What: Weaving together
Who: Exhibition featuring artists from Cool Arts Society along with community members.
When: October 15 to 28, 2021
Where: FINA Gallery, UBC Okanagan Campus, 1148 Research Road.
How do you bring people together after a year in isolation? Last spring Cool Arts decided the answer was to purchase a loom and plan a community weaving project for the summer of 2021.
Finding partners to create a safe, creative, community art project was the first step. Cool Arts partnered with a few nearby arts organizations in the Cultural District of Downtown Kelowna to make this project go. The final product is now on display in the FINA Gallery at UBCO until October 28, 2021.
“It took months of planning and needless to say we had a lot of support to create this successful community project,” explains Amy Bradshaw, Art Educator for Cool Arts.
“To do the weaving we needed a loom, but not just any loom, a Saori Loom from Terri Bibby on Salt Spring Island. Saori looms are the brainchild of Japanese innovator Misao Jo.” She says.
Misa Jo’s 4 slogans include: consider the differences between machines and people; let’s adventure beyond our imagination; let’s look out through eyes that shine; and let’s learn from each other and everyone in the group.
Bradshaw says that this philosophy attracted Cool Arts as it includes all abilities, highlighting difference and individuality, breaking rules, being you.
Staff and volunteers built the loom in May, 2021 then took a couple Zoom lessons with Terri and jumped into training a group of amenable volunteers to weave safely outdoors with individuals and small groups.
Once the word started spreading about the project, a boon of signups came, children as young as six and mature community members both men and women came to try weaving. To everyone’s surprise and delight, one of Canada’s very accomplished weavers signed up for a weaving session.
“Folks of all abilities and experience levels joined us,” Bradshaw says. “We wove with community members who came in wheelchairs and easily made quick adaptations with the thoughtfully designed components we included when purchasing the loom.”
Simple weave, with a 2-harness loom and a weaving slogan emerged, Send your shuttle, switch your feet, and beat.
She also said that Kelowna’s Mayor and his son added their hand to our long colourful handwoven banners. Many people who sat down at the loom had no prior experience, they set out with the goal of learning something completely new.
The Ponderosa Fibre Arts Guild was integral in providing hands-on leadership with how to use the loom, generously the guild members volunteered many hours of their time helping community members learn to weave and enjoy the simple mechanics offered by this special loom.
Partners in the project included Ponderosa Fibre Arts Guild who supplied weaving expertise and zeal, Rotary Centre for the Arts who supplied a venue to run our month-long project. Funding was applied for by way of a matching grant from the City of Kelowna and some top up funds were provided by Community Living British Columbia.
The exhibition runs from October 15 to 28, and is open from 9 am to 4 pm weekdays (closed weekends and holidays).
About Cool Arts Society
Cool Arts Society is a registered charity that is dedicated to providing fine art opportunities to adults with diverse abilities. Cool Arts Society was founded in 2003 by Sara McDonald as a way to address the lack of accessibility for artists in the diverse ability community. Today, our artists and their work have been featured and celebrated across BC, including RCA, Kelowna Art Gallery, Kelowna Museum, and the FINA Gallery at UBC Okanagan.