Threading the Needle


Imprint page of Zipper, a fabric bookwork by Lise Melhorn-Boe, inspired by the poem, "Zipper", by Lorna Crozier.

Textus-Texts-Textiles explores the relationship between texts and textiles, through a feminist lens, via the sewing bookworks of Kingston artist, Lise Melhorn-Boe, supplemented by books as cultural texts and technological artifacts from the collections of W.D Jordan Rare Books and Special Collections. 

What is "Text"

The word "text" derives from the Latin texěre or texo, "to weave," while "textile" comes from the Latin adjective textĭlis, meaning "woven," which stems from textus, the past participle of the verb texěre Thus, in naming this exhibition "Textus-Texts-Textiles," we are riffing on the idea of the act of weaving meaning that authors, artists, and poets engage in, but also the layered paratexts, the meticulous threading or stitching together of fabric in the labours of a seamstress or seamster, and the methodical travails of the printer and bookbinder. 

The Art of the Book

Melhorn-Boe’s sewing books, and her choice of poetry, consider the silences of female voices suppressed by sexism, and the layered meanings behind "women’s work." Not only has the history of the book been largely shaped by men and masculinity, but it has also heavily influenced cultural and historical perceptions of masculine and feminine cultures. Melhorn-Boe bestows power to her readers by intentionally leaving room for interpretation of her work through visuals and tactility, while simultaneously offering the audience a guide of where to go. The act of reading and drawing meaning from one of Melhorn-Boe’s textile bookworks is an act of reading beyond words, where the tactility and material form of the works, the fabrics and threads from which they are constructed, their shapes, colours, and design, express as much thought and meaning as the texts themselves. 

About Lise Melhorn-Boe

Melhorn-Boe is a book artist from Kingston who works with various mediums from fabric to recycled materials. Melhorn-Boe has been making bookart for over forty years and has had her work showcased in Europe, the United States, and Canada. She is a member of the Canadian Bookbinders and Artists Guild (CBBAG). Alongside making her own works, she teaches classes on the craft. Melhorn-Boe has a M.A and an M.F.A from Wayne State University. 

Threading the Needle