Famished Road Ecology (for 25 Million Refugees)

Tonight is Nuit Blanche in Regina! Indeed, white flakes are already starting to fill the city's windy streets that are expected to be white by evening. Otherwise, the Slofemists' part of the Dunlop Gallery's "Stitch and Time" exhibition will add colour to the night.

Join us at the Dunlop through the white night. In the gallery's warmth there will be stitching, a reading cart, a menditation circle, and a table for you to add your intentions to mend and recipes to realize that intention. Lori and Lois will be there to guide you in all of the above, and to get some slow and intentional conversation going on the many topics that they are bringing to this city's night of art: ecology, forced and natural migrations, intentions for change, feminism, textiles, time, and more. 

Famished Road Ecology (for 25 Million Refugees) is a new embroidery pattern that the Slofemists designed especially for Nuit Blanche Regina 2019. The stitches laid down onto unbleached cotton panels will be added to Jennifer Kim Sohn's 25 Million Stitches--a project that is working to realize the quantity of refugees listed by UNHCR in 2016 .

Slofemist_Road_PatternDownload pattern - Download Slofemist_FamishedRoad_Pattern

Visitors to the gallery will see that Slofemists are in the colourful and profound company of artworks representing the other projects that are part of the longer-running "Stitch and Time" Generator project. These include: Mindy Yan Miller and Suzanne Miller: Needle and Thread, Heather Majaury and Terre Chartrand: Neighbours: A Community Quilting Project, Stacey Fayant: Hand-Sewn with Love/kashkwaykashoon a maen avik shakihitowin .

This week, the Slofemists (Lori Weidenhammer and Lois Klassen) are stitching and menditating at the Dunlop Gallery. Come to stitch and menditate. After Nuit Blanche other activities will take place including stitching menditation masks and menditation circles:


MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 30, 4:00 – 8:00 PM

TUESDAY, OCTOBER 1, 12:00 - 4:00 PM

WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 2, 4:00 – 8:00 PM

Recalling recent collective stitch-in's

When, in about 2013, Lori Weidenhammer and I came up with the idea of facilitating collective sewing and dialoguing events, we were trying to revive feminismS. To emphasize how we were demanding that feminism be accountable and responsive not just to women but to marginalized others and the environment, we adopted a capital "S" from the text, “FeminismS Without End…”, by Randy Lee Cutler and Magnolia Paulker, FUSE (Summer 2012). Cutler and Paulker described capital S feminismS this way:

"As the crisis of late industrial capitalism unfolds and the tide of popular protest is on the rise around the world, the radical potential of feminist, gender, and queer politics must be actively engaged as the ongoing legacy of feminismS. Acknowledging the specificities of individual embodiments enables us to begin to trace and intervene in our own complicity within the multitude of repressions, both historically and at present.”

With Lori's enormous know-how and history as a bee and garden advocate, Slofemists have always included environmental accountability in our version of Slow-feminismS.

I'm recalling all of this as Lori and I are working together again. Our new project with Dunlop Art Gallery will challenge participants to make and commit to intentions to mend what is broken or wounded in their lives and worlds. This will be part of a series of events in A Stitch and Time, an event series hosted by the Dunlop Art Gallery in Saskatchewan.

With the embroidery and sewing demands of the Slofa and its beautiful cushions completed, Slofemists seem free to take up others actions and to consider other capital S specifics. Here are a couple of other events that we have been lucky enough to encounter and work on during the past 12 months.

