Teeny-tiny Canadian art makes big splash in Minutiae exhibit

Teeny-tiny Canadian art makes big splash in Minutiae exhibit

The little idea for this feature group exhibition started with a tiny piece of jewlery.

“The theme came from one of our co-workers, who had a necklace that had a miniature of a chair on it,” says Jenna Stanton, executive director of the Alberta Craft Council.

The small things concept sat well with members of the provincial organization that develops, promotes and advocates for craft art in the province.

Stanton says they had a whopping 54 artists from across the country who accepted the petite challenge.

Little jelly salad with egg and cucumber on a pink plate with a gold rim.
This work by Stacy Burnett, called Jewelled Olive Egg Loaf, is made of polymer clay resin and is slightly smaller than a loonie. (Submitted by Stacy Burnett )

The work runs the gamut from a “miniature brooch of jellied aspic salads, with a bit of humour, to a 12:1 scale of a residential school,” said Stanton. 

Then there’s a Calgary glass-blower who created “rockets with Alberta flora and fauna in them to send them off to space to protect them from humans.”

Stanton says the call for little things made a big difference in drawing artists that the council wouldn’t normally work with, as well as engaging fresh audiences to the whimsical display.

It also pushed artists to “do something new,” Stanton said.

Little green house on silts balances on a piece of driftwood.
Julya Hajnoczy’s piece, called Sombrio Lookout Tower 2, is constructed of maple, balsa, paper, acetate, cotton thread and driftwood. (Credit: Rick Bremness/CBC)

“Normally I do work on a bigger scale,” said fibre artist Deanne Underwood, who typically creates mountain scenes and sweeping landscapes as Prairie Girl Felting.

Needle felting involves sculpting shapes and figures using wool and special felting needles.

The 44-year-old artist said her inspiration for the piece she submitted to the show was a little red frame that she spotted at a thrift shop. 

WATCH | Visit Deanne Underwood’s home studio and take a tour of the exhibit Minutiae:

Landscape artist shrinks big skies to fit small show

Fibre artist Deanne Underwood typically crafts mountain scenes and sweeping prairie landscapes. We join Underwood in her Edmonton studio to see how she creates her work, which is part of the free Minutiae exhibit at the feature gallery of the Alberta Craft Council.

“I immediately knew what I wanted to create for it, this childhood memory of looking out the barn loft window at these bright fields and this perfect blue sky and puffy clouds,” said Underwood.

“It was just such a happy little memory” of summers spent on her grandparents’ Saskatchewan farm, so she decided to attempt to shrink it down to fit the frame and the show. 

Underwood said the key for her is never to try too hard to get it just right.

“One thing I’ve learned about wool is it can be a little unpredictable,” she said, “so part of my process needs to be about guiding it but not forcing it.”

Her work Heart Home is part of the free exhibit Minutiae, on display in the feature gallery of the Alberta Craft Council in Edmonton until June 15.

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