Elaine Cheasley Paterson, PhD
Professor of Craft Studies, Art History
Associate Dean, Academic Programmes and Pedagogy, Fine Arts
Dr Elaine Cheasley Paterson is Professor of Craft Studies in the Department of Art History at the Faculty of Fine Arts of Concordia University in Montréal, Canada. She holds a PhD from Queen's University (Kingston, 2004), where she was a recipient of the Bader Fellowship in Art History.
Her research concerns women's cultural philanthropy in early twentieth-century British, Irish and Canadian craft guilds of the home arts movement and for tracing a lineage from this historical material to current resurgences in Do-it-yourself, maker culture and craftivist practices. A new line of her research focusses on education, settlement, social benevolence and imperial philanthropy (through the migration of people, craft practices and objects) in early twentieth-century Britain and Canada.
Her writing and teaching are focused on the relationships between material culture and feminist theory, with an emphasis on craft history, critical heritage studies and the decorative arts. Another significant stream of her research, emerging from her teaching, is centred around questions of skill, hybridity, and pedagogy within a contemporary craft milieu.
Some of her publications include Craft and Heritage: Intersections in Critical Studies and Practice (2021), a special issue on Identity, Craft, Marketing of the Journal of Canadian Art History (2018), and Sloppy Craft: Postdisciplinarity and the Crafts (2015) with Susan Surette. Recent essays of note: “Our Lady of the Snows : Settlement, empire and ‘the children of Canada’ in the needlework of Mary Seton Watts” in L. Binkley and J. Amos, eds. Stitching the Self (2020); “Gifted Design: Imperial Benevolence in the Needlework of Mary Seton Watts” in Design and Agency, eds J. Potvin and M. Marchand (2020); and “Tracing Craft — Labour, creativity, and sustainability in the Home Arts Movement” Journal of Canadian Art History (Fall 2019).
She is a member of the Centre for the Study of Canadian Women Artists and the Quebec Quilt Registry Project at Concordia, a Research Fellow of the Institute for Studies in Canadian Art and a member of the Advisory Board of the Canadian Craft Biennial. She is the series editor, with Susan Surette, for Bloomsbury Academic’s Critical Craft Studies Series (launched in 2022).
Research & Teaching Interests
- Critical Craft Studies
- History of Craft, Decorative Arts, and Design
- Women's Art and Social History
- Material Culture
- 19th Century Arts and Crafts Movement
- Victorian child migration and skill training
- Studio Craft, Indie Craft, DIY and Craftivist Movements
- Craft and the Museum, Curating Craft
Distinctions & Awards
Aide to Research Related Events (ARRE), Concordia University: Home/Making: a multidisciplinary symposium, awarded but not taken due to the COVID 19 lockdown.
Concordia Undergraduate Student Research Award (CUSRA): Student research in preparation for interviews with makers, writers and organizers and writing/making workshop participation at the inaugural Canadian Craft Biennial, August - October 2017.
FQRSC grant: Résurgence des métiers d'art en Grande-Bretagne, en Irlande et au Canada, 1890-1925
SSHRC grant: The Home Arts and Industries as International Movement: The British, Irish and Canadian Instance, 1880-1925
Participant in the SSHRC-funded workshop Cut on the Bias led by Dr. Kirsty Robertson (University of Western Ontario) and Dr. Kelly Thompson (Fibres, Concordia University), June 2011
Member of team awarded a Concordia University Grant to establish the Centre for the Study of Canadian Women Artists at Concordia University
Faculty Research and Development Program Award from Concordia University
Doctoral Fellowship from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC)
Bader Fellowship in Art History from Queen's University
Research Scholarship from the Fonds pour la Formation de Chercheurs et l'Aide à la Recherche (FCAR)
Photo credit: Bloomsbury Academic
Photo credit: https://www.concordia.ca/research/jarislowsky/jcah/archive/2018.html
Photo credit: Bloomsbury Academic, https://www.bloomsbury.com/ca/craft-and-heritage-9781350067592/
- ARTH 400 Advanced Seminar: Curating Craft
- ARTH 450 Advanced Seminar: Arts and Crafts Ethics and Contemporary Craft
- ARTH 400 Advanced Seminar: Arts and Crafts Ideology and Contemporary Craft Practice
- ARTH 398 "Beauty in everyday life" - The Social Reforms of the Arts and Crafts Movement in Britain, Europe and North America, 1850-1925
- ARTH 368 Contemporary Craft – A Global Community?
