From 2013 to 2016 Slofemists developed five patterns based on discussion themes. Totes containing patterns, embroidery supplies, and reading materials related to the pattern designs were available to Slofemists during and between events. The designs were embroidered onto colourful linen squares that were eventually sewn together into a lined patchwork panel called, Slofa. This lovely textile with its accompanying cushions forms is available to define and host a feminist space.
Lori Weidenhammer, Chocolate Gophers in Tribute to Colette Urban, 2013
Colette Urban (1952-2013) was a Canadian multi-disciplinary performance artist who had a rich and varied career for over thirty years. I rst saw her work at AKA Gallery in Saskatoon. She had produced an installation that included giant chocolate gophers. I instantly became a fan of the surreal sense of humour manifested in her work.
Barbara Fischer, “Colette Urban: Of Children’s Rhymes, Spiders, and Other Entrapments ... (1993),” Caught in the Act: an anthology of performance art by Canadian women, Tanya Mars & Johanna Householder, editors, YYZ Books, 2004, pages 406-413.
(Embroidery by Karen Gomes, Lori Weidenhammer, Lois Klassen)
Lois Klassen with Crista Dahl, Mnemonic Fingers: A Tribute to Crista Dahl, 2013
In 2013 I helped Elisa Ferrari at VIVO Media Arts Centre to curate the first solo exhibition of Crista Dahl who had been producing art for some 65 years. Hearing Crista talk about all of her various approaches to art, and the art worlds that she had explored over the years, was overwhelming and inspiring... “Life Rhythm, two words that identify my complete concept, is to be understood as life and its rhythms experienced through time, space and energy.” Crista Dahl.
Sharon Bradley, Crista Dahl, Amy Kazymerchyk, Donato Mancini, Alex Muir, and Cecily Nicholson, Anamnesia: Unforgetting : Polytemporality, Implacement and Posession in The Crista Dahl Media Library & Archive.(Vancouver, B.C.: VIVO Media Arts Centre, 2012).
(Embroidery by Karn Millson, Lois Klassen, Rebecca Pasch, Shirley Salomon)
Lori Weidenhammer, Pollen Sampler #1: Early Summer to Summer, 2013
Dorothy Hodges was an artist and a beekeeper who studied the pollen loads of honey bees. During WW2 she meticulously recorded the colours of seasonal pollen with water colour paint. Her book, The Pollen Loads of the Honeybee: a Guide to Their Identification by Colour and Form (London: Bee Research Association, 1952) includes her detailed drawings of pollen grains and colour charts inspired by the pollen she collected. I admire her courage as an artist to liaise with the scientific community. It has inspired my work as an artist/citizen scientist.
(Embroidery by Lori Weidenhammer, Lois Klassen, Cyndy Chewlos)
Lois Klassen, I Love Dick: A Tribute to Chris Kraus, 2013
I began to write a review of Chris Kraus’s Where Art Belongs on March 8 2012, International Women’s Day. On that day, I read this in her celebrated 1997 novel, I Love Dick, “‘Dear Dick,’ I wrote in one of many letters, ‘what happens between women now is the most interesting thing in the world because it’s least described’.” The novel describes the trouble that a smart woman encounters in the process of becoming an active creative agent. In it the character considers the regret of past artworks’ failures and craves intelligence and autonomy --like what she sees in the men around her. She is blocked, and in need of a really great love affair, or at least a smart encounter. It is a challenging and surprising book, which itself produced some well publicized drama.
Dear Chris, Thank You for the bravery that saturates your writing and editing. You manage to find power where power is least expected. And Thank You for demonstrating that diaries and letters can go public, and polemic. Lois
Gumport, Elizabeth. “Female Trouble.” N+1, no. 13 (2012). https://www.nplusonemag.com/issue-13/reviews/female-trouble/.
Lois Klassen, Margaret is a Verb, 2013
This pattern is derived from a blind contour drawing that Cindy Mochizuki made of Margaret Dragu during a residency at the Strathcona Field House. It pictures Margaret as Verb Woman strolling through the park. I met Margaret Dragu when Cindy Mochizuki, Jaimie Robson and I were making Archive City: Portraits of Lulu Island for the Richmond Art Gallery. For the project, we invited Margaret Dragu, who was a very active performance artist and community member in Richmond to be our first interviewee. At the time she was living in Finn Slough, a place referred to as “the longest running squatter community in the greater Vancouver area.” Margaret was the ideal first participant for Archive City – her generosity and enthusiasm seemed to overflow. She offered the project two gifts: a Lulu Island bike tour, involving her favourite food foraging spots, and a continual stream of stories concerning her life on the margins of the city. I loved her food diary photos that she emailed to us --the one of a large, spent soup bone became part of the exhibition. Margaret situates everyday experience in her art (and the other way around). So, as a friend of Margaret Dragu, I sense that I too have become a performer in the joyful and mysterious creative experiments that Margaret sends scuttling into public --through her inimitable videos or through any number of social networks. These days, her performances and videos make me feel that the lives of older women are vital and interesting. Performed, her life reveals an enormous repertoire of physical, emotional, and social gestures (verbs) that we have all rehearsed but often fail to recognize.
(Embroidery by Christina Thomas, Erika Defreitas, Elisa Yon, Karen Gomes, Lois Klassen, Wendy Oberlander, Susan Gardner, Wendy Klotz)
Lois Klassen and Lori Weidenhammer, Famished Road Ecology (for 25 Million Refugees), 2019
In 2019 we created a new pattern for Stitch and Time at Dunlop Art Gallery in Regina, Saskatchewan. Journeying home to the prairies was a way for the Slofemists to be reacquainted with plants—some of them wild and indigenous, others feral and introduced. The diversity of species in ditches is surprising. Roads carry people, but also seeds, spores, and pollinators. The road is “famished”, to use Ben Okri’s term, in its demands to carry our stories and to hold traces of us including the seeds and garbage we have left behind. On the prairies, roadways are a reminder of the way Métis people were forced to live along road allowances of surveyed roads and highways, from the late 1800s to the 1930s and 1940s, during the time of intensive European settlement.
The panels that were stitched in Regina with this “Famished Road Ecology” pattern became become part of “25 Million Stitches” by artist Jennifer KimSohn. In 2020 KimSohn aims to display 25 million stitches to represent refugees around the world. She estimates that it will take about 2000 of panels this size to represent that number. According to the UNHCR (2016 statistics) there are over 70 million forcibly displaced people, of which 25 million refugees are a part. By encouraging people to fill these panels with stitches, Jennifer KimSohn hopes that people will take time to consider the magnitude of displacement and what we can do to support people who are forced to migrate along the famished road.
(Embroidery by visitors to Stitch in Time at Dunlop Art Gallery and students of Niakwa Elementary School in Winnipeg, MB.)
(A Slofemist on a Slofa, Dunlop Art Gallery, 2019.)