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Kathy Slade: This is a chord. This is another.

Rock n' roll meets embroidery in artworks inspired by DIY culture.

This solo exhibit explores Kathy Slade’s decade and a half long practice of making textile-based works that put sound at the centre of the image. Pop music, literature, art history, rock n’ roll, and film stills inform the artist’s embroidered panels created between 2002 and 2017. Her minimal, monochromatic works are charged with the passion of fandom and female desire to upturn power.

The embroiderer has been traditionally depicted in art as a quiet and lonesome female figure. In Slade’s artworks, however, a noisy, assertive spirit rips out of her stitched and printed images. One panel depicts Veruca Salt from the 1971 film Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory as she brazenly declares, “I want it now!” Italian conceptual artist Alighiero Boetti (1940-1994), famous for a series of embroidered maps of the world, influenced Slade’s artistic practice. In a series of panels reminiscent of Andy Warhol’s silkscreens, Slade shows Boetti playing the drums. Her largest installation is a pom-pom made of orange yarn, sitting silently on the Gallery floor but invoking the energy of cheerleading chants at pep rallies.

Celebrating the do-it-yourself culture of both rock and roll history and non-professional textile-making, Slade’s work underscores the idea that we can all be artists. The DIY culture of textile arts is echoed in her instructional abstractions of “Learn Guitar” manuals and stitched notations of guitar chords popular in rock music. The title alludes to the punk rock maxim first coined by Mark Perry in 1976: “This is a chord. This is another. This is a third. Now form a band.” and points to the ease with which anyone can be a rock star, an artist, a revolutionary.

Other artworks in the show include embroideries based on song lists scrawled on crumpled scraps of paper or inspired by sheet music of 1960s chanteuse Francoise Hardy and 1980s new wavers Duran Duran. The exhibition also features silk georgette scarves with slogans that range in references from New Order to Brexit.

About the Artist

Kathy Slade is a Vancouver-based artist, curator, and editor. She is currently completing her MA at European Graduate School, Saas-Fee, Switzerland and holds a BA from Simon Fraser University. She works in a variety of media including textiles, sculpture, sound, performance, film, video, print, and publication. Through her practice, Slade points to moments and events in literature, art history, and popular culture from which to reimagine existing texts, to create looping structures, and to produce remakes that play on repetition and ideas of original and copy. Recent solo exhibitions include I WANT IT ALL I WANT IT NOW, Walter C. Koerner Library, Vancouver, BC (2018) and Blue Monday, 4COSE, London, UK (2017). Slade founded READ Books at Libby Leshgold Gallery, Emily Carr University of Art + Design, where she holds the position of Head of Publication and Communication.

Image credit: Installation image of Kathy Slade: This is a chord. This is another. at Surrey Art Gallery. Photo by SITE Photography.