"What Have You Heard About Us?" Explores Stereotypes and Raw Perceptions of Indigenous and Immigrant Communities
Installation Showcases Art in Non-Traditional Settings and Engages Community
Local artist collective ImagiNation Miscellany is unveiling its multidisciplinary art installation "What Have You Heard About Us?" in Millbourne Market Mall and Kingsway Mall from August 21-September 3, 2018, and September 10-23, 2018 respectively. Artists/Project Leads Fren Mah and Kristina de Guzman decided to bring the work back after great feedback for the Canada 150 project at the 2017 Works Art & Design Festival. The project involves community storytellers from across Edmonton and artists: Fren Mah, Kristina de Guzman, Emmanuel Osahor, Bushra Yousaf, Garett Strawberry, and Joseph Karaparambil.
"Via six story circles across Edmonton last year, we heard a lot of recurring themes in the stories of immigrants and Canadian-born children of immigrants around perceptions of 'The Other'", says de Guzman. "But what we found just as fascinating was their perceptions of other marginalized groups, such as Edmonton's Indigenous peoples. We started seeing that stereotypes can go both ways. Some of us were surprised that folks had varying reactions to the stereotypes they faced since the common narrative we tend to hear is that people take offense to assumptions."
Fren Mah, the other project lead curator says, "There is a growing push for Truth and Reconciliation - for equity and inclusion and for political correctness, but what does the everyday person really think? Edmonton is a city of immigrants old and new."
"That's why we created this project, and also why we have brought it to malls - places where everyday people go and also in very diverse communities where we ran story circles to inspire the art such as Mill Woods. This project isn't about creating a statement in a gallery - it's about fostering a conversation with our neighbours - whether they are immigrant, Indigenous, or otherwise."
Artwork, which includes those co-created with the community, consists of a short film featuring sock puppet theatre, community collages, paintings, sculpture, and more. Gallery attendants from the Indigenous and immigrant communities will be scheduled onsite to reach out to mall patrons and invite feedback. Art workshops and panel discussions with some of the project's lead artists and storytellers are scheduled for 1:00-3:30 pm on August 25 and September 15 in Millbourne Market Mall and Kingsway Mall respectively.
"We want people to participate with the project," says de Guzman. "We created it to reflect the experiences of cultural minorities. Some of us face stereotypes on a regular basis; they may not be obviously hurtful or noticeable, yet they have impacts."
Imagination Miscellany is a platform for artists of diverse backgrounds and artistic styles to share their work while encouraging collaboration and leadership. Its ten showcases and one project What Have You Heard About Us? have involved over 160 mainly local organizers, artists, DJs, and vendors. What Have You Heard About Us? is funded by Alberta Foundation for the Arts, Edmonton Heritage Council, and City of Edmonton. For more info, visit: imaginationmiscellany.com or facebook.com/ImagiNationMiscellany