Art appears in unexpected places in Tordu Tendu - Twisted Taut. Photo: Courtesy of Taylor Boileau Davidson.
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Sculptures explore subjugation of women throughout history

A new sculptural textile exhibit on now at the University of Ottawa’s Gallery 115 questions the lack of women’s textile art in historical art spaces.

Tordu Tendu – Twisted Taut focuses primarily on subjugation and violence against women throughout history, also focusing on the effort and labour these women invested into their textile work.

Inspired by a student exchange opportunity to Paris, third-year fine arts student Taylor Boileau Davidson found it interesting how the residents would use fabric words to describe how they felt. As a result, there is a duality in the title of the exhibition, where tordu means anxious and tendu means tense. Both words are also used to describe fabric, emphasizing the meaning behind the art and its homage to Davidson’s francophone heritage.

Photo: Courtesy of Taylor Boileau Davidson

 “I wanted to see how far I could take trying to make a craft out of nothing,” said Davidson. “Art isn’t only about the product.”  

Creating these fabric sculptures was a very personal experience for Davidson. Using family heirlooms passed down to her, she created all of her own materials by following the same methods her ancestors used, aligning with Davidson’s belief that art is an entire process and not simply the final product. The video of the creation process of her materials is on display at the entrance of the exhibit.

 “The pieces independently of the process, speak to me about how they (my ancestors) experienced certain situations as women and how they suffered in their lives because they were subjugated to violence,” said Davidson. 

Photo: Courtesy of Taylor Boileau Davidson

Each individual art piece speaks to the story of Davidson’s ancestors’ oppression. Viewers are led down a historical path that sheds light on the omission of women’s textile art from historical art spaces.

Even the way the venue space was used defied convention, where at every turn there was a new piece of art to discover. 

“It’s a way of putting art in places where there isn’t normally art,” said Emily Neufeld, a fifth-year fine arts student. Her illustrations and placement of art pieces are meant to question authority. 

Both Neufeld and Davidson worked in collaboration to display a metaphorical approach to feminism in art. They are not afraid to question authority and are strong advocates for all female artists, both past and present.

Photo: Courtesy of Taylor Boileau Davidson

Tordu Tendu – Twisted Taut runs until October 3 at the University of Ottawa’s Gallery 115.


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