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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.

Craft Ontario, Toronto

THE BODY HAS REASONS WHICH REASON KOWS NOT OF                                                          April 11 - May 12, 2019 

Working with clay actively engages the body. The artists in this exhibition trust that their lived experiences, stories, and skills are indwelled in the muscles used to make their work. Each of the artists in this exhibition took part in the Muscle Memory International Ceramic Symposium & Residency, which was programmed and founded by Mimi Kokai in collaboration with the International Ceramic Studio (ICS) in Kecskemet, Hungary and took place in both 2017 and 2018. Experiences of injury and recuperation informed the theme to the Muscle Memory symposium. One of the purposes of the residency is to demonstrate the power and the skill of artists with disabilities. During each of the residencies the artists became a strongly knit community. 

All of the works explore various themes surrounding tacit knowledge, and the body’s ability to bounce back, grow, resist, and remember.

Agnes Etherington Art Centre, Kingston


Stepping Out: Clothes for a Gallery Goer                                                                                  April 27 to December 1, 2019

Gallery going emerged as a public pleasure in Canada in the late nineteenth century and continues (as we strongly believe at the Agnes!) to be an engaging cultural activity. Stepping Out proposes outfits and accessories that one might wear to an art museum—perhaps to an exhibition opening, at a children’s event, for a study session, or on a Sunday afternoon. Drawing upon the Queen’s University Collection of Canadian Dress, the exhibition features clothing, from the 1860s to 1970s, stepping through gallery spaces and intermingling with contemporaneous works of art.


Bata Shoe Museum, Toronto


The Gold Standard: Glittering Footware from Around the Globe                                                                    Through 2019

The Gold Standard: Glittering Footwear from Around the Globe features some of the Bata Shoe Museum’s most impressive and precious artefacts and explores the meanings and cultural uses of golden footwear across the globe.


Craft Council of British Columbia, Vancouver                    


Being Seen, Being Heard, Expressing a Voice                                                                       January 31, 2019 - March 14, 2019

This exhibition features the work of five emerging female artists who have come together to express their unique world view and artistic voice. They demonstrate that a vessel is not just a container, and a jewel is not simply an adornment and that utility does not make an object bereft of a spirit. Please join us for this exciting and illuminating exhibition which offers powerful insights into soul and selfhood.

Museum of Anthropology, Vancouver


In a Different Light:  Reflecting on Northwest Coast Art                                                         June 22, 2017 - Spring 2019

In a Different Light presents more than 110 historical Indigenous artworks and marks the return of many important works to British Columbia. These objects are amazing artistic achievements. Yet they also transcend the idea of ‘art’ or‘artifact’. Through the voices of contemporary First Nations artists and community members, this exhibition reflects on the roles historical artworks have today.

Textile Museum of Canada, Toronto

Crosscurrents:  Canada in the Making                                                                                   June 27, 2018 - March 31, 2019

Crosscurrents explores ongoing cultural exchanges and interactions between Indigenous people, settler Canadians and newcomers over the last two centuries, and examines shifting identities, intersections and contestations that inform textile expressions alongside the stories of those who make Canada their home. Through collaborations and confrontations, memories, dreams and traditions converge to reveal a dynamic and multi-layered textile landscape: hooked rugs, blankets, quilts, bead work, basketry and other iconic objects illustrate broad cultural crosscurrents and values that continue to inspire new generations of textile practitioners. The exhibition draws from the TMC’s rich Canadian collection of historic artifacts, and features the work of contemporary artists as well as loans from private and public collections.

Beads:  They're Sewn so Tight                                                                                             October 10, 2018 - May 26, 2019

In beadwork, threads create structure and hold beads together, creating a seemingly invisible scaffold. As metaphor and as material, they unite form, design and meaning. Beads, they’re sewn so tighttakes up the depths of social and political relations expressed through beadwork, including living traditions, family and community networks – embedded in the visual language of pattern and surface design.

Beads, they're sewn so tight presents the work of artists Bev Koski, Katie Longboat, Jean Marshall and Olivia Whetung, who employ distinct techniques in their approach to using beads and thread. From bead weaving to loom work and bead embroidery, their artwork threads through formal concerns of colour and design attending to critical issues such as language retention, stereotypes and social/environmental injustices for Indigenous people.

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.
© 2019 Canadian Society of Decorative Arts / Cercle canadien des arts décoratifs