From early childhood, Cindy Hoppe enjoyed a special relationship with her mother, Myrna Harris. Their appreciation of rural life and a mutual love of arts and crafts strengthened that bond and Cindy learned to draw, paint and sew doll clothes, often working alongside her mother.
In her early teens, she joined her mother in a painting class taught in the Landis, Saskatchewan area where the family farmed. “That helped accelerate my art,” Cindy said.
“Mom immersed herself in whatever art or craft form that caught her attention. In the early 1970s, she became intrigued with pottery and we began attending craft shows which were just catching on at the time. While she was making beautiful pots, I was creating pottery jewelry. It was exciting to be interacting with the public and selling our products,” she said.
After high school, Cindy attended the University of Saskatchewan, working on a bachelor of fine arts degree, but she yearned for practical experience, not just lectures about art. In 1982 Cindy married and moved to her new home on the farm north of Biggar, Saskatchewan.
After about 10 years of a ‘pottery phase,’ Cindy’s mother decided to try something new and invested in a loom. “She just loved the weaving, though she didn’t want to deal with the yards of products she was turning out. I used my knitting and crocheting skills to turn her yardage into jackets. I had young children, so painting was out of the question for me at the time.
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“After four years of throwing the shuttle back and forth, Mother had enough. She enrolled in a felting class and her first felt piece, a jacket, got into the Dimensions Show with the Saskatchewan Craft Council the next year. That morphed into making landscapes out of felt, wrapping them around a canvas stretcher. The result was beautiful, tactile, hand-dyed landscapes for which she became famous.
It was a joint trip to Toronto and the Haliburton Summer School of the Arts during the summer of 1997 that would set the stage for Cindy’s current career as a successful fibre artist. She purchased several wool suits from a Salvation Army store in Haliburton and created jackets from recycled wool suiting. “Marsha Geddes, a clothing design instructor from Ryerson influenced my direction into recycling wool suits to create thoroughly integrated art pieces.”
Back home, Cindy and her mother experimented at the dye pot and checked out second-hand stores for materials. In 2008, Cindy and her mother had a joint show at the Pacific Gallery in Saskatoon. It would be Myrna’s last show, as she passed away the following year.
“She was my mentor and my model for so many years. I miss her enthusiasm,” said Cindy.
Living in rural Saskatchewan, Cindy is continually inspired by the seasonal changes she observes on her daily walks. She’s also inspired by great photography of Prairie artists, by a beautiful piece of wool, or by what happens in the dye pot.
For more information on Cindy Hoppe’s work, visit www.cindyhoppe.com, call (306) 948-2947, or email [email protected].
This article first appeared in the Feb. 11, 2014 edition of Grainews.