NSCAD alumni bring holiday cheer to craft show

NSCAD alumni displayed their wares at the 2011 NSDCC Designer Craft Show in Halifax

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NSCAD professor, Lesley Armstrong, displaying her woven fabrics. (Photo: Jacob Morgan)

Artists from the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design are proving they can make a living off their artwork.

The Nova Scotia Designer Crafts Council held their annual Designer Craft Show at the Cunard Event Centre in Halifax over the weekend. Among the roughly 90 artisans exhibiting their works and spreading locally made holiday cheer were several NSCAD alumni. They included decorative artist and filmmaker, Ruby Boutilier, and fibre artist and NSCAD professor, Lesley Armstrong.

Egg-straordinary

Ruby Boutilier graduated from NSCAD in 1999 with an interdisciplinary degree in film, photography and video. However, at the Designer Craft Show she displayed Easter egg themed Christmas ornaments. Her display, entitled "Egg-straordinary", was the Ornament Competition Winner at the NSDCC Designer Craft Show in 2010.

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Ruby Boutilier with her Ukrainian Easter egg Christmas ornaments. (Photo: Jacob Morgan)

After 10 years working in the film business, Boutilier turned her attention to focus more on this personal project.

"I've always made Ukrainian Easter eggs on the side," Boutilier explained.

"Part of the reason I left [the film industry] was to re-embrace the creative side that I let go to the wayside because of the intensity of the industry," she said.

In addition to being a NSCAD alumnus, Boutilier maintains a close connection with the school, working as a recruiter. She said that one of her goals is to figure out "how to promote NSCAD in more meaningful ways" and that an event like this "shows [NSCAD alumni] are actively and creatively involved beyond just school... and that you can actually make money," being an artist. 

Armstrong weaves between NSCAD and NSDCC

Lesley Armstrong, who also chairs the craft show's marketing committee, is a graduate of the NSCAD class of '75 and currently teaches in the textiles department at the school. While at the NSDCC Designer Craft Show, she sold woven products made of materials such as alpaca, merino, silk, linen and felt.

"I've been weaving ever since I left NSCAD", she said. 

Having studied and worked as a professor at the institution, NSCAD has been an important part of Armstrong's artistic life and career. As a NSCAD instructor, she recognizes the important and challenging aspects of bringing students and graduates into venues like the Designer Craft show so they can promote their art in public forums.

It's difficult for young artists to present their work in these types of shows because they are so busy paying off student loans, she said.

"I really enjoy the teaching and I'm apprized, of course, of all the visiting artists, lecturers and gallery openings," Armstrong said.

"I think it's important to keep supporting NSCAD", she said, adding that whenever she goes abroad in support of her artwork, she always runs in to NSCAD alumni.

"I travel around Canada and the United States a little bit doing various trade shows and craft shows and I meet alumni from NSCAD all over the place," Armstrong said, pointing out the impact a small school can have on a local, national and international level. 

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