Ira Polak Veronneau
First year, Art Education
She is an ikon
beads, embroidery on felt (brooch)
beads, embroidery on sneakers
Skeleton in my closet*
tambour beads, embroidery on mono print
beads, embroidery on silk organza and felt (brooch)
I was born in 1979 in Moldovia in the former USSR. When I was 13, my family immigrated to Israel. I hold a bachelor’s and master’s degrees in social work. During a humanitarian mission in Haiti after the earthquake in 2010, I met my future husband Felix-Antoine from Montreal. Together, we travelled and worked in Israel/Palestine, Sierra Leone, Senegal, and Haiti. We moved to Montreal less than two years ago.
I began to practice needlework in my childhood. My grandmothers, Mania and Bluma, were the masters of their craft, they taught me hand and machine sewing techniques, as well as traditional Moldovan embroidery. I first engaged in art, design, and fashion as a hobby. Five years ago I began combining my two passions: needlework and beads. In the bead painting practice, I normally begin with a basic contour, spontaneously adding beads, shapes, and figures, often creating 3D relief. Initially, I never have a clear vision of the image, I let the colours, shapes, and my emotions lead my creation. I regard beadwork as my own kind of meditation.
In 2015, while working in Haiti with PRODEV, a local NGO involved in the field of community work and education, I encountered drapo Vodou artists who create iconic mosaics of sewn beads, sequins, and buttons using several embroidery techniques. I was moved and inspired by their work, spurring me to not only develop my art and craft practice but also to invest more time in the creative process. I ended up launching my brand, “Babooli Beads Art”, crafting bespoken pieces of embellishment, jewellery, and decor. The brand’s name comes from the Russian diminutive of babushka (grandmother) and is a tribute to my talented grandmothers who were role models of creation for me.
The “Saint-Soleil” piece was inspired by Haiti’s art movement of the same name. In 1973, renowned artist Jean-Claude “Tiga” Garoute (1935-2006) opened a community workshop and invited mountain farmers to engage in art making. Their paintings typically represented human figures surrounded by abstract patterns. While exploring the Saint-Soleil art, I felt a strong connection and passion to join the movement by creating a piece inspired by Tiga using needlework. This beaded artwork is a homage to Haitian art, folklore, and history, as well as my own roots and traditions.
*not shown here