UBC Reports | Vol. 50 | No. 9 | Oct.
The Pleasures of Silk
Novel program will see Vancouver street youth raise silk
By Hilary Thomson
Raising silk worms for a new project involving UBC landscape
architecture students and Lower Mainland street youth is the
next step in Joanna Staniszkis’ long and creative association
Staniszkis is a practicing textile artist who joined UBC
in 1969. An associate professor in the Faculty of Agricultural
Sciences, she teaches textile design as well as design and
creativity in the landscape architecture program. She is one
of 29 individuals to be honoured for reaching 35 years of
service at UBC. In addition to this group - known collectively
as Tempus Fugit, or Time Flies -- the Quarter Century Club
will induct 47 faculty and librarians who have reached 25
years of service at a dinner to be held Oct. 19.
Staniszkis’ project explores the cycle of silk production.
Six mulberry trees have been planted at the rear of the MacMillan
Bldg. on campus to serve as a leaves-to-go fast food outlet
for the hundreds of silk worms she is raising.
“I have discovered there is a tradition in many countries
of children raising silk worms as a hobby,” says Staniszkis.
“With these little creatures, I hope to give street
youth something to care for and a low-tech pastime.”
She has planted mulberry cuttings on the roof of Vancouver’s
Covenant House, a crisis intervention centre and residence
for homeless and runaway youth. The trees will mature in about
two years when she plans to engage the residents in raising
worms, producing silk and creating art objects of silk cocoons
and “reeled” or roughly spun silk.
In her own art, Staniszkis is using both cocoons and worms
-- which look like caterpillars -- to create installations
such as an antique pair of silk slippers “decorated”
with cocooning silk worms.
Of her 35 years at UBC, Staniszkis highlights a couple of
changes: the increase in international students in her classes,
and changes in the overall look of the campus as construction
creates new and interesting spaces between and around buildings.
Something that hasn’t changed is her love of teaching
and joy working with students, she says.
“I have a whole big group of students who continue
to correspond with me over the years about their careers and
exhibitions of creative work.”
For a complete list of 2004 Quarter Century Club inductees
and Tempus Fugit members, visit www.ceremonies.ubc.ca/qcc.