The survival of the arts during pandemic times is one of the key themes of an online panel discussion to be presented by the Surrey Art Gallery this weekend, featuring artists participating in the gallery’s current exhibition.
At Home and Elsewhere – Artists’ Conversation About Working In The Pandemic will be streamed on the SAG’s Facebook page and YouTube channel at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 14.
Participating artists Sonny Assu, Heidi McKenzie, Helma Swatzky and Jan Wade will speak not only about the intrinsic themes of the gallery’s 45th anniversary exhibition, Where We Have Been, but also about how the dynamics of the COVID-19 pandemic have shaped their practice, both at home and in public.
Featuring paintings, photographs, sculptures and video installations, Where We Have Been reflects on the connections between place, nature, memory and identity in the South of the Fraser region.
According to a media release, themes of the artists’ work include both historic issues such as diaspora, racism, desire, communication and the role of pop culture.
But they also include challenges of the present; particularly in the difficulty individuals experience in “finding a place to live and thrive and be present with one another.”
Introducing and facilitating the discussion will be SAG assistant curator Rhys Edwards, who pointed out in the release that, due to the pandemic, arts venues themselves are currently facing many of the same challenges.
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) recently estimated that as many as one in three museums will close as a result of the pandemic, he noted.
“Now, more than ever, it is vital to bring artists’ voices to the table,” he said. “At Home and Elsewhere is an opportunity to discuss how art practice has been impacted by our current moment, how it has suffered and thrived, and to comment on the increasingly blurred lines between work environments and domestic spaces.”