The Reach Presents Two Highly Touted Exhibitions

The Reach ignites the arts in 2015 with Maya Textiles and Decolonize Me

Submitted. The Reach Gallery Museum Abbotsford starts its arts year on January 22nd with two highly touted exhibitions: Ancestry and Artistry: Maya Textiles from Guatemala and Decolonize Me.

Pictured at right: Huipil, San Mateo Ixtatán, late 20th century, Chuj Maya
From the Collection of Donna E. Stewart, MD
Textile Museum of Canada T2012.23.176
Photo by Maciek Linowski

The Maya Textiles exhibition, organized and circulated by the Textile Museum of Canada, integrates the work of contemporary artists Andrea Aragón, Verónica Riedel, and photo-journalist Jean-Marie Simon. Explains Kate Bradford, curatorial assistant at The Reach: “We know that cloth is of great importance to Guatemala’s indigenous communities. Their traditional dress plays an essential role in Maya identity today; it serves as a vital link with their ancestral past and a means of cultural reinvention.”

Whether worn for religious ceremonies or as an emblem of ethnic pride, textiles offer a medium for innovation and creative expression, as well as a marketable product for the tourist industry. Through an array of textiles patterned with evocative designs rich in iconography, Ancestry and Artistry traces a century of dynamic change. It also reflects the remarkable continuity of ancient Maya traditions in the face of significant modernization, political upheaval, and religious transformation. This richly layered exhibition is made possible through the generous sponsorship of Keystone Architecture and Planning Ltd. and Hallmark of Abbotsford Corp.

Decolonize Me features six contemporary Aboriginal artists whose works challenge, interrogate and reveal Canada’s long history of colonization in daring and innovative ways: Sonny Assu, Laich-kwil-tach, Kwakwaka’wakw, Vancouver; Jordan Bennett, Mi’kmaq, Stephenville Crossing, Newfoundland; Heather Igloliorte, Inuit, Nunatsiavut, Labrador; Cheryl L’Hirondelle, Métis / Cree, Toronto; Nigit’stil Norbert, Gwich’in, Yellowknife; Barry Pottle, Inuit, Nunatsiavut, Labrador and Bear Witness, Cayuga, Ottawa.

Deliberately riffing on the title of Morgan Spurlock’s film, the pop-cultural phenomenon Super Size Me (2004), the exhibition’s title emphasizes the importance of recognizing the role of the individual within larger discussions of shared colonial histories and present-day cultural politics. In context of the recent efforts of many Indigenous communities to assert their sovereignty and right to self-determination, the artists in this exhibition explore the issues and outcomes of both colonization and decolonization. Simultaneously, they expose how these processes have impacted Aboriginal and settler Canadian identity, both individual and collective. This riveting exhibition showing at The Reach until mid-May is organized by the Ottawa Art Gallery.

There is a third exhibition at The Reach: 100 Years of Loss: The Residential School System in Canada. It explores Aboriginal children in Canada who were taken from their homes and communities and placed in institutions called residential schools, beginning in the mid-1800s and continuing into the mid-1990s. These schools were run by religious orders in collaboration with the federal government and were attended by children as young as four or five years of age. Separated from their families, prohibited from speaking their native languages and practicing their culture, the vast majority of the over 150,000 children experienced neglect and suffering. The impacts of sexual, mental, and physical abuse, shame, and deprivation endured at Indian Residential Schools continue to affect generations of survivors, their families, and communities today. Remarkably, in the face of this tremendous adversity, many survivors and their descendants have retained their language and their culture and continue to work toward healing and reconciliation. 100 Years of Loss is one of three exhibitions developed by the Legacy of Hope Foundation, a national, charitable Aboriginal organization whose purpose is to educate and create awareness and understanding about the legacy of residential schools, and continue to support the ongoing healing process of Residential School survivors.

The official Exhibitions Opening Reception on January 22, 2015 at 7pm, will also be a great opportunity to meet the new curator of The Reach Gallery Museum Abbotsford, Laura Schneider, who joins The Reach team all the way from Cape Breton University Art Gallery in Nova Scotia.

The Reach will also host a number of engaging and creative public programs that connect to these winter exhibitions, check at:

About The Reach
The Reach is a registered charity and “Class A” facility in the Fraser Valley that is operated by a small staff team with the assistance of a Board of Directors and 100+ fabulous volunteers. With your support, we will continue to showcase the best in the visual arts by local to international artists, preserve and share the stories of our rich and diverse cultural heritage and provide engaging multidisciplinary programming for all ages. We proudly offer FREE admission to exhibitions and a wide variety of cultural initiatives.

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