Art + Design Exhibition: Grapes, Sunflowers & Tortillas
Grapes, Sunflowers & Tortillas
Guest Exhibition by Deborah Koenker & Monica Gutierrez
This exhibition by Deborah Koenker and Monica Gutierrez focuses on migrant workers, celebrating their hard work, their contribution to the Canadian economy, and their dedication to their families–from whom they are separated for long periods, and related themes of food, food production, and the mega-agrictultural economy. Over a two-year period Koenker visited Okanagan communities to meet Mexican temporary agricultural workers. These men and women, in British Columbia under the Season Agricultural Workers Program (SAWP), provide low-cost work in the area's greenhouses, farms, vineyards, and orchards for up to eight months every year.
Koenker's intention is to put names and faces to a workforce that is typically isolated from the communities in which they work, largely due to the SAWP requirement that worker housing be located right on the farms, but as well by language and racial barriers, lack of opportunities for socializing, and the difficulty of accessing transportation to town.
The artist asked workers whom she met to write with markers on actual tortillas–a staple of the Mexican diet–their name, place of origin, seasons of work in Canada–and optionally a wish or thought to share with Canadians. Koenker then photographed the participants.
Monica Gutierrez is a Toronto-based, Colombian director and visual artist. Her work explores stories between people, the arts, social justice and the environment through documentary and experimental videos. Most recently she directed The Sunflower Man (2017), which premiered at the Mayworks festival in Tortonto. This short documentary follows Juan Luis Mendoza, a Mexican migrant worker with 25 years of experience coming to Canada, and Herkya Miranda, a dancer who uses movement for healing.
Opening reception and artist talk: September 20, 7pm
The SAMC Gallery exhibition program is an initiative of the Art + Design department, curated by Edith Krause.