Running stitches on the famished road

After the Dunlop Art Gallery (Regina Saskatchewan) earlier this month, I took one of the three panels started in the Stitch in Time exhibit with me to Winnipeg Manitoba. I left it with my sister, Joan Baker, who took it with her to work where students visiting the Niakwa Place School Library got involved! Thank you, Joan, for explaining the project and urging students (Kindergarten to Grade 8) to learn about forced migration through hand work and textiles.





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

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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  • 20140622Moberly_01



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

Chaos of Surfaces

Remember the austerity of Swedish design? Remember the clean lines and huge expanses of white, cut through with perfectly placed blue pencil lines? Forget all that. This is what greets visitors at the entrance to the new Ikea-mega-complex in Richmond:



I have an untested theory that the quantity of textiles that we encounter in designed spces (retail displays, show rooms, new restaurants, etc.) is inversely proportional to the cost of textiles, and their transport to North America. In the last ten or twenty years (since NAFTA, infact) retail fabric stores have closed, restaurants have become fabric-free, curtains and tapestries are no where to be found in this city of glass... But look: Ikea has obviously sourced very inexpensive expanses of printed cloth, and even a cheap sewing machine to take home! None of this adheres to an ecological 100-mile way of living, but then:

"The Office for Soft Architecture finds the chaos of variation beautiful. We believe that structure or fundament itself, in its inert eternity, has already been adequately documented--the same skeleton repeating itself continuously. We are grateful for these memorial documents. But the chaos of surfaces compells us towards new states of happiness." Lisa Robertson, "Rubus Armeniacus: A Common Architectural Motif in the Temperate Mesophytic Region" in Occasional Work and Seven Walks from the Office of Soft Architecture.

Finished today, the latest Comforter Art Action:


Emily Simpson designed it from the box of mail-art-derived 6" squares in my studio. It was knotted on the street in downtown Vancouver as part of the Manomano Collective's TOGETHER 2012, street intervention (August 25, 2012) - manomano

Blankets in Motion Pictures

About a month ago I was sent links to these two, contrasting, motion pictures about blanket projects. Like a curator who has stumbled on contrasting but cohesive artifacts/creations, I wanted to put them side by side in a blog post, to show the depth of meaning that is embedded  in projects about blankets.

First, Pamela Calore from San Diego sent me a very simple image archive that she put together after spending a day in the company of Micaela Saucedo who is shown dstributing food and blankets for migrants in shelters and canals in her city. It is a collection of pitcutres that document the extreme living conditions for some of the homeless in border cities, and the work of people who are try to make their lives a little more bearable. Pamela is an artist and activist who works for the San Diego-based Border Angels advocacy group. Their activities can be followed here -


Next, Yvonne Mullock sent me a link to a blog that she has helped to set up for a group of Fogo Island quilters in Newfoundland - On the blog, I came across this video that Tim Wilson created with the backing of the Shorefast Foundation. The Shorefast Foundation is funding Yvonne's work with the quilters. They aim to create a massive stash of quilts to be used (showcased) on beds of the soon to be opened Fogo Island Inn. This short video gives a taste of the culture that produces the blankets, through a skilled, multi-generational group of women. Even the mummers show up... so it doubles as a holiday greeting.


OLD HANDS: The Quilts of Change and Fogo Islands from Shorefast Foundation on Vimeo.

Both of these videos are inpsiring a new chapter (a renewed action) in Comforter Art Action. Stay Tuned... let me know if you want to make a blanket(s) with me in 2013! loiszing[AT]telus[DOT]net


Honouring the Mending Aktion - Verb Woman Wins a GG

Congratulations to Margaret Dragu on winning one of this year's prestigeous Governor-General's Awards in Visual Arts and Media. How great it is to see her long career of gestures and interventions, correspondences, conversations, dances, bike rides, fictions -- in a word, AKTIONS-- recognized by the Canadian art world. Margaret has ammassed a vocabulary of art actions that describe to me a way of integrating creative experiments into a daily life and community. Living on the shoreline of an enormous land, she coreographs her body and the bodies of those around her to describe the conditions that we experience as individuals and as a collective.

Thank you for all of your encouragement, and your inspiration Margaret. And thank you for the mending aktions... sewing with me.



