2021 Winter Programming at the Art Gallery of Burlington

Tracing family histories through adornment, action, autoethnographic production, and ancestral knowledge.

The Art Gallery of Burlington’s (AGB) winter exhibitions launch January 15, 2021

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Monira Al Qadiri, Diver, 2018, Video installation. Courtesy of the artist

This season marks the first Canadian exhibition of Kuwaiti artist Monira Al Qadiri. From January 22 – April 25, 2021 AGB presents Al Qadiri’s Diver, an immersive video installation which is part of her ongoing search for historical ties between the pre- and post-oil worlds in the Gulf.

For hundreds of years, the economy of the coastal region was based on decorative pearls. After the discovery of oil in the twentieth century, a massive transformation took place in the affected societies and this part of history was erased, relegated to popular fiction. The video proposes to bridge that gap through the formal abstraction of colour; it follows the movements of synchronized swimmers wearing dichroic body suits akin to the sheen of both pearls and oil, fully choreographed to a traditional pearl-diving song.

The work directly ties the industrial history of the region to her family’s story of survival, as Al Qadiri’s grandfather worked as a singer on a pearling boat. Diver questions the popular romanticization of the pearling industry’s past, which sanitizing the poverty, labour, and hardship experienced on the boats. The use of these bodies as ornamentation manifests the placement of these histories in contemporary society – as embellishment and décor – but at the same time reflects the artist’s absolute effort to sincerely articulate them as a solid component of regional identity through exhausting physical action.

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Meera Sethi, Govind, 2017, Acrylic Painting. Courtesy of the artist.

Curated by Hitoko Okada, In Visible runs in the Perry Gallery from January 15 – April 3, 2021. The exhibition pairs the work of Toronto-based artists, Marina Dempster and Meera Sethi to honour and celebrate connections between personal healing and political transformation through self-fashioning. Donning an article imbued with powerful energy or styling an expression of who we are, can be ways of connecting to our personal and collective histories, signals of reclamation, and acts of social resistance. In these ways, objects that we wear can have powerful transformative qualities within ourselves, what we may believe about belonging, and act as visual interruptions to dominant culture in public spaces.

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Larry Weyand, Five Babybels, 2019, Briggs & Little yarn, burlap, thread. Photo courtesy of the artist.

Peeling the Sticker Off an Overripe Pear, opens in the Lakeshore Gallery on February 5, 2021 and runs until May 16, 2021. St. John’s-based artist Larry Weyand explores family and memory through yarn and cloth, transforming moments in time into a series of two- and three-dimensional rugs. Bright, colorful, and humorous mats softly and safely start conversations about mental health, intergenerational dysphoria, trauma and the act of making as a coping mechanism, and occupy the space where narrative, psychological resilience, mat-making and food intersect. Curated by Tara Bursey, the exhibition is the basis of a rug hooking workshop series, part of the new AGB Digital program, presented in partnership with Reach Out Centre for Youth (ROCK) and the Positive Space Network (PSN). Work from the sessions will be mounted in the exhibition during April and May.

AGB continues to engage public programming with hybrid experiences that unite in-person activities with at-home participation.

On Saturday February 6, 1 – 2pm (EDT), Monira Al Qadiri and curator Amin Alsaden discuss Al Qadiri’s 2018 video Diver and their common interests in the global impact of extractive capitalism, from rapid modernization and armed conflict, to the engagement with and representations of oil-producing countries in the Arab world. The talk underlines the manner in which her artistic practice reveals complex intersections between our insatiable dependence on fossil fuels, the destruction of the environment and traditional ways of life, and the formation of modern individual and community identities.

Marina Dempster hosts an online introductory workshop Radical Rug-Hooking on February 24, 6-7PM. Using the traditional craft of rug hooking, Marina will guide us in a practice of radical presence, acceptance, enjoyment, and self-compassion. Meera Sethi leads a group discussion and show & tell of Material Histories on March 12, 6 – 7 pm. Through collective storytelling we will explore South Asian textile crafts as it relates to cultural and political histories within their regional contexts. Participants will bring one South Asian textile or article to the workshop for sharing.

A virtual Photo-Based Rug Hooking course with Larry Weyand focuses on digital patterning and photo-based design strategies. Over six weeks, participants will learn to create bold and original layouts for their mats, learning simple yet effective photo-transfer technologies, basic Photoshop knowledge, transfer techniques. and the exploration of alternative materials. Classes are held Mondays from January 18 – March 5 from 7:00 – 8:30 pm.

Registration is required for all programming, visit www.agb.life to reserve your spot.

AGB’s winter exhibitions have been supported by the Ontario Arts Council and the Canada Council for the Arts. AGB Digital is supported by the Government of Canada’s Emergency Community Support Fund and Burlington Foundation.

Colleagues in the media are invited to connect with:
Laura Buisman, Marketing Coordinator, via email at laura@agb.life

Exhibitions are distance-friendly and guided tours are available upon request.


The AGB is proud to acknowledge that the land where it is located is part of the ancient Dish With One Spoon Treaty and also the Brant Tract Purchase, Treaty No. 3 3/4 of 1795, and it is grateful to the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation and the Six Nations of the Grand River for sharing this territory. The Art Gallery of Burlington is located at 1333 Lakeshore Road, Burlington, Ontario.

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