By UBCO Master of Fine Arts student Michaela Bridgemohan
Rooted sentiments seek our individual memories as a point of origin. In Sisters of the Yam: black women and self-recovery (1993), bell hooks assert that “knowledge of who we are and where we come from…is an act of political resistance.” In this exhibition, four Okanagan artists explore identity and place through rooted self-determination and testimony. As we continue to endure the pandemic, social calamities and multiple emergencies, how can Black, Indigenous and artists of colour define presence in the Okanagan through personal creative power? Is there comfort within this sentimentality?
We notice these artistic gestures of the ‘self’ located within land and space. Some pieces explore this diasporic experience through film and sculpture. Maura Tamez examines how to be at home when such a place is rooted in a physical relationship with Land, while Moozhan Ahmadzadegan’s suspended textile piece Where Are You Really From? evokes a floating place of cultural in-betweenness. With Promises in Vacationland, Shimshon Obadia interrogates the ways our Okanagan home, as a tourist destination, is crafted and presented for outsiders, and the intersections of gender and sexuality in such a performance of place. Cassandra Adjetey’s intimate portraits speak to the idea of home as a site in the imagination—making home is an act of creation, revealed through the material production of familiar faces.
All exploring these intimate details as intersections of diasporic belonging, Stuart Hall’s essay on Cultural Identity and Diaspora, reminds us that “diaspora identities are those which are constantly producing and reproducing themselves anew, through transformation and difference” (235). So, within each artwork’s intimate detail, creative power begins at hybridity and testimony. Cultivation and Language. Land and Body. Spectatorship and the Gaze. Each work looks back at you and then away.
Rooted Sentiments is a self-reflexive exhibition; that is, is a contemplation. I invite you to consider the ways we make home for ourselves–the sentimentalities of understanding how the home fits within the land where we currently reside–and the ways we invite or exclude others from doing the same.