- ARTH 368 Craftivism from the Studio Movement to the DIY Movement
- ARTH 357 Studies in the History of Craft and the Decorative Arts
- ARTH 352 Studies in the History of Fibre Art
- ARTH 350 Aspects of the History of Ceramic Art
- ARTH 266 Aspects of the History of Fibre Art
- ARTH 264 Aspects of the History of Ceramics
- ARTH 200 Perspectives of Art History
- ARTH 614 The Arts and Crafts Movement in North America
- ARTH 614 Examining the Artisan Tradition in North America: Current debates and historical craft
- ARTH 614 Institutionalizing Craft in Quebec
- ARTH 648 Aspects of Museum and Curatorial Studies: Curatorial Strategies for Craft
Master's Thesis Supervision
Serena Desaulniers, Crafting Identity in Serbian Folk Art, Principal Supervisor, 2019 – 2021 Principal supervisor, 2008-2011. Principal supervisor, 2006-2011.
Jolee Smith, “It Washes Through”: Fibre Art and the Intertidal Zone in Contemporary Nova Scotia, Principal Supervisor, 2018 – 2021
Brenna Tuel, Symbols of Blood and Soil: Idealization of a Pagan Past in the Hex Signs of the Pennsylvania Dutch, Principal Supervisor, 2018 - 2020.
Camille Devaux, Knit Two Together and Repeat: Breaking with Tradition through Yarnbombing by the Cercles de Fermières du Québec, 2016-2018.
Evan Stanfield, Crafting Clothing: An Art Historical Exploration of Contemporary Small-scale Garment Manufacturing. Department of Art History, Principal Supervisor, 2014 – 2019.
Jason Klimock, Beauty beyond function: A Philosophical Inquiry into Crafting Knowledge in Victorian Atlantic Salmon Flies, Principal supervisor for 2011-12 (until maternity leave), Reader 2014.
Sonya Ocampo-Gooding, The Sheelah-na-gig in Contemporary Irish Art. Individualised Programme (INDI),
Principal supervisor, 2008-2012.
Christine May, Craftivism in Canada: Exploring Identity Through Politically Charged Textiles, Principal supervisor, 2010-12.
Danielle Lewis, Technology vs. The Family: The Effects of The Popularization of Technology On Residential Floor Plans Of The Twentieth Century [North America], Principal supervisor, Convocation: Fall 2012.
Nicole Burisch, The Dematerialization of the Craft Object: Performance Art and Contemporary Craft. Principal supervisor, 2009-2011.
Laurie Filgiano, Squeezing In and Zipping Up: Canada’s Involvement in the late 20th and 21st Century Trend of Fashion Exhibition.
Valérie Coté, Le bijou-sculpture au Québec durant les années 1950-70: le cas de Walter Schluep. Principal supervisor, 2009-2011.
Geneviève Pelletier, Intérieurs montréalais, immigration et identité: la domesticité en transition.
Katharine Brayley, A Unique Ambition: The Maritime Art Association's Annual Exhibitions 1935-1945. Principal supervisor, Convocation: Fall 2010.
Judith Penney Burton, Going With the Flow: The Work and Lives of Contemporary Canadian Fibre Artists. Individualised Programme (INDI), Principal supervisor, 2005-2008.
Cinzia Colella, A New Space in Canadian Art: Liminality in the Work of Three Glass Artists: Kevin Lockau, Susan Edgerley, and Brad Copping. Principal supervisor, 2004-2006.
