Just making it: the stain of femaffect on fiber in art

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University of New Brunswick


In this interdisciplinary study, I use Kimberlé Crenshaw’s intersectional feminist research approach and a bricolage methodology to integrate written research on fiber and craft with visual art research and production. The inquiry presented investigates the relationship between fiber, femininity, and the devaluation of fiber-based works of women artists, Black, Indigenous, and women of colour (WOC), racialized peoples, and LGBTQ2+ practitioners. Drawing on a long career of studio work in visual arts, as well as study, teaching and practice-informed research, I incorporate my own experiential knowledge on my subject throughout this dissertation (written and practice-informed components). This dissertation situates the historical feminization of craft within the more refined phenomenon of what I call “femaffect.” I define femaffect as specific negatively feminized impressions or feelings that have become “stuck” (Ahmed, 2010) to certain artworks, particularly to fiber mediums and gendered creative processes associated with softness. Using practice-informed research that centres precisely on these mediums and creative processes, as well as a written dissertation that theorizes and historicizes femaffect from an intersectional feminist perspective and using a bricolage methodology, I show why femaffect is triggering negative effects in viewers. My research shows that negativity, which is stuck to femaffect, results in damaging outcomes for artists and can provoke undesirable consequences from those who collect and critique art, as well as those who work in galleries, libraries, archives and museums (GLAMS).