Crafting Canada

2017, Art Gallery of Burlington, Banner Stand/Travelling Exhibit, History
1960s, 21st-century, Canada, contemporary art, craft, craftivism, design, Expo ‘67, guilds, history, pottery, textile, travelling
About This Project

Date: August 19 – October 29, 2017

Partner: Art Gallery of Burlington

Venue: Art Gallery of Burlington – map

Project Members: Natania Sherman and Katherine Seally


Crafting Canada is a 5 panel pop-up banner exhibition curated by Katherine Seally and Natania Sherman in conjunction with the Art Gallery of Burlington (AGB). The exhibition is a primer on Canadian craft history from Expo ‘67 to today. Since the 1960s the role of craft in Canadian cultural expression has shifted and changed. What hasn’t changed is that craft evolves along with us as our priorities, needs, and desires develop.


Crafting Canada is written for a general audience, including the many craft artisans, artists, scholars, and admirers who visit the Canadian Craft Biennial. As a travelling exhibition, Crafting Canada will potentially be displayed at other sites, where it will be seen by a general audience.


The Art Gallery of Burlington was founded in 1978 by Burlington-based visual arts co-operatives and guilds. In 1983, the AGB began collecting Canadian ceramics and opened as a public art gallery. Today, the AGB holds over 2300 works of contemporary Canadian ceramics. They collect works from across Canada that look “at the intersection where high craftsmanship and artistic expression converge.”


In 2017, the AGB is hosting the inaugural Canadian Craft Biennial and the Can Craft? Craft Can! Symposium, a series of events and programming designed to showcase Canadian professional craft. Crafting Canada will be displayed during the Canadian Craft Biennial as a complement to the Art Gallery of Burlington’s program of exhibitions.


Funding and support for Crafting Canada came from the Faculty of Information at the University of Toronto, as well as from the Art Gallery of Burlington.


We undertook this project in late-September 2016 and it is set to launch in August 2017.


Crafting Canada looks at the evolving role of Canadian craft since its landmark year in 1967. The exhibition begins with Expo ‘67 when Canadian craft was exhibited for the first time on the international stage. From there we attempt to provide a definition for craft and take the viewer through the highlights of Canadian craft history, from the development of craft councils and guilds to the craftivism movement and the 21st-century adoption of digital technology in professional craft practice. The exhibition highlights the value of craft as a form of expression on par with fine art and will provide viewers with a newfound appreciation of the uniqueness of Canadian craft.


The intended outcome of Crafting Canada is to impart visitors with a sense of the relevance of Canadian professional craft to their daily lives. Visitors will learn the history of craft in this country as well as finding a newfound appreciation for the craftsmanship, uniqueness, and cultural value of craft. Through calls to action in the text, visitors will learn how they too can participate in the craft sector.


We’d like to thank our project partners Christine Saly-Chapman, Denis Longchamps and Lee Bondzio at the Art Gallery of Burlington. We would also like to extend our thanks to Professor Matt Brower, Rebecca Noone, Hillary Walker Gugan, and the Exhibition Project Class of 2017 for their support on this project.