Reimagining cross-cultural movement and migration, two important installations with connections to the Department of Visual Arts and Art History are on display at the Art Gallery of York University (AGYU) from now until Dec. 3. Mexican artist Betsabeé Romero’s monumental collaboration with the Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation Braided Roots / Trenzando raíces is comprised of five commissioned works produced this past summer with York undergraduate students in the L.L. Odette Artist-in-Residency Program. Concurrently, Visual Arts MFA candidate Nima Arabi (BFA ’18) introduces Persian orosi to the vitrines in the covered walkway outside the gallery in his new work Talking Windows.
There will be a free public reception Thursday, Sept. 13, from 6 to 9 p.m. featuring performance by members of the Mississaugas of the New Credit Drum Circle. A tour of Braided Roots / Trenzando raíces with co-curators Emelie Chhangur (AGYU Interim Director/Curator) and Cathie Jamieson (artist, Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation Band Council Member) takes place on Sunday, Oct. 21 at 2 p.m.
For Romero, culture is always in movement. Perhaps this is why the vehicle and, in particular, the tire—with its socio-economic and material traces—plays such a key metaphorical role in her practice. Traces are the evidence of errantry: of movement making manifest culture’s trajectory as a force of shared knowledge across time and space. This shared knowledge is a form of kinship, and this exhibition is a kind of force that gathers traces: the shared symbols, materials, and traditions that overlap and persist in Indigenous cultures across the Americas.
Featuring work in cast-bronze, carved-wood, cut-vinyl, tractor-tire rubber, deer-hide, feathers, video, and mural Braided Roots / Trenzando raíces is shaped by the experiences, encounters, and exchanges of Romero during her initial research visit to Toronto and New Credit in May 2017 as well as further research developed over the past year and a half—particularly in the aftermath of the Mexico City earthquake—into Canada and its mining practices in the Americas. Bookended by a post-apocalyptic landscape of “lost” marker trees pointing in all directions and an invitation to commune under a Quetzalcoatl (feathered serpent) reinterpreted as a series of inter-connected plumes, Braided Roots / Trenzando raíces weaves together a sophisticated story of strength, solidarity, and wisdom.
For Arabi, migration of form is a wayfinding means that bridges the cultural barriers between his Persian background and the Canadian context of his adopted home. Talking Windows uses the geometrical patterns of orosi (stained-glass sash windows used in Persian architecture) to turn AGYU’s three exterior vitrines into lightboxes. Instead of being a tool for presentation of its contents, the vitrines themselves become an object of art, containing merely the light that makes the windows themselves visible.
Also this fall at the AGYU Listening Bench, Halifax-based artist Lou Sheppard’s Birdsongs of North America translates spectrograms produced by analyzing bird calls into music. In the midst of an unprecedented loss of songbirds, this reflection on our relationships to our environment turns the AGYU Listening Bench into a memorial-in-waiting.
For more information on public programming presented in conjunction with AGYU’s fall exhibition, visit: http://AGYU.art
The AGYU is located in the Accolade East Building, 4700 Keele Street, Toronto. Gallery hours are: Monday to Friday, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.; Wednesday, 10 a.m. – 8 p.m.; Sunday, noon – 5 p.m.; and Saturday, closed.
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