09 January 2016

A Vanishing Culture

We were delighted to learn that Wolfville, NS artist Kate Madeloso was one of six Canadians whose work was accepted into SAQA's international My Corner of the World exhibition. Her art quilt, A Vanishing Culture, was one of the 41 entries juried in to the show. The competition, open to SAQA members from around the world, received responses from 115 artists who submitted a total of 189 pieces. Well done Kate!
A Vanishing Culture (70" x 24") by Kate Madeloso

Kate's successful art piece represents her Doukhobor heritage. She used a wide variety of materials and techniques to tell the story of her grandmother's immigration to Canada, including antique cottons, silks and linens, old photographs, hand embroidery, and rubber stamping.

Detail of A Vanishing Culture, by Kate Madeloso

We asked Kate Madeloso to talk about her inspiration for A Vanishing Culture:

Kate: I was in my late 30's when my mother, who I knew had Russian heritage, revealed a secret she had kept from me and my siblingsHer mother, Evdoitia Oosichoff, had come to Canada in 1897, with 7500 other Russian peasants, mostly women and children. These families had been persecuted in Russia because they practiced pacifism and refused to fight for the czar. They called themselves ‘Doukhobors’ or 'Spirit Wrestlers'. 

Detail of Kate's grandmother, in A Vanishing Culture.

In Canada, the Doukhobors were officially recognized as pacifists and were not called upon to bear arms. They played a vital role in developing the Canadian west, by settling Prairie farmland and helping to build railroads. They flourished for decades, a productive, creative and religious community holding their history sacred. The population reached its peak in 1941, when nearly 17 thousand Canadians identified as Doukhobor. Most have since integrated into the fabric of Canada, and by 2011, just over 2200 people reported being active in the culture. 

Since my mother's revelation, I've heard stories from my uncle about growing up in a Doukhobor community near Castlegar BC. Just recently, he gave me a wool rug made by my grandmother and great grandmother, together with a hand woven linen shirt which he called Dora’s ‘birthing’ shirt. She wore the shirt during the delivery of her six children. And there began my journey into my heritage and this rich and often overlooked culture.

Grandmother's rug, the inspiration for A Vanishing Culture.

Kate Madeloso, Wolfville, NS

The My Corner of the World exhibition will debut at the Stratford Perth Museum in Stratford, ON, May 21 to August 14, 2016, and then travel internationally. Follow the exhibition's travel's here.


  1. Wow, I would love to see this quilt in real life.

  2. Fascinating story, Kate! Congratulations on having your piece chosen!