Silverton artist Tsuneko Kokubo (center) stands in front of one of her paintings featured at the Kootenay Gallery of Art. Gallery executive director Val Field (left) and gallery curator Maggie Shirley (right) were also on hand at the opening of two new exhibits Friday night.

New Kootenay Gallery of Art exhibitions explore migration

Plant Memory and High Muck a Muck: Playing Chinese opened this week at the Kootenay Gallery of Art in Castlegar.

“I hope the paintings will speak to you — so I don’t have to speak,” was how Silverton artist Tsuneko Kokubo introduced her exhibit Plant Memory at the Kootenay Gallery of Art Friday night. The exhibit is one of two new exhibits at the gallery reflecting on Asian migration and settlement in Canada.

Eighty-year-old Kokubo was luminous in a kimono that was as old as herself, and humorous in the way she shared some of the stories behind her paintings. Interwoven within the vibrant greens of her plant-focused paintings are faces of people from Kokubo’s life or people who have impacted the vegetation of the area including her mother — who Kokubo affectionately referred to as her empress, and descendants of the man responsible for introducing dandelions to the area.

Kokubo has an understanding of the ups and downs of the immigrant experience, her family spent time in the internment camps of the Slocan Valley.

“They have similarities and differences — they are both about migration stories,” said gallery curator Maggie Shirley when introducing the two exhibits. “Even though China and Japan are very different countries with different different cultures, there is overlap in the experiences of the people who came to Canada. Experiences of racism and resettlement and their fight for acceptance and justice in Canadian society.”

Plant Memory represents the Japanese side of that equation, and High Muck a Muck: Playing Chinese, represents the Chinese side. The second exhibit was created by a collective of artists led by Nicola Harwood. It is harder to describe, as the project is not really something that can be contained within a gallery.

The group of artists — Fred Wah, Jin Zhang, Thomas Loh, Bessie Wapp, Nicola Harwood, Tomoyo Ihaya Phillip Djwa, Hiromoto Ida and Patrice Leung — originally came together to explore the idea of putting together a project inspired by Nelson’s China town.

What resulted was an interactive media installation which is just a shadowing of the many-faceted website that became the culmination of the project. Highmuckamuck.ca in an interactive journey featuring visual art, poetry, oral histories, original music compositions and short videos exploring the theme of Chinese immigration to British Columbia in both historical and contemporary terms.

“While these are stories of the past, they are also stories of the present,” concluded Shirley. “Kokubo’s analogy of plants is so appropriate. When you think of the language — native species and invasive species — that is a good analogy about how at times we have talked about certain immigrants to our country. Some plants … are invasive species, but there are a lot of plants that immigrants have brought that are symbiotic to the ecosystem. If we applied that to people as well — that is a really important lesson.”

Both exhibits will remain open until April 15.

Just Posted

VIDEO: Dramatic video shows return of rescued snowboarders

Two snowboarders were rescued near Rossland, B.C. on Sunday after being lost overnight.

Dryer incident at Teck Elkview Operations

Locals report hearing loud bang

Remembering legendary ski builder Fred Bosinger

On Dec. 12 Western Canada lost a man who made a mark in its skiing community.

UPDATED: Body found in burnt-out car

Police report a body was found in the burnt out trunk of a 1999 Honda Civic

New Glade ferry enters testing phase

The Glade II will be able to carry heavier loads and will emit less greenhouse gases.

REPLAY: B.C. this week in video

In case you missed it, here’s a look at replay-worthy highlights from across the province this week

Lawyers slam ‘de facto expulsion’ of student guilty of sexual interference

Calgary student guilty of sexual assault of a minor allowed to finish semester

B.C. NDP set to restructure union bargaining

School trustees to regain control over employer group

A new development surrounding plane that went missing around Revelstoke in November

The family of Ashley Bourgeault believe they have found a new clue

$130K could get you on a dive to the Titanic

Hot summer ticket: $130K could get you on a dive to the Titanic off Newfoundland

UK’s Princess Eugenie, daughter of Prince Andrew, engaged

Princess Eugenie, the daughter of Prince Andrew and his ex-wife Sarah Ferguson, will marry Jack Brooksbank in Autumn 2018

German nurse charged with 97 more murders

Niels Hoegel, serving a life sentence for two murders, has been indicted in nearly 100 more killings.

Two men guilty in murders of Alberta family could face 75 years

The pair were found guilty of first-degree murder in the shooting deaths of Klaus’s parents and sister in a rural home near Castor, Alberta

With Senate talks falling short, U.S. shutdown enters workweek

President Donald Trump accused Democrats of prioritizing services and security for noncitizens over U.S. citizens

Most Read