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Emerging artists share their stories through exhibit at Kelowna Art Gallery

A striking exhibit at the Kelowna Art Gallery, Storytellers II, puts three UBC Okanagan students in the spotlight.

“I would describe these works as a retrospective of my degree,” said Maura Tamez, artist. “There’s work from my first year, my second year and this year, which is my fourth.”

On the walls of the gallery are Tammez’s self-portraits, wire sculptures and pieces of her culture. Tamez is an enrolled member of the Lipan Apache Band of Texas and currently lives in the Okanagan.

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“The work that is made out of corn husk I was making our traditional regalia out of it,” said Tamez. “The dress you see is one of the dresses we wear during our ceremonies so I wanted to acknowledge that and bend the borders between wearable art and regalia.”

Her pieces in the exhibit have a focus on corn husk and cattails.

“A lot of them are made out of cattails, hadntn in my language. Hadntn is a medicine we use it in our ceremonies and really I have been learning about it as a sculptural material and I have been learning about its medicinal qualities,” said Tamez.

Among the art pieces is a stop motion video titled Pesowan, with a poem overlaid. The piece is a collaboration with Tammez and Ashleigh Giffen.

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The poem of the Pesowan which means it’s short or near distance away focuses on Indigenous remembering and science and technology,” said Giffen, artist.

“It’s a bit of a romantic poem; romantic in the sense talking to the Indigenous people of the diaspora but then I included a lot of language around technology and video games because I wanted to centre Indigenous poetry around technology because I feel like by placing us in technology its refusing extinction.”

Another artist being featured strives to capture the inner emotions through a camera lens.

“A lot of the things in my work are things I am personally exploring in myself like vulnerability and intimacy and celebration of authenticity,” said Hagar Wirba, artist.

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“Being able to capture that with other people enables me to be able to enjoy that about myself.”

The exhibit is the result of a collaboration between the Kelowna Art Gallery, UBC Okanagan and The Arts Council of Central Okanagan.

“I think it’s critical for someone like the Arts Council to take a strong role in guiding exhibition spaces and creating opportunities for a young woman and emerging artists in general,” said Kirsteen McCulloch, Executive Director Arts Council of Okanagan.

Storytellers II will be on display at the Kelowna Art Gallery until April 11.

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