- born in 1955 in Montréal, Québec
- parents left Latvia after the Second World War and
immigrated to Canada from England in 1954
- diploma in fabrics from Sheridan College, Mississauga,
Ontario (1977); B.F.A. (1982), M.F.A. (1993), Nova Scotia College of Art and Design,
Halifax, Nova Scotia
click on thumbnails at left to view larger images
Of Latvian heritage, fibre artist Vita Plume has used her
art to look at the problem of culture loss that results when a massive emigration, such as
the post-World War II Latvian emigration, occurs. She has been concerned with the
sensations of displacement and duality that are a part of living two cultures
simultaneously, and although making Canada her home, Plume has returned to Latvia on
numerous occasions beginning with a brief trip in 1988, and including an exhibition of her
work there in 1992. Plume's textile work is informed by traditional Latvian language,
techniques and symbols, yet she refuses to adhere to strict traditional dictations on
colour and pattern because she believes the changes occurring in a culture over time are
necessary to its vitality. Often combining traditional shirts and belts with the
disturbing contrast of barbed wire and other metal, Plume comments on the darker side of
cultural preservation, on culture as a belt or constricting device, a signifier of
identity, and also hints at the cultural oppression that has been particularly present in
the history of Latvia and other eastern European countries. Works along these lines have
included Back to the Wall (1985-86), a series of traditional woven belts hung on
rows of barbed wire, and A Foreign Anguish (1990), a piece woven of cotton, wool
and barbed wire, and incorporating Xerox, markers and slide projections. In 1994 she
fastened text to a shirt using hundreds of straight pins in Rescuing the Fragment from
Triviality, creating what Ray Cronin (1995) referred to as a hair shirt or symbol of
self-martyrdom. The combination of textile, metal and language she continued in her 1995
installation, Traces of Translation. Combining Latvian blouses, including Rescuing
the Fragment from Triviality, with video of Latvian textile work being done, this
piece is best described by Plumes own explanation of her aim: "Although I
access historically correct techniques, colours and patterns, I distort, destroy and
despoil these aspects to accentuate the political and social dilemmas that Latvians the
world over face" (quoted in Deborah Hickman, 1990). Plume has instructed at the Nova
Scotia College of Art and Design and Concordia University, and was the coordinator of the
Fibres Program at Concordia University from 1995 to 1998. She also spent a few years as
gallery planner for the Mary E. Black Gallery at the Nova Scotia Department of Tourism and
Culture (1989-92). She has written in numerous catalogues, including an essay on the issue
of textile as art/craft in Textile/sismographes: Symposium fibres et textiles 1995,
in which she commented on how she sees textiles functioning within the art world:
"The simultaneous intimate and social meanings connected to how we use textiles,
allow it to cross from the most intimate, personal and private, into the domestic and
public sphere. This allows exploration of both the intimate specificity of individual
expression while simultaneously addressing a multiplicity of social structures."
Plume is currently Head of Textiles Studio, New Brunswick College of Craft and
Design in Fredericton and is Artist in Residence for the academic year 1999-2000.
||Traces of Translation
Gallery Connexion, Fredericton, New Brunswick
Latvian Cultural Centre, Gallery, Toronto, Ontario; Anna Leonowens Gallery, Halifax,
Iisalmi Gallery of Crafts and Art, Iisalmi, Finland
Starp svesumu un majam/ From Away
Cesis Museum, Cesis, Latvia; Museum of Jekabpils, Latvia; Madona Museum of Art,
Madona, Latvia; Bauska Museum of Art, Bauska, Latvia; Anna Leonowens Gallery, Halifax,
Nova Scotia (travelling)
Anna Leonowens Gallery, Halifax, Nova Scotia
||Texstil - 91
||Some Women Artists in Nova
Mount Saint Vincent University Art Gallery, Halifax, Nova Scotia
||5th Exhibition of Latvian
Peter's Church, Riga, Latvia
||Two Cities/Two Countries -
Biuro Wystaw Artystycznych, Galeria Labirynt, Lublin, Poland; Centre for Art Tapes
and Eye Level Gallery, Halifax, Nova Scotia
Curated exhibition, International Gallery, San Diego, California
||Visual Facts '86
Dalhousie University Art Gallery, Halifax, Nova Scotia
The Continuing Thread
Eye Level Gallery, Halifax, Nova Scotia
||Retaining . . . desire
Observatoire 4, Montréal, Québec
at the National Action Committee on the Status of Women National Conference, Ottawa,
Reconstructing Identity: Latvian Women Artists (participant
in the symposium held in conjunction with the exhibition titled: Siting the Self: Some
Conversations about Post-Colonial Cultural Identity)
MacKenzie Art Gallery, Regina, Saskatchewan
||Eau infinité des possibles
Curated exhibition, Galerie Occurence, Le Vieux-Port, Montréal, Québec
||7th Montréal Biennial of
Centre d'essai et de diffusion de l'art contemporain, Montréal, Québec
||Speaking in Tongues: Ethnic
Influences in Contemporary Tapestry and Fiber Art
InterArt Centre, New York, New York
||Diverse Perspectives: A
Selection of Work by 37 Members of the Slide Registry of Nova Scotia Women Artists
Mount Saint Vincent University Art Gallery, Halifax, Nova Scotia
|Latvian Cultural Centre, Toronto, Ontario
Museum of Decorative Art, Riga, Latvia
Nova Scotia Art Bank, Halifax, Nova Scotia
|Barber, Bruce, and Melodie Calvert. Two
Cities/Two Countries: Halifax, Canada/ Lublin, Poland. Halifax, Nova Scotia: Centre
for Art Tapes, 1988.
