‘Scapes, ‘Scopes & Abstracts: The Imagery Behind Joan Hug-Valeriote’s Creations

By Zandra Juarez, GAC Volunteer

Born and raised in Guelph, Ontario, quilt artist Joan Hug-Valeriote, shares that her first quilt was a pot holder made at a historical home kitchen in Toronto’s High Park area. She recalls back then only knowing how to sew square pieces of clothing together and doing a checkerboard pattern with them, however, she didn’t know how to make a proper quilt. In that space, accompanied by a friend and their respective babies, both learnt this craft that nowadays has been transformed by Joan into an entire repertoire of masterpieces. She confesses to have been ‘hooked by quilting tri dimensionality and patterns’. “I just loved it, and also all the calmness and tranquility that the process of hand-quilting gave me since the very first moment. It’s really meditative, it’s quite therapeutic.” In her love for quilting, she found a shift of perspective, and what seemed to be the utilitarian purpose of something made with this technique, little by little evolved from being a craft to becoming an art form.

In 1995, Joan and her family moved to California. She recalls going to the quilt shop and inquiring where the guild met, there she met great speakers who were artists in fabric, they offered classes, and Joan took as many as she could. Then she also met a friend who introduced her to computerized quilting design. And that’s the moment she refers to as the beginning of her career as a quilt artist. When she returned to Canada in 1999, she started teaching classes and taking commissions.

Her current art exhibit, which will be displayed at 10C Shared Space until December 31st, showcases different samples of her wide variety of work, thus she named it “’Scapes, ‘Scopes & Abstracts”. She has created landscapes, seascapes, cityscapes, microscapes, and abstracts. 

One of her most interesting pieces is a replica of a ‘microscape’. She hand-dyed the fabric and found the perfect motif in a scientist’s microscope photo of marine diatoms. Overlaying with organza and then quilted, this piece shows Joan’s dexterity to make art out of fabric in quite a unique way.

Later on in the interview, she tells me that this show is allowing her to bring out some pieces she had created during abstract art courses and I am just blown away by these other Kandinski inspired pieces. If the microscape was an ‘oceanic Miró’, these trees on a square frame were definitely Kandinsky-like. Undoubtedly, Joan Hug-Valeriote’s art is an exquisite representation of Modern Quilt Movement -which conveys traditional quilting techniques with modern subjects and perspectives.-

“I love the feel of textiles, their colours and combinations.” “I have quilts in my head that will only come to life once I have figured out the correct technique to create the effect that I want…”. 

There’s growing excitement about a new project based on a poppy fields photo series that she and her daughter took together. “I guess I have to start experimenting with different techniques to see which one best suits the idea that I have for the poppies”

Most inspiration comes from her early connection with nature. “I grew up in an 80 acres land covered with trees, which later on became a Christmas tree farm. It was like having my own provincial park.”

Installation shot of ‘Scapes, ‘Scopes & Abstracts’ at 10C Shared Space

Her commitment to reality, social causes, the environment, social displacement, history of Canada and of quilting, show through the seams of her social and emotional investment into her art.

What she’s working on: Some projects for friends and family, until the end of the year, as well as completing a course on “Colour and Composition”

What does she envision for the future? “For textile art (& for a lot of the historical quilts that have been made) to be recognized as fine art; for the persons behind these creations, to be recognized as artists.”

“’Scapes, ‘Scopes & Abstracts” is on view until December 31st at 10C Shared Space (42 Carden St.). Visit the exhibition webpage for more information about open hours and the artist’s contact information. 

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