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An intricate Web(b): American influences on professional craft in Canada 1964-1974


An intricate Web(b): American influences on professional craft in Canada 1964-1974

Alfoldy, Sandra (2001) An intricate Web(b): American influences on professional craft in Canada 1964-1974. PhD thesis, Concordia University.

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This thesis explores the impact of American craftspeople, organizers and ideologies on the development of professional craft in Canada during the period 1964 to 1974. Research which has identified this as a key decade in the development of infrastructures also reveals a strong reliance on American craft ideals during this period. In particular, the philanthropy of Aileen Osborn Webb and the American Craft Council is discussed as it provided Canadian administrators with models upon which they based specific aspects of their organizations. Although the American Craft Council and the World Crafts Council, formed in 1964, provided guidance for Canada, they were unable to assist in navigating the growing tensions between Francophone and Anglophone craftspeople, and the emerging self-identity of First Nations craftspeople. It is my hypothesis that rather than negotiating through these difficulties on the national level, Canadian organizers attempted to neutralize them by simply not engaging with the issues. This awkwardness resulted in the 1974 formation of a national craft organization, the Canadian Crafts Council, already undermined by growing dissention. By undertaking studies of specific exhibitions and conferences during this period, I have highlighted the key personalities, ideologies, and organizations and their contributions to professional craft in Canada. Through this process three areas of debate emerge. First, the recurrence of American "experts" to validate Canadian craft, and the consistent admiration of Aileen Osborn Webb by all levels of administrators and craftspeople, indicates the omnipresence of American ideals that Canadian craftspeople both embraced and resisted. Second, the differing perceptions of the professional focus of Quebec craft organizations and the nationalistic emphasis on the preservation of craft techniques and traditions presented an insurmountable obstacle to the formation of a unified Canadian craft organization. Third, unlike the American Craft Council which operated independently from the federal Indian Arts and Crafts Board, the Canadian Guild of Crafts maintained contact, but had limited involvement with, First Nations craftspeople. Instead they continued in the caretaking role they had developed during the early part of the twentieth century as the Canadian Handicrafts Guild.

Divisions:Concordia University > School of Graduate Studies
Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Authors:Alfoldy, Sandra
Pagination:xii, 323 leaves : ill. ; 29 cm.
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:Ph. D.
Program:School of Graduate Studies
Thesis Supervisor(s):Mackenzie, Catherine
Identification Number:NK 841 A44 2001
ID Code:1328
Deposited By: Concordia University Library
Deposited On:27 Aug 2009 17:18
Last Modified:13 Jul 2020 19:49
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