Vancouver International Centre for Contemporary Asian Art

Silk City


Centre A is pleased to present an exhibition of new works by Vancouver textile artist Joanna Staniszkis, featuring installation, sculpture, and multimedia works. “Silk City” is a continuation of the artist’s ongoing investigation into the history, aesthetic potential, and ecology of silk.

In “Silk City”, the juxtaposition of giant cocoons, architectural models and live silk worms animates the space of the gallery and disrupts a sense of normal scale. This series of works addresses the tensions between processes and product, nature and culture, and creates a complex dialogue between Vancouver’s past and present.
Staniszkis makes reference to the contemporary urban geography of Vancouver and evokes the city’s history as a port for ships arriving from Asia laden with raw silk. This valuable cargo would be loaded onto high priority “Silk Trains” and rushed across the country (past the current site of Centre A) to destinations in Eastern Canada. Cycles of transformation, and the promise therein, are resonant themes in Staniszkis’ work. In “Silk City” this metaphor of personal growth is linked to economies of globalization and social change at play in the urban core.

Staniszkis engages with her material at every stage, raising silk worms, growing mulberry trees to feed these hungry collaborators, and watching them spin their tightly woven cocoons. This investigation brings the artist, and the audience, to a discovery and understanding of this precious natural resource.

Joanna Staniszkis is Professor Emerita of the Landscape Architecture Program at the University of British Columbia. She is the recipient of many awards and is recognized internationally for her work in the textile medium. She is especially well known for large-scale architectural commissions on display at prominent buildings around the world. Since the late 1960s, Staniszkis has worked with a wide variety of natural fibres and dyes, often including cross-cultural references. She involves herself in all aspects of textile production and expresses her vision though the use of unconventional materials and techniques.