The intersections where cultures converge are histories unto their own. Through acts of trading objects and ideas, all cultures are able to progress, which is to say that tradition and culture are always evolving. The combination of traditional and contemporary materials, the use of Victorian and Indigenous knowledge, is vital to Hannah Claus: "I work with mnemonic devices to write new narratives or create alternative ones for that which has been lost." Victorian and Iroquois patterns were inspired by their natural surroundings, and the amalgamation of numerous styles, forms and influences from other cultures. In the crafting of objects, the continuing motion of weaving, stitching, or beading is not only about the construction process, but also about growth. Through time and repetition, the maker, the pattern, and the designs are influenced and inspired by their surroundings, their family, cultural and political issues. This is what makes these items such important antiquities for individuals, historians and cultural groups. To create a textile, whether a carpet, a piece of lace, or a beadwork, can be a powerful way to communicate, according to Tricia Fragnito. "The fabric, whether it is a clear cotton, a warm wool or a shiny, silly synthetic sets the mood; the stitches set the pace. Whether painstakingly done by hand with a ruler or quickly sewn by machine, they can refer either to a time when women sat for hours perfecting a labour of love, or can convey the urgent need to express oneself with the tools at hand."* Hannah's carpet of pine needles, referencing both Victorian interiors and the forest floor, acts as a reminder of her own personal history. Her choice of design reflects her memories of growing up in a Victorian house, and the process of making the carpet reinforces these memories. A floral lace design of light and shadow mimics a constellation of stars, which act as markers to navigate within Hannah's own mythology. The absence of beadwork implies a sense of loss, but the activity of pricking pinholes expresses the artist’s inspiration to connect with her Iroquois past. Meanwhile, the scent and sound of a forest compels you to ponder your own personal history and maybe take a walk deeper into your own cultural past. Frank Shebageget
Thursday, May 2, 2002 to Saturday, June 15, 2002Opening
* from the catalogue text to “Blanket Statements” curated by Skawennati Tricia Fragnito, at the Walter Phillips Gallery, Banff, Alberta, 1999.
- Thursday, May 2, 2002