The CRAG is a safe place to explore the meaning behind art and all the feelings it might bring up
Have you ever had a child hand you a piece of paper with a scribble on it and a proud twinkle in their eyes?
“What is it?” you might have asked, with kindness and curiosity in your voice.
“It’s a dead bird, like the one that flew into the window yesterday,” they respond. And here, you thought it was an explosion of yarn or a tornado.
“Why did you draw that?” you ask, worried they are traumatized, obsessed with death, or depressed.
“I thought the bird was pretty and that we should remember it,” your kid responds.
All of the work that we show at the Campbell River Art Gallery is someone’s interpretation of something:
- a feeling they are trying to recreate
- a person or a place they are trying to preserve
- an injustice they are trying to make sense of
They bring their unique experiences and understanding of the world to each of their creations.
How the viewer interprets the art is then influenced by their own life’s story and worldview.
Like a game of telephone where one child whispers a message and the next passes on what they heard, engaging with art has many layers and can bring up many conversations.
It is a core part of our mandate at the CRAG to interpret and promote an interest in contemporary art and to provide an educational space to advance the public’s knowledge and appreciation.
Our specific focus is to support artistic projects from under-represented positions within contemporary art practice. Some recent examples include:
- Mu’la – an exploration of gratitude by Campbell River-based Indigenous artists who participate in our Art Hive
- میں اپنی ماں کی بیٹی ہوں | I am my mother’s daughter – an exhibition by a Muslim-Canadian artist exploring the resilience and knowledge of her mother as she immigrated to Canada and the impacts it has had on herself
- The Chorus is Speaking – where artists shared their experiences of identities of Blackness in Canada
While artists create work with intention, they also call on the audience to interact with the work.
In her artist statement for میں اپنی ماں کی بیٹی ہوں | I am my mother’s daughter, Farheen HaQ said:
“My aspiration is for the viewer to have an experience with the work so that they reflect on their own personhood, their relationships, experiences and memories. I want the viewer to experience their humanity, their relationality – not just mine as the subject of the work — but their state of interiority.”-Farheen HaQ
In nothing we do is worth getting hurt for Eleanor King “…brings together multiple site-specific art elements such as: Google Earth mapping, sound, composite photography, video, and screen printing to hold a conversation in the gallery in relation to our treatment of the environment, the sustainability of that treatment, and the future,” wrote Jenelle Pasiechnik, Curator of Contemporary Art at the CRAG, in her curatorial essay for the show.
Through our events, workshops, artist talks and other activities at the gallery, we hope to bridge the intent and experience of the artist and their work, with the experiences that inform the audiences’ understanding of the work.
This openness, curiosity and communication also comes from a place of accountability, and we attempt to lead by example. In her curatorial essay for The Chorus is Speaking, Pasiechnik acknowledged our history of not showing black or brown artists.
“Conversations that centre black and brown voices should have been present since our founding in 1994,” she wrote. “This erasure is a direct result of the systemic racism present in colonial institutions such as public art galleries.”
We want to have difficult conversations and endeavour to hold space for respectful discussion from varying perspectives.
Just like the child drawing the picture of the dead bird, we encourage you to approach the art we show in the gallery with curiosity and questions.
American artist damali ayo said: “Art should make you think and feel. It doesn’t have to match your couch.”