Thursday, November 21, 2013

Pulling Strings Profile: Shannon Gerard

Shannon's Plants You Can't Kill

Our talk and workshop with Shannon Gerard is only a few sleeps away!  To tide you over until then, we've asked Shannon to respond to a few questions about her work.  Read on to get a window onto Shannon's practice, which meaningfully connects crochet to drawing, research, math and history (among other things!).

How do you position textiles within the context of your greater art practice?

I was starting to type something here about what percentage of my time and studio practice is devoted to crochet, but I'd like to resist that compartmentalization of crochet from the rest of what I do. I do it A LOT, but at this point it is not distinct in its intention or outcome that any other media I work with. It's a form of drawing, writing, research, and play in the same way that making books, or writing every day, or animating, or taking on huge social-political performances are part of the daily work of building an art practice.

You have long-standing interests in both textiles and printed matter.  Do you see a connection between these two (seemingly) disparate media?

Yes, for sure. Crochet is a form of drawing for me, as well as a form of research and a way of being in the world. In the book work that I do, I draw a lot of portraits and I find that the act of drawing faces changes my relationship to the world. I see a face I have drawn and I can then never extrapolate the lived face from the drawn face. I am now seeing the world through the lens of having drawn it. Writing is the same-- you replace your lived experience with a poetic description of that life and you have only the description and not the thing itself. Crochet is the same. I use it to pacify anxiety, to create forms, to research mathematical patterns, or to play-- and suddenly crochet is a way of thinking and knowing the world. I am surprised by the number of things I read or hear people talking about and I'm thinking, "yes, that is just like hyperbolic crochet."

How do you think textile work/processes lend themselves to collaboration, education and social change?

Textiles, and in my case yarn and wool specifically, are very mediating materials. We recognize them from living (wearing clothes, setting tables, doing laundry, sitting on furniture), not from art. So we know how to approach these materials. To work on textile-based works together is very natural-- it opens up conversations because our hands are busy. Our minds can run. And textiles have a physicality that gives them a history beyond art-- a history that is often very political, which complicates those collaborations and conversations quite dynamically.

Share three textile/fibre (re)sources you can't live without.

The Textile Museum's annual More Than Just a Yardage Sale (which I call Tits & Elbows because of the sheer VOLUME of women in the tents), Romni Wools on Queen Street in Toronto, and ANYTHING that Kirsty Robertson is involved in. (


For more on Shannon and her work, check out the following links:

Crocheted tree stump in Shannon's studio

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