Featured Artists

Interviews Archive Page

135  Christina Massey

134  Mary Grisey

133  Trina Perry Carlson

132  Anne Kelly

131  Louise Lemieux Bérubé

130  Dorothy McGuinness

129  Penny Mateer

128  Christine Mauersberger

127  Jim Arendt

126  Merce Mitchell

125  Louise Keen

124  Rosemary Claus-Gray

123  Mary Giehl

122  Emily Hermant

121  Robin Wiltse

120  Barbara Klunder

119  Megan Skyvington

118  Rachel Brumer

117  Heike Blohm

116  Shanell Papp

115  Carmella Karijo Rother

114  C. Pazia Mannella

113  Karen Goetzinger

112  Andrew MacDonald

111  Jeanne Williamson

110  Catherine Heard

109  Rosemary Hoffenberg

108  Cathy Breslaw

107  Leslie Pontz

106  Cas Holmes

105  Geri deGruy

104  Suzanne Morlock

103  Barbara De Pirro

102  Kathryn Clark

101  Noelle Hamlyn

100  Judith Mullen

99  Barbara J. Schneider

98  Merill Comeau

97  Beverly Ayling-Smith

96  Barbara Hilts

95  Mackenzie Kelly-Frère

94  Anna Keck

93  Pilar Sans Coover

92  Dolores_Slowinski

91  Leslie Pearson

90  Temma Gentles

89  Tilleke Schwarz

88  Anna Torma

87  Kim Stanford

86  Ingrid Lincoln

85  Anna Hergert

84  Joy Walker

83  Maximo Laura

82  Marie Bergstedt

81  Alice Vander Vennen

80  Xia Gao

79  Leisa Rich

78  Megan Q. Bostic

77  Sayward Johnson

76  Heather Komus

75  Sheila Thompson

74  Kerstin Benier

73  Molly Grundy

72  Nathan Johns

71  Lorena Santin-Andrade

70  Lisa DiQuinzio

69  Nancy Yule

68  Jenine Shereos

67  Bovey Lee

66  Nell Burns

65  Lancelot Coar

64  Elisabetta Balasso

63  Matthew Cox

62  Yulia Brodskaya

61  Lotta Helleberg

60  Kit Vincent

59  Barbara Heller

58  Catherine Dormor

57  Joyce Seagram

56  Yael Brotman

55  David Hanauer

54  Dwayne_Wanner

53  Pat Hertzberg

52  Chris Motley

51  Mary Catherine Newcomb

50  Cybèle Young

49  Vessna Perunovich

48  Fukuko Matsubara

47  Jodi Colella

46  Anastasia Azure

45  Marjolein Dallinga

44  Libby Hague

43  Rita Dijkstra

42  Leanne Shea Rhem

41 Lizz Aston

40  Sandra Gregson

39  Kai Chan

38  Edith Meusnier

37  Lindy Pole

36  Melanie Chikofsky

35  Laurie Lemelin

34  Emily Jan

33  Elisabeth Picard

32  Liz Pead

31  Milena Radeva

30  Rochelle Rubinstein

29  Martha Cole

28  Susan Strachan Johnson

27  Karen Maru

26  Bettina Matzkuhn

25  Valerie Knapp

24  Xiaoging Yan

23  Hilary Rice

22  Birgitta Hallberg

21  Judy Martin

20  Gordana Brelih

19  Mary Karavos

18  Rasma Noreikyte

17  Judith Tinkl

16  Joanne Young

15  Allyn Cantor

14  Pat Burns-Wendland

13  Barbara Wisnoski

12  Robert Davidovitz

11  Amy Bagshaw

10  Jesse Harrod

9  Emma Nishimura

8  June J. Jacobs

7  Dagmar Kovar

6  Ixchel Suarez

5  Cynthia Jackson

4  Lorraine Roy

3  Christine Mockett

2  Amanda McCavour

1  Ulrikka Mokdad


Field, 2008, 65 x 90 inches, fabric, thread, Machine-pieced


Detail: Field, 2008, 65 x 90 inches, fabric, thread, Machine-pieced


Artist: Barbara Wisnoski, Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Interview 13: Barbara exhibited in the 2009 World of Threads Festival exhibition Common Thread International Exhibition Part  1 and Part 2.

Subscribe to Artist Interviews here...

Interviews published by Gareth Bate & Dawne Rudman.



Barbara Wisnoski has a BFA in Sculpture and Fibres from Concordia University (Montreal) and a BA in Philosophy from Dalhousie University (Halifax). She also studied textile design for two years at the Centre de Recherche et de Design en Impression Textile de Montréal and before establishing a full-time art practice her professional background included lingerie design and arts administration. She is an editorial board member of Cahiers métiers d'art: Craft Journal, a peer-reviewed academic journal that publishes critical, historical and technical research on local and international craft.

