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Nina artists bring mostly fibre art show to gallery

By: Scott Hayes

  |  Posted: Wednesday, Dec 11, 2013 06:00 am

FRUITS OFF LOOMS – Leona Clawson, left, and Angie Trudel breathe life into their creations.
FRUITS OFF LOOMS – Leona Clawson, left, and Angie Trudel breathe life into their creations.
SCOTT HAYES/St. Albert Gazette

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Fruits Off The Looms
Mixed media, clay and fibre artworks, by artists from the Nina Haggerty Collective
The exhibit runs till Saturday, Feb. 1, 2014

Art Gallery of St. Albert
19 Perron Street
Call 780-460-4310 or visit for more information.

Get ready, St. Albert, because we’re all about to be treated to an art show unlike any other we’ve seen before. Fruits Off the Looms might be a fine play on words but it’s too coy. After all, not all of the artwork came off a loom, nor is it all made of fibre.

The new exhibit will probably leave you awestruck. The artists from the Nina Haggerty Centre for the Arts dabble in every kind of artform under the sun. It’s a mixed bag of mixed media, all the way from clay to paint and, yes, there will be reams of some very unique fibre arts in there too.

“It’s gone beyond weaving and crocheting … although there is some of all of that here,” explained Paul Freeman, the Edmonton arts centre's artistic director. “There are pieces that have come off of Japanese looms called sayori looms, tapestry, quilting, doll making, puppet making … it’s really branched out into all kinds of cool directions.”

Those directions are always dictated by the artists themselves. The Nina, as the centre is often called, offers adults with developmental disabilities the chance to explore their creative potential. There are more than 150 artists who utilize the facility (in its still-new location at 9225 118 Ave. in Edmonton) and its numerous arts studios. In addition to fibre arts, there are opportunities to paint, throw a pot, or even work with glass. “Not all art is presented on walls,” says its website at “All forms of art, including dance, are celebrated and supported.”

What’s more: they don’t just create such works for their own enjoyment. They often exhibit, taking shows around town, the province, even around the country and beyond. They show their work and often make good sales too. There’s a reason for their popularity. The work speaks for itself.

Take Angie Trudel’s Cubist art character, an amazing piece that she has a marvelously humourous name for.

“It’s like a Picasso doll. His name is Mr. Horizontal,” she said with a laugh. “There’s a lot of horizontal lines.”

The piece has a blocky misshapen face and three legs.

“I decided to add a third leg because he would have more personality and he’d be different than the rest. He looks very different. That’s what I wanted him to look like.”

She shares space with Leona Clawson who is well-known at The Nina for being ambitious and fearless in her work. She has explored many of the studios and tried her hand at as many different forms of art as she can. Clawson is always eager to get into another project.

Here, she brings some animal-inspired two-dimensional fibre works. Animals are prominent in her oeuvre.

“Instead of doing landscapes and all that … I’ve done that for so long. I thought I’d better put something in!”

Freeman is thrilled to see so much attention coming to these artists. This is the first exhibit that the centre has brought to this city, for one thing, and fibre art is usually a more select market to get people interested in. He said that there are many beautiful things happening and art is just one of them.

The fibre studio, in his view, has become a place for building relationships as much as building up great quilts and fabric arts. Their self-directed practices have led to them learning how to create lasting and beautiful friendships too.

“It’s as much about a little community of people making stuff at co-discovering or influencing each other along the way. It’s been a really important growth moment for us as an organization to recognize how valuable the crafts are in terms of showing people how materials work without showing them what the outcome is.”


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