Emily Comeau is a Montreal-based conceptual fibre artist. Graduating from Concordia University with distinction, she holds a BFA with a specialization in Fibre Arts and was the 2009 recipient of the Prix Diagonale. Obtaining an Awesome Ottawa grant, she produced a living book arts sculpture in Ottawa’s acclaimed Art’s Court in 2010 with Canadian book artist and founder of The Paperhouse Studio, Emily Cook. As a graduate of Dalhousie University’s Costumes Studies program, her background in textiles, historical costumes, and costumes for theatre has provided her with a great variety of skills to draw from when dreaming up engaging fibre art creations. An emerging artist, she recently debuted a collection of her work in her first solo exhibition at the Ted T. Katz Family Trust Gallery at Centaur Theatre in Montreal. Her work strives to engage the senses in unexpected ways, and to challenge people’s expectations of textile-based art, making playful use of bright colours, interesting textures and combinations of elements that create cognitive dissonance. She exhibits regularly across Canada and the US.
Exploring the history of leisure arts and crafts as they relate to feminism and fine art is central to my art practice. I am particularly invested in exploring mediums of artistic expression that have habitually been dismissed because of issues of classism and sexism within the hierarchy of art. Themes of accessibility, whimsy and play, as well as the divide between high and low art are central to my work.
A strong element of play is a recurring theme throughout my work, as my pieces evoke a sense of familiarity, playfulness and humour. The fusion of the accessible and the provocative is an important element in my art practice and I endeavour to always make art that is memorable without being alienating to the uninitiated.
As a process driven artist, I create tactile and visually rich environments through abstract pieces made from coloured pompoms, stuffed animals, printed fabrics, glitter and sequins. My choice of materials and their connection to the realm of craft and leisure art is intended to confront the historical hierarchy of fine art. The dichotomy created by exhibiting pieces made from craft and leisure techniques in a traditional gallery space underlines the historical and still prevalent exclusion of these practices from high art. This is in part motivated by the techniques’ associations to childhood, work traditionally done by women, and the economic and technical accessibility of the materials.
In my most recent series, I explore the divide between high and low art by reimagining the canonical works of the Group of Seven as glittery paint by numbers. It is both an homage to the all-male artist group and a feminist commentary on the intersection of art history, art practices and gender.
Through the use of techniques and materials associated with childhood and women’s work, my practice tackles issues of sexism and classism within the art world. I also engage with the viewer by creating works that stimulate a sense of familiarity and humour, confronting the boundaries of art, play and craft