On August 19 2019 I participated in a some-what impromptu "Stitch-In" hosted by Dawn Livera and Yoo-mi Lee inside of a public artwork, Paradise Has Many Gates by Saudi artist Ajlan Gharem. Paradise takes the form of a small mosque through chain-link fencing which Gharem has used as material for the walls, ceilings, towers, and even a few sparse decorative details. According to the description from this work's hosting organization, Vancouver Biennale, Paradise is expected to make passers-by and users of the space think about the intensification of fences and borders that are limiting people's mobility and are intensifying intolerance of asylum seekers and immigrants. With those themes, it was a perfect setting for Livera and Lee to get us to put stitches onto fabric panels which will be part of the project "25 Million Stitches" by the artist Jennifer Kim Sohn. Sohn expects that it will take 2000 panels (15x30") filled with hand stitching to demonstrate the volume of 25 million--the number of individuals that UNHCR estimates are currently refugees on the globe. It is important to note that the term "refugee" is only one category in the larger number of nearly 71 million "forcibly displaced" people. I have trouble picturing 2000 stitched fabric panels, which Lee and Livera thought would fill a gymnasium, but I can picture a single stitch which is one or two millimeters, depending on the skill or style of the sewer. Lori and I hope to integrate "25 Million Stitches" into our events at the Dunlop. Stay Tuned!

Back on December 6 2018, and then a few more times since, Slofemists joined a small but determined Status of Women Committee to host sewing and rubber-stamping events in the library of Emily Carr University to mark the annual National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women. Along with Carly Diab (Librarian) and Elizabeth Mackenzie (artist and Faculty Member) we set up space for people to collectively create a banner marking the people whose lives have been lost as a result of gender-based violence. Many people were involved in the research and design of this project. The resulting banner is beautiful, and unfortunately never-finished. It is hanging in humble tribute to those named, at the foot of the stairs in the Ron Burnett Library + Learning Commons at Emily Carr University of Art + Design in Vancouver, Canada.


Finally, enjoy this renovated blog site. All of the texts are by Lois Klassen, unless otherwise noted.


All membranes are porous

A metaphoric feature of Slofa that has not so far been talked about or noticed or mused over is it's skin-like function in covering sitting surfaces that are maybe not so contiguous or new or pretty. As a furniture cover it designates a sitting surface different from what is under or inside of it. Wearing all of the little stitches and knots and minor mistakes and beautiful creations of Slofemists embroiderers over several years it is not just the thing that is looked at, its skin-like function is now one of its features.

Or at least that is one of the meanings that comes from its inclusion inside of the exhibition, All membranes are porous, which is now presented at Kamloops Art Gallery. This exhibition, curated by Charo Neville, brings together works by six Canadian artists that explore dynamic conditions and phenomena familiar to human embodiment --the experiences of living as a body. In her curatorial exhibition walkabout, which preceded the exhibition opening last week, Neville led the crowd in breathing exercises and proudly described how this exhibition would be her last professional output before her own swollen body would deliver an expected baby. Fittingly, this is a project that demands that the viewer use more than just the eyes. The body is expected to maneuver around precarious foam, ceramic and felt sculptures (Zoe Kreye and Luanne Martineau), sit through psychedelic eye-popping effects (Jeremy Shaw), and experience diverse video installation spaces, where the way one's body is positioned or held, is part of the video's effect (Jeremy Shaw, Pascal Grandmaison, Sarah Anne Johnson, and Margaret Dragu). The work of the Slofemists forms surfaces for that kind of altered or enhanced viewing in Margaret Dragu's The Library Project. 

Here are some photos of how Slofemists participants Rebecca Pasch and Lois Klassen experienced the exhibition and opening events. Excerpts of the exhibition notes that describe the Slofemists work is here - Download KamloopsArtGallery_Dragu001.

Congratulations to artists, Margaret Dragu, Pascal Granmaison, Sarah Anne Johnson, Zoe Kreye, Luanne Martineau, Jeremy Shaw, and curator, Charo Neville, and everyone at Kamloops Art Gallery!



The Slofemists' Intensive


Embroidery by Karin Millson

Since the fall of 2013, the Slofemists project and its many participants have slowly worked away at embroidery, feminism, self care, group care, and local ecologies --all with deliberate slackness. Not so much sluggishness as a rebellion against speed, the Slofemists project has been a methodology of feminist survival, an excuse to gather and exchange life skills and stories and to produce a pretty singular pile of embroidered creations.

Organizers, Lori Weidenhammer and Lois Klassen, are excited to announce that later in 2016, the work of the Slofemists will appear inside an installation by Margaret Dragu at the Kamloops Art Gallery (September 24 - December 31). In this exhibition the Slofa patchwork, on which so many hands have worked, is expected to designate a place for gallery visitors to view a very special collection of Margaret Dragu’s video archive. Her work called “The Library Project / Commodification of Touch” offers a profound view of people in the act of personal knowledge exchange.

