Deborah Koenker: Grapes and Tortillas

July 16 to October 30, 2016

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For this solo exhibition Vancouver-based artist Deborah Koenker focused on the temporary agricultural workers from Mexico hired by the Okanagan Valley’s fruit orchards and vineyards. The show is a tribute to their hard work and their personal sacrifices. As well as photographic portraits of 160 of these men and women, Koenker has added other elements to create an overall installation. The largest of these is a giant curtain made from vineyard netting threaded with coloured ribbons – a visual reference to Mexican shrines. Additionally there is a quasi facsimile of a Mexican kitchen, and a shrine to the Virgin of Guadalupe, the patron saint of Mexico. With all these components Koenker hopes to give viewers some sense of the culture of Mexico.

The exhibition is accompanied by a richly illustrated, full-colour catalogue with texts by Kelowna Art Gallery curator, Liz Wylie, Randy Lee Cutler (an artist and instructor at Emily Carr University of Art and Design in Vancouver), Juan Felipe Herrera, the current US poet laureate, and John Vaillant, award-winning author of the novel The Jaguar’s Children.

Deborah Koenker is a Vancouver-based interdisciplinary artist with interests in writing and curatorial projects. Born in Chicago, she has lived in Los Angeles, London, England, and Mexico. She immigrated to Canada after completing undergraduate work in print media and drawing at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and post graduate work at Central Saint Martins in London, England, returning to California to complete her MFA at Claremont Graduate University. She has lived and worked in Vancouver since 1973. Koenker has an extensive record of exhibitions in Canada, the United States and Mexico.

Opening Reception
Friday, July 15, 7 to 9 pm
This is a free event, open to members and guests by invitation.

Fiesta Mexicana
Thursday, August 18, 7 to 9 pm
Please join us for an evening of celebration as we enjoy the company of Sandy Diaz Hart, activist and co-founder of the El Faro Society (For Agricultural Workers in the Okanagan), along with some of the workers themselves. We look forward to all learning more about life for the temporary agricultural workers in the Okanagan. Authentic cuisine and Mexican music will add to the evening.

This event is free and open to the public. more info

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