Comox Valley Art Gallery celebrates their current MAP: Make / Art / Place fall program with two new artists’ projects that challenge assumptions and call attention to how we construct, inhabit and relate to place and community.  The thematic exhibition program runs from October 1 – November 5 during regular gallery hours.  A dynamic day of public events is planned for Saturday, October 15, beginning at 11 am with an all-ages MAKE ART PROJECT workshop that explores the topic of resilience, facilitated by exhibiting artist Sandra Semchuk. Admission is by donation and art materials are provided.  At 1 pm featured artists Justin Langlois and Sandra Semchuk will give a public artist talk and walk through of their exhibitions, as well as providing opportunities for the public to contribute their responses to aspects of the show.  Following the talk there will be a reception for the artists at 2 pm.

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The MAP fall exhibition program, showcases new works by Justin Langlois and Sandra Semchuk. Using diverse media including photography, video, printed matter, interactive and take-away components, these two socially engaged artists experiment with diverse strategies of cultural mapping and unmapping the ways in which we know ourselves in relation to one another and the world around us.

Justin Langlois’ text-based installation project Affirmations, or Otherwise, comprised of a collection of interactive printed elements, is choreographed in such a way as to instigate curiosity and public involvement. The artist achieves this through his carefully crafted titles such as: Decisions, Decisions – 24 participatory posters, Talking Points for the End of the World – pamphlets for a two-person public performances, Some Difficult Questions – interview booklets for two people, Decision Makers for Disruptive Activities – paper fortune tellers, and Keeping Score (Decision Fatique) – plastic and vinyl window signs. By posing provocative statements and difficult questions, Langlois explains “the intention of this arts-based research project is to capture, amplify and explore decision-making in a public places,” a process that is further layered with the “varied and shifting priorities that complicate our own decision-making.”

Justin Langlois is a Vancouver-based artist, educator, and organizer, currently teaching Social Practice in the faculty of Culture + Community at Emily Carr University of Art and Design. Langlois practice involves collaboration, critical pedagogy, and custodial frameworks as tools for gathering, learning, and making.

Sandra Semchuk’s new project The Stories Were Not Told is comprised of extensive photo-based, video, text and archival documentation of 24 Canadian WW1 internment camps, examining the impact on containment on prisoners and their descendants, of which most were Ukrainian civilians. Semchuk proposes that “the stories we tell ourselves and those that deny our stories within culture–all shape identity.” With a strong interest in dialogue as the basis for recognition and identity formation, Semchuk is currently completing a book, The Stories Were Not Told: Stories and Photographs from Canada’s First Internment Camps, 1914-1920. Her exhibition at CVAG has emerged out of the publication research and bears witness to the transformative power in making visible and sharing personal narratives through the intersection of memory and place. Semchuk states that she has intentionally juxtaposed contemporary art with the historical, as a means of engaging community to make their own connections between memory and place – “to assert the possibility that stories can emerge to reshape identities even after a century of willful forgetting on the part of the nation and the near silence of those incarcerated and forced to labour.”

Sandra Semchuk is a second generation Canadian Ukrainian and Polish artist from Meadow Lake, Saskatchewan. She is a storyteller, photographer and video artist who works collaboratively using the familial, autobiography, and dialogue across generations, cultures and species.

On display in CVAG’s community space is a growing collection of documentation from the MAP summer and fall program entitled Witness, Document, Collect, featuring artists, community projects, educators and researchers focused on cultural mapping projects. The most recent installment includes documentation by photographer Alun Macanulty following the work of Komoks First Nation artists Karver Everson and Randy Frank as they create the second set of Totem Poles, as part large scale first nations reclamation project.

The gallery is open Tuesday to Saturday from 10 am to 5 pm throughout the run of the MAP fall program. Admission to the gallery and the MAKE ART PROJECT workshops is by donation.  The next MAKE ART PROJECT workshop theme is Imprinted Relationships, facilitated by artists Amelia Epp and Bronwen Payerle, scheduled for Saturday, October 29th from 11 am to 3 pm.  For more information, call the gallery at 250-338-9770 or for details about CVAG exhibitions and events visit comoxvalleyartgallery.com

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