching sewing classes at Needlework, expanding my private tutoring clients, and building my businesses.
In the coming years, my focus is to build my body of work and participate in local, national and international shows while also making textiles pieces that are cherished parts of people’s lives. There are many other people in addition to those mentioned above throughout my life who have taught, inspired and help me become who I am. To each one of them I send my sincerest thanks and gratitude. I would not be where I am without you! I hope to do the same for others and help them realize what they like and dislike, develop their technical abilities and inspire greatness. I will eventually continue my education to the extent that I am qualified to teach at a Post Secondary level.
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