RELATIONS: Diaspora and Painting at Esker Foundation


Curtis Talwst Santiago, Jouvet Ancestral Recollection, 2018. Watercolour, aerosol, charcoal, oil pastel on canvas, 18 x 24 inches. Weissman Family Collection.

Esker Foundation Summer/Fall Exhibitions

Esker Foundation is pleased to present the exhibition RELATIONS: Diaspora and Painting curated by Cheryl Sim. The exhibition is organized by the PHI Foundation for Contemporary Art, Montréal, and presented in collaboration with Esker Foundation.

24 July – 27 November, 2021

Larry Achiampong
Hurvin Anderson
Kamrooz Aram
Firelei Báez
Frank Bowling
Cy Gavin
Barkley L. Hendricks
Lubaina Himid
Bharti Kher
Moridja Kitenge Banza
Rick Leong
Manuel Mathieu
Julie Mehretu
Jordan Nassar
Yoko Ono
Maia Cruz Palileo
Rajni Perera
Ed Pien
Jessica Sabogal
Curtis Talwst Santiago
Marigold Santos
Yinka Shonibare CBE
Shanna Strauss
Mickalene Thomas
Salman Toor
Hajra Waheed
Jinny Yu

Curated by Cheryl Sim

Featuring 27 artists living and working across Canada, the US, and the UK, RELATIONS: Diaspora and Painting explores the multiple and complex meanings of the idea of the diaspora, its condition, and its experiences as expressed in painting.

Curator Cheryl Sim notes in the essay A Confluence of Relations that appears in the catalogue that accompanies the exhibition:

“This exhibition presents the work of twenty-seven artists who employ a staggering array of materials and strategies to traverse painting’s incredibly rich terrain of possibilities, and to push the boundaries of what painting is and can be. A concern in researching and selecting artists was to bring together works from a diversity of diaspora experiences, which manifest in a multifarious array of methodological, material, and aesthetic approaches. I also wanted to acknowledge the diaspora experiences across countries that experienced a major influx of people of colour, as the realities of racialization add a significant dimension to the experience of living in and through difference, where questions of kinship are sought and redefined as strategies for survival.”

First presented at the PHI Foundation, Montréal in 2020, we are proud to be able to extend this important exhibition and bring the work of these exceptional artists to Calgary.

RELATIONS: Diaspora and Painting brings together artists who address questions of diaspora from diverse perspectives, methodologies, and aesthetic languages. With its own deep and complex history, painting becomes a particularly provocative lens through which to explore the complications and diversities that are analogous to the richness and wide range of diasporic experiences. The wide spectrum of interpretations and fruitful relationships attached to diaspora experiences knows no bounds, which promotes constant dialogue with notions of kinship and identity in the current context of globalization and mass migration.

All the works on display aim to establish an intergenerational dialogue and to present artists whose work has contributed to pushing the limits of painting. Given the open and discursive nature of the subject, the exhibition does not claim to be exhaustive, but rather seeks to generate ideas and encourage dialogue.

RELATIONS: Diaspora and Painting is organized by the PHI Foundation for Contemporary Art, Montréal, and presented in collaboration with the Esker Foundation.


Molly JF Caldwell
With One Hand Tied Behind My Back

Until 10 October, 2021


Molly JF Caldwell, With One Hand Tied Behind My Back, 2021. Photo by: John Dean.

Molly JF Caldwell’s new site-specific installation, With One Hand Tied Behind My Back, is a love letter to Penelope, a mythical figure from Homer’s Odyssey. Piously waiting for her husband, presumed dead, to return following the Trojan War, Penelope repeatedly wove, unraveled, and rewove a tapestry — ostensibly a funereal shroud for her father-in-law — to avoid her scores of suitors. Through her own textile-based practice, Caldwell considers multiple readings of Penelope’s labour. Can Penelope’s weaving be imagined as an utterance of autonomy and power, removed from the bounds of patriarchal systems and networks? Or is it a visual manifestation of her subservience? Caldwell offers no easy answers, revelling instead in ambiguity and openness.

Discover more.

Artist Talk | Molly JF Caldwell: 5 August, 6:30pm, online


About the PHI Foundation
Established in 2007 by Phoebe Greenberg, the PHI Foundation for Contemporary Art is a non-profit organization dedicated to bringing impactful contemporary art experiences to the public. Its programming is international in scope, responsive to the local context, and free of charge to reinforce PHI’s commitment to accessibility and inclusion. The Foundation is driven by a desire to foster connection through art and deliver programming that sparks critical thinking and joy. In this way, the Foundation is a gathering place, committed to nurturing convivial exchanges that celebrate art as part of our everyday lives. Find out more at: or follow @fondationphi.


About Esker Foundation
Esker Foundation is a privately funded contemporary art gallery located in Calgary, Canada. The gallery connects the public to contemporary art through relevant, accessible, and educational exhibitions, programs, and publications. Esker Foundation reflects on current developments in local, regional, and international culture; creates opportunities for public dialogue; and supports the production of ground-breaking new work, ideas, and research. Founded in 2012 by Jim and Susan Hill, Esker Foundation is a new model for institutional relevance, curatorial focus, and audience engagement. Find out more at or follow us at @EskerFoundation.

Esker Foundation presents an extensive range of free online programs for all ages. Developed in response to our exhibitions they are designed to increase accessibility and to encourage participation in contemporary art.

Jill Henderson, Marketing and Communications
Tel: 1 403 930 2499

Esker Foundation
4th Floor, 1011 9th Avenue SE
Calgary, Alberta, T2G 0H7
Tel: 1 403 930 2490
FB/In/Tw: @EskerFoundation

Admission to the Gallery: Free
Accessibility: Barrier-free

Hours: Wednesday to Saturday, 11-6pm
Admission: FREE