Weaving Cultural Identities
Artists: 13 textile artists, 5 graphic artists
Medium: 10 individual textile works and 8 graphic representations
Dimensions (H x W) of each textile work: 102 x 56 cm (40 x 22 inches)
An integral part of the 2018-2021 Vancouver Biennale exhibition, this special exhibition was inspired by Paradise Has Many Gates, a chain-link structure that was installed for two years in a local oceanside park in Vancouver. This sculpture by Saudi Arabian artist Ajlan Gharem took the form of a spiritual space and challenged cultural barriers and our perception of communal spaces.
The early stages of Weaving Cultural Identities paired textile artists of different disciplines and backgrounds with graphic designers of various cultural descents. Based on their own experiences and histories, these groups collaborated to create a series of works celebrating the rich significance of textile arts (in both sacred and historic senses) through the inspirational art and conceptualization of prayer rugs and weaving/textile traditions.
Collectively these artists developed a platform and process for community dialogue through arts-based, approachable discussions around uncomfortable issues of belonging, forcible displacement, diaspora, assimilation, and honouring land presently shared by several groups. In bringing together diverse communities, the Weaving Cultural Identities project encouraged dialogue around the acknowledgment and celebration of local Indigenous and migrant histories.
INSPIRATION FROM LOCAL PRAYER RUGS
Weaving and textile arts are universal mediums that transcend time, space, and language; many textile designs, including those found in prayer rugs, have a unique ability to connect communities through the depiction of local motifs, patterns, materials, and landmarks. Local prayer rugs are associated with a spiritual connection to place and, in essence, a connection to peoples through a shared experience of space.
By connecting communities through place, and by integrating motifs and design elements from different cultural and artistic traditions, Weaving Cultural Identities encouraged the textile and graphic artists to dig more deeply in order to explore their own sense of cultural identity, while representing part of a larger, local narrative honouring ancestral legacies and celebrating inter-cultural relations.
Weaving Cultural Identities was further inspired by a successful initiative in Edmonton, Alberta, to develop a Canadian Prayer Rug. This initiative was developed in 2016 by a nonprofit Muslim youth group called Green Room as a means of highlighting the city’s rich landscape and unique history of their Muslim community. With extensive research and community input from Muslim and Indigenous groups who had inhabited the land for several generations, the project was infused with even greater profundity.
Similarly, the Vancouver project engaged groups from diverse cultural backgrounds to work with Muslim artists and First Nations groups to reconcile lost heritage and to share, learn and celebrate cultural knowledge, symbolism and self-identification through textile traditions. As the artists expanded on the concept of Canadian Prayer Rugs, the project became an exploration of the multiple narratives of Vancouver, developed through the storytelling of diverse multicultural perspectives. As the Weaving Cultural Identities exhibition tours Canada, the dialogue will continue in diverse settings and venues.
Artist Panel: Weaving Relations: Developing Platforms for Reconciliation
Featured Textile Artists
Angela George, Textile Artist
Chief Janice George and Buddy Joseph, Textile Artists
Dawn Livera and Adrienne Neufeld, Textile Artists
Krista Point, Textile Artist
Nadia Sajjad, Textile Artist
Ruth Scheuing and Mary Lou Trinkwon, Textile Artists
Shamina Senaratne, Textile Artist
Michelle Sirois Silver, Textile Artist
Debra Sparrow, Textile Artist
Robyn Sparrow, Textile Artist
Featured Graphic Artists
Doaa Jamal, Graphic Artist
Damian John, Graphic Artist
Sholeh Mahlouji, Graphic Artist
Michelle Nahanee, Graphic Artist
Kit Walton, Graphic Artist
Detailed artist bios can be found here.
If your organization is interested in hosting this exhibition, please contact us at [email protected].