Artist Bio

Jessica McDonald is a textile artist based in St. John’s, Newfoundland. A textile lover for the majority of her life, she has studied the art form at Olds College (Alberta) and The College of the North Atlantic (Newfoundland). She has since earned a BFA in Interdisciplinary Studies with a Minor in Art History, from the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design in 2019. Her undergrad thesis explored craft perceptions and their importance in social community and generational inheritance in Atlantic Canada. Additional training and professional development opportunities have extended across North America including a weaving residency in Oaxaca, Mexico, interning for the Handweavers Guild of America in Nevada, USA, and working for the Peters Valley School of Craft in New Jersey, USA. In 2018 Jessica received the Arts & Letters Award in the Senior Division for her weaving which was purchased by The Rooms Gallery. Throughout 2020, she has worked with Dale Jarvis of Heritage NL to conduct research on weaving in the province of NL. Jarvis & McDonald have collaborated on the Facebook group Weavers and Spinners of Newfoundland and Labrador, to locate existing weavers and their looms. Jessica brings the traditional craft to light through exploration, research, and teaching. She is passionate about exploring concepts of home, community, and textiles and the history in which it carries.

Artist Statement

I am a textile artist residing in St. John’s on the island of Ktaqamkuk (Newfoundland). My research-based practice uses textiles to explore the tenuous relationship between memory and place while thinking critically about the connection between gender, craft economies, and traditional domestic roles. The outcome is work that is deeply rooted in preservation and loss. 

Over the last few years, I have been conducting research on the social history of weaving in the Atlantic provinces which has demonstrated the intimate historic connection between textiles and the home. Research for my practice is carried out through scholarly articles,conversations, and network building; engaging on a personal level with craftspeople and community members across the province. These interactions reveal the social components to craft production (coming together to create, intergenerational knowledge transfer) and conversations around the circumstances in which it is carried out. 

My desire to work with traditional skills such as weaving and stitching comes from a place of personal experience with the women of my own family and being inspired by the social and economic movements made by women in the cottage industries in my home province. Textile-based craft has provided adornment, warmth, and financial support in the home to many outport communities for over one hundred years. The most intimate aspect of my research exists within my own personal family history, where five generations of women who are still alive today are able to share their skills or reflections on the shifts in craft’s presence over the past century, including being impacted by experiences of resettlement. A particular site of inspiration for me is my great-grandmother’s abandoned home in Gaultois. As I have performed primary research there, engaging in exploration and conversation, the house has become a site of memory and recollection for the entire community. 

My work tends to reflect on the personal and intimate nature of craft production and its relevance to social history. Creating textile work is a slow and thoughtful process that yields results with patience and care. I see the laborious nature of my craft as documentation; a form of performance. Creating an intimate dialogue with my materials greatly informs the direction of my work and I tend to choose fragile materials that reflect the fragility of memory. The ghostly aesthetics that are synonymous with memory and abandoned locations are reflected in my material and colour choices. Whether it be on or off the loom, I am memorializing my subjects through labour and time, reactivating and honouring memories and history.   As I explore these concepts, I am taking an installation-based approach to traditional textile techniques, which poetically reflects and considers the relationships between craft economies and architextures of the home.

The tracing of old, and the creation of new.



Bachelor of Fine Arts, Interdisciplinary,Minor: Art History, NSCAD University, Halifax, NS, 2017 – 2019

Business Management, OfficeAdministration Certificate, Honours, College of the North Atlantic,St. John’s, NL, 2016

Textiles: Craft & ApparelDesign Diploma, Honours, College of the North Atlantic,St. John’s, NL, 2012 – 2014

Apparel Technology Diploma, Major:Costume Cutting & Construction, Olds College, Olds, AB, 2011

Apparel Technology Diploma, Major:Fashion Apparel, Olds College, Olds, Alberta, 2010


Heritage NL Mentor-Apprentice Program, St. John's, NL, 2021-22

VANL-CARFAC Mentorship Program, St. John's, NL, 2020-2021

WeavingII: Advanced Weaving Techniques, The Weaver’s School: Madelyn Vander Hoogt, Washington, USA, 2019

The Stitched Drawing,Peters Valley School of Craft, Layton, New Jersey, USA, July 2019


2022 - Instructor, Attendant, Convergence Fibre Arts Conf., Handweavers Guild of America, Knoxville, Tennessee, USA

2022 - Artist in Residence (June), Union House Arts, Port Union, NL

2019 - Artist in Residence (September), Byrdcliffe Guild, Woodstock, New York, USA

2018 - Internship(July), Hand Weaver’s Guild of America, Reno, Nevada, USA

2017 - Artistin Residence (July/Aug), Arquetopia Weaving Residency, Oaxaca, Mexico

2017 - FibersAssistant (June/July), Studio Assistantship Program, Peter’s Valley School ofCraft, Layton, New Jersey, USA

2016 - Attendant, Convergence Fibre Arts Conf., Handweavers Guild of America, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA

2014 - 2017 - Artisan, Craft Incubation Program, Quidi Vidi Artist Studios, St. John's, NL


2019- Anamnesis: A Woven Installation, The Anna Leonowens Gallery, Halifax, NS


2021 - For the Love of Sandra Alfoldy, Anna Leonowens Gallery, Halifax, NS

2020 - Hidden Visage - A Photo Essay by Jared Reid, Craft Council Gallery of Newfoundland & Labrador, St. John's, NL

