Weaving Cultural Identities Threads Through Time
Threads Through Time
Artists: 8 textile artists, 1 graphic artist
Medium: 6 individual textile works and 2 graphic representations
Dimensions (H x W): 8′ x 4′ for each textile work, 31′ x 15′ rug
Location: Vanier Park (Paradise Has Many Gates art installation), Vancouver, BC
Funded by Canada Council for the Arts, Heritage BC, Government of Canada, Celebrate Canada, Buschlen Mowatt Nichols Foundation, Gearbase Vancouver
Partners: Museum of Vancouver, Canadian Sweater Co.
Weaving Cultural Identities is a multipart project by the Vancouver Biennale that brings together Indigenous and Islamic communities in a collaborative exploration of weaving traditions and histories, thereby unpacking uneasy issues of belonging, displacement, diaspora, the land, and identity. Through collective ‘making’ and dialogue, Weaving Cultural Identities has lent a platform and safe space for these uneasy conversations, whilst also providing an opportunity for learning about the ‘other’. The project is a visual manifest of prominent, national dialogues surrounding the reconciliation of heritage, and the sharing and celebration of cultural knowledge, symbolism, and self-identification through textile traditions. As a direct result of conversations arising from the recent and internationally talked about 2018-2020 installation, Paradise Has Many Gates by Ajlan Gharem, the Vancouver Biennale developed a special exhibition addressing the topic of belonging within a multicultural society.
Over several months, multicultural, creative members of the community engaged with both Islamic and First Nations groups through a month-long series of workshops. Drawing inspiration from prayer rugs and other woven and textile traditions, the participants began the creative process of unpacking their own experiences and histories to create a series of woven works and narratives aimed at celebrating the historical and sacred significance of textile arts and Indigenous and migrant experiences. The products of these collaborations resulted in ten unique narratives and small-scale textile pieces including Coast Salish weaving, Eastern-Canada rug hooking, Qalamkar (Iranian printmaking), digitally operated jacquard weaving, and more. These diverse works were displayed at the Museum of Vancouver in September 2018, along with a video of the artists reflecting on their experience.
As an extension of the first phase of Weaving Cultural Identities, Threads Through Time has invited six renowned Musqueam and Squamish weavers to engage in conversations on ways in which land has been colonized, shared and demarcated. Through these reflections, the weavers have created five individual, unique panels of 8 by 4 feet each, channeling their experience of the land and the voices of their ancestors. Inspired by this dialogue and in honoring these experiences, a multiethnic team of jacquard weavers and a designer have worked to create a large border which will hold these panels together, creating a 31 by 15 feet rug, as a symbol and product of this inter-community exchange.
A section of this border extends the weavers’ acknowledgment and respect to Muslim migrant experiences, through the following poem:
They were exiled from their mosques
And in their mosques martyred
So in the expanse of their exile and martyrdom
They built a mosque
By Efemeral (Poet)
This poem refers directly back to Paradise Has Many Gates, the Vancouver Biennale installation by Ajlan Gharem at Vanier Park, which inspired this project and also where the rug was unveiled on Multicultural Day (27th June 2019) before the celebratory Vancouver Biennale Real Canadian Potluck.
Stay tuned for more updates on our National Tour in 2020, where our Weaving Cultural Identities exhibition will be exhibited at five different venues.
Featured Textile Artists
Chief Janice George,
Ruth Scheuing and
Mary Lou Trinkwon
Featured Graphic Artists
Doaa Jamal, Graphic Artist
Special thanks to
Dr. Peter Jacobs, Tracy Williams, Jill Campbell
Zoey, Mima, Wei, Laura, Kotomi, Fariba, Zara, Chelsea, Anthea, Eleanor, Trish, Anahita, Laurie, Maliv, Darlene, Ada, JJ
Sponsors and Partners:
Canada Council for the Arts
Buschlen Mowatt Nichol Foundation,
Canadian Sweater Co. (Inderjit)
Museum of Vancouver
Damian George jr
+ 1 Musqueam (name forthcoming)
Our Muslim friends:
Dr. Amal Ghazal (and her 12 students)