Organized by the Arts Council of the Central Okanagan (ARTSCO)

November 28, 2020 – April 11, 2021

We are all storytellers.

Whether we encounter stories in books, newspapers, conversations, or on social media; we are confronted by many overlapping narratives in our daily lives. However, it is our own inner narrative that is our most compelling means of communication. It is the product of this subconscious landscape, which has been represented visually in this exhibition.

Honouring the connection between artist and viewer, the Arts Council of the Central Okanagan presents artworks from Ashleigh Giffen, Maura Tamez, and Hagar Wirba. Their stories weave a powerful message of introspection and transition and highlight the path from darkness to growth and renewal.

The Exhibition

ARTISTS

Hagar Wirba

“My name is Hagar Wirba, I’m a recent Digital Photography Graduate from the Centre for Arts and Technology. Coming from a multilingual family, having lived in 5 different countries, I like to see myself as someone who is always welcoming of new experiences, as my upbringing was based on it. My work is a visual expression of my celebration of life. Some of the themes I explore that are prevalent in my work are authenticity, femininity, individuality, intimacy, and vulnerability. I enjoy contributing to social discourse and my favourite way to do so is through my photography. Another gratifying thing about art to me is its ability to take me Ailleurs – a French word, meaning Elsewhere, that has resonated with me for years and is central to all my creative pursuits. Through photography, I aim to create an immersive experience for viewers to lose, and also find themselves within”.

Maura Tamez

“Maura Tamez is an enrolled member of the Lipan Apache Band of Texas (of the broader Dene peoples in Canada, U.S., Mexico). Maura currently lives in the unceded Okanagan territory of the Syilx peoples. She lives with her family on the Okanagan Indian Band #1 reserve near Vernon, BC amongst the Sqilxw families of Nsis’soolwx (Dry Creek). Currently, she is in her fourth year of the BFA program(graduating 2022), majoring in Visual Arts, at the University of British Columbia-Okanagan campus. Tamez has exhibited work at the Alternator Centre for Contemporary Art, Lake Country Art Gallery, OKT Law Offices in Toronto, and the TerrainGallery in Spokane, Washington. She actively works to strengthen her practice in interdisciplinary work and her art draws on personal themes of belonging, identity, place, borders, displacement, loss, and history. Tamez is a recipient of the 2020 Indigenous Arts Scholarship offered by First Peoples Cultural Council and the British Columbia Arts Council”.

Ashleigh Giffen, Maura Tamez

“Ashleigh Giffen is a 22-year-old Oji-Cree artist. She is a multi-disciplinary artist exploring dream states, realm travel, and fragmented histories through lenses of critical indigeneity and discouraging genre. Her first play, Kamwatan Nipe (quiet water) held its first reading at the Arts Club theatre company, and she is currently in the process of a full-length commission at the Arts Club writing its duo project. She was the 2nd place winner of the 2019 Canadian Arts and Stories writing contest, as well as the 2019 Writing in the Margins poetry winner in Briarpatch magazine. She also is the 2nd place winner in the 2020 Room magazine poetry contest”.

PESOWAN

Cree; it is near, it is a short distance

Maura Tamez and Ashleigh Giffen

My poetry over the last two years has been strongly centered around the places, both physical and ethereal, in which poetry travels. As an Indigenous woman of the diaspora, my work explores the complexities of my lived experiences. Works being centered around ponderings, meditation isolation, and especially dream state are present in this piece. In the hints of modern ways; video games and the digital world, I wish to involve Indigenous people in that development of sustaining us as a people of the future. To refuse the possibility of extinction. 

There is a strong sense of romance in this piece with another person, as the speaker talks to someone that seems far away, an intimate remembering. By setting the remembering in the past I wish to create nostalgia, and also loneliness. A type of loneliness that only someone of your own culture could understand. To be of the diaspora is to be far away from those who understand and yet still close to deep time memory and the hope of connection. 

By presenting this piece while I am in the bathtub, Maura and I have strengthened that sense of intimacy in the recalling. By wearing my clothes while smoking, the speaker implies a sense of urgency and disassociation. A place of being not in your body but still enjoying the vices as a way of centering. 

This piece speaks to a state of Indigeneity that is still strong in the voices of Indigenous women. An awareness of self, and an awareness of history. Of our uniqueness, our untouched complexity that is rich, vibrant, painful, and full of life. But still delicate in the way you talk to a lover you cannot be close to.