Reconciliation through Art Begins

(CHVN) Starting January 26 at 7:30 p.m., the Mennonite Heritage Centre Gallery welcomes you to visit the Reconciliation through the Arts exhibition in the main gallery.

From January 26 to March 10, the Reconciliation through the Arts exhibition will be open to visit Monday – Friday 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and Saturdays from 12:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m..

Organizers Marlene Gallagher and Clairissa Kelly showcase their own art pieces along with pieces from over 20 other artists into this gallery to give opportunity to the public in exploring themes such as traditional life, treaty making, residential schools, protection of mother earth, returning to culture and spirit, 60’s scoop, child welfare, incarceration, and the intergenerational effects from colonialism. Students, adults, and young ones alike incorporated their art into this exhibition and made this an especially personal experience for many. Organizers hope that people come in with open hearts and minds, as well as listen to and engage with the art.

The organizers are instructors and workers in the Peguis post-secondary transition program, and attended a gallery exhibition in spring 2016. Upon visiting the gallery, they both were inspired to hold their own exhibition and contacted Ray.

Ray Dirks, the curator of the MHC gallery says,”this gallery is a place where different communities can get to know eachother. I am thrilled with this, and I’m dubly thrilled with these two women putting it together. I’m honoured and privileged to call them my friends.”

Clairissa Kelly hopes that “people will be inspired to listen to Indigenous stories and voices, that it will prompt dialogue between Indigenous peoples and settler communities.”

Kelly says, “it also gives voice and opportunity that might not have the means or resources to showcase their art. It’s a unique place to be at CMU… I don’t know if we would have had this opportunity otherwise. Each person will find a way to relate to the art in a shape or form. Using the arts to talk about difficult subjects open doors. It’s a safe place. All the things and skills that make us who we are is about reconciliation and celebrating who we are.”

Marlene Gallagher attended a residential school and feels that this exhibit will bring knowledge and awareness of what she and others experienced in that piece of history. “It’s important for people to see this and make that connection.”

She thinks there is hope for healing for people who experienced residential schools, both for those that attended and the younger generations following. “I have had some healing through organizing this exhibition. With this exhibition it will help work towards healing and help people realize that they’re not alone. We are a community and we can all support each other that way.”

Peter Malanowixz-Friesen is a part time student and an employee at CMU. He’s showcased some of his own pieces as well. “About a year ago I introduced myself to Clairissa and wanted to be more involved with things in campus. I was very glad to be a part of this. I have discovered that I enjoy wood burning tools, so I entered some pieces. I worked on a cutting board that represents the sun dance I went to in Spruce Woods in 2017. Anyone who has been to a sun dance knows its difficult to find words to experiencing one. I put hours and hours into my piece trying to express what I experienced.”

Workshops were initially held before the exhibition to provide artpieces for it, however friendships were formed as well and skills were shared among the participants.

Teachers and leaders are encouraged to contact the gallery should they like to schedule a showing for their students or group to visit the gallery. (Source: CHVN Radio 95.1FM)