Making Home Here
Artists: Shazia Ahmad, Brian Amadi, Ethel Brown, Ksenia Korniewska, Anita Singh, Ginok Song
Curator: Rachel Gilbert (Association for New Canadians)
Curatorial Advisor: Mireille Eagan (The Rooms)
This exhibition explores the newcomer and migrant experience and how they have come to call Newfoundland & Labrador home. Through their paintings, photography, screen-printing and textile work, the artists give insight into the challenges of relocating, domesticity, marginalization and the importance of multiculturalism.
About the Artists
Shazia Ahmad’s work speaks to the centrality of reminiscence and the passage of time as an accumulation of history. Born in Karachi, Pakistan, to a Pakistani father and a Chilean mother, Ahmad’s practice centres on the notions of home, belonging and otherness due to her interfaith and unique mixed-race background. She pays tribute to her Pakistani heritage by merging elements of the country’s material culture with personal imagery in her visual vocabulary. Ahmad’s painting and printmaking comprises domestic microcosms encapsulated in handmade dioramas.
Brian Amadi is a full-time, self-taught painter and tattoo artist. Born in Nigeria, Amadi travelled to Newfoundland in 2016 for tertiary studies and completed his Bachelor's degree in Political Science and Law and Society in 2021. Amadi’s work focuses on highlighting social organization and the revelation of the different superstructures of our society's current system. Through his paintings, he holds a mirror to society and himself to bring awareness to the various cultural and interpersonal practices that exist in society. He believes that the clearer we can see our community, the more we can act consciously in it.
Ethel Brown is a visual artist living in St. John’s, NL. Born in the Philippines, Brown immigrated to Newfoundland in 1987. Her unique visual sensibility and awareness, notably echoed in her work, was a reaction to the experience of this relocation and displacement in her youth. Brown’s photographs are predominantly documentary and storytelling in nature, exploring themes of belonging, home, motherhood and everyday life. Brown’s work is expansive yet personal at the same time. She is known for her patience in finding perfect composition and for capturing organic moments and the ephemeral beauty of natural light.
Ksenia Korniewska is a self-taught multidisciplinary artist from Kyiv, Ukraine, who relocated to St. John’s, NL, in May 2022. While her artistic practice encompasses painting, drawing, photography, sound and video art, painting remains her primary focus. Taking unconventional approaches to ancient painting media of encaustic and egg tempera, she creates alien icons that explore themes of alienation, dislocation, liminality and disconnect. Korniewska’s paintings are tangibly organic and pictorially ethereal, inspired by 14th-century Sienese iconography, 17th-century anatomical illustrations, metaphysical poetry, Neoplatonic philosophy, mineralogy, mycology and natural phenomena.
Anita Singh was born in Guyana, South America, with a Russian and Indo-Caribbean bloodline. Having lived in Montréal, Toronto, British Columbia and New York, Singh has a profound background in graphic design, printmaking, papermaking and book arts. Singh lived in England for one year, where she completed an apprenticeship in letterpress printing and various binding techniques. During a cross-Canada trip in 1999, she discovered and fell in love with Newfoundland. By creating symbolic designs of iconic plants and animals found in Newfoundland and Labrador, as well as in the Caribbean and Russia, she works with mandala-style patterns to explore multicultural connections. Singh lives and works in St. John’s, NL as a printmaker, encaustic painter, ceramicist and educator.
Ginok Song is a Korean-Canadian visual artist. Song grew up in the city of Pusan, South Korea. After meeting the love of her life, she moved to St. John’s, NL, in 2000. Song persists in her effort to visualize identity and difference with the medium of painting, mural and printmaking, with an interest in realism and womanhood. Her works appear in numerous private and public collections in Canada, UK and Korea. Song resides and works in Petty Harbour, NL and finds influence in Atlantic Realism (or magic realism).
About the Curator
Rachel Gilbert is a Canadian American of mixed-race descent living in St. John's, NL. She works with symbolic painting, drawing, printmaking and new media tools to explore her identity, familial experiences and perceptions of home(s). Since receiving a BFA in Visual Arts in 2020 and a Graduate Certificate in Museum and Gallery Studies in 2021, Gilbert has worked with The Rooms, St. Michael's Printshop and Eastern Edge Gallery, focusing on community programming and outreach. Serving on several boards and committees, Gilbert is interested in increasing diversity, accessibility and inclusion in the arts.
Image credit: Ginok Song. Hope Holding (2021), 15.24 x 30.48 cm. Oil on canvas. Courtesy of Christina Parker Gallery. (detail)