Principal supervisor, 2008-2011.
Principal supervisor, 2006-2011.
Master's Thesis Reader
Alexandra Nordstrom, Labours of Love and Activism on the Prairies: The Sioux Handcraft Co-operative’s Artistic Production, 1960-1980, completed 2020.
Amelia Wong-Mersereau, Performing the Bride: Sexuality and the Environment in Kong Ning’s Marriage Series, completed 2020.
Amanda Shore, Towards a Pedagogy of Solidarity: Uprooting Traditions of Racial Plagiarism and Cultural Appropriation at Camp Ahmek, completed 2020.
Sarah Amarica, Working Bodies, Poignant Cloth: Materialising Histories of Labour in Ann Hamilton’s indigo blue (1991, 2007) and Ibrahim Mahama’s Occupations (2012–), Department of Art History, completed 2018.
Sara England, Ideal Citizens, Better Workers: National Cash Register Company’s Garden Programmes and Factory Tourism (1897–1913), Department of Art History, completed 2018.
Barbara Wisnoski, An Aesthetics of Everything Else: Flat Ontologies and the Everyday, Department of Art History, completed 2017.
Maude Pesant-Johnson, From Fashion Show to Exhibition: Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty, completed 2017.
Jury member, Caitlin Thompson, Dandy Lines: Beneath the Surface of the Western Sartorial Identity, MFA Fibres and Material Practices, completed 2015.
Marie-Hélène Busque, Garde-Robes: A Study in Haute Couture Patronage, Department of Art History, completed 2015.
Karolina Tomaszewska, Autobiographic Narrative in Drawings by Napachie and Annie Pootoogook, Department of Art History, completed 2012.
Olivia Pipe, Girl Words: The female language and politicized body in Jana Sterbak's drawings, Department of Art History, completed 2011.
Jessica Darveau, The Experience of the Uncanny in the Work of Yannick Pouliot, Department of Art History, completed 2011.
Bruno Andrus, La naissance du verre artisanal au Québec, Department of Art History, completed 2010.
Geraldine Davis, Ewen’s Moons, Department of Art History, completed 2008.
Jordan Simms, Cheating the End: Native Artifacts Contaminated with Toxic Preservatives, Department of Art History, completed 2007.
Melinda Reinhardt, The Canadian Travel Journals and Artistic Production of Lady Falkland, Department of Art History, completed 2005.
HODDÉ, Anna Ménard-Darriet. Création contemporaine et céramique traditionnelle: réseaux, savoirs et empowerment des femmes à Oaxaca. Inter-University Programme in Art History (Concordia). Principal supervisor (2020 - ).
RABYNIUK, Andrew, ABD. The Minor Materialism in Craft and Space. HUMA Doctoral programme minor supervisor with Nadia Myre (Principal) and Nicola Pezolet (minor). (2019 - )
GILLETT, Molly-Claire. Meaning and/in Materiality: Learning and Making in Irish Communities of Craft INDI Doctoral programme with minor fields in Irish Studies and Design. Principal Supervisor (2017 - 2022)
DANTIN, Camille. Eastern European émigré ceramists in California, 1930-40s. Inter-University Programme in Art History (Concordia). Principal supervisor (2017 – 2020).
KOBAYASHI, Chinatsu. John Ruskin on Natural Shape and Ornamentation and the Birth of Art Nouveau. Inter-University Programme in Art History (UQAM). Co-supervisor with Dominic Hardy (2009-2019).
SURETTE, Susan. Canadian Ceramic Relief Murals - The Formative Years, 1963-1983: Studio Craft and Architecture.Inter-University Programme in Art History (Concordia). Principal supervisor (2008-2014).
