Out from Under the Rug: Ivan Crowell’s Black History Tapestries from St. Thomas University

Artwork by Ivan Crowell

January 8 - March 24, 2019    |    Regular Exhibition

These wool tapestries depicting significant events in New Brunswick’s Black history were woven by noted fibre artist, pewtersmith, teacher and arts administrator Ivan Crowell (1904-2003). The collection was given to St. Thomas University in 1994.

Originally a botany teacher, in 1940 Crowell became director of handicrafts at McGill University, followed by a move to Fredericton in 1946 to become director of handicrafts for New Brunswick. A key player in the local arts community, he established the New Brunswick Craft School and served as director for over 20 years. Following retirement in 1969, Dr. Crowell studied pewtercraft in the United States and England, and became a master pewtersmith and teacher. In 1973 he was named a member of the Order of Canada for his services in fostering handicrafts throughout New Brunswick.

In the 1970s, Dr. Crowell was inspired to develop his earlier love of another ancient craft, tapestry weaving. Since then he wove over 250 tapestries depicting scenes of New Brunswick history, architecture, local legends, nursery rhymes, and fairy tales. One of his last projects involved weaving this series of tapestries based on drawings by Geoffrey Bladon and Marilyn Mazerolle.

Curated by John Leroux and organized by the Beaverbrook Art Gallery and the New Brunswick Black History Society.