Read more about Margaret Dragu's Governor-General's Award here.

QR matters

I am trying to get a handle on materialism.

In the midst of QR_U (an open school) which is essentially a virtual and event-driven --a no-thing-- project, I keep thinking about the relationship of art and things. It's a bit like an irrepresible itch. Big things and little things. My things and other things that I can't seem not to notice. Even things that are not present. Maybe the absent things are the most interesting, come to think of it.

QR_U is a collaborative project that began when Emily Carr University MAA Candidate Elisa Yon asked Heidi May, Adam Stenhouse, and me to help her to launch something that would reflect the Emily Carr community of students and faculty during the upcoming W/HERE Symposium. Early in the design of this project that aimed to produce  an open school within (and without) a school, we looked to QR code technology as a way to invite exhibition participants to actively use the virtual school from the gallery, and for the gallery to be marked by the activity on line.

The QR code has some appeal as a printed thing. The tools needed to create it are free and easy ( but the tools to use it are far less so. To access the meaning behind the symbol, you need an internet-enabled smart phone or ipod upon which to load the free QR code reader app. Like the bar code scanners at retail check-out, the scanner on the phone will work to focus on the ancoring black squares until it registers about 60% of the image at which point it will bleep and begin to process the link to the url or other message hidden within the arrangement of tiny squares.

376516_283127705062611_100000961518100_787408_555854069_nIs the QR code a thing? does it signify a thing? does it make things happen? Those are the questions that the wall-sized QR codes that we hand painted into the QR_U exhibition space might be asking. The codes simply are a link between data and the material world. At QR_U their over-sized reproductions become the stage for an accumulation of ideas in the form of questions, responses and unofficial conversations that are enbaled through the events (open classes) in the exhibition and through the pages of running dialogue in the virtual school at

Adam Rothstein, in "City of QR Codes," Rhizome, September 15 2011, lets the appearance of QR codes on the streeetscape seduce him into a more and more attentive awareness of the marks and scars that the city wears in its undersurfaces and crevices. He is disappointed by our lack of imagination for the potential of this technology to hold enormous quantities of data, when all we use it for is to direct the user to a URL that could have just as easily been typed into the toolbar. He asks, why do things need to re-declare themselves? Why do we continually use technology to brand, re-brand and re-iterate? He is much more intrigued by the possiblity of becoming the scanner --what would it be like to decode everything, every scar on the surface of the street?

In class at QR_U today, we scanned and drew things. Dr Monique Fouquet and Heidi May's class reviewed how Emily Carr students have been taught creative processes and colour theory through various means like correspondence courses, TV and video education, and now internet-based courses. After that discussion, Matthew Isherwood (UBC Curriculum Studies MA Student) led us through a learning experiment: two still life drawings - first, we drew from a 'digital surrogate' then the actual thing was set in front of us to do again. I have not had many drawing classes, so it all seemed to be a lot of attention put onto a simple concept. Clearly, the two dimentional surrogate was much easier to draw, since it had already been compressed into a flat thing. When the actual thing--a chipped and stained hippie bean pot--came out of Matthew's bag it looked very strange -- much smaller and more irregular than our eyes and minds had formulated it, after the predictability of the digital photo.

With the second phase of the experiment, I can assure you that I really sweated to make that strange thing into a flat image... Thinking back on it now, it was something like Rothstein's experience of scanning not just the QR code markers but the neglected cracks and surfaces of the city. I started feeling a stirring --a love for that strange thing in front of me. An untranslatable bean pot -- frustrating and desirable, in the way it makes obvious my lack of technology to store it with a scan and a bleep.




Thank you Dr. Cartiere (Dean, Faculty of Graduate Studies, Emily Carr University of Art + Design)

Distinguished and honoured guests,
my fellow 2011 graduates,
faculty and staff,
and all of the loved ones who are here to celebrate with us
and those who are not able to be here today.

I want to personally acknowledge the support of my own family, who are far away from Vancouver and also my relations who have come before. During a recent project at Emily Carr, I was led to discover photos from my grandmother’s college graduation in 1938. Until finding the photos I did not know that any of my grandparents had attended, let alone graduated from, a post secondary institution.

Found in the midst of course work that dealt with a materialist sense of time, those photos made me aware of how we live concurrently in the past, present and future - through the things and stories that we encounter.

