Arts

Textile Museum Showing Intricate Works In Thread

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Kai Chan's work:
Aurora, 1975 Cotton and nylon thread, wood. Collection of the artist. Photo: Cheryl O’Brien.

Toronto has many wonderful museums. Most people are familiar with the Royal Ontario Museum (the one with the dinosaurs!). But did you know there is a shoe museum with shoes from all through the ages? And a ceramic museum that displays beautiful pottery from many countries?

One of our most unique museums is the Textile Museum of Canada. The word textile means cloth, or fabric.

There are many beautiful works of art that have been made out of, or painted on, or sewn into fabric. The Textile Museum displays the work of talented artists who happen to work in fabric.

Now until May 11 the Textile Museum is showing the work of artist Kai Chan. The exhibition is called “A Spider’s Logic.” It is a series of 30 artworks using finely knotted thread and other materials such as twigs, nails, toothpicks and buttons. He works with everyday items like buttons and twigs as a reminder of his simple years growing up in China. Some of the pieces are hung on the walls from nails. Some stand up on their own or hang in mid-air.

Playing Mountains, Playing Marriage, 1986 Dogwood, cotton, mixed threads. Collection of Cambridge Galleries. Photo: Cheryl O’Brien.
Playing Mountains, Playing Marriage, 1986 Dogwood, cotton, mixed threads. Collection of Cambridge Galleries. Photo: Cheryl O’Brien.

Chan’s display was created over 35 years (1975 to 2010). It coincides with the Textile Museum’s 35th anniversary.

Kai Chan has received many awards for his beautiful artwork and his work has been shown around the world including in Norway, Japan, Australia, Europe and across Canada.Detail from: Playing Mountains, Playing Marriage, 1986 Dogwood, cotton, mixed threads. Collection of Cambridge Galleries. Photo: Cheryl O’Brien.

The Textile Museum of Canada is located at 55 Centre Ave., which is near Dundas and University (the closest subway station is St. Patrick station). The museum is open seven days a week, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Wednesdays to 8 p.m.). It costs $15 for general admission, $6 for youths and children. On Wednesdays, it is “pay what you can,” which means that you can pay whatever you think you can afford—including nothing—to get in. They do this so that money will never stand in the way of people getting to see great art.

Besides displays such as the Chan exhibit, the Textile Museum has more than 12,000 objects on permanent display.

Mirage, 2008 Silk thread, nails. Collection of the artist. Photo: Cheryl O’Brien.
Mirage, 2008 Silk thread, nails. Collection of the artist. Photo: Cheryl O’Brien.

CURRICULUM CONNECTIONS

Writing/Discussion Prompt
Textiles (cloth or fabric) are used for many purposes, such as clothing, blankets, carpets, stuffed animals and curtains.  This article teaches us that textiles can be used to create art.  For example, Kai Chan creates textiles that remind him of his life in China. 

Can you think of a textile in your life that can “tell a story”?  Why is this textile important to you?  Does it remind you of a special person, place or memory?  Share this story orally or in writing with a partner or your classmates. 

Reading Prompt
Why do you think Kai Chan’s exhibition is called “A Spider’s Logic.”  Use your own ideas and evidence from the text to explain your thinking.

Primary
Express personal thoughts and feelings about what has been read (OME, Reading: 1.8)

Junior
Make judgements and draw conclusions about the ideas and information in texts and cite stated or implied evidence from the text to support their views (OME, Reading: 1.8)

Grammar Feature: Italics
Italics are slanted letters that are used to draw a reader’s attention to a certain word or phrase.  Italics are used in this article in the following sentence: “One of our most unique museums is the Textile Museum of Canada. The word textile means cloth, or fabric.”  Why do you think the journalist chose to use italics in this sentence?  How do italics help you to understand this sentence?