Warm Crafts and Cold Architecture
A Summer 2015 Yukon Prospector Web-Extra
The Yukon Arts Center opened two new exhibits on Thursday.
Found, Forged and Fused contains 50 craft-works in honour of Craft Year 2015. In the room next door, the Arctic Adaptions exhibit looks at the past, present and future of architecture in Iqaluit.
Artist Ann Smith started the opening ceremony with a moment of silence, and prayer “to acknowledge our people and traditions”. One of Smith's traditional weaving pieces is being shown in the gallery.
In fact, her Raven’s Tail weaving is one of curator, Garnet Muething, favourite pieces. It’s an intricate black and white shawl that smells faintly of campfire. Meuthing said they allow people to take out the artwork, and use it for dancing occasionally.
“That’s what it was intended for,” she said.
"It’s a conversation, when an artist reaches that level of comfort with their materials it becomes a partnership."
There is no widely accepted distinction between art and craft. But some people consider art to be purely the expression of an idea, whereas a craft can be useful in more practical ways.
Muething believes the distinction lies in the connection an artist has with their material. “It’s a conversation,” she said. “When an artist reaches that level of comfort with their materials it becomes a partnership.”
Harreson Tanner sits on the board for the Friends of the Yukon Permanent Art Collection. They put a call out each year to ask for potential submissions to the collection.
This year they only asked for crafts.
He says they received a good response, and had the budget to purchase eight new pieces for the gallery.
“These were all hand-made, forged and found objects. There’s some spectacular knitting, carving and beadwork. It’s some of the best you’ll see in this country,” he said.
The collection now has over 370 pieces said Tanner.
“What I find so interesting, is at this point in the collection we start to see generation after generation of artists from the same family,” said Muething.
Smith’s work sits beside a carved paddle from her son, and a bronze canoe from her husband. Likewise, work from Annie Smith (no relation to Ann) and her family sat in another corner of the room.
“I love these connections,” said Muething.
Across the way, a futuristic black and white display is juxtaposed with the warm cadre of crafts.
Mason White has been working on Arctic Adaptations for the last four years. It recently received a special mention at the 2014 Venice Architecture Biennale – something one man said was akin to winning bronze at the Olympics.
“It’s a lot different than just curating a gallery,” he said. “This was a huge project.”
The display takes a multi-level look at architecture in the chilling northern region of Nunavut.
Against one wall are 15 carvings of traditional and historic architecture. Hanging on the others are a collection of circles that look something like weird moonscapes, showing the current architecture of 25 communities in Nunavut. In the middle is a series of slabs that show ideas for future buildings.
It’s a look at how these communities deal with modernization and tradition said White.
Both exhibits run until August 29, 2015. They can be seen at the gallery from Monday to Friday, 10am-5pm, and Saturdays from 12pm-5pm.
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