Even the place of our studies is permeated with the legacy of those who have gone before us.  I acknowledge that in this place to which most of us have arrived from someplace else, we are guests.

Vancouver is indeed a very old gathering place, and it is recognized as the unceeded traditional territory of the Coast Salish people. This is the source of confusion for international students and even Canadians from outside of British Columbia since, unlike the rest of the country, the aboriginal claim to most of BC has not yet been relinquished through treaties.

So owing to these gracious and hospitable people, histories and places, my task here is to speak a farewell to Emily Carr University on behalf of the graduating masters students.

Do you remember just over a year ago, during our Seminar in Research, we decided to host a group exhibition and a writing symposium under the title Killer Texts?

Leading up to the somewhat unlikely quote that inspired our exhibition, Avital Ronell in the book Crack Wars describes a moment in Flaubert’s Madam Bovary as the first declaration of war on unregulated drugs. In the book the apothecary wants to write the names of everyone who has been drunk on the door of the town hall.

Ronell writes:
“The drunk, like the adulterous Emma, liberates uncontrolled signs into a public sphere... Like the work which contains them, they become killer texts, triggering a chain reaction of uncontrolled mimetic caliber. Thus even translators of such a text are endangered by the effects of contagion.” (98)

In our exhibition we were considering the integration of art and text. Art and design are maybe like the public drunk or the adulterous Emma --they get circulated in public, as texts. People who read or encounter our ideas risk becoming infected by them.

In some ways, Avital Ronell uses drug addiction to capture our morbid attention, so that we think about public-ness. Does the liberation of radical and dangerous “signs” or unanticipated new ideas indicate a public sphere?

Much of these graduate studies have been an education in the production of unanticipated ideas, and in how to place them in public. From Dr. Burnett’s challenge in one of our first classes, to make something go viral, to the thesis project which challenged us to produce new knowledges within existing discourses, we were given the assignment to put ideas into the world.

And so, we took the first steps.

Besides Killer Texts, we presented at most of Emily Carr’s conferences.

We showed our work in Emily Carr exhibition spaces, on its exterior surfaces, and in a new exhibition venue, 1612 Gallery, where thanks to Helgi Kristiansson’s research project, solo and group experiments by us as well as and other graduate students from Vancouver and Europe were shown.

Our work was also seen throughout the lower mainland at:
the surrey art gallery’s e-mixers
Elissa Cristall Gallery
UBCs Norm Theatre
on Translink
the PNE Container Art Exhibition
and more

Further within Canada, we distributed our ideas to:
Banff Centre Residencies
Pecha Kucha Victoria
Nuit Blanch in Toronto
and the Western Canada Communication Graduate Student’s Conference in Nelson, BC with SFU and University of Calgary

Internationally, we presented Emily Carr-generated ideas at:
the Cross Border Relations Conference at the University of Washington
the National Association of Broadcasters conference in Las Vegas
Raleigh First Night in North Carolina
Society of Photographic Education in Atlanta, Georgia
Hub M3 at the University of Salford, UK
Lancaster University
Spike Island in Bristol, UK
the WAAG Society in Amsterdam
Kei University in Tokyo
and the Saudi Aramco Future Centre in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia

Originating from Europe, the Middle East, Australia, Iceland, the United States, Ontario, Manitoba, Alberta and BC - we are a group of people who have already begun to make art and design projects go viral in subtle and persuasive ways.

On behalf of the 4th graduating masters class, I want to end with a message to the relatively young faculty of graduate studies:
may this program be infused with a sense of simultaneous time - in which the histories and experiences of the region, the university, the instructors and most importantly the students are treasured and integrated within current practice and future planning
and, may the production of new and unexpected ideas, designs, artworks and texts through the people who study and teach in the MAA program, become viral within local and global publics.

With enormous pride, I say thank you and farewell to the MAA program at Emily Carr.

To my fellow students, may this be both a well remembered past and the beginning of a long and satisfying life work as artists, film makers, designers, writers, dancers, performers, and more. I will miss you all.

Congratulations on our collective achievements - now and in the future!

Lois Klassen
Emily Carr University of Art + Design Convocation
Chan Centre for the Performing Arts
May 7 2011