Beatty, Greg. "Hope
Nest." Border Crossings 16, no. 1 (Winter 1997): 52-53.
Bentley, Allen. "Traces of Translation." Arts
Atlantic 14, no. 1 (Fall 1995): 4.
Brunner, Astrid. "Requiem of thorns: The textile
work of Vita Plume." Arts Atlantic 11, no. 1 (Fall 1991): 34-36.
Cronin, Ray. "Vita Plume." C Magazine
46 (Summer 1995): 40.
Evans, Jane. A Joy Forever, Latvian Weaving,
Traditional and Modified Uses. Saint Paul, Minnesota: Dos Tejedoras Fibre Arts
Gladwell, Brian. Beyond the Object. Saskatoon,
Saskatchewan: Saskatchewan Craft Council, 1987.
Hickman, Deborah. Some Women Artists in Nova Scotia
Now. Halifax, Nova Scotia: Mount Saint Vincent University Art Gallery, 1990.
Hiscox, Diane. "Artifacts, Vita Plume." Vanguard
(November 1985): 40.
Lotz, Jim. Head, Heart and Hands: Craftspeople in
Nova Scotia. Halifax, Nova Scotia: Breamer Publishing, 1986.
Ming-Wai Jim, Alice. "Vita Plume and Buseje
Bailey." Parachute no. 87 (Summer 1997): 48-50.
Perron, Mireille, Janis Jefferies, Anne Ferrer, et al. Textiles
Sismographes: Texts from the Colloquium. Montréal, Québec: Conseil des arts textile
de Québec, 1995.
Plume, Vita. "Canceled icons, Pamela Ritchie." Metalsmith
Magazine (June 1984): n.p.
---. "In visible center." In Textiles
sismographes: Symposium fibres et textiles 1995. Montréal, Québec: Conseil des arts
textile de Québec, 1995.
---. "Susan Wood." Vanguard 16, no. 5
(November 1987): 40.
---. "Traces of Translation." Parallelogramme
20, no. 3 (1994): n.p.
---, and Martha Glenny. Memoranda: Jewellery by
Martha Glenny. Halifax, Nova Scotia: Mount Saint Vincent University Art Gallery,
---, and Robert Anderson. "Charles Lewton Brain,
solo exhibition." Metalsmith Magazine (January 1984): n.p.
Shatford, Elizabeth, and Mern O'Brien. Diverse
Perspectives: A Selection of Work by 37 Members of the Slide Registry of Nova Scotia Women
Artists. Halifax, Nova Scotia: Mount Saint Vincent University Art Gallery, 1985.
Townsend-Gault, Charlotte. "Some contemporary art in
Nova Scotia and the Weldon tradition." Hearsay (Fall 1989): 35-38.
---. Visual Facts '86. Halifax, Nova Scotia:
Dalhousie Art Gallery, 1986.
"Vita Plume, Leslie Sampson, Ruth Scheuing, Mindy
Miller." Naoko Furue Senshoku Alpha no. 114 (1990): 28-42.
Williams, Carol and Ana Chang, Angela Somerset. Langues,
Torsions et Noeuds. Montréal, Québec: La Centrale, 1994.