Elizabeth Babyn Her Industry, Reclaimed

By April 2, 2019Exhibitions

April 6 -28, 2019

Opening Reception: April 6, 2 – 5  PM

up-cycled textile processes exploration: April 7, 1 – 4 PM

Her Industry, Reclaimed explores a variety of textile processes that women have historically advanced,

such as embroidery, mending, sewing, crocheting and, more recently, needle felting, through the

creation of tapestries made of up-cycled textiles. This project is an homage to my late mother Rollande,

as well as to generations of mothers and other women who have toiled and continue to work within the

textile industry in domestic, industrial and creative spaces.

Growing up in the sixties with six siblings on a farm in rural Quebec, my earliest memories are of my

mother sitting at the sewing machine making clothes and household items for us all. Her own mother

was a seamstress who died far too young, forcing Rollande at the age of ten to enter a Catholic

orphanage where she learned a wide variety of textile techniques (some of which were used to produce

work that would later be sold to help subsidize the orphanage). Unlike our current consumption-based

“fast fashion” textile economy, a lot of Rollande’s handiwork revolved around mending and

reconstituting both new and used materials.

Rollande derived creative satisfaction from the process of designing, altering and making textile goods,

as she worked to make ends meet in helping to support our large family.

As with so many other women of her time, domestic work within our home was taken for granted, since

it did not ever result in a physical paycheque; this is something that has long been observed, for instance

by Silvia Federici in her essay “Wages Against Housework.” Similarly, within the art world, textile work

was considered unimaginative and banal, since it was associated with work done by women within the

domestic sphere. As curator Janelle Porter explains, “Lurking behind such characterizations were beliefs

that fiber art wasn’t as good as painting or sculpture because it was traditionally the work of women, of

the working class, of non-white folks”. Thanks to the persistent drive of the feminist art movement over

the past few decades, textile processes have begun to earn the recognition that they so richly deserve,

countering the emphasis on male-centrist art practices within institutions, and demonstrating the

artistic value that textile processes hold.

Like my mother before me, in Her Industry, Reclaimed I am immersing myself in the process of making,

and in so doing also subverting the throw-away culture that our current capitalist culture promotes. But

unlike my mother, within the context of art making, I am taking a feminist approach: I rip apart,

manipulate and reinterpret up-cycled garments, literally remaking the meaning that these items held in

a patriarchal culture, and in the process reclaiming traditional practices and the labour of women that

has for too long gone unnoticed.

About the Artist

Babyn received her BFA in Drawing and Painting from the Ontario College of Art and Design University in

2005. She completed her MFA in 2016 at the University of Saskatchewan in Sculpture and Installation.

Babyn has been a Loop Gallery member in Toronto since 2003 and has exhibited nationally and

internationally. Her works can be found in public and private collections in both Canada and Europe.

After years of teaching art to children and adults, Babyn currently conducts textile workshops with the

USASK Continuing Art Program and with the Saskatoon Mother’s Centre.

Join Babyn and explore a variety of up-cycled textile processes: April 7th,1 to 4pm.



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