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Willow Rector - Handing on History

Gallery 1C03


September 11 - November 8, 2014

Extended until March 15, 2015!

Hamilton Galleria in the University of Winnipeg Library

Willow Rector’s creations draw inspiration from both literary and art historical fields. Working in textiles with hand embroidery – a medium traditionally classified as craft and “women’s work” – she uses this marginalized and gendered artistic method to “engage questions concerning memory, the living preservation of women’s art history, and the resonance between an artist’s life and her work.”

Between 2005 and 2012, Rector meticulously re-built numerous antique handbags, embellishing them with hand embroidery and beadwork. She envisions these works as a series of “sculptural biographies,” each dedicated to a historical female artist, writer, or literary figure. Every bag includes a quote pertaining to the individual being commemorated, and aspects of their personal creative expressions are also embodied in the aesthetic of the bags.

Rector sees the handbag as an embodiment of the complex dynamic that exists between the public and the private, the identity we present to the world and the one we keep to ourselves. Handing on History reconsiders conventional associations of the handbag as an easily dismissed accessory or as a sought after status symbol; rather these visually stunning and through-provoking pieces are powerful artistic tributes. They prompt a reevaluation of the distinctions between art and craft, the visual and the literary, as well as our notions of private and public space.

Willow Rector is a Winnipeg-based visual artist. She completed degrees in English Literature from the Universities of Winnipeg and Manitoba and taught in that field for a number of years. Having first learned hand embroidery in her youth, she made the switch to a full-time career as a visual artist within the last three years. Rector has studied various media through courses and mentorship programs at Mentoring Artists for Women’s Art, the Winnipeg Art Gallery, and Martha Street Studio. Her artistic practice focuses on issues of subjectivity and identity, addressing themes ranging from women’s artistic and literary history to the Canadian landscape, and exploring connections between the tactile nature of textiles and the way memory is constructed. Rector’s works have been included in several group exhibitions throughout Manitoba as well as in Alberta and Ontario, and she has received grants from the Manitoba Arts Council and the Winnipeg Arts Council.

The Hamilton Galleria is located on the 4th Mezzanine level of the UWinnipeg Library in Centennial Hall.

The University of Winnipeg Library's hours of operation can be viewed here.

Admission is always free and everyone is welcome.

For more information contact:

Jennifer Gibson, Director/Curator, Gallery 1C03
1st floor, Centennial Hall, The University of Winnipeg
515 Portage Ave, Winnipeg MB R3B 2E9
204.786.9253 | j.gibson@uwinnipeg.ca