The Bronfman Collection 
Virtual Gallery

Masters of the Crafts

Joanna Staniszkis — Textile Artist

About the craftsperson

Joanna Staniszkis
"Joanna and I were meeting with public and corporate clients in hospitals, cemeteries and boardrooms to discuss commissions for tapestries for architectural spaces. Joanna's training as an interior designer and her long association with architects made her a perfect catalyst for the creation of this type of art. Joanna showed me how these works, designed for a given space, require consideration in installation, lighting and maintenance. They must float against the wall, the shadow around the form creating a frame, and lighting must be from an angle to highlight the texture of the piece. Joanna is a serious student of textiles, with a passionate interest in folk art. The language of the weaver possesses a rich and diverse vocabulary, which she explores for inspiration and understanding."

Jean Johnson
The Craft Studio at Harbourfront

Joanna Staniszkis
Teaching has also been the vehicle Joanna Staniszkis chose for communicating her extensive knowledge of weaving and tapestry making to others. As a young art student in Warsaw, Poland, and later at the Art Institute of Chicago, Staniszkis worked towards a career in interior design. Her plans had to be revised however, after she was introduced to the loom and "discovered the magic of putting threads across and coming up with a piece of fabric."

Not long after she graduated from the Art Institute of Chicago, Staniszkis was able to combine her talents in weaving and interior design in a teaching position at the University of British Columbia. There she has developed a tapestry and weaving programme that incorporates interdisciplinary course work with the university's School of Architecture and Museum of Anthropology.

Cascade, 1979
Wool and silk
Crown Life Tower, Vancouver, British Columbia
Image used with permission of the artist
Archives - Box 592, F8

Staniszkis's own studio work has evolved alongside her career as a professor, and has influenced the formation of her students. Over the years, their work has reflected her early professional interest in texture and her preference for handspun yarns and natural dyes as well as her later experiments in form and construction methods.
View from the artist's 
former studio
View from the artist's former studio
with a small Cloudscape in the foreground
Image used with permission of the artist
Archives - Box 592, F8

This close association of her own professional development with that of her students illustrates, for Staniszkis, both the difficulty of keeping her two worlds of teaching and studio work separate and the need to do so. Still, she recognizes the advantages that her studio work affords her students, acquainting them, through her own experiences, with the world of the professional artist.

Her concern for her profession extends to the construction of tapestries. Durability is a concern, as works displayed in public spaces are exposed to environmental stress from excessive heat and cold, light and dust.

Scaffolding erected to execute a
large tapestry commission, Treasures,
for the Grosvenor International
Building, Vacouver, in 1985

Baffles, 1981
Wool, silk, mohair and cotton fibres
Woven, stitched
170 cm x 168 cm
Collection: Mr. and Mrs. Charles Bronfman

To this end, Staniszkis has researched antique and contemporary art-forms of other cultures for durable materials and different techniques. Staniszkis feels that she fulfils a personal responsibility to her craft by assuring the longevity of her work in terms of both sensitive design and durable materials. This ensures a continuous climate of support and goodwill between the public, the patron and the textile artist.
CMC 86-124 - Cloudscape
Cloudscape, 1985
Wool, raw silk and synthetic fibres, plexiglass tubes
Dyed, stuffed, assembled
366 cm x 183 cm
CMC 86-124 (Bronfman)


Recent Works
Selected Works Contributions Continue