2014 Campus Exhibitions

Black Diamond Dust



September 20  to December 13, 2014

Opening at both locations on Friday, September 19
Campus Gallery opening 4:00 - 6:00pm
Downtown Gallery opening 7:00 - 10:00pm

Black Diamond Dust is a multi-site art exhibition, which considers the sedimentary nature of stories and histories. The title Black Diamond Dust refers to the coal mining industry that Nanaimo was built upon; an industry that both formed and fragmented communities through economic development, racial segregation and labour inequity, and served as the foundation of global industrialization.

The artists in Black Diamond Dust look toward forgotten or under-acknowledged histories, while considering both local contexts and the forms of cultural expression that surround global industrial practices. From sculpture, to video, to folk song, Stephanie Aitken, Raymond Boisjoly, Edward Burtynsky, Peter Culley, Devon Knowles, William Notman & Son, Jerry Pethick, Kerri Reid, Scott Rogers and others employ a wide range of creative approaches to articulating the contemporary resonance of material pasts.
These artworks will be shown alongside historical artifacts borrowed from the Nanaimo Museum and the Nanaimo Archives. In addition, the gallery will screen three video works that look to past and present miners struggles in other parts of the world: "The Battle of Orgreave" by Jeremy Deller and Mike Figgis (UK), "To the Light" by Yuanchen Liu (China) and "Dreadful Memories: The Life of Sarah Ogan Gunning" by Mimi Pickering (USA).

The exhibition will be based at both Nanaimo Art Gallery locations, and will also involve a series of off-site public projects including a billboard display, a poetry reading, a newspaper insert, and an artist’s intervention in the Nanaimo Museum, among others. There will also be tours of the gallery exhibitions by Historian Lynne Bowen and curator Jesse Birch. Details below.

The material traces of industry, not only continue to produce the built environment and the objects within it, but also inform the cultural identities of communities that were built on resource-based economies. Through art, Black Diamond Dust enters into a creative dialogue with Nanaimo’s industrial past.

Curated by Jesse Birch

Black Diamond Dust: Living Histories

In addition to the gallery exhibitions, Black Diamond Dust will include a number of public events and projects called Living Histories including:

Campus: Saturday, September 20, 2:00pm

  • Poetry reading by Peter Culley an art writer, poet, and artist who lives in the South Wellington area of Nanaimo.

Downtown: Friday, September 26, 1:00pm
Campus: Friday, October 3, 1:00pm

  • Exhibition tours by Nanaimo Art Gallery's Interim Executive/Artistic Director, and Curator of Black Diamond Dust Jesse Birch.

Saturday, October 18, 11:00am - 12:00pm (Downtown) 1:00 - 2:00pm (Campus) 

  • A tour of the exhibition with renowned Nanaimo author and historian Lynne Bowen in dialoque with curator Jesse Birch.

Off-Site projects for Black Diamond Dust:

August 12 to October 15

  • Stephanie Aitken, Scott Rogers, and Peter Culley will be artists in residence at the Buttertubs Marsh Miners Cottage:
    • Aiken (August 12 to 19),
    • Rogers (September 6 to 19),
    • Culley (October 1 to 15).

Use of the cottage is made possible through a partnership with Nanaimo's Culture and Heritage department. 

August 15 to December 15

  • Artist Raymond Boisjoly will produce a billboard work visible upon nearing Nanaimo heading south at Nanoose Bay.

Saturday October 4, 2014, 2:00pm

  • In association with Black Diamond Dust, the Friends of the Morden Mine will give a free tour of the mine site.

Duration of Black Diamond Dust

  • Artist Devon Knowles will create a sculptural intervention in the Nanaimo Museum for the duration of the exhibition.
  • Kerri Reid will produce a work that will be on display in the Sointula Museum on Malcolm Island, BC for the duration of Black Diamond Dust.

The Gallery Store

  • Nanaimo artist Jesse Gray will make a special edition jewellery work that will respond to themes in Black Diamond Dust. Available in the Gallery Store for the duration of the exhibition.

Image: Peter Culley, Untitled, 2012, Colour Photograph

Supported by:

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Reconciling Self | Connie Watts

June 14 to September 6, 2014

Join us for the opening reception and meet the artist!
Friday, June 13, 5:00 - 7:00pm

Thursday, August 7, 12:15pm FREE docent tour. Join us for this
lunchtime exhibition tour - Bring the whole family

Artist Talk: Saturday, September 6, 2:00pm

wpembraceReconciling Self  features new artworks by Connie Watts, a mixed media artist and designer of Nuu-Chah-Nulth, Kwakwaka’wakwa, and Gitxsan ancestry, based in Port Alberni. Her studio practice is characterized by the use of contemporary media and techniques that recast and re-imagine Northwest Coast traditions, and express the hybrid status of all cultures in the 21st century.

Reconciling Self addresses issues of cultural-mixing and exchange, through the lens of a First Nations artist working with traditional forms in non-traditional media. It also considers the processes of healing, and rebuilding of a unified self that Watts has followed in the years after a serious car accident. The experiences of seeing the world from a range of internal perspectives left her with a new sense of the life that connects all things. In our era of time-space compression, distinctions in geography and history have broken down with advances in technologies of movement and communication, resulting in traditional and regional cultures becoming increasingly blended. The ties that connect peoples and cultures, even our sense of self, are harder to see.

Connie Watts has exhibited across North America, including a solo exhibition in Winnipeg (Re-Generation at the Urban Shaman Gallery) and as part of Changing Hands: Art Without Reservation, an exhibition that toured the United States. Watts emerging leadership role on the West Coast art scene was confirmed through her work as project manager (and contributing artist) for the Vancouver 2010 Winter Games Aboriginal Art Program.

Justin McGrail, Curator


Image: Embrace, 2013, 4' x  4", acrylic on canvas

Supported by:           cancounc


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