*** NOTE ***
By Anna Sarkissian
Students in the fibres program in the Faculty of Fine Arts aren’t just mending socks, knitting sweaters or making baskets.
Six graduating artists from the six-credit Advanced Fibres course came together to host The F-Word: The Future is Fabulous, a four-day exhibition at Ctrllab, a gallery founded by Concordia grads Eduardo Menz and Shermine Sawalha.
At the vernissage on April 16, they displayed a video projected onto a quilt, gift-wrapped parking meters, intricate beadwork on canvas (which spelled out “What a waste of time and money,”) and silkscreened copies of artist Jeff Koons’ work. The oft misunderstood discipline has been fighting for its place in the art world in the way that painting never had to, says fibres major Katie Earle.
“There hasn’t been a lot of recognition of it as an art form,” she says, though things are changing thanks in part to the support of institutions like Concordia with a strong department, Faculty and Hexagram.
The cross-media fibres program offers undergraduate and graduate degrees that explore “the relationships of material to culture.” Students are exposed to both traditional and digital processes, including silkscreening, dyeing, computer-assisted weaving, knitting, paper-making and more. Public performance, video and installation are also integrated.
Earle was inspired by current events for her contribution to The F-Word, which was a fashion show of garments made with shibori weaving, in which the cloth is woven, gathered and dyed, a process which gave rise to tie-dye.
Models lined up wearing her designs and paraded through Ctrllab. At a certain point, “security personnel” stopped them and began searching them, removing patches of the clothing to reveal bare midsections, hips, backsides and breasts. “Everybody is treated as a site for potential terror,” she says, noting that her pieces were created in reaction to heightened security measures at airports worldwide.
Alexis Boyle presented a series of wearable works, one of which was a silver plane/shark suit/space suit called I believe I can fly, which she wore on St. Catherine St. She had a large crowd of marketing students staring down at her from the Faubourg asking, “What are you selling?”
A number of people approached saying they hoped she was getting paid well for her efforts as she motored around making airplane noises.
“Illustrating faults, dreams, and doubts by publicly performing these works demands attention in a blending of funny, fantastic and pathetic,” she wrote in her artist’s statement. “This joyful melancholy [...] reflects my use of humour as a personal coping strategy in life and art.”
Lael Williams, Madeleine Pippa Bartlett, Stephanie Lau and Marie Horstead also contributed to the show, which Earle says gave them all the opportunity to experience life as professional artists: creating a relationship with a gallery, applying for funding, and promoting and mounting an exhibit.
“I think it pushed us to make even stronger works than we would have for class,” she says.