Fibre art weaves its way into Estevan

Cross stitched messages, venn diagrams from hair, and cowhide dotted the walls of the Estevan Art Gallery and Museum (EAGM) on July 10 for the opening of the Hi-Fibre Contentexhibit.

The thought-provoking exhibit features a collection of artwork based on contemporary craft-based art. Curated by Zoe Schneider and organized by the Organization of Saskatchewan Arts Councils (OSAC), the exhibit's craft-heavy pieces were created by Canadian prairie-based artists and are laced with political, satirical, and humorous themes. Hi-Fibre will be displayed until Aug. 16.

"This is the first exhibition I've curated and I'm lucky to have been able to work with such fantastic artists," Schneider said in her opening remarks, noting many of the artists she had met and worked with the past few years had been working with fibre, but in ways that were nontraditional.

"I decided that I wanted to use the platform of a touring OSAC exhibition to showcase the diversity found in contemporary fibre art and to contextualize the connections I had found in both the artwork being produced and the artists themselves," she said.

When asked which piece really stood out for her, she was quick to point out the cowhide piece by Mindy Yan Miller, a seemingly appropriate piece of art to be placed near the front doors of the exhibit.

"I think people will have an immediate connection to it because Saskatchewan is all about farms and the country, but with the contemporary application to it, it makes it visually very cool," said Schneider.

Amber Andersen, contemporary artist and director of the EAGM, said she's glad to see the craft-based artform rising in popularity. Ten or 15 years ago, she explained, this exhibit wouldn't have been making its way around the province.

"There was a period in time within the art world when craft went really out of fashion, and I'd say within the past five years, it's really built its way back into the art world. There are a lot of artists now in the world straddling that line of crafts and art, and are now being taken seriously, rather than being solely relegated in the world of craft," she said.

Andersen, who was the only artist in attendance Thursday night who had work in the exhibit, had several cross-stitched pieces that contained "treasured" words that we frequently send through text messages and then discard without thinking about them.

"There's so many of those lovely sentiments that you don't get to keep because of the nature of technology," she said, adding her work often deals with the home, its interior, and its surroundings. An interesting example of one of those words was "LOL," short form for laughing out loud, and though it's not necessarily a "treasured" sentiment, it's a word Andersen said we toss around so often without giving it any thought, so she wanted to try and give it a more permanent presence with her work.

The exhibit serves as a small scale "sampler" for Schneider, the Hi-Fibre's curator explained, and said she hopes people enter the gallery and leave with some interesting conversations in mind. She added it helped greatly that Estevan has a facility that's so well established, something other communities don't have.

"The fact that there are two gallery spaces so beautifully done, makes them a beautiful resource. To have this down here is really nice."

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