Art exhibitions have often been seen as inaccessible happenings of high culture that can potentially alienate some communities. However, the Esker Foundation’s current exhibition is trying to change that narrative.
RELATIONS: Diaspora and Painting is a group exhibition currently being showcased at the Esker Foundation in Calgary.
Diaspora is a term used to describe the scattering of various communities and people away from their established or ancestral homelands. The exhibition features 27 artists all from varying cultural backgrounds and focuses on their explorations of the diasporic experience.
Cheryl Sim, managing director of the PHI Foundation in Montreal, writes in A Confluence of Relations, that this exhibition is not meant to be exhaustive, but instead is meant to “open up ideas and encourage dialogue.”
Jill Henderson, marketing and communications lead at the Esker Foundation, explains that Sim worked on the curation of this show for 15 years to ensure a range of voices.
“It’s a real pleasure to have 27 artists represented here. There are some artists who are later in their careers, some in the middle and others that are just beginning,” says Henderson.
“Having that mixture is really incredible for the artists themselves, but also for the viewer.”
From renowned artists like Yoko Ono, to up-and-coming Calgary-based artists such as Marigold Santos, Sim set out to showcase the exploration of diaspora through time and personal experiences.
Accentuating Sim’s passion for this project, there is an interactive learning portion for visitors. Guests can scan a QR code on the museum label next to each piece and listen to the curator discuss the artists, their backgrounds and the work’s meaning.
Diane Fung, gallery visitor and artist by trade, says, “I feel like the audio recordings have also added a new layer to our experience.”
Fung explains that this exhibition is unlike the often exclusive and intimidating feel of art galleries.
“Art doesn’t have to be stuffy or in a museum. It doesn’t have to be elitist, it can be very affordable and accessible for anyone.”
With accessibility at the forefront of the Esker Foundation’s purpose, admission is always free and iPads are available for borrowing at the front desk to explore the exhibition’s QR codes.
RELATIONS: Diaspora and Painting is ongoing at the Esker Foundation until Nov. 27.