Making tactile crafts tangible during a pandemic

Textiles: Craft & Apparel Design program graduates showcase work

6/9/2020 11:24:47 AM

ST. JOHN’S, NL ­ – In the sensory-filled world of textiles, crafts and apparel, it is a daunting task for an audience to be able to feel, smell and properly capture all the elements of creations even during the best of times.

Enter a global pandemic where many in-person gatherings and activities were cancelled, and the situation becomes even more challenging. However, that has not deterred College of the North Atlantic’s (CNA) Textiles: Craft & Apparel Design graduates. If anything, they have been working even harder to ensure the world can see two years’ worth of crafts, artistic pieces, improved skillsets and talent.

On Wednesday, June 10, the 11 graduates from this program will present a virtual year-end apparel show and art exhibition, which will increase their exposure to an even larger and broader audience than ever before.

Traditionally, faculty works with students to plan the fashion show and an art/craft exhibition as part of program curriculum. These showcases have been always held on-site, with many hours of detailed preparation in advance; however, as with all best-laid plans, things can go awry and require a change of direction.

The program, along with its industry partner – Craft Council of Newfoundland and Labrador (NL) – have combined forces to put off the virtual exhibition, which the council will host on its website ( There, visitors will find videos and links about the technical execution of the process, and information about the graduates, their work, the apparel presentation and art exhibit in one place ( – NOTE: this link will go live Wednesday, June 10).

Stephanie Stoker, Weaving, Drawing and Design instructor, says her students were aware, once the impact of the pandemic was felt everywhere, their year-end event wasn’t going to be the same. While it was a little unsettling for some of them, she adds, this experience will help teach her students about the importance of streamlining things, adapting to unexpected situations, and to not give up when something doesn’t go their way.

“We have a group of people who base their lives on touching things; being able to feel the cloth, the textures, while appreciating drape and movement,” noted Stoker. “Craft and textiles are based on your interaction with the work, so when you take that interaction out, it’s a little bit jarring. It becomes a photograph and photography is something different. But the students realize the absolute need to adapt and to find a solution. Design is problem solving regardless of where you are, what studio you are in; whether you’re doing portfolio development or embroidery, print and dye or writing, there is always a way to find a solution. We were committed to helping them find one as well.”
A sample of the work of the graduates from the Textiles: Craft & Apparel Design program. Here, Tara Lucia Hayes (natural dye samples), Debbie Lee (Felt pieces x 2), Mya Cousins (doll) are demonstrating the “surface design” component of the program.

Bruno Vinhas, a CNA graduate who is gallery director at the Craft Council of NL, has been only too happy to work with faculty and students to provide a venue for this year’s graduation production.

“This online graduation exhibition might be the last day for some of these artists as students of the Textiles: Craft and Apparel Design program, but I believe that their taste for design and skills development was facilitated by their lovely and more than talented instructors for the past two years, and their learning will actually start from today,” said Vinhas. “Every little encounter and experience gained from the moment they walked through the doors of the college up until this presentation of their beautiful collections and bodies of work has been enriching, and they will remain within their memories for life. I believe the stories created beyond the boundaries of the classroom during the program have been equally helpful in making them feel part of the community. Thank you for keeping traditions alive and for pushing textiles forward.”
Another example of the creative work of graduates of the Textiles: Craft & Apparel Design program. Sydney Anna White (sweater and skirt), Tara Lucia Hayes (dress and flowers), Allison Claire Murphy (green coat), Deanna Coombs (cross back blouse) show examples of the “apparel design” component.

Brenda Tobin, Dean of the School of Academics, Applies Arts & Tourism, says she is also looking forward to the new online apparel event and art/craft exhibition, which is made possible by the unwavering commitment of the college’s faculty and students from various programs, such as Textiles: Craft & Apparel Design, Graphic Design and Journalism, as well as the external partners.

“I thank our faculty within the school, as well as our invaluable industry partner, Craft Council NL, for creating these fantastic opportunities for our students,” said Tobin. “Knowing how to represent yourself and showcase your creations online has never been so important as it is now. Through these virtual events, I believe our students are even better positioned to succeed as innovative textile and apparel designers in our world today. I am so proud of our graduates and I just can’t wait to see their innovative and creative 2020 textile designs through the new online lens!”
Fabric design in part of the new Textile & Apparel (now Textiles: Craft & Apparel Design) program. Here, Sydney Anna White (knit dress), Angel Strong (woven bag), Gillian read (woven jacket), Teresita Swain (sketch) display their beautiful creations as part of their graduate work.

Stoker adds that she hopes the overall experience will also provide these graduates with the confidence and awareness they need to become successful and host future events safely within the larger community.

For more information about programs in the School of Academics, Applies Arts & Tourism, visit:
Media contact:

Michelle Barry
Communications Manager
College of the North Atlantic