Archipelago: Contemporary Art of the Salish Sea
John Macdonald, Pause, 2023, oil on board, mixed media, Canadian version.

Archipelago: Contemporary Art of the Salish Sea

Salt Spring Arts, Salt Spring, BC - MAHON MEMORIAL HALL, Ganges, Salt Spring Island BC (Apr 14 - 30); ARTSPRING, Ganges, Salt Spring Island BC (Apr 21 - May 24); SAN JUAN ISLANDS MUSEUM OF ART, Friday Harbor, San Juan Island WA (Sep 22 - Dec 4)

by Robin Laurence

Archipelago: Contemporary Art of the Salish Sea bills itself as a cross-border project of creativity, connection and cultural exchange. A unique collaboration of Salt Spring Arts, ArtSpring and the San Juan Islands Museum of Art, it also frames itself as a lively dialogue between “twelve artists, six mediums, three exhibitions, two countries, and one sea.” Coming together this spring and fall, Archipelago poses questions about the ways in which a common island environment may shape creative expression. Contrarily, it also muses on the ways in which artists may shape their chosen environment. And what about the international border that separates the Southern Gulf Islands from the San Juan Islands? Does that affect how artists approach their creative practices?

Curated by Richard Steel, Patrick McCallum and Peter Lane, the exhibition spotlights six Southern Gulf Islands artists and six San Juan Islands artists working across a variety of mediums, materials and scale and representing a variety of cultural backgrounds, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous. However, as the name of the show implies, all 12 artists share island locations in the Salish Sea, observes ArtSpring executive and artistic director Howard Jang. Beyond the geographical closeness, he adds, there are shared values, shared histories, shared Indigenous knowledge and beliefs. “The exhibition shines a light on our natural connection and inspiration.”

Archipelago launches on April 14 with a two-week exhibition of the Gulf Islands artists (Temoseng, a.k.a. Chazz Elliott, Anna Gustafson, Jane Kidd, John Macdonald, Sam Montalbetti and Joanna Rogers) at the historic Mahon Hall in Ganges. It continues with the month-long show of the San Juan Islands artists (Danielle Dean, Glenn Hendrick, Joe Miller, RaVae Luckhart, Raven Skyriver and Tom Small) at the ArtSpring performing and visual arts centre, opening April 21. And it culminates in September, when the Canadian artists will exhibit their work at the San Juan Islands Museum of Art.

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