AGSM showcasing the history, culture and design of fibre arts

PRAIRIE BARNACLES, 1979. Collection of Manitoba Crafts Museum and Library, 581. Image: Dave Brown, LCR PhotoService (Photo source: Art Gallery of Southwestern Manitoba)

A touring exhibition featuring 39 textile-based artworks on the Canadian Prairies, including work by 32 Prairie artists, is now on display at the Art Gallery of Southwestern Manitoba.

“Prairie Interlace: Weaving, Modernisms, and the Expanded Frame, 1960 to 2000,” a collaboration between Nickle Galleries of Calgary and the MacKenzie Art Gallery of Regina, opened in Brandon on July 6 and will run until Sept. 9, drawing on private and public collections from across Canada.

The exhibition tells the story of the distinctive history of weaving, crochet and other fibre arts through the interlaced narratives of art, craft, feminism, immigration, Indigeneity, regionalism and architectural interior design.

The opening reception for “Prairie Interlace” took place at the Art Gallery of Southwestern Manitoba on July 6 at 7 p.m. in conjunction with the opening for “A Weaver’s Library,” an exhibition of work by Elaine Rounds, a Brandon-based artist whose work is also included in “Prairie Interlace.”

Rounds started working with fibre art in the ’70s, when the art scene was very much about texture, she said.

“It was so popular in the ’70s. There were people working in clay and fibre, glass, metal and wood. There was just lots being done.”

And although the stark beauty of the Prairies took some getting used to when she first moved to Brandon from the Rocky Mountains in Colorado, it wasn’t long until Manitoba’s big skies and wide-open fields began to inspire her work.

“I hadn’t experienced all the flatness of the Prairies,” Rounds said. Large landscape fibre artwork featuring a Prairie horizon in spring, summer, fall and winter are Rounds’ contribution to the gallery.

This season at the art gallery has been all about handcrafted works and textiles, said gallery curator Lucie Lederhendler. Having the “Prairie Interlace” exhibit during the summer is a continuation of that, she added.

“I think it’s a really special show,” Lederhendler said. “It’s telling this story of both the connection and detachment from the larger art world.”

The gallery also points to the tight-knit world that artists have created in Westman and across the Prairies. Co-curators Michele Hardy, Julia Krueger and Timothy Long say the exhibition features a concern for the integrity of materials, formal innovation and experimentation.

Light refreshments and drinks were served at the opening reception on July 6. The following day at 1 p.m., the public was invited to a tour of the exhibition led by curators Michele Hardy and Julia Kruger. The event was also livestreamed on the gallery’s social media channels.