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Concordia PhD candidate Katie-May Arndt is off to Sweden to study folk tapestry weaving traditions

The interdisciplinary humanities student is the 2024 recipient of the William Blair Bruce European Fine Art Travel Scholarship
April 29, 2024
A young woman sitting at a weaving loom in a dim room
Katie-May Arndt: “Part of my research will also involve investigating my maternal lineage and Swedish ancestry — a thread that ties me to a history of Swedish weavers.”

Katie-May Arndt, a PhD candidate in Concordia’s Interdisciplinary Humanities program (HUMA), is the recipient of the 2024 William Blair Bruce European Fine Art Travel Scholarship. The annual prize for a promising graduate student in visual arts includes a travel stipend of $5,000 for a research-creation experience in Europe.

"I’m extremely grateful for this opportunity," Arndt says. "I’m also excited to see how this research will help to shape the rest of my PhD work."

Having transitioned from a career in textile and clothing design, Arndt found fulfillment in academic pursuits, particularly within Concordia's research-creation graduate program. Her work, which is primarily material and textile-based, delves into image-making processes. Currently, her doctoral research-creation project focuses on exploring the implicit and affective aspects of cloth, as well as skin-screen-cloth relationships.

Reflecting on her journey as a graduate student, Arndt highlights how she has been exposed to diverse perspectives from her peers. "As HUMA is an interdisciplinary program, students come from a wide range of interesting life circumstances and research practices," she explains. "It has been a very rewarding experience to work alongside them."

Hands using a weaving loom Arndt finds inspiration in the rich tradition of folk tapestry weaving in Sweden. | Photos courtesy of the artist

‘An important foundation’

For her residency, Arndt plans to immerse herself in a rich tradition of folk tapestry weaving in Sweden, called Flamskväv.

“These tapestries were primarily woven in areas of Southern Sweden between the mid 18th and early 20th centuries and were produced exclusively by women for various cultural events like weddings and other rites of passage,” she explains. "I’m interested in learning more about the women weaving these tapestries and the affective atmosphere these textiles contributed to ceremonious events."

Her itinerary includes visits to museums and institutions in Malmö, Lund, Borås and Stockholm to study collections of Flamskväv, source materials and techniques to inform her theoretical research and material practice.

“I’m also looking forward to spending some time at the Brucebo Foundation on the island of Gotland, where I’ll give a public lecture on my research and travels.”

Additionally, Arndt shares she is excited to connect with her Swedish family history.

“Part of my research in Sweden will also involve investigating my maternal lineage and Swedish ancestry — a thread that ties me to a history of Swedish weavers.”

Arndt says she believes that the support from the travel scholarship will serve as a crucial foundation for her future academic and creative endeavours.

"This scholarship is allowing me to explore many of the themes that have been implicit to my development prior to approaching the study of textiles within an academic context," she remarks. "The research will be an important foundation for the rest of my PhD research and creative practice."

Find out more about
Concordia’s interdisciplinary Humanities PhD Program and Katie-May Arndt.


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