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Curatorial Statement: Textures of Canada

Contemporary Fibre Artists Explore Canadian Identity

Often, when people think of Canadian artists, they think of the Group of Seven, or Emily Carr. These famous artists are indeed icons in Canadian art, but their works are approaching a century old. This exhibition aims to explore whether there is a new identity on the horizon for artists in this contemporary, multicultural, geographically dispersed society we call home. Textures of Canada is intended to foster dialogue among artists and the viewing public about what constitutes our national identity, and the role of artists within it.


Textiles are an excellent art medium to reflect culture and identity. From the dawn of time, textiles have kept us warm, dry, comforted and protected. We wrap ourselves in symbolic cloth – uniforms, flags, ceremonial dress – to represent culture, heritage, authority, and national pride. For right or wrong, textiles also indicate wealth, status, roles, identity, and relationships in society. They provide beauty, utility and decoration, and they are a highly valued record of human life.

A major goal of Textures of Canada is to create a visual display of the subject matter, media, and practices of Canadian textile artists today. The Call for Entry (in 2025) will emphasize that submitted works are to:

  • be based on the artists' own ideas of what it means to be an artist in Canada; or

  • illustrate their ideas or lived experiences in family or community, location (sense of space/geography/region/physical environment), cultural environment ( heritage, identity, history), or other influences on their artistic expression.


Another goal is to identify any commonalities or unifying elements among the pieces submitted and/or selected for the exhibition. The artworks, together with the artist statements, will provide clues as to how textile artists define themselves or see themselves as ‘Canadian’ artists.

Very importantly, The Grand National aims to showcase the work of Canadian fibre artists locally, nationally, and internationally. Where textile arts were once relegated to a home-based craft setting, traditional fibre techniques are now appearing in fine art exhibitions around the world and achieving critical recognition for expressive thought and excellence in design. Perhaps spurred by current ethical debates around fast vs slow fashion; synthetic ‘miracle’ fibres vs organically produced vs bio-engineered fibres; chemical vs natural dyes; and growing concerns about humane and ethical manufacture of clothing, fibre artists are finding their voices. They need to be seen and heard as part of Canada’s vibrant cultural community, here and abroad.


Judy Weiss, Curator

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