Sometimes understanding starts with a conversation.
An art exhibit launching at the Port Theatre this Thursday (March 21) is intended to spark that conversation and encourage a community dialogue about racism and discrimination and how to create a more inclusive society.
The Central Vancouver Island Multicultural Society is unveiling Journey to Inclusion: Moving from Racism to an Inclusive Society from 3-6 p.m. Thursday in the Port Theatre lobby.
The exhibit matched artists with people from diverse backgrounds to work together and create art pieces that depicted their experiences of discrimination.
“Art can be a really valuable device when dealing with the difficult subject of discrimination or racism,” said Samantha Letourneau, multicultural society diversity coordinator. “Art in general has that ability to reach people in many different ways … and create a discussion.”
Letourneau said the society was fortunate to have people apply to the project that were very open to sharing their stories or expressing how they felt and to take a stand against discrimination.
The exhibit will be on display at the Port Theatre until April 12 and the multicultural society is currently looking for a permanent location for the artwork to keep the discussion alive, said Letourneau.
“This is the type of project that has the potential to grow,” she said.
Nanaimo artist Maggie Wouterloot was paired with Louisa Shaw to create a piece for the exhibit. Wouterloot said the two started working together in December.
“It was a real eye-opener. I am used to working in isolation,” Wouterloot said.
At first Wouterloot was a little nervous because she felt a huge obligation to do Shaw’s personal story justice. But the two found they had a very open relationship.
“From the very beginning she showed a lot of trust in me that encouraged me to take many risks,” said Wouterloot.
The piece is a resin cast surrounded by a wreath of poppies that have been gilded with copper leaf paint. The cast of Shaw’s face required her to sit for about 30 minutes.
“She was a real trooper and very, very calm,” said Wouterloot.
The opening reception is being held in conjunction with the United Nations Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.
For more information about the exhibit or other projects the multicultural society is hosting in Nanaimo please go to www.cvims.org.