Weaving cultural identities exhibit

Inspiration from local prayer rugs.

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Museum of Surrey 17710 56A Avenue

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Weaving Cultural Identities 

Weaving Cultural Identities is an exhibit from Vancouver Biennale that brings Indigenous and Islamic communities together in a collaborative exploration of weaving traditions and histories. The works unpack uneasy issues of belonging, displacement, diaspora, the land, and identity. 

Commissioned and circulated as part of the 2018-2021 Vancouver Biennale, with touring support from the Canada Council for the Arts and BC Arts Council, this special exhibition was inspired by Paradise Has Many Gates, a chain-link structure that was installed for two years in a local oceanside park in Vancouver. This sculpture by Saudi Arabian artist Ajlan Gharem took the form of a spiritual space and challenged cultural barriers and our perception of communal spaces.

The early stages of Weaving Cultural Identities paired textile artists of different disciplines and backgrounds with graphic designers of various cultural descents. Based on their own experiences and histories, these groups collaborated to create a series of works celebrating the rich significance of textile arts (in both sacred and historic senses) through the inspirational art and conceptualization of prayer rugs and weaving/textile traditions.

Collectively these artists developed a platform and process for community dialogue through arts-based, approachable discussions around uncomfortable issues of belonging, forcible displacement, diaspora, assimilation, and honouring land presently shared by several groups. In bringing together diverse communities, the Weaving Cultural Identities project encouraged dialogue around the acknowledgment and celebration of local Indigenous and migrant histories.