Canadian Art Quilts Go to Taiwan
There is nothing like traveling to another country to see things through fresh eyes. In 2014, while I was exhibiting my quilts and bags in China at the Keqiao International Quilts Festival, I met two Taiwanese ladies, a mother and daughter, Hsin-Chen Lin, and Pei-Hsuan Wu.
Pei, the daughter, became a great help to my husband and I at the show; she even helped us navigate complicated Chinese menus when the group went out for dinner together. There’s no better friend than the one who cautions you about eating odd foods!
Pei was also able to translate her mother’s wish that I organize a showing of art quilts by Canadian artists to be displayed at a quilt show in Tainan City, Taiwan that begins April 30 and runs through May 29th of 2016.
Changing the world in which we live
Hsin-Chen Lin, a self taught fiber artist with more than 14 years of teaching experience in community universities in Taiwan. is an art quilt creator, curator and is also the founder of the Taiwan Art Quilt Society (TAQS).
TAQS has a national exhibition every 2 to 3 years and every year they have the Horizons of Art Quilts show for local work. The group promotes international cultural exchange via their national show. The TAQS group had numerous quilts displayed at the Chinese show I was attending, and I learned from Pei and her mother that the group was very interested global environmental issues, putting their own observations into works of fiber art to express their concerns.
In fact, one of the group’s quilts, a collective project which pictured a rain forest with a species of unique tree frogs in the borders, had actually been instrumental in saving a local rainforest that had been slated for clear cutting. Now that’s impressive work.
The collective nature of the group was likened to a colony of ants – each member working together for the whole while doing good works and being mindful of not wasting resources. Both my husband and I found this model interesting and unique as we do not see many art quilt projects made by numerous members back home in Canada.
One thing I found rather sweet was their mention that the step of an ant is about the size of a stitch. Stitch by stitch, tiny step by tiny step, they were accomplishing great things together. The tree frog quilt was at a previous TAQS show where the themed focus had been ‘Water and Rivers’.
As I read the show prospectus I could see that the 2016 show would have another very thoughtful theme: to encourage participants to expose humanity as both the problem and solution to a global issue.
“According to the United Nations forum on forests, the global forest deforestation has caused ecosystem degradation, resulting in the increasing threat of greenhouse gas emissions and species extinction at an alarming rate. Human beings have been playing the conflicting roles of invader, destroyer and guardian.”
Good art enters the soul, appeals to the heart, and makes new ideas plausible
The goal of the entrants was to ‘think about how to terminate or change the situation of global forest deterioration.” TAQS invited artists to contribute by revealing global environmental issues through quilting, exploring creativity from life and humanity, sowing seeds of hope and restoring the Earth’s ecology.
Creating for social and environmental change
Through my quilting newsletter, I invited quilters and fiber artists from across Canada to submit images of their art quilts to me for acceptance by the TAQS committee. We would call ourselves ‘The Canadian Group’.
Being a member of a large and active guild, the Huron Perth Quilter’s Guild, I was able to attract several members from my own immediate sphere of influence to submit entries. Other inquiries came in from my newsletter call to action.
Fifteen inspired entries, coming from entrants sprinkled across the country between British Columbia and Eastern Ontario, were accepted by November of 2015 for the show in April-May 2016. Because we all lived so far apart a requested group photo was impossible, so a collage of all of us was prepared for the show prospectus.
The group was varied and included quilting teachers, former quilt shop owners, pattern designers and professional as well as amateur art quilters.
Topics were as varied as participants
Broad reaching topics were represented by the art quilt entries. Some of these were tree planting for reforestation, concern for how new ‘green’ technologies affect ecosystems and the cry of ‘Re’ – reduce, recycle, and respect for the role of women. Adverse climate patterns and greenhouse gas emissions were represented in everything from the black humor of a global warming piece, the destruction of kelp forests and wetlands, and the concern for the air quality in our own communities.
Other themes were more unique to Canada like the cultural importance of ancient forests to the First Nations people, the survival of the wood caribou in our dwindling boreal forests and the decreased Polar Bear population in the far north. The role of insects both good and bad was highlighted in the dwindling habitat of the monarch butterfly, the poisoning of the honey bee population with insecticides and the destruction caused to the Ash tree population in the path of the dreaded Emerald Ash Borer.
Overall, it was obvious how thoughtful these women’s ideas were and how they must be valued. For after all, art in the hands of women has an incredible power to create unity and to change the world.
Editor’s note: You’ll find some pictures of the displays at the show and links to all the artists profiles here.