You are invited to join the Slofemists in the final (intensive) production of the Slofa patchwork and other peices for this exhibition project.

The Slofemists' Intensive will take place at the Moberly Arts & Culture, 7646 Prince Albert Street, Vancouver, Canada.

June 23: 9 am to 2:30 pm
June 24: 9 am to 5 pm
June 25: 9 am to 3:30 pm

Everyone is welcome. No textile proficiency is required. This site will become an open textile studio during those times, so feel free to bring your own projects (or mending, etc.), to come and go, or just to enjoy the vibe. As usual, Weidenhammer and Klassen aim to mingle the collective handwork of the workshops with fun and empowerment: topical discussions, collective food, garden time and self-care.

IMPORTANT - Please confirm the times that you plan to come to ease in planning, especially food and supplies - [email protected]



Embroidery report from Santa Fe, NM


A wall of needle work at Tecolate Cafe on St. Michael's Drive in Santa Fe, New Mexico

 At the Santa Fe Art Institute’s Emigration/Immigration themed residency, embroidery is infiltrating artists’ practices.

A couple of days ago, Osvaldo Ramirez Castillo organized an after dinner Mapping/Tracing Migration Workshop. In it he provided us with small stretched canvasses, thread, needles, scissors and the instructions, “describe your experiences or ideas of migration critically onto 10' x 10' piece of stretched raw canvas using needle and thread.” Our embroidered, altered, and deconstructed canvasses are now floating around the residents’ living and studio spaces here are SFAI.

As expected, the workshop generated interesting discussions –not just about immigration but also embroidery. For the benefit of Slofemists far and near, here are a few of the projects discussed:

Last summer at Neuberger Museum of Art, artist Teresa Margolles assembled a series of collectively produced textiles from various sites (South, North and Latin Americas), which revealed and produced links (knots) between the embroiderers’ experiences of violence and the textiles themselves. We discussed the way she engaged families and communities grieving the deaths of loved ones from violence in the embroidery of the morgue shrouds that carried bloodied imprints of victims’ bodies. Teresa Margolles: We Have a Common Thread. Thank You to fellow SFAI artist-in-residence, Erika Harrsch, for highlighting for us Margolles's work.

Also linking embroidery to violence, there is a tradition in Japan of embroidering pieces of fabric to protect warriors heading to war. Traced to the Sino-Japanese War (1894-1895) but becoming ubiquitous in the second world war, the practice of making Sennin-bari involves women preparing white bands of fabric with 1000 red embroidered French knots as symbolic protection garments to be worn by men heading to war (usually worn around their waists). Each of the knots needed to be collected from different women embroiderers, although women born in the year of the dragon were able to add multiple knots (up to 35) to each cloth. Women would gather in public spaces like train stations to collect from each other the requisite knots. The practice was known to hold a radical element, since it provided women a means of offering a contradictory message of hope for survival, when the official rhetoric of the Imperial Japanese government insisted that these men carry the more honourable duty of dying for their country. This article describes the practice, with photos - Needleprint.blogspot.com. Thank You to fellow SFAI artist-in-residence, Yoko Inoue, for telling me about this small piece of Japanese textile culture.

The elaborate portraits “painted” with embroidery by Cacye Zavaglia are inspiring. In this video, Zavaglia describes her process: https://vimeo.com/51107397

A “radical” feminist embroiderer from Halifax, Anna Taylor, was listed as “best local artist” in a recent Guardian article - An insider's guide to Halifax: 'The perks of a city, as relaxed as a small town'. Thank You to fellow SFAI artist-in-residence, Emma FitzGerald, for telling me about Taylor's work.

Lois Klassen

My "migration embroidery" quotes the 1927 migration story of my grandfather.


Osvaldo Ramirez Castillo leads a migration embroidery workshop at SFAI


Slowing Slofemists

The last Slofemists gatherings happened at the Moberly Arts and Cultural Centre in June, 2014. Since then completed, embroidered panels from participants of gatherings throughout the year have been arriving in the mail. Photos of most of them are found on the Embroidered Panels page.

