Guest Editorial:Thinking Fibre by J Penney Burton PDF  | Print |  E-mail
As I set out to present a sampling of the wide array of textile and fibre art offerings available in Montreal, I can’t help but be impressed by the resources that exist in this city.  Textiles are closely linked to the cultural heritage of many Québec families, a fact which I had the opportunity to experience first hand when viewing the collection of the Musée Des Maîtres et Artisans du Québec.  Stored along with many donated looms and spinning wheels, their collection includes weavings, ceinture fléchées and hooked rugs, amongst other textile works from the region.  With such a strong history of textile making, it is no wonder that the province continues to turn out so many accomplished fibre artists.  Contributions from this issue will come from all over the province; however, my emphasis has been on Montreal. 

Montreal is home to the Conseil des métiers d'art, the Cégep du Vieux Montréal, as well as the renowned Salon des métiers d'art held every December, making opportunities plentiful for training a strong community of professional fibre artisans who make their living by selling their unique textile works and clothing.  The Fibres program at Concordia University, on the other hand, educates their artists in the tradition of fine art, resulting in students engaging in the creation of conceptually-based fibre art, objects and installations.   Both international and local artists who study at the Montreal Center for Contemporary Textiles (MCCT), as well as artists working at Hexagram, have access to cutting-edge digital technologies, as well as time-honored traditional textile equipment, which often results in the creation of exciting hybrid works which travel the globe, being shown in exhibitions worldwide.  Add to this Diagonale, the centre des arts et des fibres du Québec, whose gallery space features fibre artists, and the relatively new gallery space at the MCCT, and is evident that we have a thriving climate for textile and fibre art in the city of Montreal.

 I came to Montreal in 2004, as Concordia University is currently the only place in Canada in which to study contemporary craft history at the graduate level.  Craft history as a discipline is expanding on a worldwide scale at the moment.  My area of research currently focuses on contemporary Canadian fibre artists, and interviews with many artists have led to my “Thinking Fibre” on a continual basis for several years now, and it is evident that I am not alone in these thoughts ~ in the past year alone, I have had unprecedented and numerous opportunities to hear researchers from all over the world discuss textiles and fibre art at: the Textile Society of America Tenth Biennial Symposium, Textile Narratives and Conversations held in Toronto (October 2006); the symposium that accompanied the About Jacquard exhibition at the MCCT (October 2006); the ReCrafting Tradition symposium, held at the Musée Des Maîtres et Artisans du Québec (November 2006); and at the New Craft, Future Voices International conference in Dundee, Scotland (July 2007).  

It was refreshing and exciting to hear fibre art and textiles approached from so many different perspectives and standpoints, and from this, one thing is certain – fibre art continues to be a vibrant and expressive medium internationally, which engages artists fully with opportunities to incorporate a wide range of technologies and materials into their creative process.  You will be introduced to many talented and innovative artists: from recent MCCT and Concordia University Fibres graduates, to more experienced artists such as Andrea Vander Kooij, Natasha St. Michael, Marie José Danzon, and Carole Baillargeon, to educators Louise Lemieux Bérubé, Ingrid Bachmann and Barbara Layne, who have dedicated their careers to teaching the fibres medium to scores of young artists. So without further ado, I give you the Québec issue of Fibre Quarterly.                   


 J. Penney Burton


J. Penney Burton – Biography:

J. Penney Burton is an interdisciplinary artist, writer and curator, and a huge fan of all things textile.  She came to art and fibres later in life, and has become deeply passionate about both.  A student of life, Burton has focused her academic research on the lives and works of contemporary Canadian textile artists.  While pursuing her MA in Art/Craft History and Studio Art (Fibres) at Concordia University, she spent her spare time making paper, recording and writing other peoples stories ~ obsessively, of course! After curating Connective Tissue and completing her Masters thesis this summer, she has recently commenced course work in a PhD program in Art/Craft History at Concordia University

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