Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and restrictions on travel to Newfoundland and Labrador, the Craft @ The Edge Committee made the difficult decision to cancel the site-specific group exhibition, RE-CRAFTED, curated by Jill Price. The exhibition was planned to interact with indoor and outdoor spaces in the Bonavista area, a concept that was just not possible to realize without in-person visitors and the very real possibility of more lockdowns. The pandemic has undoubtedly changed how we experience art.
In recognition of the work that the artists and curator have contributed to the planning of RE-CRAFTED, please take some time to browse the artist spotlights below!
In a brief introduction to the book Exploring Contemporary Craft, Bruce Metcalf outlines contemporary craft as “the making of objects removed from necessity […] a collective response to industrialization. Metcalf also goes on to say how craft is cultural and “changes with society.” As the “great accelerationof the world’s populations and their needs continue to grow and economies persist in exceeding what the earth cancrafted is a curatorial thesis that argues craft, whether used as a noun, verb or adjective or described as fine, conceptual or “slocessary than ever in that it can provide us with the knowledge and skills to recraft the way we think about materials, what has value, one another and even the spaces we co-inhabit.
Emerging from a curated exhibition entitled UNMADE that featured makers from across Canada looking at unmaking as a creative act, RE-crafted was proposed out of a desire to come more in relation with craft practices that are “predicated on the principle that every creature is connected to every element that composes the environment.Recrafted meaning to “craft again or craft anew,with craft being the creative production of thought, deception or the process or product of handmade objects, this exhibition is also a national survey of work that undergoes and undertakes acts of unmaking to visualize how one might go about designing more sustainable ways of consuming and producing so as to push past the nostalgia of existing objects and narratives so as to arrive at alterations, contractions, remnants, fragments, orations, happenings, interactions or instructions that have the potential to dismantle institutional boundaries, hierarchies and ecological injustice.
Selecting artists to create site specific installations through a wide range of media, processes and contexts to draw attention to the material histories and futurities of Bonavista Newfoundland, I chose practices that strive to utilize the discarded as raw material. Despite the risk of still putting more objects out into the world, acts of reclaiming, reusing and reconfiguring still work to conceptually acknowledge how all things, whether machined or handmade, by virtue of their material nature and chains of production, are inevitably earth art or land art. This expanded definition of earth art or land art clearly outlines how it is from the land and water we acquire things and beings and it is to these two intricately linked bodies that our work inevitably returns as “livelywaste.
Invited to speculate on what needs recrafting and how the processes and materials of craft can be used visualize or to actualize the reconfiguration of thought, objects, beings and space, artists were challenged to propose interior and exterior installations that tap into broader social discourses to bring forward new narratives that disrupt the industrialization and capitalization of human and more than human bodies or acknowledge the histories and geographies often denied, undocumented or untold.
From the east coast of Newfoundland, Susan Furneaux and Stephanie Stoker divulge their process of taking seed to cloth to draw attention to the importance of practice-led researcwithin the processes of crafting and the knowledge and skills that come to matter. Amanda White also draws our focus to plants by recrafting the way we look at weeds and the everyday welcome mat.
From the west side of the province, Robyn Love looks at how collaboration and storytelling can help to recraft that which has been lost and repair our relations to our surroundings and one another. Also collaborating is Nova Scotia textile artists Pat Loucks and Violet Rosengarten who point to how we can all recraft the way we perceive and engage with industrial waste so as to help repair the waters and land upon which we rely.
Also understanding the value inJan and Twyla Exner. Now living in Edmonton, Jan utilizes reclaimed and collected ephemera to recraft human settings to awaken us to all of the other animal and plant beings that are embodied within manufactured environments. Exner’s gathering of technological waste is used to remind us that nature too is a form of technology that has the ability to communicate and repair if we will only listen and give it time and space.
Almost working in tandem but across different media to recraft the notion that things are inanimate or neutral is the work of Valerie Carew, Michael Simon and Bev Koski. Carew cleverly works at the intersection of craft and performance to demonstrate the liveliness of household furnishings. Simon, the most meta of the group, whimsically hammers out how the tools of craft have too been crafted. More intimately, Koski recrafts the tradition of beading in order to rethink the way we consider, collect and present bodies and iconography of cultures not our own.
Etching into the substrate of glass, Jennifer Anne Kelly rewrites east coast recipes as a way of scribing notations on the fragility of ecologies and their subsequent cultural practices across time. Working with body as his surface is textile artist and clothier Everett Wong. Recrafting what materials and patterns are normally used within the construction of traditional garments, Wong provides both the wearer and the observer new opportunities to explore one’s positioning, persona and purpose within different spheres.
Beyond individual approaches to visualizing or narrating what may need recrafting, collectively, these makers, by recrafting materials, objects and texts to re-insert them into traditional or non-traditional settings, also work to recraft our understandings of cultural dichotomies that work to keep us isolated from other “vibrant” human and more than human lives with whom we coincide.
To read more about each individuals work, I invite you to peruse the pages of this catalogue and visit their individual websites to discover the richness of their contemporary and interdisciplinary craft practices that enable us to question, reframe or blur definitions of that which is public vs private, professional vsamateur, craft vs art and Indigenous vs settler so as to build cooperation and community that demonstrates craft’s ability to serve as a form of activism and thrive while still acknowledging the earth as the work’s last audience and critic.
BFA ‘93, BEd ‘07, MFA‘17, PhD Candidate, Queen’s University ‘22
For more about Jill’s work as an artist and curator visit www.jillpricestudios.ca.