The politics of education has been at the forefront of the environment in which the graduating class of 2014 has worked. Since the spring of 2013 when the cuts to programs were announced the specter of the “end time” has colored our creative learning environment. At the time of the announcement current students, graduating students, alumni, national, international as well as members of the local textile arts community rallied together to petition the Capliano administration and the provincial government to reconsider the cuts. The central reason from all these people was the fact that the 40 year program was and is a viable, valuable and vital part of Capilano’s learning community as well as a critical contributor to the broader and wider cultural and economic community.
What an amazing legacy to be a part of, 40 years of graduating students, who are and do become a vital part of many communities, who for a great part stay connected to each other in friendships, guilds, coops, as studio mates, colleagues, peers who share knowledge and resources. I couldn’t be more proud of anything I have done and been a part of. I am so inspired and impressed by this current graduating class who has been impacted most acutely by the cuts. They were there on the front lines, protesting, doing interviews for the press, making armbands and flyers, circulating petitions, standing really tall and proudly articulating what they do and what they contribute to culture and the economy.
It has not been an easy year, with the end drawing closer at what seemed an ever-increasing speed, the stress mounted, but students were focused and committed. The work that they produced is rich with their strong desires to become critically engaged with the world through the textile arts. In cutting our program and others, especially the Studio Arts , the administration is sending the message that the arts are not valued and that they are not “subjects” that should be taught at University. There are many indicators however that would tell us otherwise. Educational theories tell us that making is thinking therefore making increases cognitive capacities. Ironically, it is these cognitive skills born out of creativity that are desperately what we need to adapt and survive in an ever complex future world. The market place now demands ethical consuming, which can only be delivered by the ethical production of goods and services, that this new generation of makers is acutely critical and conscious of. The increase of textile work in graphic design, medical technology and the visual arts also points to the value of a foundational education in the textile arts that can be carried into these diverse fields. A post-secondary education that is rigorous, reflective of personal identities and global perspectives, when applied to studio skills culminates in graduates like our alumni who are resourceful, articulate, passionate and skillful. These indicators and more tell us that the textile arts are valued, central, and necessary to living in a rich world.
A new story begins after this grad show not only for the grads but also for the faculty and textile arts education itself in British Columbia. We are all together on an unknown journey, but with skills, passion and a strong community we will grow and change. As artists we hone our responsive skills. When we are faced with challenges we make assessments, gather resources, brainstorm, develop a plan, implement a course of action, reflect on outcomes, make more assessments, gather more resources, do much more brainstorming, develop more plans, implement, reflect and so on. These skills are invaluable over the course of a lifetime, where there will always be challenges, and assuredly always something worth figuring out.
I wish the graduates all the luck and best wishes, and my deepest heartfelt congratulations to you all.
Mary Lou Trinkwon
Textile Arts Dept.