Weaving Cultural Identities

Touring Exhibition


Artists: 10 textile artists, 5 graphic artists

Medium: 10 individual textile works and 8 graphic representations

Dimensions (H x W): 102 x 56 cm (40 x 22 inches) for each textile work


This special exhibition is part of the 2018-2021 Vancouver Biennale exhibition, whose theme is re-IMAGE-n. Inspired by Paradise Has Many Gates, a chain-link structure that was installed for two years in a local oceanside park. 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 Weaving Cultural Identities initiative encourages dialogue around acknowledging and celebrating local Indigenous and migrant histories, while bringing together diverse communities. The early stages of this project paired ten textile artists of different disciplines and backgrounds with graphic designers of various cultural descents. Together, these groups collaborated based on their own experiences and histories to create a series of works that celebrate the rich significance of textile arts (both in a sacred and historic sense) through the inspirational art and conceptualization of prayer rugs and weaving/textile traditions.  Collectively these artists have 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.




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, this project encourages artists to dig more deeply in order to explore their own sense of cultural identity, while representing part of a larger, local narrative that both honours ancestral legacies and celebrates inter-cultural relations.

This project 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, share, learn and celebrate cultural knowledge, symbolism and self-identification through textile traditions. As these 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 during the next two years, the dialogue will continue in diverse settings and venues.


Artist Interviews


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.


Exhibition Inquiries

If your organization is interested in hosting this exhibition, please contact us at [email protected].