Drawing on the collective power of six local IBPOC artists, These seeds are already bearing fruit does not shy away from the personal which is innately political. Whether looking at Black joy, the refugee experience, ethics and migration, or resisting the violence of carceral systems and resource extraction, the artworks, these seeds, are also like diamonds. They help us cut through the lies of the imperialist white supremacist capitalist patriarchy (<3 bell hooks) while holding great love and tenderness for community and justice.
This 2022-23 project was gratefully funded by Canada Council for the Arts via the Future Arts Network Society, with special thanks to Kristin Cheung. The project exhibition was launched in Fall 2023.
The project concept was born in 2022 out of a desire to highlight the vital role that artists and protest art have in world-making and our collective liberation amidst multiple, cascading catastrophes, including the mass disabling and death event that is COVID-19. These invited artists harness hope and tenderness through shining a light on the topics they care most about.
The project title is derived from a line in the late Bud Osborn’s 1997 poem, “a thousand crosses in oppenheimer park.” Osborn’s writing addresses the crisis of overdose deaths in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside and the hope that is embodied within a community to care and enact change, in the face of great despair and loss.
That feeling of harnessing hope amidst great pain has been especially heightened decades after Osborn's work, with the persistence of the unregulated toxic drug supply crisis in the Downtown Eastside where our Chinatown studio is located.
Furthermore, we also recognize the ongoing issue of Palestine's survival amidst a genocide against its people, which rose in global consciousness around the same time as the launch of this project. Like the artists in These seeds, we stand in solidarity and love with all those speaking out, organizing, and dreaming for the tomorrow we all deserve.
Just before July 8, 2022, the first anniversary of the heinous murder of Jared “Jay” Lowndes (Wet’suwet’en, Laksilyu Clan), friends, supporters and family members began their journey to the place where RCMKKKops created an unnecessary situation in a Tim Horton’s parking lot, opening fire on Jared and he took his last breaths.
The family members carried almost 100 black roses memorializing the names of Indigenous People shot and killed by law enforcement across kkkanada. On their way, a family member wished for a sign that everything would be okay and people could come and go without being shot by the RCM cops. They were, after all, once again travelling the last highway that Jared had driven.
During their drive, they rounded a corner and crested a hill. Below the tree line, right above the highway, an eagle appeared. In its talons it clutched a snake for all to see. This was the sign that ‘everyone would be okay.’ The eagle represented love and wisdom, the snake represented the killers on July 8, 2021. The eagle carried away the snake, and we can only imagine the snake’s demise at the end of the flight.
In their grief, love and rage have consumed the family and friends of Jay (Jared Lowndes), but they know love will carry them through this journey.
Daisy Chen’s commanding 30 inch x 40 inch painting titled “Monk Goes Streetfighter on Cop” is based on a photograph taken in November 2022 during the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Thailand. It was far from the first time that a monk has been “the center-point of political protest or some icon of spiritual martial power,” the artist notes.
APEC (est. 1989), pushes for free trade, deregulation and privatization under the guise of 'sustainable economic growth'. Activists state that APEC as a neoliberal globalization project that enforces policies that cause environmental destruction as well as favoring big business waging class wars impacting poor farmers and workers. “Although I am highly critical of police and law enforcement in general,” Daisy writes, “the purpose of this painting wasn’t necessarily to make a big political statement but rather just to capture one of many remarkable moments of 21st century defiance in an urban setting.
The contrast of the image is glaring: A barefoot Thai monk in persimmon and fire colored robes flying into a wall of plexiglass shields held up by heavily armored police in cold, dark blue garments. It was less of everyday reality than it was an image out of a savvy cyberpunk comic book.
My installation, “An Ethic is a Root,” navigates how we arrive at our ethics. What do we risk when we uphold our ethics? What makes the risks worthwhile? The central image is a map of my migration route, from where I grew up on the lands of the Kansa, Osage, Kickapoo, and Shawnee, to each of my homes including Teejop (land of the Ho-Chunk, Madison, WI) to my current home on the unceded territories of the Squamish, Musqueam, and Tsleil-Waututh in what is called Vancouver.
In the woodblock prints forming a diptych in the center, I made water instead of land the geographic anchor, with the Great Lakes blooming at the top of the map. I oriented the map with my route(s) growing downward in defiance of the colonial map. My mother still resides in my last childhood home in rural Kansas. Agricultural runoff and nearby development have made the soil poor. The land around my mother’s house regularly erodes and floods when it rains. Yet the iris flower continues to grow here. Irises are known for growing in places with polluted water, effectively removing toxins and holding soil together.
Water floods. Soil runs. But roots hold.
"Unknown" is an illustration focusing on the image of a child in the exodus. It emphasizes their vulnerability during the challenging journeys which they had no choice but to go through and leave everything behind. Refugees are undoubtedly courageous people who dare to give up everything and go to the unknown to seek a safe land, because we all know that “No one leaves home unless home is the mouth of a shark,” as Warsan Shire says in Home.
The moment the life jacket, symbolizing safety, transforms into a symbol of death, we have failed yet another fight for a basic human right — the right to live a peaceful life on our own motherland.
"my revolution starts with joy" was created to honour Black Women’s joy. When I think about protest, care, love, I think of Black women, and when I think of Black women I think of joy. I want to think through joy as an act of self love, community care, resistance, and liberation. This piece was created with care, patience and detail. I use linework to build up the form of the face both to privilege Black skin, and to take time and care to depict Blackness. This portrait and the process of making it, much like my other work, is an act of love for Black people.
“Paint Ghosts of Gidimt’en" commemorates the February 17, 2022 sabotage attack on a Coastal Gas Link pipeline construction site by 20 masked persons. The act resulting in millions of dollars in damages to heavy equipment and trailers in Wet’suwet’en territory.