My research is focused on the late nineteenth-century Home Arts Movement as a network of craft guilds designed to provide sustainable creative work to craftspeople through national and international exhibitions and which may be understood as an important historical antecedent to current concerns for art and labour. Through comparative analyses of objects made and exhibited as part of the home arts movement in Britain, Ireland and Canada, I am particularly interested in establishing connections among the main umbrella organisations for craft revival in each of these countries, specifically between the internationally known Home Arts and Industries Association, London (1884) and both the Irish Industries Association, Dublin (1886) and the Canadian Handicrafts Guild, Montreal (1905).
Many of the anti-industrial ideals of the time were expressed in the craft workshops scattered all over the countryside as part of this British home arts movement. These ideals were exported (by people, in print or as exquisitely crafted objects) to Canada and included concerns for reskilling, collaborative making, sustainable creative labour, as well as rural regeneration through art and a belief in the emancipatory effects of the workshop for craftswomen. One objective of this research is to integrate material devoted to the Canadian craft revival with that from Europe and the United States in order to situate it within a broader context and introduce it to a wider audience. I am also concerned for issues of ethnicity, as they were expressed in such international venues as the world's fairs, as well as for presenting the peasant and working-class experience of the home arts movement and of its social and aesthetic ideals.
More recently, I have begun to trace a historical trajectory from these nineteenth-century craft revivals to the more recent explosion of Do-It-Yourself ‘crafters’ and politically inclined craftivists at the turn of the twenty first century. Doing so highlights how the historical inflects the contemporary in the complex, intertwined history of art and labour. I have also begun to fully explore this research material through the intersecting lenses of education, settlement, social benevolence and imperial philanthropy (through the migration of people, craft practices and objects) in early twentieth-century Britain and Canada.
Photo credit: Bloomsbury Academic Press
Craft Studies Series, co-editor with Susan Surette (London: Bloomsbury Academic, launching 2022).
Craft and Heritage: Intersections in Critical Studies and Practice, co-editor with Susan Surette (London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2021).
“Crafting Civic Engagement? How Heritage Lottery funding reframed Watts Gallery: Artists’ Village” in Craft and Heritage: Intersections in Critical Studies and Practice (London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2021).
“Our Lady of the Snows: Settlement, Empire, and ‘The Children of Canada’ in the Needlework of Mary Seton Watts (1848-1938)” in Stitching the Self: Exploring the Power of the Needle, eds J. Amos and L. Binkley (London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2020): 111-122.
“Gifted Design: Imperial Benevolence in the Needlework of Mary Seton Watts” in Design and Agency: Critical Perspectives on Identities, Histories, and Practices, eds John Potvin and Marie-Ève Marchand (London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2020), 49-68.
Introduction, Special Co-edited Issue on issue on Identity, Marketing and Craft, in Journal of Canadian Art History, Volume 39:2/40:1 (Fall 2019): 16-40.
“Tracing Craft — Labour, creativity, and sustainability in the Home Arts Movement” in Special Issue Journal of Canadian Art History, Volume 39:2/40:1 (Fall 2019): 41-64.
“Sloppy Craft”: Postdisciplinarity and the Crafts, co-editor with Susan Surette, London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2015.
“Crafting Empire: Intersections of Irish and Canadian Women’s History,” Journal of Canadian Art History, special issue guest edited by K. Huneault and J. Anderson, XXXIV:2 (2013), 243-268.
Guest editor, with Gloria Hickey, of the special issue “Économie, communauté et expression de soi – les métiers d’art et le développement social/Economy, community and self-expression – Craft and Social Development,” Cahiers métiers d'art - Craft Journal 5:2 (Spring 2012), with introductory essay.
"Judy Chicago's Rainbow Shabbat at the Musée des maîtres et artisans du Québec," in Chicago in Glass - en Verre, ed. Pierre Wilson (Musée des maîtres et artisans du Québec, September 2010), 75-85.
“The Re-Crafting Tradition Project,” introductory essay to the inaugural issue of Cahiers métiers d’art – Craft Journal, with Denis Longchamps, 1:1 (Summer 2007): 7-11.