Barbara's work has been exhibited in Canada, USA, Ukraine and China, most recently in Fiberart International and From Lausanne to Beijing international textile biennales. Website


Barbara Wisnoski in her Montreal studio with a work in progress. Photo: Brooks Yardley


Tell us about your work?

I create '2.5'-dimensional murals and wall installations from repurposed clothing using a method inspired by traditional quilt-piecing techniques. Cloth is sewn together and then repeatedly slashed apart, re-sorted and re-sewn, fracturing and dispersing individual fabrics in a process that melds surface and structure, and embodies the beauty, comfort and absurdity of repetition.

In recent series of work I've explored the effects of texture on the pictorial field, drawing on iconic modernist painting imagery (colour field, minimalist landscape, target painting) to see what happens when 'pure form' meets the physicality and emotional and semiotic baggage of cloth. In my current series I create immersive textile environments, using the same technique to render intricate decorative embroidery motifs in gallery installation scale.


Detail: Field, fabric, thread, Machine-pieced


From where do you get your inspiration?

I think inspiration comes from everywhere: an art education enables you to develop a formal language to understand and articulate the visual world, and maintaining an art practice allows you to cultivate and receive inspiration, whether encountered on the street, in books, in nature, in conversation, in a gallery, or whatever.



Earth (repetition of an act of mourning), 68 x 76 inches, fabric, thread; machine-pieced.


Why did you choose to go into fibre art?

It is definitely in my blood – my mother was a talented seamstress and I inherited her love of fabric. It is a medium intrinsically connected to the notion of time and the layering of time that creates texture, ideas which are central to my artwork.


Folded Circle (redeeming vermilion), 2009, 60 x 60 inches,fabric, thread, Machine-pieced

Detail: Folded Circle (redeeming vermilion), 2009, 60 x 60 inches,fabric, thread, Machine-pieced


What other mediums do you work in, and how does this inform your fibre work?

I have also worked in paper and wood, and at some point would like to focus on sculptural and public art, which may entail exploring more durable media.


Which is your favourite fibre medium?

I'm particularly drawn to the geometric abstraction of Gee's Bend quilts and the heavy, dense embroideries of Eastern Europe (where my ancestors come from).


Grey Rain Sea, 2008, 60 x 62 inches, Fabric, thread, Machine-pieced

Detail: Grey Rain Sea, 2008, 60 x 62 inche, Fabric, thread, Machine-pieced


What specific historic artists have influenced your work? 

As for historical textile art, my work has been described in relation to traditional Japanese boro and Korean pojagi textiles, which refer to mended and patched textiles ('boro' means 'rag' in Japanese), although I was not aware of these when I first began making pieced murals. Discovering the Gee's Bend quilts of Alabama had a great influence on me in art school, and I took their strip-piecing method and improvisational quality as my point of departure in developing my own work.

It is notable that all three of these textile traditions gained attention in the North American art world for their strikingly modernist aesthetic. Indeed, my recent series make oblique or direct reference to twentieth century abstract painters, for example, the target paintings of Claude Tousignant, whose retrospective I saw at the Musée d'art Contemporain de Montréal a few years back; the minimalist colour field paintings of Mark Rothko, Jennifer Bartlett and other works of the modernist canon that I've had the pleasure of seeing in museum collections in New York, Washington and elsewhere.


Latent Green, 2010, 120 x 160 inches, Fabric, thread, Machine-pieced

Detail: Latent Green, 2010, 120 x 160 inches, Fabric, thread, Machine-pieced


What specific contemporary artists have influenced your work? 

I admire the obsessive nature and conceptual purity of the work of Polish artist Roman Opalka. Since 1965 he has been executing a single artwork, entitled "1965 / 1 – ∞", consisting of canvas after canvas filled with painted numbers from 1 to infinity. I would of course dread the thought of spending my life this way, but he and others who work with time in extreme ways (e.g. Taiwanese-American artist Tehching Hsieh – recently at DHC/ART Foundation in Montreal – who performs and documents mundane activities over a sustained period) have a great affinity with all needle workers, who viscerally mark the passage of time with their repetitive gestures.

I don't know if these existential artists have directly influenced my work, but they certainly inform ideas about time, work, the social value of artistic labour vs. other kinds of labour etc. that entertain me while I sew.

