Textile Museum Profile: Farah Yusuf

NOW Digital Residency: Textile Museum of Canada


As part of this month’s Textile Museum of Canada Digital Residency, we’re profiling a number of artists and professionals associated with the museum and wider community. See all of the profiles here.


What’s your connection to the Textile Museum? 

I curated an exhibition titled Eutopia during my Canada Council for the Arts curatorial residency at the Textile Museum. The exhibition featured sociopolitically-charged textiles from the TMC collection alongside works from contemporary artists engaged in community service.

What do you do in your industry? 

I am an independent curator based in Toronto. 

In your opinion, how can textiles tell stories? 

Textiles are a wonderful medium for telling stories – and not just through visual symbolism. Whenever you look at a textile, ask yourself some of these questions: “Is it made from a fine fabric or recycled material?” “What is it used for? A cultural rite or some day-to-day activity?” “What techniques or technologies have gone into its fabrication?” “How is the motif, pattern or colour similar or different from other textiles like it?” By looking at its material, technique and utility you’ll find clues about what was important to the maker or their socio-cultural environment.

What’s your favourite place in Toronto to do some creative thinking?

Most of my creative ideas come when I’m walking. When my body is in motion it sets a pace for ideas to flourish. I’ll walk to and from work along Queen West I’ll even just walk around the block of wherever I am when I need to think through something. 

A number of the Textile Museum’s exhibitions showcase ancient creative techniques adapted for contemporary contexts. What do you think we can learn by engaging with art from the past in this way? 

Culture isn’t static. It’s mobile – especially through global communication and the migration of people. When BIPOC artists engage with their cultural past they are actively shaping their identity in the here and now by correcting histories and erasures or creating a continuum across eras and borders. 

So much of our attention is drawn to the digital and virtual possibilities of art. Can you explain what role textiles play in your day-to-day life?

Textiles are everywhere! From our clothes to our furnishings they surround us we live in them. What I wear is an expression of who I am and my personal style reflects the fact that I am in a creative field. I guess it’s another way of interpreting the phrase, “I wear my heart on my sleeve.”

Name one artist of any discipline and any era who never ceases to inspire you.

Rajni Perera! She’s a fresh, emerging local talent who keeps upping the ante with each new series she produces.


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