Reflections on Rug Hooking: Alexandrya Eaton’s “Everything in Between”

12 January 2022
By Nadine Flagel
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Lately, I’ve been observing other contemporary rug hooking artists explore and respond to the question: “How do I make the artistry of rug hooking visible?” Some artists, such as Michelle Sirois-Silver and Karen Miller, choose technical innovation or blow-up to garner attention. Deanne Fitzpatrick colourfully stylizes a regional geography. Laura Kinney uses simplified primitivism, but her ironic take on Maud Lewis seizes attention.

Toronto’s Textile Museum of Canada has toured its Home Economics show of hooked rugs, relying on social craft history as its focus. One group established a Contemporary Rug Hooking Group on Facebook last year, whilst another on Instagram instituted a weekly focus on individual artists. More traditionally, guilds or local groups of rug hookers frequently take on community projects, presenting the final collaborative rug to organizations for display or fundraising. For instance, in St. Andrews, New Brunswick, the Quoddy Loopers have collectively completed many rugs, so that every public building seems to have its own hooked rug commemorating the centrality of handicraft to the region.

While all of these approaches tell stories in which the artistry of hooked rugs is remarkable and visible, it seems to me that Alexandrya Eaton’s approach is unique.

Reflections on two exhibitions

Everything in Between
Owens Art Gallery, Mount Alison University, Sackville, NB; June 28 – Aug 31, 2021

Becoming: The Stories We Tell Ourselves
Port St. John Gallery, Saint John, NB; March 12 – April 30, 2021

image description: a woman looks at the camera, behind her are brightly coloured fabric wall-hangings

Alexandrya Eaton

About Nadine Flagel

Nadine Flagel is a self-taught textile and fibre artist whose mission is making art out of “making do.” She holds a Ph.D. in English Literature from Dalhousie University and teaches literature and composition. She is interested in the repurposing of both texts and textiles. Both practices rely on cutting up existing text(ile)s, on aesthetic and sensual appeal, on thrift, and on putting old things into new combinations, thereby intensifying and multiplying meanings. Flagel has recently held her first solo exhibition at the Craft Council of BC, has written about textile art, has created textile art for public art commission, and has received grants to make art with youth. She is also a member of CARFAC, and the Craft Council of British Columbia. As a settler, she is grateful to live and work on unceded land of the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh, səl̓ilwətaɁɬ, and xʷməθkʷəy̓əm peoples.

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