A Canadian Selvage: Weaving Artistic Research into Resource Politics


  • Ruth Beer Emily Carr University of Art and Design
  • Caitlin Chaisson Emily Carr University of Art and Design




oil, resource extraction, fish, weaving, contemporary art, Canada


This exploratory article addresses our experiences as artist-researchers engaged with “Trading Routes: Grease Trails, Oil Futures,” a research-creation project supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. “Trading Routes” focuses on the intersecting geographies of Indigenous fish grease trails and the proposed Alberta-British Columbia oil pipeline. These converging routes are shedding light on the present entanglement between Indigenous and non-Indigenous cultural heritage, ecological perspectives, and resource extraction. Through artistic scholarship, material production, historical and cultural understanding, we seek to better account for the ways in which an environmental social justice perspective can be crafted into arts-based research. We write from a point of reflection, where we assess, evaluate, disentangle, and unclad some of the learning that has come to us through the research-creation and presentation of contemporary weaving. We suggest that arts-based research can offer a methodology of learning and thinking rooted in a perspective of informing, informality, or thinking about artworks in form, an extension of a/r/tographic praxis that is grounded in an analysis of materiality and aesthetics.

Author Biographies

Ruth Beer, Emily Carr University of Art and Design

Ruth Beer is an artist/researcher whose artwork has been presented in national and international exhibitions. Her recent research creation projects supported by SSHRC include “Trading Routes: Grease Trails, Oil Pipelines” which addresses energy and communities in transition within the interlaced geography of traditional Indigenous trading routes and proposed oil pipelines in Canada’s northwest.

Caitlin Chaisson, Emily Carr University of Art and Design

Caitlin Chaisson is an interdisciplinary artist, writer, and independent curator. She is the founder of Far Afield, an initiative that supports rural and regionally-connected artistic and curatorial practices. Her writing has appeared in Canadian Art, C Magazine, Espace, Momus, and the journal Drawing: Research, Theory, Practice, among others.


"2015 Annual Report”. Gulf of Georgia Cannery Society,

http://gulfofgeorgiacannery.org/wp-content/uploads/2015AnnualReport_website.pdf. Accessed 24 April 2018.

Adamson, Glenn. The Invention of Craft. Bloomsbury Academic, 2013.

After Oil. Edited by Imre Szeman and the Petrocultures Research Group. Petrocultures Research Group, 2016.

Auther, Elissa. String, Felt, Thread: The Hierarchy of Art and Craft in American Art. University of Minnesota Press, 2010.

Bresler, Liora. “Toward Connectedness: Aesthetically Based Research.” Studies in Art Education, vol. 48, no. 1, 2006, pp. 52–69. JSTOR,


Biemann, Ursula., Peter Mörtenböck, and Helge Mooshammer. "From Supply Lines to Resource Ecologies." Third Text, vol. 27, no. 1, Jan. 2013, pp. 76-94. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1080/09528822.2013.752199.

Böhme, Hartmut. “Mythology and Aesthetics of the Textile.” Art and Textiles: Fabric as Material and Concept in Modern Art from Klimt to the Present, edited by M. Bruderlin, Hatje Cantz Verlag, 2013, pp. 46-69.

“Eulachon (Pacific Population).” Fisheries and Oceans Canada, 26 Feb. 2018, http://www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/species-especes/profiles-profils/eulachon-eulakane-pac-eng.html. Accessed 29 Jan. 2019.

Gallow, Lauren. “BAM Biennial 2016: Metalmorphosis”. Art Access, 2 Nov. 2016, http://www.artaccess.com/articles/4361729. Accessed 24 Apr. 2018.

Hern, Matt and Am Johal. Global Warming and the Sweetness of Life: A Tar Sands Tale. MIT Press, 2018.

Innis, Harold A. The Bias of Communication. Toronto University Press, 1951.

---. The Fur Trade in Canada: An Introduction to Canadian Economic

History. Toronto University Press, 1970.

Irwin, Rita. L., Ruth Beer, Stephanie Springgay, Kit Grauer, Gu Xiong, and Barbara Bickel. “The Rhizomatic Relations of A/R/Tography.” Studies in Art Education, vol. 48, no. 1, 2006, pp. 70–88. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/25475806.

Kroker, Arthur. Technology and the Canadian Mind: Innis / McLuhan / Grant. New World Perspectives, 1984.

Leavy, Patricia. Method Meets Art: Arts-Based Research Practice. Guilford Press, 2008.

LeMenager, Stephanie and Stephanie Foote. “The Sustaining Humanities”. PMLA, Vol. 127, No. 3 (May 2012), pp. 572-578. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/41616848

McCullough, Malcolm. Abstracting Craft: The Practiced Digital Hand. MIT Press, 1996.

Moody, Megan Felicity. Eulachon Past and Present. MSci., University of British Columbia, 2008, http://www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/Library/333713.pdf. Accessed 24 April 2018.

Otter, A.A. “Transportation and Transformation: The Hudson’s Bay Company, 1857-1885.” Great Plains Quarterly, vol. 3, no. 3, 1983, pp. 171–185. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/23530924.

Plant, Sadie. Zeros and Ones: Digital Women and the New Technoculture. Fourth Estate, 1991.

Robertson, Kirsty and Lisa Vinebaum. “Editorial: Crafting Community.” TEXTILE, vol. 14, no. 1, 2016. Taylor & Francis Online, doi: 10.1080/14759756.2016.1084794.

Robinson, Eden. Monkey Beach. Vintage Canada, 2000.

Rogoff, Irit. “Practicing research: Singularising knowledge”. MaHKUzine, Summer 2010, pp. 37- 42, http://www.mahku.nl/download/maHKUzine09_web.pdf. Accessed 24 April 2018.

Rose, Gillian. Visual Methodologies. SAGE Publications Ltd., 2001.

Schneider, Birgit. “Caught in the Tangle of the Net: On a History of the Network Metaphor.” Art and Textiles: Fabric as Material and Concept in Modern Art from Klimt to the Present, edited by M. Bruderlin. Hatje Cantz Verlag, 2013, pp. 330-337.

Soper-Jones, Ella. “The Fate of the Oolichan: Prospects of Eco-Cultural Restoration in Eden Robinson’s Monkey Beach.” Journal of Commonwealth Literature, vol. 44, no. 2, 2009, pp. 15-33. SAGE Publications, dot: 10.1177/0021989409105116.

“Steveston Recollections.” Virtual Museum Community Stories, 2019, http://


Sullivan, Graeme. Art Practice as Research: Inquiry in Visual Arts. 2nd ed., SAGE Publications Ltd., 2010.

White, John Howell, Charles Garoian, and Elizabeth Garber. “Speaking in Tongues: The Uncommon Ground of Arts-Based Research.” Studies in Art Education, vol. 51, no. 2, 2010, pp. 134–146. JSTOR, JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/40650458.

Willmott, Cory. "From Stroud to Strouds: The Hidden History of a British Fur Trade Textile." Textile History, vol. 36, no. 2, Nov. 2005, pp. 196-234. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1179/004049605x61564.




How to Cite

Beer, R., & Chaisson, C. (2019). A Canadian Selvage: Weaving Artistic Research into Resource Politics. Art/Research/International:/A/Transdisciplinary/Journal, 4(1), 180–199. https://doi.org/10.18432/ari29400