Thursday, October 3, 2019

Since our first exhibit in 2014, the Grebel Gallery has been a place to craft, record, map, and perform the stories of peacemaking. It has been a space to inspire new ways of thinking, challenge harmful systems and norms, and catalyze conversations on questions of peace and justice.

This past year the Grebel Gallery has hosted three exhibits that – almost serendipitously – were in conversation with each other. Three artists have challenged our community to redefine how we perceive Canadian identity, build understanding between worldviews, and think critically on what it means to live on this land.

Each of these three artists holds a unique identity that has allowed visitors to the Gallery to learn from different perspectives and understandings.

Clay birds created by Soheila Esfahani From October – December, 2018, Soheila Esfahani navigated the terrains of cultural translation and transformation. In Cultural Translation: Negotiated Third Spaces and Those Who Live There, Soheila questioned displacement, dissemination, and reinsertion of culture. Soheila grew up in Tehran, Iran, and moved to Canada in 1992. Her own experience as an immigrant influences her application of Homi Bhabha’s notion of in-betweeness: she has departed her original home (Iran) and now lives in the third space, identifying as neither Canadian nor Iranian, but someone in-between.

Following the exhibit on Cultural TranslationArtist Catherine Dallaire stands beside her painting, Catherine Dallaire brought her perspective on what it means to be rooted on this land. Catherine is Métis with roots in both the Kichesipirini band of Algonquin (Allumette Island) and the Weskarini band of Algonquin (Trois-Rivieres). Gichitwaawizi’igewin: Honouring re-examined the original Indigenous values in animal and plant life that are vilified by contemporary Western settler culture. “Gichitwaawizi’igewin” in its essence means honouring, but its literal translation is the act of making others be exalted.

Meg Harder's fraktur-style art pieceIn our current exhibit, Meg Harder uses traditional Mennonite folk-art to bring her ancestral traditions in conversation with contemporary questions of land, gender, colonization and environmental degradation. New Fraktur reinterprets traditional fraktur images to make space for new understandings of history and to reimagine future realities. This exhibit ask visitors to reflect on: who do we want to be in the future? What harmful systems do want to dismantle?

We often are asked: why have an art gallery in a peace centre? These three exhibits strikingly demonstrate the ability of visual art to create whole-bodied engagement with potentially provocative subject matter. It allows the viewer step into the conversation, facilitated by their own interpretations, and opens space to question norms.

The Centre for Peace Advancement’s priorities of social innovation, research, community engagement, and artist expression, uniquely intersect in our three programs. In our Centre, peace advancement is cognitive, relational and experiential. Our participants are challenged to use ‘many tools in the toolbox’ to work towards a common goal.

Our current exhibit, New Fraktur, will run until October 25, 2019.

Submit a proposal for the Grebel Gallery, or reach out to be part of the Grebel Gallery Team that coordinates and programs the space.