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What to See

A listing of some of the decorative arts exhibits from coast to coast. This section is updated every few months - please check individual links for the latest exhibition news if needed.


Image: Elias Sime, Tightrope: In Boxes 2017. Reclaimed electronic components and insulted wire on panel, 64 in x 11 ft. 10 5/8 (162.6 x 362.3 cm).  Photo by John Bentham 

Royal Ontario Museum

Elias Sime - Tightrope 

April 3, 2021 - July 4, 2021

The title Tightrope

Refers to the precarious balance between the innovations that technology has made possible and its detrimental impact on the environment. Sime incorporates the results from technological advancements into his artwork by repurposing salvaged electronic components such as circuits and keyboards. Through these colorful tableaus, Sime’s work points to the urgency of sustainability, and provides important context that much of the devices intended to connect us have created mass amounts of e-waste.

Image: Jennifer Smith-Windsor. 'Security Blanket: Russia' (Detail), 2018 Vintage military issue blanket, vintage doilies and lace,                                                                                  embroidery floss. 196cm x 136cm, Photo by Chris Snow. 


Jennifer Smith-Windsor - Security Blankets Embroidered Textiles 

March 6 - April 24, 2021
Reception by Appointment: Sunday, April 18 from 1-5pm 

The crisis of the global COVID-19 pandemic has drawn into sharp focus our collective global vulnerability against the threat of an unknown enemy. It has forced us to change our habits, from the way we work, shop, travel exercise, and perhaps most importantly, greet and visit friends and loved ones. It has forced us to ask critical questions such as: What does it mean to be safe and secure? How can we protect ourselves, our families, our friends and strangers? How can we secure our country from incoming, potentially unseen threats?

Image: Mary Samuellie Pudlat (1923 – 2001), Fish and Shadows; linen screen printed; 88 x 118 cm. On loan from the

West Baffin Eskimo Cooperative. Reproduced with the permission of Dorset Fine Arts.


Textiles from Kinngait Studios

December 7, 2019 - June 1, 2021

ᖃᓪᓗᓈᖅᑕᐃᑦ ᓯᑯᓯᓛᕐᒥᑦ Printed Textiles from  Kinngait Studios presents the little-known story of a group of Inuit artists and printmakers who produced a collection of graphic textiles in Kinngait, (Cape Dorset, Nunavut) in the 1950s and 60s – a period of social change that disrupted traditional language and relationships to the land.

Made for interior décor during a period when artist-designed textiles were popular in North America and Europe, these mid-century designs depict legends, stories, and traditional ways of life. They provide vital points of connection between contemporary Inuit community members and the creativity and resourcefulness of previous generations.


Image: Convolvulus, Tricolor, From the Herbarium of Hallucinogenic Plants Series, 2019,

Stoneware, glazes, Collection of the Artist.


Garden of the Gods

Feb 23 - Sep 5, 2021

In Garden of the Gods, Nikola Wojewoda takes us on a botanical journey into the world of powerful hallucinogens. Her decorative plates pay tribute to the ancient use of these sacred plants. Their psychoactive properties transport the mind into altered states of consciousness, where transformative encounters with the Divine provide insights into the nature of reality and the self. Wojewoda’s interests lie in considering how these prehistoric experiences have shaped religious and philosophical thought, and the understanding of our complex human nature. Her paper collages are of gods, some virtuous and some not, that we may encounter in hallucinogenic trance.

Amélie Proulx, Métaphones mortes 2016, Porcelain, terra sigillata, Canadian Clay & Glass

Gallery Permanent Collection. 2016.005.001

Nature Inspired: From the Collection with Guest Artist Ann Cummings

Feb 23 - May 9, 2021

A flower opening in the morning sun. A rainstorm darkening the sky. Dead trees covered with mushrooms and moss. The changing colours of the sea, and of the seasons. The natural world has long been a source of inspiration for artists who perceive and render it as a metaphor or symbol, poetically or realistically.

The exhibition Natured Inspired presents such works found in our permanent collection. Clay, glass and copper enamel artists shown here offer their interpretation of the natural world, its botanical specimens and its landscapes – in sculptures, two-dimensional pieces and functional wares.


