Jenny Western is a fan of the do-it-yourself (DIY) movement and other forms of crafts that are growing in popularity in the art community.
But she admits she has been cynical at times about their popularity.
Western is the Winnipeg-based curator for Hearth, the new exhibit in the Estevan Art Gallery and Museum’s Gallery No. 1. Hearth features the talents of six artists: Lindsay Arnold of North Portal; Kerri-Lynn Reeves of Virden, Manitoba; Suzie Smith and Becca Taylor of Winnipeg; and Heather Goodchild and Shannon Gerard of Toronto. Each of them contributed something unique to the project.
Hearth was curated specifically for the EAGM, and it has been in the works for several years.
Western finds crafts, handmade products, the DIY movement and homesteading are entering popular culture.
Some of it is great, but when she sees it at a corporate setting, she becomes skeptical.
“I wanted to see what artists were doing to see if there was anything that would respond to that movement I had noticed,” said Western.
As a curator, she is usually focused on writing and organizing exhibits, so she doesn’t get to create a lot of art. But she is gaining a greater awareness of it through interactions with her husband’s family, many of whom are very creative, and with artists such as those involved with Hearth.
“We don’t always come to the same conclusions about craft and art together, but I think this provides a bit of a sampling for people,” said Western.
Western knew some of the artists initially, but she hadn’t dealt with the others. Arnold was one of those she didn’t know, but Western is thrilled that Arnold agreed to be part of the projects.
“When I was in the research phase, and I told Amber Andersen, the EAGM director, what my idea was, she said there’s this great artist in the area, and I should check her out and see if she’d do anything,” said Western.
Arnold is a big fan of the do-it-yourself concept, and her family incorporated it in their artwork long before it was popular.
The doilies and the plates aren’t exclusive crafts for women, but they have proven popular with women over the years. Making china plates and tea cups was a popular activity among women in the Victorian age.
“I have a collection of old Victorian magazines and catalogues, and I just love looking at the images in there,” said Arnold. “For one thing, they were drawn. It wasn’t just a photograph.”
Doilies were included because Arnold finds they are incorporated into do-it-yourself projects, and she wanted to recognize the many hours needed to complete them.
“It is a very humble object, we see them as that, but they’re also very beautiful, and a lot of them have stains or loose threads or tears that … tell the story about that object,” said Arnold.
Hearth will remain in Gallery No. 1 until April 29.