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Borderline, by Rachel Kalpana James. Images courtesy of Gallery 101.

Gallery 101’s There’s Room explores global mass migrations

By Vanessa Rotondo on February 5, 2016

Vanessa Rotondo is an Ottawa-based freelance writer, national spoken word artist and youth engagement coordinator/arts educator.  You can follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

When we saw the picture of the three-year-old Syrian boy whose body washed up on a Turkish beach, the world stopped to feel the impact of such a horrific tragedy.

That single picture caused tidal waves.

Politicians took to the podium to speak; scholars and ordinary people debated views in the news and in boardrooms; social media feeds blew up with “unlikes”, viral shares and heated commentary; social scientists everywhere theorized tirelessly over the inevitability of circumstances; so naturally, as the world searched to make sense of its grief, dancers fell to their knees, writers put pen to paper, painters banked on the blankness of canvases for relief and artists, no matter the medium, actively began to create.

Gallery 101, a longstanding non-profit artist-run studio in the heart of Ottawa’s Little Italy is hosting There’s Room, an Ottawa artists response to the refugee crisis, from January 23rd to February 27th, 2016.

The exhibition showcases the work of thirteen local artists who currently call Ottawa home. Each one uniquely explores the social process of displacement and resettlement, from one home to another, highlighting the challenges that newcomers face during their experience with reintegration and self-renewal.

As Ottawa both currently awaits and welcomes the arrival of over 800 government and publically-sponsored Syrian refugees, opening up a space to facilitate conversation is a timely platform to actively engage community in dialogue and to explore themes, such as war, fundamentalism and greed – realities that affect us all.

“There’s Room is a site where people can reflect upon being taken out of their country and plunked somewhere completely different – to see what they have lost and gained,” explains the exhibit Curator Petra Halkes. “Integration has a lot to do with taking away barriers, showing concern and sharing experiences.”

Flash Sale, by Mohamed Thiam

Flash Sale, by Mohamed Thiam

Michael Davidge, Asal El-Rayes, Zainab Hussain, Maria Gomez, Rachel Kalpana James, Farouk Kaspaules, Jaime Koebel, Zivana Kostic, Stephanie Marton, Jessie Raymond, Laura Taler, Mohamed Thiam and Tavi Weisz all come from very different walks of life, having experienced systems of division in their own way.

“This group of artists wouldn’t usually show together,” says Halkes. Some are students, while are others are mature artists, “but what brings them together is their active interest in the issue of refugee re-encirclement”.

See the artists’ in studio from Tuesday to Saturday, 10 am to 5 pm. If you missed the opening on January 23rd, you can still check out some of the other events associated with the exhibit on Gallery 101’s website.

Upcoming highlights include “Should We Abolish Borders?” a round table discussion with Professor Victor Konrad from Borders in Globalization (Carleton University, Geography and Environmental Studies) and Professor Jamie Chai Yun Liew (Ottawa University, Faculty of Law) on Saturday, February 6th, 2016; and an Indigenous Walk around Preston Street, with Indigenous Arts Activator Jaime Koebel, ending at the Enriched Bread Artists (EBA) Studios for the opening of Left Behind on Saturday, February 13th, 2016. Registration with Gallery 101 is required.

For more information on Gallery 101’s events and artists, contact the gallery directly or join their mailing list! For those have followed the studio for quite some time, gauge your Gallery 101 knowledge by brushing up on its history, from start to forever, here!