“Decorating Women: The Gendering of Canadian Ceramics,” in On the Table: 100 Years of Functional Ceramics in Canada, eds R. Gotlieb and S. Alfoldy (Toronto: Gardiner Museum, 2007), 110-113.
“Decoration and Desire in the Watts Chapel, Compton: Narratives of Gender, Class and Colonialism,” reprinted in Visual Genders, Visual Histories, ed. P. Hayes (Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 2006), 196-218.
"Crafting a National Identity: The Dun Emer Guild, 1902-1908," in The Irish Revival Reappraised, ed. J. Murphy and B. FitzSimon (Dublin: Four Courts Press, 2003), 106-118.
For Folk’s Sake: Art and Economy in Twentieth-Century Nova Scotia, by Erin Morton, RACAR 42, 2 (2017): 130-132.
Nation Building: Craft and Contemporary American Culture, ed. Nicholas R Bell, International Journal of Heritage Studies 23, 10 (2017): 1018-1020 [http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13527258.2017.1347892].
Interview with Liz Logan about Sloppy Craft in American Craft, Autumn 2015.
"Crafting Identity: The Development of Professional Fine Craft in Canada," book review. Saskatchewan Craft Council Journal (2005).
"The Arts and Crafts Movement in the North West of England," book review. The Journal of Stained Glass (2006).
"John Butler Yeats: Prodigal Father," book review. The Canadian Journal of Irish Studies, 29, 1 (Spring 2003): 216-217.
"Material Matters: The Art and Culture of Contemporary Textiles," book review. RACAR XXV (1998): 123-125
Conferences & Lectures
- Chair of the panel "Modernity's Material Culture" at the Canadian Women Artists History Initiative Conference Modernisms: Inside & Out, 30 September - 2 October, 2021.
- "Connecting the dots: Steps toward a culture of collaboration in Fine Arts advising", invited keynote talk, with Mary Laliotis, at the Central Advising Working Group’s inaugural Advising Colloquium, Concordia University, 11 November 2021.
“Making and migration: Mapping craft with a Victorian needlework banner” invited keynote speaker for professional development panel with Erica Lehrer at (dis)location: art in a mobile age, Concordia Undergraduate Journal of Art History (CUJAH) 8th annual art history conference,16 February 2019.
“Gifted Design: Imperial Benevolence in the Needlework of Mary Seton Watts” presented at the Agents of Design/Design as Agency Symposium, Montreal Museum of Fine Arts and Concordia University, Montreal, 9-10 March 2018.
“Tracing Craft — Labour, creativity, and sustainability in the Home Arts Movement” presented at the Canadian Craft Biennial, Burlington/Toronto, 15-16 September 2017.
“Our Lady of the Snows for the ‘children of Canada’: Settlement and empire in the needlework banner of Mary Seton Watts” invited keynote talk for the inaugural Mary Watts Study Day, Watts Gallery, Compton, England, 7 November 2016.
Chair of the session “Precarity and Preciousness: Discussions of Labour in Craft” of the Universities Art Association of Canada Conference, UQAM, Montreal, Fall 2016.
Co-chair of the international session “Intersecting discourses: Inflecting craft and heritage” at the Critical Heritage Conference “What does Heritage Change?” UQAM (3-8 June 2016).
Participant in the roundtable discussion “Heritage Architecture and the Decorative Arts” with an international roster of scholars, at the Critical Heritage Conference “What does Heritage Change?” UQAM (3-8 June 2016).
“From ‘art worker’ to ‘crafter’: Art and labour in the Home Arts Movement and beyond” presented in the session Art/Work: Labour in Modern and Contemporary Art of the Universities Art Association of Canada Conference, 5-7 November 2015 in Halifax.
- "Crafting Empire: Intersections of Irish and Canadian Women's History" presented for the Canadian Women Artists History Initiative conference at Concordia University, Montreal, 3-5 May 2012.