Image: Delphine; Line: Aimant Autumn-Winter 1956; Occasion: Cocktail dress; Atelier flou: Hélène; Mannequin: Lia; Textiles:

Silk gros de tours, silk faille: RM 961.87.: Gift of Harry Davidson; Photo by Laziz Hamnini


Christian Dior 

To May 2, 2021

This major exhibition on Christian Dior explores the brilliance behind Dior’s dramatic creations that revived the entire Parisian haute couture industry after the devastation of the Second World War. In 1947, the opening of the new couture house and the revolutionary “New Look” swept away the wartime masculine silhouette, making Christian Dior’s postwar fashions desired, worn and copied by women around the world.

Drawn from the Royal Ontario Museum’s extensive collection of Christian Dior couture, complemented by a dozen garments from the McCord Museum’s Dress, Fashion and Textiles collection as well as loans from Dior Héritage, Paris, the exhibition focuses on the period from 1947 to 1957 and offers a captivating insight into the creative process and the mechanics of the Parisian haute couture industry during the 1950s. It examines Dior’s iconic lines, luxury textiles and romantic embroideries that laid the foundation for the fashion house’s global success. Featuring breathtaking fashions from daytime to evening wear for grand occasions, the exhibition invites visitors to discover the exquisite craftsmanship, intricate detail and inspired luxury designs by this key figure from the Golden Age of haute couture.

Image: Coat, Dene, Slavey, 1875-1900. Gift of Julien F. Gaudet M988.136.1.7.

Wearing our Identity - The First Peoples Collection

Permanent Collection 

Through some 100 garments and accessories dating from the late 19th century to today, Wearing our Identity – The First Peoples Collection invites the public to discover the importance of clothing in the development, preservation and communication of the social, cultural, political and spiritual identities of the First Nations, Inuit and Métis of Canada.

The relationship between dress and identity is profound for members of Indigenous communities. Beyond its practical use, clothing conveys information about the identity of the individual wearing it and sometimes pays tribute to a person’s significant achievements or highlights the intimate connection between human beings and nature.

Today, clothing eloquently shows the vitality and creativity of contemporary Indigenous cultures, which have found a balance between ancestral knowledge and lived reality, between tradition and innovation.

Produced in close collaboration with an Indigenous advisory committee, Wearing our Identity – The First Peoples Collection is a universal invitation to reflect on the perception of clothing as an affirmation of one’s identity.


Image: Malaya Akulukjuk, Igah Etoangat


Dynamic Connection - Threads of Living Memory 

February 22 - October 3, 2021

Threads of Living Memory showcases the deep cultural, genetic, personal and communal memories of the Inuit which find life through stitching. Ranging from toys to clothing, wall hangings and rare, natural dye pieces, these textiles are manifestations of the dynamic connections between the makers, the viewers, the land, the spirit world and future generations of memory makers.

This exhibit draws on textile works in Glenbow’s collections from Inuit Nunangat, as well as from institutions and artists across Canada, and consists mostly of work of contemporary artists from the 1970’s onwards.  The exhibit displays textiles which illustrate Living or Active Memory, whether they are literal memories, abstract reflections, tactile or sensual memories or full of symbolism that reflects cultural or genetic memory.  Chosen works act as connecting threads to both the familiar and the unknown; the past and the future; the visceral and literal; and personal and collective experiences.  Like all textile works they reflect both the art and the process of creating, connecting viewers to the women who made them as well as transmitting the emotions and preoccupations of the artist as she worked.


Image: Delia Cepoi - Jewelry Artist , NWT 


Crafted NWT 

February 6 - May 29, 2021

A group exhibition featuring 20 craft artists from the Northwest Territories. Organized by NWT Arts and by the newly formed Craft Council of NWT.

To learn about each of the artists, visit nwtarts.com/crafted-nwt

The stories told by craft in the Northwest Territories are both the stories of tradition and culture that belong to the northern Indigenous peoples, as well as the stories of the settlers who moved here and carried their home traditions with them in the form of their crafts.

