Nanaimo artist Adrienne Bouchard Langlois sets up her installation piece One Earth, part of the Works of HeArt exhibition which runs at the Nanaimo Arts Council until Jan. 6. (Josef Jacobson/The News Bulletin)

Socially conscious Works of HeArt exhibition comes to Nanaimo Arts Council

Exhibit features the work of 17 artists, mostly from the mid-Island area

Micki Findlay said she’s seen a rise in racism, misogyny and bigotry over the last couple years and she’s turning to art to do something about it.

“I thought, ‘Well, I’m a creative being. That’s something that I have in my wheelhouse,'” she said. “So I thought, ‘Well, if I could find a way to inspire people to use whatever creative talents they have to do something positive and to promote equality and to celebrate diversity, then that to me just made sense.'”

To further her goal, The Errington-based photographer recruited 17 other artists, mostly from the mid-Island area, to submit work that reflects their visions of challenging racism and promoting inclusion.

Those pieces, which range from paintings, fibre art, charcoal, multimedia, photos, installations and film, have been compiled as the exhibition Works of HeArt, which opens at the Nanaimo Arts Council gallery on Friday, Dec. 7 and continues until Jan. 6.

Qualicum Beach painter Norma Emerson has taught art and done humanitarian work in Africa and Central and South America. She is contributing What Does the Future Hold, a painting of three children she met while working in Nicaragua 25 years ago.

“When I came back to Canada I was sitting in church saying the Lord’s Prayer, ‘Give us this day our daily bread,’ and I thought of our brothers and sisters who don’t always have daily bread and I just burst into tears,” Emerson said. “And so it was a real cultural shock returning to Canada and I thought, ‘Well, how am I going to get past this?’ And I thought, ‘I’ll paint the children and tell their story.'”

Spanning one of the NAC’s walls is One Earth, an installation by Nanaimo artist Adrienne Bouchard Langlois. The piece resembles a tree, its branches adorned with prayer flags and 200 heart-shaped photographs of humanity and animal life.

“It just shows the diversity on the Earth and how everyone from all nations share the same emotions and are worthy of love and consideration,” Bouchard Langlois said. “And my images, the reason I cut them into heart shapes is because the heart is a universally recognized symbol of love and they’re fragile because they’re made of paper, they’re ephemeral, and they reflect, I feel, the vulnerability of the living heart and at the same time, of the Earth.”

The exhibition will also feature an open wall where members of the public will be able to create their own work of HeArt.

“It’ll be a very interactive show, which makes it extra special because not only are the artists there promoting inclusion, but we’re also reaching out to the community and saying, ‘We want you to be part of our show as well,'” Findlay said.

WHAT’S ON … Works of HeArt opening reception at the Nanaimo Arts Council, 78 Wharf St., on Friday, Dec. 7 from 6 to 8 p.m. Show continues until Jan. 6.


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