Vita’s weavings reflect Art History, Culture

Vita’s weavings reflect Art History, Culture

As a part of our “What’s on your Loom” series, we are featuring the works of Canada-based Fiber Artist Vita Plume. Plume has exhibited her work throughout Canada as well as in the U.S., Poland, Latvia, Japan, and Finland. 


In her latest project, the Alice Webster Suite (2018-2019), a historical, semi-public figure is recalled for the role she played in amassing resources for the New Brunswick Museum (NBM). In 1935, despite the indifference and some outright opposition from the all-male Board of Directors (including her husband), she established the Department of Arts and Industries and was designated its “Honourary Curator”. She gathered a representative group of artifacts and almost single-handedly constructed and installed the permanent exhibition.

An important element of the Alice Webster Suite is a series of woven and embroidered textile fragments dating between 1350 and 1800 that were acquired by Alice Lusk Webster for the NBM. They were purchased originally by the Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, in 1927.  By 1945, they were deemed peripheral to the Academy’s needs and they were offered to various institutions including the Cooper-Hewitt in New York. It was during a visit there that Lusk Webster saw these pieces and their potential; provincial artisans could study the almost 400 fragments for their vast array of weaving patterns and techniques that would otherwise be unavailable.

Nel at her Loom (2009)

Woven on TC1 | Double Weave | Materials: Woven Shibori, Cotton, Polyolefin

This portrait commemorating a renowned New Brunswick textile artist and colleague, Nel Oudemans (1918-2002), features an incredibly complex juxtaposition of patterns in combination with challenging perspective that is reinforced by the directional dyeing in the foreground.

Fallen Soldiers (2010-2011) – 78 Canadian

Woven on TC1 | Materials: Woven Shibori, Cotton, Polyolefin | Each panel approx. 12” x 7”

Ultimately commemoration is a deliberate act.  Nowhere is this more powerfully displayed than in the profoundly moving statement, Fallen Heroes (2010-2011).  Plume’s motivation for this emotional installation was to honour the individual soldiers who sacrificed their lives in the recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Its presentation, a methodical grid of penetrating eyes bears silent witness to the individual and collective tragedies that are just one of the devastating realities of war.

Alice Lusk Webster Suite (2018-2019)

Woven on TC2 | Double Weave | Materials: Cotton, Polyolefin

Little Alice Portrait in Blue Portrait in White Caption Text1 Letter (ing) Letter (ing)


Lusk Webster’s Sketch of Eyes (2019)

In process on TC2 | Double weave | Materials: Cotton, Polyolefin



Vita’s works are being exhibited at the New Brunswick Museum, Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada from June 9 to September 9, 2019. The exhibition catalogues will be available at the Museum Shop as of July 14, 2019.

Peter Larocque (M.A) the Curator of New Brunswick Cultural History & Art New Brunswick Museum, write about Vita’s project…

Scattered photographs, fragments of cloth and written words house stories and memories.  These are the physical and intangible records that Vita Plume collects, studies and considers.  They are her inspiration and, by reflecting on their narratives, she creates elegant and complex weavings that combine her concerns about identity and culture, as well as loss and remembrance.

 Over the past quarter century, Plume, as a textile artist and weaver, has commemorated and commented on subjects as diverse as autobiography, national independence and cultural peril.  She has honoured friends and colleagues, lamented the human cost of war, acknowledged the almost forgotten role of women in craft textile production as well as celebrated how the past is preserved and shared.  Her woven collages symbolize the ongoing transformation of identity through the fusion of ideas, imagery and patterns.  They guide us to a better appreciation of people, social values and ideals.   Through Vita Plume’s sensitivity and insight, the lessons of history speak.


Vita Plume has exhibited her work throughout Canada as well as in the U.S., Poland, Latvia, Japan, and Finland. She holds a Masters in Fine Art from the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Plume is a retired Associate Professor Emerita at the College of Design at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, N.C. She was the Head of the Textiles Studio at the New Brunswick College of Craft and Design, Fredericton, N.B. (1999 – 2001) and Coordinator and Assistant Professor in the Fibres Program of the Faculty of Fine Arts at Concordia University in Montreal, Quebec (1995-1998). She currently resides in Jemseg, New Brunswick, Canada. She curated an exhibition of the work of textile artist Charlotte Glencross for the Beaverbrook Art Gallery (Fredericton 2013). She serves on the boards of the Queens County Heritage and is currently the Past President (2018-2020) of the Textile Society of America, an organization which provides an international forum for the exchange and dissemination of information about textiles worldwide, from artistic, cultural, economic, historic, political, social, and technical perspectives.