Gallery Vertigo exhibition examines Idle No More movement

Vancouver artist Sonny Assu shows his poster art to shed light on the history that Canada has harboured towards its indigenous population.

A new exhibition at Gallery Vertigo aims to shed light on the dark, hidden history that Canada continues to harbour towards its indigenous population.

Interdisciplinary artist Sonny Assu is originally from Vancouver, now living in Montreal. A member of the We Wai Kai First Nation at Cape Mudge on Quadra Island, he graduated from Emily Carr University in 2002, and has gone on to show his work at the Vancouver Art Gallery, the National Art Gallery of Canada and at New York’s Museum of Art.

“It is quite something we have been able to get an exhibition of Sonny’s work in our community,” said Vertigo’s  past director Heidi Maddess, who worked to bring Assu’s exhibition, There Is Hope, If We Rise, to Vernon.

The exhibition situates itself in the discourse of the recent Idle No More movement, where First Nation groups across Canada fought for indigenous rights.

“The work was inspired by Shepard Fairey’s iconic Hope poster that used the discourse and aesthetics of propaganda imagery to convey a sense of hope to the American people during President Barack Obama’s first presidential campaign,” said Assu in his artist’s statement.

“The Idle No More movement is a powerful movement that picks up where Occupy left off and supersedes the Québec student movement by tackling a clear number of issues that have social, political, and environmental ramifications for all Canadians.”

To accompany Assu’s exhibition, Vertigo is also showing the work of the Kama? Creative Aboriginal Arts Collective Society.

The collective is comprised of Okanagan Nation established and emerging artists who have come together to support aboriginal interdisciplinary and multimedia arts development, education and production.

Artists in the joint exhibition include Alex Lezard, Pierre Richard, Seth Tonasket, Reynold Gabriel and Val Chiba.

Both exhibitions open at Gallery Vertigo, #1-3001-31st St., Saturday with a reception from 7 to 9 p.m. Refreshments will be served.