Textile Society of America


Date of this Version



In Approaching Textiles, Varying Viewpoints: Proceedings of the Seventh Biennial Symposium of the Textile Society of America, Santa Fe, New Mexico, 2000


Copyright © 2000 by the author(s).


I wrote that in 1996, when a photograph that I had abandoned 30 years before came back to claim me. The image, of myself and three other young white women on camels in front of the Egyptian pyramids, acquires timelessness because all cars in the large parking lot are artfully invisible. I also wrote that "in the year 2000 I will have been here longer than there". I speak from a constituency that has no continuity with tradition, and which is removed from ancestors. It was the moment when I began to seek a visible format for the complexities of ambivalence. My ambivalence is probably shared by millions of people who have left their country of birth because political events, for better or worse, have overtaken their expectations. Not growing old with your siblings there - having a new family here - are but a part of the immigrant experience. ". I speak from a constituency that has no continuity with tradition, and which is removed from ancestors. This dislocation is a condition that affects most artists working with contemporary concepts, and it demands a negotiating of personal iconographies for each individual.

A prolonged illness on arrival in Canada jolted me into turning away from my degree in African Studies and into becoming an artist, although I did not realize in 1966 that I was performing a redemptive ritual of recovery. Then, going against current art school formalist domination, I went even deeper into ritual by extending drawings into the labor intensive age-old technology of tapestry. The acquisition of skills and knowledge was a prolonged tapestry pilgrimage of necessity outside any institutions except for a post graduate year at the Edinburgh College of art in 1980. I did not think of it as performing mourning and recovery when I went to my loom each day to be immersed in an interface of repetition with intense concentration.