When we think of Syria’s devastating civil war halfway across the world, many of us in Canada are familiar with a barrage of heart-breaking images of bombed-out buildings and refugees on boats, constantly available in the news. So, how do we truly connect with those affected by war?

The ability of music and art to transcend nationality and personalize is demonstrated by the exhibit Behind the Lines: Contemporary Syrian Art in our main gallery. A diverse range of painting, sculpture, and photography explore the horrors of the civil war. Simultaneously, Mohammad Zaza’s mesmerizing and other-worldly, hand-drawn animated videos, and accompanying instrumental music, float across the gallery. This provokes complex emotions and energies amongst the message against war. Visual and musical representation of the personal experience of war is perhaps able to tell us more about Syria and its people than any news story full of facts and figures.

Being able to create and exhibit art is a risk for many artists in Syria who have been forced to flee to Europe and North America. Only six of the twenty artists that are featured in Behind the Lines are still living in Syria. We are lucky enough to have the Orontes Guitar Quartet in Canada for one year through an Artist Protection Fund fellowship as visiting artists at the University of Victoria, now on their Canadian tour. Their resilience and talent is nothing short of inspiring.

Photo courtesy of Orontes Guitar Quartet.

The Orontes Guitar Quartet will be at the Tidemark Theatre in downtown Campbell River, just across the street from the gallery, on Tuesday night in conjunction with the Campbell River Art Gallery’s presentation of the exhibit Behind the Lines: Contemporary Syrian Art curated by Paul Crawford of the Penticton Art Gallery. Paul will be giving a talk in the main gallery at 5pm before the concert. He will share his experience of creating the exhibit with Humam Alsalim from the Cyrrus Gallery in Damascus in 2016.

These events are not only an opportunity to enrich Campbell River’s understanding of the abundance and diversity of Syrian art and culture, but they are also a fundraiser for the Immigrant Welcome Centre of North Vancouver Island. $5 from each ticket goes to supporting programs for newcomers to Canada. Our community will be enriched by experiencing Syrian art and music, while also giving back and creating a lasting and local impact in our globalized world. International collaboration and connection can benefit all of us, which is exactly what will be celebrated Tuesday night.

Photo courtesy of Orontes Guitar Quartet.

We look forward to welcoming Paul and the Quartet on Tuesday and hearing their incredible performance. Don’t miss out – tickets are available online. Admission for Paul’s talk is $5 at the CRAG. Check out more upcoming events in June featuring Syrian film and food on the CRAG facebook page.

Check back every week for a blog post on what’s current and exciting at the CRAG this summer.

Categories: 2019Behind the Lines