Ruth Scheuing: No Boundaries. Myths, Cyclones, and Other Creations

31 January 2024
Bookmark This (1)
ClosePlease login

Sponsored in part by:

Ad for the book Gathering Colour, featuring the book cover and the words, "Use natural pigments to make dyes, inks & paints from the world around you." A button at the bottom says, "Buy now."

At first glance, Ruth Scheuing’s Granville Island studio gives off an industrial vibe. A massive, computer-assisted loom commands centre stage as six rows of warp rise and fall in synchrony with bursts of compressed air and the clatter of solenoids. Ruth is at the breast beam, an open laptop at her side. Whoosh. Another burst of compressed air sends the shafts up and down. Ruth is realizing her creation and letting the machine do most of the heavy lifting. After all, the former teacher of textile design at Capilano University—and recipient of the 2010 Chalmers Award in Crafts—has a diploma in chemistry and is no stranger to technology, in fact she welcomes it.

“I looked through electron microscopes,” she says of her early days as a cancer researcher in Switzerland, where she was engrossed in technology and what it could do for humanity. When she emigrated from Switzerland to Canada in 1969, she changed her focus, “I felt there was more room to express your ideas in art than in science,” she says, and so she enrolled in a four-year Fine Arts program at Halifax’s Nova Scotia College of Art and Design. Art school not only introduced her to technique but opened her mind to the issues of the day.

 “I was very much into message,” she says. “I was in art school, and I had a big show. I did a lot of complicated patterns and I kind of thought they could be really important and say something. People said ‘It looks nice,’ but I didn’t want nice. They didn’t get the message.”

 The message? Weaving can contribute to the conversation on climate change, gender roles, equality, and empowerment.

All photos courtesy of Ruth Scheuing

Copyright © John Thomson except as indicated.
image description: a head and shoulders portrait of a white man with grey hair and beard; he is looking at the camera and smiling

About John Thomson

John Thomson is an art critic with Galleries West magazine, a weekly compendium of west coast painting, sculpture, and photography. Originally trained as a broadcast journalist ( CBC, CTV, TVO, and Discovery Canada ), he’s obsessed with history, art (he’s particularly fond of makers in any medium), politics, and human behavior. His work has appeared in Westworld, THIS, Inspired, YAM, Wordworks, and Vancouver magazine, among others.

Related Posts

Mike Donohue: Crochet Reimagined

Mike Donohue: Crochet Reimagined

Visual artist Mike Donohue chann his love of free-form crochet to create lush, vibrant plantscapes. Here, he shares the challenges and rewards of creating large-scale crochet artworks.

Get 10% off!

Join our mailing list to get special Studio Membership pricing! PLUS hear about new Digits & Threads content and community news.

Subscription success! Well done, you.