Monday, June 26, 2017

UDHR Quilt Block Focus

Two weeks ago I wrote about joining in on the Universal Declaration for Human Right's Quilt Project.  You can read about it here. Today I will explain the focus of my block and part of the meaning behind it.
Every artist in the project either asked for a certain article of the Declaration or was assigned one.  I asked for Article 27 which reads as follows:
 1. Everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits.
2. Everyone has the right to the protection of the moral and material interests resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic production of which they are the author.

This article covers a lot of ground in terms of the rights of artists and scientists and their freedom to operate within their culture or outside of their home culture, while also keeping their rights to the benefits of their work. Tal and Stephanie wanted to encourage the artists and crafters involved in this project to bring issues that matter to them to the forefront of their 8 x 11 inch block. We were also encouraged to use languages other then English if we were multilingual.  So the first part of my article is in English and the second section I've embroidered in French.

My mind jumped around quite a lot at the beginning because there are so many directions that a statement like article 27 can take someone. But as I narrowed my focus down, it became clear to me that my focus would be a Canadian issue and relate specifically to the relationship between First Nations and Canadian Settler cultures.

I have done enough research in the last few weeks to write a long essay on this topic. So in order to keep this to a comfortable blog post length I'll keep the explanation brief.

Sensitivity and respect are paramount to me when relaying any experience of a culture that is not in my ancestry, so how to represent cultures without appropriating imagery was a concern. I continued to narrow the focus and decided that for a textile based project I should focus on textiles. In that focus I wanted to depict how First Nations art was colonised by the two dominant settler cultures in Canada, namely the British and French empires. Since I have lived in Quebec and British Columbia I chose two First Nation groups from each region to feature. Coast Salish (specifically Squamish) blanket weaving, and Iroquois (specifically Mohawk) beading. From France I decided to use Toile style fabric and from England embroidery of an English rose.   

As the piece develops further I will share more images and will write more about the meaning of the piece.

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