Food for Thought: Events at the CRAG This Week

The CRAG invites you to join us for two more events centred around our current exhibit Behind the Lines: Contemporary Syrian Art.

We greatly appreciate all of the thoughtful conversations about the art in Behind the Lines that have been going on in the gallery so far. A whole new set of nearly 50 artworks will be debuted at our second opening reception this Thursday, June 13th, from 5 to 7 pm.

All of the works are full of emotion and many reference heavy subject matter. We hope that by generating conversation around the artworks and the personal stories of the artists, we can find hope and strength in our community and remind ourselves that we are not alone in the world.

There are lots of ways for you to get involved with these moving artworks and the Syrian people and culture. This coming Saturday from 1 to 3 pm, the CRAG is hosting an afternoon of Syrian food and music in Spirit Square. The event is free and open to the public, and there is sure to be something for everyone.

We wholeheartedly believe in the power of art to communicate visually, but our thoughts and feelings can be translated through words as well. Stepping out of your comfort zone to learn even a little of someone’s language goes a long way towards understanding someone whose life looks very different from yours.

We invite you to participate in activities that use language as a tool to forge connections. Our Super Saturday activity this month is learning how to write your name in Arabic. All ages can join in! Sarmad will be helping us to explore the beauty of this ancient language.

You can put your Arabic to good use by signing your name on a letter to one of the artists in Behind the Lines. They would love to hear how their work has touched someone like you across the world. We will take care of sending the letters – all you have to do is write. Who knows, you might just make a new friend! That is, after all, how this exhibit came to be. Paul and Humam, the two curators of Behind the Lines, were brave enough to reach out online without ever having met in person in order to create this powerful show.

Once you work up an appetite, the BaBa Gannouj food truck will be parked in the square, serving authentic Syrian and Lebanese cuisine including delicious donair, shawarma, falafel, kebabs and much more.

Fouad Nassar, co-owner of the popular restaurant and food truck with his wife Merell, will be sharing his musical talents on the accordion with us. He will be joined by other local Syrian families who will be performing a traditional dance. We are so lucky to be able to celebrate the diversity in Campbell River- a sign of a healthy and growing community.

Not only are food and gathering to eat great ways to bridge cultural divides, but food can also be a powerful symbol of community in art. For example, Omran Younis uses the imagery of watermelons in his paintings. These would have been a ubiquitous sight in the lively city marketplace, which unfortunately became a site of tragedy when they were targeted by car bombs. His compositions are disjointed and violent, but the bright pink of the watermelon reminds us that Syria’s rich culture and history will persist despite the tragedy of the civil war.