Today, a blogger's didactic.... on the state of the fibre arts in our neighborhood and beyond! Your thoughts?
A few years ago, dear friend and forever mentor, HILARY SCANLON, passed the candle to me as FIBREWORKS Coordinator, asking that I carry on her 33 year commitment to delivering Creative Workshops to friends near and far who were committed to the Fibre Arts. Hilary had spent the best years of her life (after raising her children and standing beside her husband through his education and working career) building a small business which she so fondly called FIBREWORKS Kingston.
In 1979, while she was teaching at St. Lawrence College and creating the most beautiful fibre art pieces herself, Hilary committed to not only share her skills with others, but to bring the very best of the best Instructors in Textile Art - the history, diversity and technique to Kingston and provide a venue where their skills, shared through a workshops format could be available for like-minded arts enthusiasts throughout Southern Ontario. In all of her 33 years as Fibreworks Coordinator, Hilary ensured that the FIBREWORKS classrooms were filled with creative fun, exciting Instructor-led technique demonstration and inspiration for the students who attended the Workshops Series.
Starting in 1997, I was very proud to assist Hilary as a classroom assistant, Registrar and helpful friend in fibre until 2008. I stepped out of the team with Hilary's blessing and Donna Hamilton stepped in until the end of the 2012 season, with my goal being to devote time to my own art work and teaching at St. Lawrence College as a Professor in the Textile Design Program... only one of three in all of Canada. Several years have passed since the candle passed as FIBREWORKS COORDINATOR to me in 2013, and I am still as excited to bring our area and distance Canadian artists opportunities to study with wonderfully multi-talented Guest Instructors, and have the chance to learn the new techniques that are supporting the Textile Arts in Canada today as I was nearly eighteen years ago....
We have two truly amazing artists visiting with us this spring - HOLLY DEAN from Merrickville, ON and DIANNE GIBSON of Fonthill, ON - both well recognized exhibition artists and designers. Both are active in the arts community and provide not only sharing experiences in their studios and beyond, but are leaders in the arts fields through the exhibition art they share with the world. The workshops will run this spring and the small numbers of student participants will be afforded the wonders of study with these two Master Artists, and I will be there to observe the wonder and excitement as new art work evolves...the role continues.
For me... the commitment to FIBREWORKS is serious and a labour of love. We would really love to have you join us and spend time with these two beautiful and talented women artists.... do please make time to check them out!
Holly Dean's website: https://www.HollyDean.com
Dianne's Artist page at http://www.Connectionsfibreartsists.com
So, I decided today to use this forum to speak out...sharing the only thing that is troubling me about the role I serve in as your friend in the arts and Coordinator for FIBREWORKS Kingston. There is really a changing dimension in the communities of artists I support and serve. On one hand I understand it - but who is going to carry on the traditions and joy of sharing art in textile if we can't support the new ones walking into the field by encouraging them to participate and providing the venues for their learning? While years ago, we were a strong network and partnership of friends and colleagues in the arts, so many of our artist friends have decided to step back, to pull in... to work on their own once again as so many others did in the distant past.
Workshop interest and enrollment has dropped off, not only for FIBREWORKS, but we are seeing/hearing about it indeed all around the globe - in Guilds and Shops, at Retreats, online, and both at the national and international level . This can be attributed partly to the financial constraints many of us are feeling as we move from the working world of the adult partners in our homes, to suddenly feeling the impact of fixed incomes in retirement years... it just costs more to be a homeowner and support a family. But the changes are also attributable to the fact that many of our artists friends are now finding they are seemingly more content to work at home in their studios, and to share in smaller, more intimate settings, choosing to be with just their closest friends and sharing skills with each other at invitation only in-studio stitch days.
I fully understand, as this is a place I too have settled into...no longer bringing in a "working wage", and wanting to have the time to relax, with needle in hand, and stitch while enjoying the quietude in my home or with friends. This conflicts strongly with my goal of supporting FIBREWORKS in the Coordinator's role, and the commitments I have made to my quilting Guild(s), the new roles I have taken on with The Tett Centre Board of Directors and with my new friends at the Kingston Handloom Weavers and Spinners Guild. I really cherish time with my new friends in the CONNECTIONS Fibre Artists Group and with my long time colleagues in fibre art, the members of the Kingston Fibre Artists. I do enjoy sharing what I know and especially watching my students grow, so I will stay on at St. Lawrence College as long as there are students to share with and strive to encourage area artists to continue to support our Textile Design Program. I am a proud and honoured teaching partner and supporter of those who have stepped out of our classrooms -like DENISE SOKOLSKY, a graduate of the Textile Design Program at SLC, and who has moved on in the arts, and is now preparing her Thesis for her Masters in Fine Arts - Textiles at UMass Boston... how much prouder could an Instructor be?
So I would love to hear from you - how do you see the future of the Fibre Arts in Canada? In your towns and cities? What role do you play and what do you need to see your involvement in the Arts continue to evolve and be recognized? Please do keep the lines of communication open - be a part f the dialogue and don't forget to share your skills with friends - old and new.
And if you have time, come join us at the Spring FIBREWORKS workshops... all the details are here at www.fibreworkskingston.blogspot.ca (on the right sidebar). Come PLAY!