If you’re visiting Vancouver this winter and would like to take in some culture during your stay, there are a wide number of exhibitions taking place.
Set against a scenic mountainous backdrop, the bustling and hugely multicultural seaport on Canada’s west coast has a thriving cultural scene spanning art, theatre and music – evidenced by the huge number of museum exhibitions held here throughout the year. Wintertime is no exception, and this year’s roster of exhibitions is looking busier than ever. Here are 12 of the best winter exhibitions to look out for across the city.
Marie Khouri – I Love
Vancouver-based artist Marie Khouri fled Beirut with her family in the 1970s during the Lebanese Civil War. The artist’s reverence for Arabic informs her interest in utilising language to explore new connections in art. In this exhibition, Khouri’s close integration of form and function follows the human body to produce sculptural furniture that cradles visitors as they recline. Each piece is formed through an extensive hands-on process that begins with clay moulded by Khouri that is then scaled up and remade with expanded polystyrene. The works then undergo vigorous carving and sanding, and as the flowing forms take shape, so do the Arabic letters and message of the artist: I Love.
Vancouver Art Gallery / Through 8 January 2023
All We Want Is More: The Tobias Wong project
In the early 2000s, Tobias Wong took the design world by storm. Born and raised in Vancouver, Wong was a brilliant and prolific artist whose career was all too short. Defying easy categorisation, his work was wide-ranging, pushing and dissolving disciplinary boundaries between conceptual art, performance and product design. This exhibition is an invitation to revisit Wong’s artistic contribution with fresh eyes, with recent social, environmental and technological events having transformed the way we see the world and inevitably the way we see Wong’s work.
Museum of Vancouver / Through July 2023
Keeping the Song Alive
For Kwakwaka’wakw peoples, songs are an essential part of cultural knowledge and ceremonial life, part of the rights and privileges of Chiefs that strengthen identity and lineage. The Big House is a place of belonging where songs, language, drumming, and dancing come together, and where the next generation is continuing these traditions in a good way. In 1947, hereditary Chiefs Billy Assu and Mungo Martin began to collaborate with ethnomusicologist Dr. Ida Halpern to record the ceremonial music of the Pesa (potlatch). Today, the results of their collaboration continue to resonate and inspire contemporary Kwakw a k a ’wakw artists and community members.
Bill Reid Gallery of Northwest Coast Art / Through 19 March 2023
Tanya Lukin Linklater: My mind is with the weather
Encompassing performance, video, installation, and writing, indigenous artist-choreographer Tanya Lukin Linklater traces the expansive ways Indigenous knowledge, histories and structures have been embodied and sustained amid colonialism’s systemic dispossessions. This video and live performance exhibition extends from her close engagement with a collection of Alutiiq/Sugpiaq and Unagan belongings originating from her homelands in southern Alaska and the Aleutian Chain, following her and a trio of dancers through the process of developing a choreographic score for these displaced belongings that is subsequently performed in the museum’s storage vaults.
Contemporary Art Gallery / Through 8 January 2023
Drift: from the forest to the sea
This exhibition by artist Bettina Harvey investigates the ecology and physical journey of driftwood. Harvey’s intricate drawings also suggest metaphors of human experience and relationships, finding parallels between the profound passages of our personal lives and the cycles of ecological life. At times, she evokes human anatomy and the resilience that lies at the heart of the ageing process; at others, her pieces emphasise transformation, tracing the imprint of the past upon an individual’s metamorphosis over a lifetime. All her work employs an inquisitive, philosophical approach to questions about time, personality, love, and the natural world.
Beaty Biodiversity Museum / Ongoing
Canada, Here We Are! Celebrating Ukrainians in Canada
Presented by the Royal BC Museum and Archives in partnership with the Ukrainian Canadian Congress and Honorary Consulate of Ukraine in Vancouver, this travelling exhibition celebrates Ukrainian Canadian history, cultures, and arts from community perspectives. Held during a particularly challenging time since Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022, it recognises the impact of Ukrainian Canadians on life in Canada and how their fight against discrimination, advocacy and activism for justice, and wide-ranging contributions have played a key role in shaping Canada.
Royal BC Museum / Through 3 January 2023
Xicanx: Dreamers + Changemakers / Soñadores + creadores del cambio
Featuring works by a group of Mexican American artists who self-identify as ‘Xicanx’, this exhibition encompasses the Xicanx people’s multi-generational experiences of social difference. Working across all mediums, the artists are part of a rich tradition of combining visual art and activism. Some began their work as part of El Movimiento, the Chicano civil rights movement of the 1960s and 70s that had its roots in the US. Others define themselves as Indigenous, drawing upon their origins in Aztlán, the ancestral homeland referenced in Mexican códices and oral histories. The next generation is expanding the idea of Xicanx art while continuing to address the social and political issues of our times.
Museum of Anthropology at UBC / Through 1 January 2023
Rydel Cerezo: Home Sweet Home
Brother Armand Lammineur was a Roman Catholic missionary who travelled from Belgium to the Philippines, photographing extensively from the 1930s until his death in the early 2000s. Many of his photos were taken in the mountainous city of Baguio, where a seminary called “Home Sweet Home” housed Belgian priests on mission. Baguio is also the birthplace of artist Rydel Cerezo, who would later discover Lammineur’s photos of Baguio in Belgium, as he happened to be dating a member of Lammineur’s extended family. This exhibition presents the photos from different vantages: through Lammineur’s camera, in Cerezo’s lens; and from Cerezo’s first-person perspective, questioning the ethics of archive creation, and its capacity to convey the nuances of lived, diasporic experience.
The Polygon Gallery / Through 8 January 2023
Over the past century, gun usage and its portrayal in the media, movies and press has shifted dramatically. This exhibition look at the reasons behind these changes. Specifically, it explores how modern gun culture has been shaped by concerns over national identity, current events, and concepts of individual rights and safety, and compares how the reasons for firearm usage were once vastly different than what they are today. Through a range of exhibits and displays, visitors can delve into the history of guns and gun ownership, and learn how shifting cultural and political movements have affected society’s views on firearms and whether they should or should not be used.
Vancouver Police Museum / Ongoing
Souls Ignited: Empowering the Voices of Our Ancestors
Self-love and the expression of Inuit culture and tattoos are at the heart of this exhibition, featuring 20 intimate portraits of Inuk women and their markings by Inuk photographer Cora DeVos. With the art of tattooing being (in the view of DeVos and others) stolen from Inuit culture through residential schools and colonisation, DeVos advocates that it’s time to celebrate women and their reclaimed skin. Dressed in gold dust, this group of multi-generational mothers, daughters, sisters, and friends are celebration personified. Each woman’s tattoo tells a story of her life and is a symbol of her culture and identity. Testimonies from many of the women are coupled with their photographs, providing visual and written evidence of their resiliency, power, and beauty.
Vancouver Maritime Museum / Through 30 April 2023