- "Emigration and craft revival in nineteenth century Ireland and Canada" presented for CAIS conference Text and Beyond Text in Irish Studies: New Visual, Material & Spatial Perspectives held at the School of Canadian Irish Studies, Concordia University, Montreal, 6 - 9 July 2011
- Chair, with Susan Surette, of Sloppy Craft and Post-disciplinarity: A Critical Engagement for the Universities Art Association Conference at Carleton University, October 2011
- Chair, with Gloria Hickey, of the double session on craft, Economy, community and self-expression - Craft and Social Development, for the Universities Art Association Conference at Guelph University, 14-16 October 2010
- "Weaving social reform with Irish revival: The hand-tufted carpets of the Dun Emer Guild, Co. Dublin" presented for the international conference Neo-Craft at NSCAD University, organised by the Canadian Craft Federation as part of the 2007 Year of Craft in Canada.
- Co-organised the international symposium on craft history, Re-Crafting Tradition held at the Musée des maîtres et artisans du Québec, November 2006.
- "Researching the Home Arts Movement in Britain, Ireland and Canada." Public lecture for the Queen's University Graduate Colloquium Series, Queen's University, 11 March 2005.
- "Crafting Identity and Selling 'Irishness': Evelyn Gleeson and the Yeats sisters at the Dun Emer Guild." Public lecture for the School for Canadian Irish Studies, Concordia University, 11 November 2004.
- "Political Fabrications: Women's Work at the Dun Emer Guild" presented at Modern Ireland: Her Arts and Culture, American Conference for Irish Studies at the University of Northern Colorado, October 2004.
- Guest lecture on Twentieth-Century Decorative Arts, presented at a charitable function organised by the Montreal branch of the Combined Jewish Appeal, 21 October 2003.
- "Decoration and Desire: The Crafted Space of the Watts Chapel in Compton, Surrey" presented at the Perspectives in Craft History session at the Universities Art Association Conference, November 2003.
- "Homemade Industry: Mary Seton Watts and the Potters' Arts Guild" presented at Art for Life's Sake: A Symposium on Women, Gender, Class and Victorian Cultural Philanthropy at the Southampton Institute, England, November 2002.
- "Enterprising Women Crafting an Irish Identity: The Dun Emer Guild, 1902-1908" presented at Women's History: Irish/Canadian Connections hosted by the Women's Education, Research and Resource Centre, University College Dublin, Ireland and Saint Mary's University, Halifax, August 2002.
- "Crafting a National Identity: The Dun Emer Guild, 1902-1908" presented at The Irish Revival Reappraised, 10th International Conference of the Society for the Study of Nineteenth-Century Ireland, All Hallows College, Dublin, June 2002.
- "The Women of the Dun Emer Guild: Evelyn Gleeson and the Yeats Sisters" presented at Re:Searching Irish Women at the Institute of Irish Studies, University of Liverpool, England, March 2002.
Exhibitions and Symposium
Re-Crafting Tradition, held at the Musée des maîtres et artisans du Québec, Montreal, September to December 2006. This was a major collaborative project I co-organised and which involved an exhibition of contemporary Quebec craft, accompanied by a publication and two-day symposium based on the theme of tradition in craft as discussed by scholars and makers from across Canada.
TextileTradeTime (October - November 2019) I was part of the organizing committee, with colleagues Kathleen Vaughn, Kelly Thompson and Nadia Myre, for this symposium and exhibition held in October and textile trade-in on 29 November 2019. From the site: TextilesTradeTime explores the histories, presents and futures of textiles across multiple sites, with a focus on Tiohtiá:ke/ Montréal as a locus of trade across cultures, nations, fibres and moments. Artists and scholars within and beyond the university consider Indigenous textile traditions; the role of textiles in colonialism; local or global labour and environmental textile implications; artistic and technological innovations in textiles; and speculative spheres. Two doctoral students I work with participated in and presented at this event.