2020 - Newfoundland Through a Window, Arts& Culture Center, Corner Brook, NL

2020 - Incubation: Artists in Pursuit ofDiscovery, Sally D. Francisco Gallery, New Jersey, USA

2020 - NSCAD Graduation Show, Anna Leonowens Gallery, Halifax, NS

2019 - Arts and Letters Annual Juried Exhibition, The Rooms Provincial Art Gallery, St. John’s, NL

2018 - Community Weave Project, Feminisms Reframed, St. Michaels Printshop,St. John’s, NL

2018 - 9 Lies Your Mother Told You About Textiles, Craft Council Gallery of Newfoundland & Labrador, St. John’s NL   

2017 - Making Matters, Sally D. Francisco Gallery, Layton, New Jersey, USA

2017, 2018 - CelebrateCraft: Annual Members Exhibit, Craft Council Gallery of Newfoundland & Labrador, St.John’s NL

2017 - IDNL 2017 (Interior Design Newfoundland), St. John’s, NL

2016 - Crafted Home, Craft Council of Newfoundland and Labrador, St.John’s, NL                                                           

2015 - Mansell’s Poppies, Writers at Woody Point Exhibit, Woody Point,NL

2014,2016, 2018 - Comfort and Joy, Craft Council of Newfoundland and Labrador,St. John’s, NL

2014 -Knit Fast Dye Yarn, Graduating Exhibition, College of the North Atlantic, St.John’s, NL

2013 -Spring Forward: Alumni Exhibition, Quidi Vidi Village Plantation, St. John’s,NL        


2019 - Margo Marshall Award for Textiles, NSCAD University, Halifax, NS

2019 - Provincial Art Bank Purchase, The Rooms & Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, St. John’s, NL

2019- Arts and Letters Award: Senior Division, Provincial Government ofNewfoundland and Labrador, St. John’s, NL

2019- The Lenore G. Tawney Foundation Fiber Tuition Scholarship, Peters ValleySchool of Craft, Layton, New Jersey, USA

2017,2020 - Professional Project Grant, Newfoundlandand Labrador Arts Council, St. John’s, NL

2015 - Professional Artist’s Travel Fund, Newfoundlandand Labrador Arts Council, St. John’s, NL

2015 - Nominated and Accepted, Ontario One of a Kind Spring Show and Sale, Toronto, Ontario

2015 - Nominated for Ontario One of a KindSpring Show and Sale, AnnaTempleton Centre of Art & Design, St. John’s, NL

2015 -Nominated for 2016 National StudentEntrepreneur Competition, Enactus Canada, St. John’s, NL

2014 - Historical Context Scholarship, St. John's Guild of Embroiderers,St. John’s, NL


VANL-CARFAC,St. John’s, NL, 2019 - 2021

CraftCouncil of Newfoundland and Labrador, St. John's, NL, 2015 - 2018

HandweaversGuild of America, Georgia, USA, 2016 - 2021

TheGuild of Canadian Weavers, Canada, 2017, -  2021

TheAtlantic Spinners and Handweavers Guild, Halifax, NS, 2018, - 2021


Instructor, Hand Manipulated Lace Techniques, Handweavers Guild of America Convergence Conf. Knoxville, TN, USA July 2022

RetailStore Manager & Program Coordinator, East Coast Quilt Co, St. John’s, NL – December 2019 to present

Instructor, CircularHand Weaving, ArtBrewt, Paradice Palase, Brooklyn, New York, USA, July 2019

Instructor, The Anna Templeton Centre of Art andDesign, Various Courses/Camps, St. John’s NL, 2015 – 2019

Assistant Instructor &Coordinator, Handweavers Guild of America Convergence Conf., Reno, Nevada,USA - July 2018

PeerMentor Leader, NSCAD University Stay Connected Mental Health Program, Halifax,NS, Aug 2018 – April 2019

Drop-inWeaving Social, Craft Council Gallery of Newfoundland and Labrador, St. John’s,NL, July – August 2018

Arts & CraftsCoordinator/Instructor, The Boys and Girls Clubs of St.John’s, NL, 2016 – 2017

CelebrateCraft: History of Weaving in NL Workshop, Canada 150 & Anna TempletonCentre, St. John’s, NL, 2017

Introto Weaving, The Anna Templeton Centre of Art and Design, St. John’s, NL,2015, 2016


Founder/Contributing Member/Moderator, Weavers and Spinners of Newfoundland &Labrador, NL 2020+

Gallery Volunteer, Eastern Edge Gallery, St. John’s, NL, 2020

Founder/Contributing Member/Moderator,Woven Words Online Textile Collective, St. John’s, NL, 2018+

Restoration/Presenter:Mary Black’s Loom & Weaving History, Craft NovaScotia, Halifax, NS, 2018

Coordinator/Event Planner,NSCAD Fashion Show Salon Sale, NSCAD Textile Department, Halifax, NS, 2018

Committee Member/Fundraising,NSCAD Wearable Art Show, Halifax, NS, Dec 2017

Fundraising Member,Boys and Girls Clubs of St. John’s, NL (Buckmaster Circle), 2016 – 2017

2nd Costume Assistant,Perchance Theatre Company, St. John’s, NL, July – Aug 2016

Costume Assistant,Open Theatre Company, St. John’s, NL, May 2015

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