As in many areas, there was a strong anti-immigration sentiment in the South Okanagan in the 1920s, reflected in these ads from the era. Courtesy Penticton Museum.

Penticton Art Gallery explores racism

International call for artists to contribute

When you think of racism, do you think it was conquered in the 1960s civil right movement? Or do you shake your head sadly at the evidence that it is still alive and thriving in our new online world?

The Penticton Art Gallery is opening up the conversation about the resurgence of racism and xenophobia with “eRacism,” an exhibition starting at the gallery in July.

Curator Paul Crawford was inspired, in part, by examples of historical racism in Penticton and the South Okanagan. He displays ads and news stories from the 1920s: “Keep Penticton White; We Want White Fruit Packers; Another Chinaman is given ticket and told to leave Oliver.”

“What is the legacy of that?” Crawford asks. “Statistically, the Okanagan Valley is one of the whitest, least immigrated part of Canada. We’re a lot poorer for it.”

Crawford recalls being in high school and learning about the rise of fascism in the early 20th Century, asking himself how people could be so blind to what was going on.

“I look around now and it’s the same thing. The rhetoric is the same. I am amazed at the apathy in society in general.”

Crawford said it’s incredible how successful the current U.S. administration and our former administration here in Canada have used race as a political tool to not only divide people nation but to unite their parties.

“I don’t think we got here by mistake,” said Crawford. Some, he questioned, might suggest the current atmosphere has given racism a free licence to come out into the open.

“I think if there is going to be had, I think it is going to come from the artists,” said Crawford, noting that a number of musicians are already pushing back. “Cultural change has always been led by the artists throughout history. But I feel we have become far too complacent in our society.”

Like the gallery’s recent show Ipseity, which explored gender identity and sexuality, Crawford hopes the eRacism show gets people talking.

“I hope it maybe mobilizes the arts community. I would like to think that artists feel they have a voice, a vehicle and a tool that they can use to have us look at ourselves, to hold a mirror up to society,” said Crawford. “I hope we can get back to that, we should all have an opportunity everyday to question.”

The Penticton Art Gallery is inviting artists from across the globe to submit artworks in all media for eRacism July 6 and continues through Sept. 16

This exhibition is open to all artists working in any media and submissions will be juried based on the work but more importantly on the artist’s statement which will add further depth to the work and the community conversation. In addition to the physical exhibition, the Penticton Art Gallery create a virtual exhibition through our website that will remain as a permanent reminder of this exhibition.

Please send your submissions and proposals (including a photo or media file of the work, your artist statement and current biography and C.V.) by Friday, June 15 to curator@pentictonartgallery.com. Selected works are to be shipped to the Penticton Art Gallery by Friday, June 29.


Steve Kidd
Senior reporter, Penticton Western News
Email me or message me on Facebook
Follow us on Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Drivesmart column: Let’s block the road

Police resources to cope with the size of the protest group is an important consideration.

Coming up in Cowichan: Meet the Wounded Warriors

Wounded Warrior Run stops at Legion The Royal Canadian Legion Malahat District… Continue reading

Cowichan climber off to Olympic qualifier

Brennan Doyle competing for Pan Am Championship

Robert Barron column: Let’s see more roundabouts in the Cowichan Valley

I commend the city planners for their wisdom in installing a roundabout there.

City of Duncan looks to public for ideas for Whistler Street, downtown park

Workshops to be held concerning 85 Station St. and Whistler Street

Governor general says multiple solutions needed for ‘complicated’ overdose issue

Julie Payette met at a fire hall with firefighters and police officers as well as politicians and health experts

Violent ends to past Indigenous protests haunt Trudeau government

Trudeau adopted a more assertive tone Friday, insisting the barricade must come down

VIDEO: Wounded Warrior Run leaves Port Hardy on eight-day trek down Vancouver island

The team’s fundraising goal this year is $250,000, which is double last year’s goal.

HIGHLIGHTS: Day one and two at the 2020 BC Winter Games

Athletes had sunny – but cold – weather to work with in Fort St. John

BC Senior Curling titles to be decided in Vernon

Wes Craig, Penny Shantz looking for fifth championships; Steve Wright, Donna Mychaluk into finals

B.C. money laundering inquiry to begin amid hopes for answers, accountability

Eby argued that most B.C. residents already know the previous government, at best, turned a blind eye

Blockades remain in place as Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs returning to B.C.

Hereditary Chief Woos said they are ready to engage in nation-to-nation talks with the B.C.

Most Read