Rivers were a major inspiration for Gu Xiong's new installation at the campus Nanaimo Art Gallery.

Rivers were a major inspiration for Gu Xiong's new installation at the campus Nanaimo Art Gallery.

Migration metaphors

Artist Gu Xiong draws inspiration from the world’s rivers for his installation at Nanaimo Art Gallery

An installation using the Fraser River in B.C. and the Yangtze River in China as a personal metaphor for migration and identity goes on display at the campus Nanaimo Art Gallery.

Gu Xiong’s mixed-media installation, called Waterscapes Migration on Vancouver Island opens Sept. 9 and is on display until Jan. 8.

Drawn out of his own experience as a migrant to Canada from China, the work also builds on his current research with individuals living and working on the rivers’ banks.

Xiong considers the history of each river as a route for colonization, migration and movements toward global uncertainty.

The installation is comprised of photographs, an imaginary map and a metaphorical river of more than 1,500 small white boats which flow from outside to inside the museum space.

Through the exhibit, Xiong poses the question, “How can different cultures intertwine through personal journeys, and move together into a new space?”

Xiong, a multi-media artist who now lives in Canada, works with painting, drawing, printmaking, sculpture, photography, video, digital imagery, text, performance art and installation.

Xiong received his master’s degree from the Sichuan Fine Arts Institute in Chongqing, China. In Canada, he twice attended the Banff Centre for the Arts as artist-in-residence, in addition to many other colleges and universities in Canada, the United States and China.

He has served on Canada Council, the Governor General Awards Jury for Visual Arts, Media Art and Architecture, Canada Council Visual Art Grant Jury, Seattle Arts Commission Jury, BC Arts Council Jury, and Vancouver Foundation Jury.

As associate professor in the department of art history, visual art and theory at the University of British Columbia, Xiong is engaged in the disciplines of installation, painting, drawing, photography and contemporary art theory.

He has exhibited nationally and internationally, including more than 40 solo exhibitions and three public art commissions.

Xiong’s practice centers on the creation of a hybrid identity arising from the integration of different cultural origins.

Through the critical angle of visual art, his work encompasses sociology, geography, economics, politics, and literature, as well as the dynamics of globalization, local culture and identity politics, through which he constitutes an amalgamation of multiple cultural histories and seeks to create an entirely new identity.

The construction of a new level of being is Gu Xiong’s primary interest.

Opening reception is set for Sept. 9, 5-7 p.m. Xiong will give a free artist’s talk Sept. 30 at noon.

Free tours, led by gallery docent Marie Egan will take place Oct. 22, 1 p.m., and Nov. 19, 1 p.m.

The gallery seeks volunteers to help with the installation of Xiong’s exhibit.

Dates for installation are today (Aug. 25), 12:30-5 p.m.; Friday (Aug. 26) and Aug. 29-31 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Volunteers for any, some or all days would be appreciated.

No art experience is required to help with the installation.

For more information, please call 250-740-6350.