Conrad Grebel University College
140 Westmount Road North
Waterloo, ON, Canada N2L 3G6
Unmasking, Breathing, Moving Forward is the theme that runs through each of the pieces that have found a new home in the Grebel Gallery at the Kindred Credit Union Centre for Peace Advancement. Through contributions by a diverse group of sixteen Black, Indigenous, and racialized artists, the exhibit features pieces of various mediums that place a future lens on the reckonings of the past few years, asking how we take what we have experienced and learned to inform our collective path forward.
Following an initial showing down the road at Martin Luther University, most of the pieces in the original Unmasking, Breathing, Moving Forward exhibition have found a second home in the Centre’s gallery. With an official gallery launch event on September 21st, the UN International Day of Peace, the Centre for Peace Advancement looks forward to welcoming the general public into the gallery space to take in the exhibit and interact with the broader Centre community.
Given that the initial exhibit took place when public health restrictions still limited public access, the Centre is excited to help this important exhibit reach new audiences. “We are grateful for the relationships with artists that the Art of the Wall committee at Luther’s Kanata Centre for Worship and Global Song has established,” notes Centre for Peace Advancement Director Paul Heidebrecht. “This is important context that underlies and ties together this striking collection.” Through a variety of mediums from oil painting to beadwork to mixed media, each of the artists pull from their own knowledge and perspectives to offer insight on how we can create a path forward that is inclusive of diverse voices.
Many of the pieces look to the past as inspiration for the present and future, acknowledging the realities of oppression and racism then and now, to help the audience reflect on how we remain committed to change to create a better future for all. For instance, Ken Daley used an acrylic on canvas piece to examine the role of music in offering enslaved African people an avenue through which to express their humanity. He expressed that, as the next generation, we must “continue to unmask the inequities in our society, to live and breathe, and sing songs of freedom for our generations and the next to come.” Like many of the artists featured in the exhibit, he highlighted that the resilience of marginalized voices throughout history is an inspiration for all.
However, foremost, the exhibit focuses on the question: as we unmask, breathe unencumbered, and lead from our places of influence, how do we remain committed to change that allows all people (and the planet) to flourish? This focus reminds us that the meaning of our past is only ever given true importance through the lens of now and how we choose to allow it to inform our future.
Life during the pandemic has been challenging for everyone. During this period, the harsh realities of oppression and racism were cruelly unveiled in front of our eyes. The question of how we move forward is often asked, and difficult to answer.
View our newest Grebel Gallery exhibit, Unmasking, Breathing, Moving Forward, from September 6 to December 16, 2022. The gallery is open Mon-Thu 8:30 am - 10 pm, Fri 8:30 am - 6:00 pm, and Sat 1-5 pm.