Thank you to everyone who joined us to embroider and talk in 2013/14! We've tried to list you all on the Participants and Supporters page.

Stay tuned for the next phase of the project in 2015 - when the panels become an oversized patchwork that will travel and perform!

Lori Weidenhammer & Lois Klassen


Karin Millson, Mnemonic Fingers (after Christa Dahl), 2014.

Feminists Listening

WOW what a lot of feminist news to process at the final 2014 Slofemists event last weekend...

Let's see how much I remember:

  • Hillary Clinton deflecting discussions during her recent visit to Canada of the formidible possibility of her breaking through the thickest of glass ceilings;
  • mansplaining, an as yet unarticulated cultural concept, courtesy of Rebecca Solnit;
  • the complex and contrary messaging of #yesallwomen;
  • Germain Greers's provocation - what will it be like when women are not needed to make babies? (in a lecture at the new Canada Human Rights Museum);
  • ... I'm sure there was more!

Here are a couple of podcasts that were shared:




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The reading lists

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Semiotext(s)'s new publication by Simone Weil inspired Sunday's SlofemistS. We wondered if the entrenched economic inequity based on gender, from stories in our families' histories, could be understood as what Weil describes as an unexamined and highly desired "truth" --the stuff of religions, and adherents to political parties. In "Note on the Abolition of All Political Parties" (first published in French in 1957, and now available in English as part of the Semiotext(e) Whitney Series), Weil decides that political parties, like religious groups, are incapable of critically examining the truth... "how can one desire truth without knowing anything about it?" (20). We wondered if her logic could be applied like this: how can one desire some "truth" (like inequitable distribution of family assets based on gender, for example) when one does not thoroughly examine the justice of this truth on all of the people involved?

Weil's essay ends: "Almost everywhere --and often for purely technical problems--the operation of taking sides, of taking position for or against, has replaced the obligation to think." (30)

 Other SolfemistS highlights from Sunday:

Lexie Owen is continuing her deconstruction / reconstruction project called For All The Boys I've Loved Before, that was featured in the graduate exhibition at Emily Carr University of Art + Design at the beginning of this month.

Kriss Boggild dug into her archive and brought along three issues of Makara: The Canadian Magazine by Women for People circa 1975-78. Coming out of an office on Commercial Drive in Vancouver, Makara's editorial policy was "'Canadian general interest alternative magazine by women for people.'... some art, some fiction/poetry, some politics, some humour, some health news, some children's features, some book reviews... We want to reflect the growing, moving, changing times, without making things appear impossibly dismal, because we believe in possibilities, and people who are working for new ideas, new approaches, new lifestyles. Do we sound fussy? We are!" (Vol 2, #4, page 10)

Jem Nobel brought a family story about the important but unacknowledged economic contribution that his mother had made in his extended family. He used the SlofemistS time and supplies to do his mending.

Margaret Dragu was completely delighted by the hazards the heavy weather had presented to her en route... I was so glad she made it!

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At the Contemporary Art Gallery last week visiting curators from Germany reminded me of this very common German suffix. When Verein is appended to its subject, it describes the inherent sociability of that subject. It means something like an active membership or association or group working together.

Kunstverein is something like the more established artist-run institutions in Canada in that they are art institutions that have been built up from a community of active members. Bart van der Heide, the director of Kunstverein Munich, described how he had come to love his institution's verein: a group of lovable and loving mostly middle age or elderly women who continuted to act as long term members, donors and champions of the institution.

Mostly, I remember hearing the words neiverein and frauenverein - the sewing groups and women's groups that my grandmothers eagerly attended on at least a weekly basis. I can hear these words spilling out of their mouths repeatedly, so much as to accumulate in mounds on the scrubbed surfaces of both their kitchens. Verein, verein, verein, verein was affectionately cited in almost all talking - it was creditted for gossip and for tragic news and for brilliant insights and all manner of resolution and restitution in one's local and larger universe...

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screen shot - "Frauenverein" image search, Google, 20140521