Rachel A. MacGillivray is a multi-disciplinary textile artist from Glengarry County, Eastern Ontario now based in Fredericton, NB. Working with cloth has always been an integral part of her life and her background in both fashion design & textiles informs her practice. She completed a Bachelor in Fashion Design from Ryerson University and a Diploma in Fine Craft Textiles, as well as Advanced Studio Practices diploma from the New Brunswick College of Craft & Design (NBCCD).
In her professional life, she’s an instructor at NBCCD, teaching spinning, machine knitting, sewing, pattern drafting, and design skills. Guiding others in discovering and developing their own language and voice through the material inspires her and fuels her own studio work.
Working with natural materials, especially wool, is a cornerstone of her artistic practice and she and her husband, along with their newborn son, are working toward taking this a step further and building their own small sheep farm.
She has exhibited her work in museums and galleries including The Louvre, Canadian War Museum, Andrew & Laura McCain Gallery, and Okanagan Heritage Museum.
I am moved by the connections we share through our daily interactions with cloth and I use this medium to examine community, memory, and storytelling.
My childhood was filled with stitching with my mom; older farm wives quilting and sharing their “stash” with me; and, digging through my parents’ “tickle trunk” of old clothes with my siblings. In working with textiles, I examine my inner self through the context created by these early memories, finding threads that bind me not only to my childhood self, but also to the older women in my close knit community, mostly now all gone.
Over the years I have realized I am material driven in my studio and now draw mostly from the collection of clothes and cloth I have accrued over my lifetime. Each piece of raw material has its own story for me, but is also waiting to become a part of something new.
My latest work has been influenced by a recent life-changing event: my first pregnancy and new motherhood. Blindsided by the expectations thrust on mothers by others and in the media, I have been working on a series of art-to-wear power garments lending protection and strength during vulnerable times.
Having looked inward for so long, my work is becoming more confident. As my teaching has helped others find their own voices, so am I finding mine, and looking to examine broader connections that span across communities, people, and time.