When studying Northwest Territories craft, it is possible to trace unique family traits through successive generations – the way an experienced beader, carver, or hide tanner’s own style has been adopted into the work of younger craftspeople. Some craftspeople are purists, adhering to tradition. Others blend traditional techniques with contemporary styles, revitalizing their craft for a modern world.

This exhibit includes a variety of work from 20 craftspeople across the Northwest Territories. It celebrates the diversity, vibrancy and resiliency of its creators.


Image: Métis Beadwork: Artist unknown

C2 Centre for Craft

Handmade in Manitoba

November 6, 2020  - April 24, 2021 

Crafted in Manitoba commemorates the 150th anniversary Manitoba’s formation by highlighting its diverse history of craft. This selection of historical craft, from museums around the province, represents some of the many cultures, natural environments, and communities in Manitoba. They illustrate how hand craft has shaped our history and, in turn, has been shaped by our beautiful province. Whether made for the delight of a child, the family business, a community celebration, practical necessity, or simply the activity of craft itself, each of these hand-crafted artifacts tells a part of Manitoba’s story.


Image: G is for geography (Cathryn Miller), 2020; Paper , Archival pigment, thread . 78 x76 x .5cm

Cathryn’s paper and book works have won multiple accolades and awards. They have won the Premier’s Prize for the Outstanding Entry three times at Dimensions, the SCC’s biannual touring juried exhibition.
This intricate and extraordinary exhibition, created solely of paper, relies on textile tradition to reinterpret and expand on how memory is held and shared. In their artist statement, Cathryn describes their interest for unusual ways of sharing memories and communicating — such as infographics, cryptography, and the artist’s own personal iconography that takes the place of traditional words and pictures.

Cathryn states:

“The works in the exhibition are unified by the use of a single material — paper — and by the recurring use of the square as the primary design element. The use of paper rather than fabric allows the structures to expand into the third dimension, and to be seen without some of the emotional responses evoked by traditional textiles.”



Neon Vancouver Ugly Vancouver

On view until Spring 2022

In the 1950s Vancouver had approximately 19,000 neon signs – more than Las Vegas!

While some thought that thousands of signs signaled excitement and big city living, others thought they were a tawdry display that disfigured the city’s natural beauty. This deep civic controversy resulted in a turning point in Vancouver’s history and a change to the city’s urban landscape.

Enjoy the big city lights of Vancouver and catch a glimpse of the city from the 1950s through to the 1970s with this extraordinary collection of neon signs.

The remarkable signs, some lit for the first time since they were rescued from the junk yard, are accompanied by the tale of how the city went through a war of aesthetics that resulted in a transition of the very way Vancouver imagines itself. 


Image: Water Ostrom, Plate with Byzantine Flower and Rock 



October 8, 2020 - March 14, 2021

Co-curated by Dr. Sandra Alfoldy, Shannon Parker, and Dr. Julie Hollenbach

Energy. Enthusiasm. Knowledge. Honesty. Inspired. Ardor for material. These are the terms that describe Walter Ostrom and his relationship with clay. They can also be summed up in one word: Passion.

Walter Ostrom is one of Canada’s foremost ceramic artists. He revolutionized clay from ethical brown earthenware to colourful, bright maiolica and inspired generations of ceramists who follow him to this day. This exhibition investigates Ostrom’s earliest work in stoneware and porcelain, his conceptual projects at NSCAD University, the many ways his love of gardening—and particularly rhododendrons—influenced his work, the huge impact China and its ceramic traditions and ceramists had on his life and practice, and his lifetime commitment to the exploration and reinvigoration of the ancient ceramic tradition of tin-glaze.

Good Earth examines Ostrom’s practice of altering form, surface treatments, and the rich elements of social commentary, geographic references, art history, and political statements he imbues in his work. An inspired instructor for over 40 years, Ostrom’s influence on a selection of his many celebrated students is also reflected in this exhibition.

The Canadian Society of Decorative Arts/ Cercle canadien des arts décoratifs was formed, with the generous support
of the Macdonald Stewart Foundation, to provide a forum for all those interested in the decorative arts.
© 2021 Canadian Society of Decorative Arts / Cercle canadien des arts décoratifs