The choir speaks – Campbell River Mirror

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Campbell River Art Galley’s latest exhibition, The Chorus is Speaking, is a group show by eight incredibly inventive and insightful black Canadian artists who address the multi-layered nature of the black experience on the island of Tortoise.

Upon entering The Chorus is Speaking, visitors will be greeted with a myriad of colors

“The decision for bright colors came from our desire to communicate a kaleidoscopic experience of darkness,” says curator of contemporary art Jenelle Pasiechnik. “It reflects a diverse experience and a fragment of a 500-year history.”

The Choir Speaks runs from June 11 to August 20, with an opening reception on June 11 from 5 to 7 p.m. at the gallery.

The artists – Ojo Agi, Christina Battle, Charles Campbell, Chantal Gibson, Dana Inkster, Karin Jones, Jan Wade and Syrus Marcus Ware – were brought together in an exploration of facets of Black life in Canada through sculpture, drawing and painting, installation, cinema and poetry. Their work speaks of militant positions, seeking a balance between carrying the weight of difficult stories and finding joy, the beauty of darkness, cultivating boundaries through a resistance to the gaze, thinking about the creative process with curiosity, love of experimentation and pursuit of knowledge.

“Chorus” refers to an archetype of ancient Greek theater, explains Pasiechnik, “The choir is traditionally a source of wisdom and knowledge, which works to communicate broader moral sentiments to the audience.”

CRAG’s own choir takes this and adds: “Our choir: the artists not only speak in unison, but each voice is heard clearly and individually, the power of the collective and the power of the individual are both important and this exposure holds the two in balance.

Various events are planned for the exhibit, including a performance by Charles Campbell and Michelle Jacques, a Sunday screening of films made by Black Canadians, and a poetry reading and talk by Chantal Gibson. Visit crartgallery.com for more information.

See The Chorus is Speaking at the Campbell River Art Gallery Thursday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. June 11 through August 20, 2022.

Background

Ojo Agi is an award-winning Nigerian-Canadian artist and researcher based in Montreal, QC. Her work uses brown paper and portraits to make visible an increasingly common but vastly underrepresented experience.

Christina Battle is an artist based in Edmonton, Alberta. Her practice focuses on an in-depth reflection on the concept of disaster: its complexity and the intricacies associated with it.

Charles Campbell is an internationally renowned multidisciplinary artist, writer, curator and educator. Born in Jamaica, is based in Victoria, BC. Her works, which include sculptures, paintings, sound installations and performances, explore aspects of black history, particularly as experienced in the Caribbean region.

Dana Inkster is an artist of African descent and was born and raised in Ottawa, currently located in Lethbridge, AB. Dana’s work often experiments with storytelling while exploring the complexities of identity, which stem in part from her experiences as black, queer and feminist.

Chantal Gibson is an award-winning writer, artist and educator who lives on the ancestral lands of the Coast Salish peoples in Vancouver, British Columbia. Working at the intersection of literary and visual arts, his work confronts colonialism head-on, imagining the voices of BIPOC silenced in the spaces and omissions left by cultural and institutional erasure.

Karin Jones is an interdisciplinary artist with a background in jewelry, who lives and works in Vancouver, BC. Her most recent work deals with how historical narratives shape our sense of identity.

Jan Wade is a Hamilton-born, Vancouver-based artist whose practice includes mixed media assemblages, paintings, textiles, text, and icon-like sculptural objects. Wade developed a very distinctive style and iconography, shaped by her personal experience as an African-Canadian of mixed cultural heritage and her commitment to ideas of social and spiritual transformation.

Syrus Marcus Ware is a Vanier scholar, visual artist, activist, curator and educator. He lives and works in Toronto, Ontario. Syrus works with and explores social justice frameworks and black activist culture.

Related events

Opening: The Chorus si Speaking – Saturday June 11, 5-7 p.m., @Main Gallery

Workshop: Swing Dance with Josh Colman + Live Music – July 23, 1pm-5pm @Spirit Square Artist Talk: The Art of with/holding with Chantel Gibson -Saturday July 9, 4pm @Main Gallery

Sunday Session: The Art of Autobiography + Q&A with Dana Inkster – July 24, 6 p.m. Online/virtual

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