Alumni make old-world techniques new again

Art exhibition draws on elements in nature

10/15/2021 9:00:02 AM

ST. JOHN’S, NL – An artists’ exhibition combining nearly 40 years of knowledge and experience will debut this Friday in St. John’s, and it will continue for the next several weeks.

College of the North Atlantic’s (CNA) Textile & Apparel Design program will hold an exhibit called “Nature Study in Cloth” from today, October 15 to November 12, 2021 at the Craft Council of Newfoundland and Labrador Gallery at 155 Water Street, St. John’s. The show will display the works of alumni as far back as 1982.

Stephanie Stoker and Susan Furneaux are both graduates and current instructors for the CNA program, and both say there are many reasons to come out and see the show.
The artist can be seen holding up her work – a lace woven indigo cloth inspired by the motion of waves. Visit the Craft Council’s Main Gallery, 155 Water Street, St. John’s from Oct. 15-Nov. 12 to see the work of CNA’s Textile & Apparel Design program alumni inspired by the Bruton Memorial Book of Nature Study, Volume I & II.

“People should go see it who want to experience fine craft about sustainable making; a consideration for materials and techniques in a time when we are considering better ways to live amongst each other, respecting each other as well as the world, and environment, around us,” Stoker said.

“Viewers will also see the calibre of graduate that the Textile & Apparel Design program produces as well as their professional impact on the provincial and national craft and art industry,” added Furneaux.

Stoker says the show is also a great place for graduates to show off their talents in a supportive environment.

“For alumni, it gives them the opportunity to present work in a professional gallery, and to create work that responds to a specific concept,” she said. “It is often hard for individual artists to create an entire exhibition of work, so this allows a group to come together, discuss and create work in a manner that can include support and feedback.”

The exhibition was inspired by the Bruton Memorial Book of Nature Study, Volume I & II.

“The book was written as a textbook for young Newfoundland children, to learn about the natural diversity of the island,” said Stoker. “Our exhibition asked CNA Textile alumni to design and create pieces of cloth that are inspired by the content and concept of the book.” 

Furneaux and Stoker organize exhibitions through their work with the Textile & Apparel Design program for students each year. This time though, there was something special about graduates from past years being involved.
Indigo-dyed silk embellished with rock-sewn shibori technique seen lying on the beach. The rocks were used from CNA’s Textile & Apparel Design program alumni from 1982-2020, which will have an exhibition of artwork at the Craft Council’s Main Gallery, 155 Water Street, St. John’s from Oct. 15-Nov. 12.

“To see work created by graduates from more than 39 years of learning and making is extremely gratifying,” Stoker said. “Each graduate has been on their own journey, has had their own experiences, and you see that explored and conveyed through their response to the book.”

Stoker says she is proud of the impact the program has made, and continues to make, in the community and industry.

“We are very excited to have work created by graduates from 1982 to 2020. The durability of our program – once the craft school at the Arts & Culture Centre in the '60s to the Textile & Apparel Design program today – shows an amazing story of growth, adaptation and attachment to the handmade.”

Each piece is created as long pieces of cloth a minimum of 12” x 144” and will be hung from the ceiling to allow for air flow, movement and shadow.

“Each artist has designed and created or embellished their cloth with hand techniques such as weave, shibori, natural dye, embroidery and felt,” explained Stoker. “Each artist has also taken the time to document the processes of designing, sampling, and creating their work through process books, which will be on display. The work is a representation of what the individual artist was inspired by in the book, be it text, drawings, information, etc.”
Silk threads show the impression of colours from dye plants: oak leaf, coreopsis, golden rod, etc. This is one of the many works of CNA alumni artists that will be in the Nature in Cloth exhibition October 15 to November 12, 2021 at the Craft Council’s Main Gallery, 155 Water Street, St. John’s.

Wide open spaces
Bruno Vinhas, Gallery Director for Craft Council NL, thinks the gallery is a perfect place for this exhibition.
“The large space allows you to see the pieces from different angles so you can play with the shadows movement and colours,” said Vinhas, also a graduate of Textile & Apparel Design. “The gallery gives freedom for the cloth to be itself. I think the main thing is to realize that this program is a way to get you to a gallery. Textiles have traditional uses, but they are also pieces of art.”

The exhibition will include work from artists: Judy LaVallee-Dunphy, Susan Furneaux, Stephanie Stoker, Richard Brophy, Kayla Walsh, Jennifer Cake, Sonya Coish and Deborah Lee.

For more information about Textile & Apparel Design and other CNA programs, visit:

For more information about the Craft Council, visit

Media contact:

Ryanne McIsaac
Content Specialist
College of the North Atlantic