silk worm (silk wûrm´) n. The larva of a moth that produces a dense silken cocoon.
The Emperor's New Clothes
Could have done well with an umbrella or two on Friday night when Joanna Staniszkis previewed her newest installation of the above title at The Elliott Louis Gallery. A couple of hundred art observers were not about to let a downpour rain on her parade. They packed the Waterfront Gallery's opening reception in support of Joanna's latest work also known as her Silk Show – her last show at the gallery was her Linen Show.
A pre-eminent Canadian textile artist, Staniszkis' works are on display in buildings around the world. A former associate professor of design and textile design at the University of British Columbia, her work is known for her inventive techniques and unconventional materials.
This talent was clearly evident Friday night.
Silk cocoons abounded in every manner of creative display. Nestled amongst cone shaped twigs and housed in pagoda shaped Plexiglas. Used to punctuate the framing of patterned silk fabrics - silk worms having woven their cocoons onto the silk structures. Multitudes coupled together in tiny nests and framed in Plexiglas boxes. An elegant centrepiece of cocoons painted black and fastened with black zap straps. Creative? You bet. Prompting however, the old question –yes, but is it art?
Well it is actually. Both art and beauty being in the eye of the beholder, many eyes were on Staniszkis' Emperor's New Clothes. Installations graced most walls of the gallery. Huge and beautiful silk noil hand printed, dyed and artistically framed between bamboo ova. Hand painted silk scarves housed again and again in Plexiglas frames. Each piece commanding attention with the most ethereal grace.
One centre of attraction was a beautiful hostess administering a large mulberry leaf-lined bowl of live silk worms as a rather avant-garde petting zoo. I couldn't drag my son away as he stood with silk worm on hand fascinated with the dance of his new found friend.
The always-charming gallery owner Ted Lederer graciously thanked the crowd for braving the elements to see this special event. He was clearly pleased with the turn out.
I was too. The cast of characters attending would do any major Hollywood production proud. Each face filled with such uniqueness. I couldn't keep my eyes off the crowd. Men and women of all ages, heights and shapes, dressed in all manner of wardrobe. Eye candy for the most part, and clearly enjoying their time indoors before the inevitable exit to a damp and dark October night.
Joanna Staniszkis Emperor's New Clothes at the Elliott Louis Gallery October 14-30th.