Breathe is a large-scale embroidery work composed of over seventy handstitched panels. Jan Wade’s interest in this medium developed during her childhood years when she was surrounded by craft makers, notably her African American grandmother, great-grandmother, and other women who would practice their handicrafts in the local church basement. Wade views Breathe as connecting her not only to her family and her ancestors, but also to Black material culture of the American South, such as the quilting tradition of the Gee’s Bend quilt, which originated in Alabama. Breathe is also influenced by Indigenous and African textiles as well as the culture of improvisation expressed in jazz music.
Jan Wade: Soul Power
Jan Wade, Breathe (detail), c.2004–20
Embroidery on linen, Collection of the Vancouver Art Gallery, General Acquisition Fund, Courtesy of Jan Wade. Photo credit: Ian Lefebvre, Vancouver Art Gallery.