With Weaving Modernist Art: The Life and Work of Mariette Rousseau-Vermette, author Anne Newlands returns one of Canada's most accomplished and respected visual artists to the public eye.
Born into a large French-Canadian family in 1926, Mariette Rousseau embraced her passion for creative expression through wool and weaving at an early age. She studied art and weaving at l'Ă‰cole des beaux-arts in Quebec City and then worked at the California studio of ground-breaking American textile designer Dorothy Liebes. Back in Canada after an art-inspired trip to Europe, she and her husband, artist and ceramist Claude Vermette, joined the growing movement of young French-Canadian artists in their embrace of abstraction and new forms of art and their rejection of the conservatism of Maurice Duplessis' mid-century Quebec.
By the early 1960s, Rousseau-Vermette had forged collaborations with fellow artists, designers and architects with like ideas about public art. Over the next 40 years, she scaled the heights of her profession, weaving hundreds of radiant large-scale tapestries that complemented the cool interiors of modern architecture. She exhibited across Canada and internationally and attracted prestigious commissions from the private and public sectors, including commissions for theater curtains at the National Arts Centre, Ottawa and the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. Yet three years after Rousseau-Vermette's death in 2006, Newlands discovered there wasn't a single book that told her story as a pioneer of modernist tapestry and one of Canada's most prolific and influential artist-weavers.
For Newlands, writing a book about Rousseau-Vermette became an abiding passion. Through access to this artist-weaver's archive, wide-ranging research and interviews with family, colleagues and friends, the author has created a vivid introduction to a remarkable, innovative artist who paved the way for the generation of Canadian textile artists that followed.
Anne Newlands is an independent curator and writer on Canadian art and a former art educator and researcher-writer at the National Gallery of Canada. Other books with Firefly Books include Canadian Art-From Its Beginning to 2000 and full color introductory books to Clarence Gagnon, Emily Carr and Tom Thomson and the Group of Seven.