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At The Gallery / The Southern Residents by Clare Wilkening

April 5 @ 12:00 pm May 5 @ 5:00 pm PDT

April 05 – May 05, Massy Arts will host a new window installation by ceramic artist Clare Wilkening.

For the window pieces, a wall-hanging ceramic installation with over 180 individual tiles + a video installation, the artist represents each actual fish-eating killer whale local to the Salish Sea, a deeply endangered species heavily impacted by colonization, industrialization, and global warming.

The Massy Arts Gallery is located at 23 East Pender Street in Chinatown, Vancouver.

The gallery is open Tuesday to Saturday, 12pm to 5pm.

Entrance is free, and masks are mandatory.

To contact the gallery, send an email to: info@massyarts.com.

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The Exhibition

This project works to connect myself, my community, and the people of the lower mainland (and beyond) to these whales, so we can learn about and consider who they are as individuals, families, and neighbours. Settler culture has had a relationship with whales based mostly on exploitation for resources, for entertainment, or for military purposes.

But whales have our hearts. I can not tell you the amount of times people come up to me since I started this project to tell me their whale stories, usually accompanied by tears and emotion.

There are many ways that we can turn things around to prevent their extinction, and I think these whales can be a “way in” to that emotional side of the ecological crisis. There is hope here, and there is also moving thru death and loss.

I continually update the tiles with the births and deaths in the population, and plan to do so for the rest of my lifetime. Hopefully it will be an exercise in watching their lives grow and thrive, rather than dwindle and flicker out. Tiles affixed to the wall off of the frame represent individuals who have died since I began the project. There is also a tile for Tokitae, the last captive Southern Resident Killer Whale.

– Concept by Clare Wilkening

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The Artist

I am a ceramic artist, born and raised as a settler on xʷməθkʷəyə̓ m, Sḵwxwú7mesh, ̱and Səlílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh territories. To me, that means that I have a responsibility to support, with my voice, my care, and my labour, the sovereignty and self-determination of these Nations. I see the Land Back movement as the way forward for the future generations of all those human and non-human who live in these territories.

The impulses and ideas for my work begin with a broad love for the natural world. Mainly my interests are focused around ecologies, human and non-human, and the major and subtle linkages therein. I relish the experiences I have had within the felt world of ecology, and I try to bring forth that spirit of creative intuition, play and levity in my working processes.

Much of my artwork parallels and expands upon my BSc in Environmental Science and the information and knowledge I gained during that time. By choosing to engage with ecology as an artist instead of as a scientist, I am able to research the many topics that hold my attention and to generate work that is evocative and responsive. I want to address the social aspects of ecological degradation by offering arts-based ways of portraying whole systems and broad, inclusive thinking that puts ecological health ahead
of industrial extraction.

In my work, I wish to challenge the gesture of sustainability beyond its current cultural logic: a means to maintain resource levels for future extraction at worst, and as a buzzword at best. I would like to shift environmental thinking from the language of sustainability and efficiency towards engagement in reciprocal and regenerative care.

Much of the thinking and practice in this type of epistemology has been done by Indigenous scholars and artists, and I have been fortunate enough to have this decolonial discourse play a heavy role in my education. My positionality as a settler making art within which land and water are actants is an ongoing dialogue within my work.

I have a unique way of looking at the world and seeing solutions that span disciplines and contest binaries. This is part of the reason that ceramics has been perfect for me, because ceramics inherently contains oppositions such as mass/volume, inside/outside, surface/form. I choose to work primarily in ceramics because of the material’s direct connection to the ground, which has inherent power and meaning.

I uncover that by choosing a material that can be a bridge between the topic of my work, the object that is the work, and the substrate of our existence. We are all subjects of the ground, and the ground is subjected to all of us.

– Text by Clare Wilkening

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