A Common Thread: Textiles from Stó:lō, South Asian and Mennonite Communities
September 24 – January 3
Opening Reception September 24 at 7 pm
The Reach Gallery Museum Abbotsford, working in collaboration with the University of the Fraser Valley (UFV) Faculty of Arts, The UFV Centre for Indo-Canadian Studies, the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC), Stó:lō First Nations educators and artisans and the Maiwa Foundation, opens A Common Thread: Textiles from Stó:lō, South Asian and Mennonite Communities on September 24 at 7 pm. A Common Thread explores a tapestry of cultural traditions from weaving to quilting to the story-telling that embroiders each piece of work.
The partners have been working on the exhibition since early 2009. “Although this is an exhibition related to the celebration of the United Nations International Year of Natural Fibres, the focus is about bringing communities together” says The Reach curator Scott Marsden. “It has already brought together a diverse group to work together on this show and now will bring the larger community together through the universal language of textiles.”
The Stó:lō weaving tradition, which was almost lost until the 1960’s, is now a part of an international cultural renaissance of Salish weaving. Today Stó:lō weaving contains many beautiful designs each with specific symbols and meanings. One of the last examples of a traditional Salish woven blanket (circa 1830) will be in the exhibition courtesy of the Chilliwack Museum and Archives.
The Mennonite Central Committee has contributed quilts from quilters that incorporate a range of traditional and contemporary motifs. The Mennonite quilts are about family connections. Through quilting, utilitarian objects are elevated with imagination, enterprise and love to the status of an original art form.
The Ralli quilts from the India Pakistan region are made from fragments of other fabrics and are an integral part of the cultures from which they originate. The Ralli quilting tradition goes back thousands of years. Maiwa Foundation’s Charllotte Kwon says, “Ralli quilts tell the stories of women and the strength of tradition, history and community.” The Maiwa Foundation, established in 1997 by Maiwa Handprints Limited of Vancouver, is contributing these artefacts that attest to the great creative talents of their makers.
Artist Lois Klassen’s Comforter Art-Action: Princess City installation will also be part of the exhibition. Since 2001 Klassen has hosted Comforter Art-Action, an ongoing material response to human displacement that has involved over 200 individuals and groups from over 20 countries and was recently featured at The Glenbow Museum’s Sew City exhibition in Calgary.
On September 26 from 1 to 5 pm the Reach will host A Common Thread Forum. Speakers include:
Princess Urmila Devi - India - Treasured Textiles from Private Collections
Lois Klassen - Comforter Art-Action and other Bedtime stories
Val Pankratz - Quilt Trunk Show
Two lecturers from Maiwa’s bi-annual symposium will also be presenting at The Reach Gallery Museum Abbotsford. Tuesday, October 20 at 7 pm author Stephen Huyler will discuss his book Daughters of India: Art and Identity. In this lecture he will present individual profiles and place them in context of broader Indian textile arts and the development of women’s creativity as a part of their own personal empowerment.
Dr. Elizabeth Wayland Barber speaks on her book Women’s Work: The First 20,000 Years: Women, Cloth and Society in Early Times on Thursday, October 29 at 7 pm. Dr. Barber illustrates how the economic engine of the ancient and early modern worlds was the fabric of industry and almost the exclusive province of women. Dr. Barber is Professor of Archaeology and Linguistics and co-chair of the Classics Program at Occidental College in Los Angeles.
A Common Thread opens September 24 with a reception with wine and hors d’oeuvres from 7 to 9 pm and opening remarks from 7:30 to 8 pm. Also opening on September 24, Stories to pass on … by Deanna Bowen, September 24 to November 8 in The Great Hall and Passions in Abstract by Myrtle-Anne Rempel, SFCA, CSPWC, September 24 to November 1 in The Grotto and South Gallery. The Reach is located at 32388 Veteran’s Way (corner of Trethewey and South Fraser Way) in Abbotsford.
Admission to the exhibitions, forum and talks is free. For more information please visit thereach.ca or call 604-864-8087.