Similarly, painter Agnes Martin's subtle, focused rendering of straight lines also is inspiring, as are her writings, and although my riotously textured surfaces seem the antithesis of her restraint, I somehow aspire to that kind of single-mindedness.

For a way more exuberant approach, I love the work of Polly Apfelbaum, who makes grand decorative floor installations with painted velvet and sequined fabrics. In my upcoming solo show in October at Centre Diagonale I will be decorating the gallery by creating an all-over textile environment that plays with the scale of a repeat embroidery pattern. I'm fascinated by both the uselessness and ubiquity of decoration, and by what I see as the conflation of our decorative impulse with contemporary installation art.


Long Cold Embrace (she's sleeping), 2010, 120 x 145 inches, fabric, thread; machine-pieced

Long Cold Embrace (she's sleeping), 2010, 120 x 145 inches, fabric, thread; machine-pieced.


What other fibre artists are you interested in?

Although they may not necessarily identify as fibre artists, I admire the textile-based work of Anna Von Mertens (USA), for its combination of abstraction plus narrative premise; of Lyn Carter (Toronto) for its elegance and wit; of Malou Zryd (Switzerland) for its quiet glamour.

Artists working in large-scale installation that I admire include Karilee Fuglem (Montreal), for her subtle, ethereal environments, Janet Echelman (USA) for the massive scale and Ernesto Neto (Brazil) for his humour.


Platonic Target, 2010, 81x162, Fabric, thread, Machine-pieced

Detail: Platonic Target, 2010, 81x162, Fabric, thread, Machine-pieced


What role do you think fibre art plays in contemporary art?

As a medium ideally suited to artistic discourse on the body and other postmodern concerns, it was gratifying to see the fibre medium take its place within a wider contemporary art context in the past decade or two. However, medium-specific practices still remain marginalized insofar as they are not concept-driven, so in order for the discipline to evolve it's important that craft-based artists be aware of the broader artistic context in which they work and that their work become part of that conversation. Fortunately, at the same time, new craft theory has gradually been shaping a critical language unique to craft media, enabling craft criticism to develop on its own terms.


White Rag Quilt, 67x77 in, fabric, thread, Machine-pieced.


Tell us about your studio and how you work:

I am very fortunate to share a beautiful, warm, light-filled studio that has a huge wall of windows overlooking the Lachine Canal (it's in the same building as the Centre de Recherche et de Design en Impression Textile de Montreal, a textile design school which I attended for two years when I first moved to Montreal). My space is quite bare, just a sewing machine, boxes of fabrics, a current visual reference or two and a seating area, so it's good for focusing on sewing labour and reverie (the windows). I like and need to keep these activities separate from home, where I have a space for books, drawing materials, computer and endless clutter and distraction.


Where do you imagine your work in five years? 

I would like to be focusing on site-specific installations and commissioned work for public spaces.


Barbara Wisnoski's Montreal studio.


What was your motivation for submitting your work to the World of Threads Festival?

I had seen that a few artists whom I knew (or knew of) had exhibited their work in previous years, and I thought that it would be a good opportunity to participate in a large and well-publicized show in a region to which I have a long connection (I was born in Toronto and have relatives there and throughout the Niagara Peninsula). I liked the fact that there were several venues, to allow for work to be grouped into mini-shows, and thought that the curation at b42 Gallery resulted in a particularly successful exhibition.


Platonic Landscape (57x32 in) in the 2009 Common Thread Exhibition Part 3 as part of the World of Threads Festival at b42 Gallery, Oakville, Ontario, Canada.


Is there anything else you would like us to know about you or your work?

To answer the question I'm often asked: 'where do you get all your fabrics?': My inventory of fabrics is not sourced i.e. I don't seek out and purchase fabric for its colour or texture, rather, it represents a kind of personal or household archive that I've accumulated in the course of living, sewing, mending (and, more recently, receiving cast-offs from friends). Like most North Americans, I consume and waste too much of everything, so it's gratifying in my art practice at least to honour that original quilt-making ethos of sparingness, of using up otherwise useless scraps to make something pleasing. This vestige of peasant values, combined with a classically Freudian fabric fetish (i.e. motherly love transferred to inanimate objects), creates my aversion to discarding any waste fabric and great satisfaction in being able to redeem a box of scraps.


If you'd like to make a donation to help support our
"Weekly Fibre Artist Interviews" series, you can do so here.


Subscribe To Artist Interviews here...

Interviews published by Gareth Bate & Dawne Rudman.



Platonic Landscape (57x32 in) in the 2009 Common Thread Exhibition Part 3 as part of the World of Threads Festival at b42 Gallery, Oakville, Ontario, Canada.