Three things I’ve learned so far about Kaija Sanelma Harris
Submitted by Zoé Fortier, SCC Curatiorial Research Assistant.
This summer, I am working for the SCC researching and compiling the work of Finnish-born, Saskatoon-based fibre artist Kaija Sanelma Harris for a retrospective exhibition. Here’s what I’ve learned so far in my 8 weeks:
1) It is pretty incredible what a person can accomplish in a lifetime.
Kaija is described by many as one of the most important and most skilled weavers in all of Canada. She is one of the very few professional Canadian weavers that can claim to have had such a remarkable career. Kaija participated in over 50 exhibitions throughout a thirty-year span, 12 of these shows being solo exhibitions. Her work has been featured in international exhibitions, and can also be found in prestigious art collections, such as the Governor General’s Rideau Hall residence collection and at the Warsaw Canadian Embassy in Poland. Mrs. Harris produced well over a hundred (accounted) works, many of which are in people’s homes and in institutions that still show, love and admire her work today.
2) Kaija’s work is an important part of people’s lives.
I have enjoyed receiving emails of owners (from BC to Montreal to Japan) who tell me that the Kaija Harris works in their collection have such sentimental value to them that they could hardly imagine their lives without them in their homes, where they form a part of their daily lives and their life journey. Every interaction I have had with a collector of Kaija’s work further convinces me that people really do love and cherish the work of this important Saskatchewan fibre artist.
3) There are still pieces out there!
I am still finding new and exciting pieces every day. The three pieces shown here all have unknown locations and owners. If you know where any of these pieces are, or of any person or institution which owns a Kaija Sanelma Harris piece, please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at 306.653.3616 ext: 25.