Tompalski opens at the Gage Gallery Feb 23 2017

Tompalski’s Afghan Boxers at Gage Gallery Victoria  Canada, 2017.

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Efren Quiroz’s YouTube and Website exhibit-V, provides an extensive monthly calendar of openings in Victoria B.C. Canada. He covers the Boxers and Beauties show with interviews of Sherry Tompalski and Arden Rose at Gage gallery Arts Collective.

On Tuesdays through Saturdays between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. the show continues to Mar 11, 2017.

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See a 360 degree panorama of the show provided by photographer Barry Herring. Click to view interactively and then play with the buttons. CLICK http://360.io/XJP7w2 . The gallery is Located in Oak Bay Village, the Gage is close to the corner of Oak Bay and Foul Bay avenues.

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Tompalski’s new work is based on and inspired by pictures of the Afghan women who train in the basement of the Kabul stadium where the Taliban used to publicly execute women accused of adultery.

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Sadaf Rahimi, a female boxer from Afghanistan who made history by being the first Afghan female boxer to be invited to the Olympics recounts, “In Afghanistan, there is so much violence and prejudice towards women. Because of that, when I come here and box, I feel freedom. Here we are all girls, and we talk with each other and practice. Here is freedom for me and for every girl.” The Boxers & Beauties Show was covered by Christine van Reeuwyk of the OakBay News.

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Boxers debut with Beauties at Gage Gallery

Oak Bay artist Sherry Tompalski prepares to unveil her boxers, inspired by Afghan female athletes, during her first show as a Gage Gallery artist collective member. — image credit: Christine van Reeuwyk/Oak Bay News

A series of boxers enjoy time in the spotlight this month after waiting three years for a chance in the ring. Boxers, created by Oak Bay artist Sherry Tompalski, were inspired by the Female Afghan Boxing Club in Kabul. “I’ve never exhibited the boxers,” said the new Oak Bay resident. “I’m looking froward to seeing how people respond to them.” Tompalski returned west from Ottawa last June after a dual career as an artist and psychiatrist. Decades ago, after medical school in Vancouver she and her husband Graham Thompson moved to Ottawa for practicum. “We went for one year and ended up being there or 30,” she said. Upon their return, they opted for Victoria, which reminded them of Vancouver as it was three decades ago. Tompalski’s new work is based on and inspired by pictures of the Afghan women who train in the basement of the Kabul stadium where the Taliban used to publicly execute women accused of adultery. She learned of the women after a boxer made history as the first Afghan female boxer invited to the Olympics. “If was shocked, it just sounded almost surreal,” she said.

“This work began as large graphite drawings that are torn up and reassembled with fragments of musical scores, portraying the process of coming undone, reforming and coming together. The Boxers incorporate a fragmented, difficult history which hopefully with healing and strength becomes music.” Beauties by Arden Rose balance the boxers in a shared exhibition at Gage Gallery.
“We got together and I liked her immediately,” said Tompalski. “She’s also a figurative painter so that’s great.” They crafted Boxers and Beauties for the shared show at Gage from Feb. 21 to March 11. “We were thrown together in this and we’re both fairly new to the Gage Gallery,” said Rose, a Victoria resident. “I have been working on these kind of abstract portraits. I’ve been drawn to doing that lately.” She was inspired by an in-depth workshop last fall. “Two of the days we had live nude models. We did a lot of drawing and short sketches of nudes. But the models were all tiny and young. I added flesh to them because it just seemed more realistic. That started the inspiration with the nudes,” she said. “Then I thought I’ll try just the face.” We encourage an open exchange of ideas on this story’s topic, but we ask you to follow our guidelines for respecting community standards. Personal attacks, inappropriate language, and off-topic comments may be removed, and comment privileges revoked, per our Terms of Use. Please see our FAQ if you have questions or concerns about using Facebook to comment.

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Artist Sherry Tompalski’s new show at the Gage Gallery opens on Feb 23, (5-8pm) featuring her Female Boxers.”This work began as large graphite drawings that are torn up and reassembled with fragments of musical scores, portraying the process of coming undone, reforming and coming together. The Boxers incorporate a fragmented, difficult history which hopefully with healing and strength becomes music.” Tompalski’s Boxers are accompanied by Artist Arden Rose’s Beauties at the Gage Gallery from February 21 to March 11, 2017.

The Feb 23 Vernissage

Vernissage has its roots in the old practice of setting aside a day before an exhibition’s opening for artists to varnish and put finishing touches to their paintings-a tradition that reportedly dates to at least 1809, when it was instituted by England’s Royal Academy of Arts. (One famous member of the Academy, Joseph Mallord William Turner, was notorious for making major changes to his paintings on this day.) English speakers originally referred to this day of finishing touches simply as “varnishing day,” but sometime around 1912 we also began using the French term vernissage (literally, “varnishing”). Today, however, you are more likely to encounter sparkling water and truffles than varnish at a vernissage, which is how Tompalski’s February 23 opening unfolded. See pictures below.

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Arden Rose and Parents in front of Tompalski’s Afghan Women’s Boxing Club

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Tompalski in Traditional Afghan Dress

In the show, Tompalski also exhibited Bahara of Kabul #1, #2 & #3, along with Hawa of Guinea West Africa. See below

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The show also featured videos of Bahara of Kabul and Hawa of Guinea. See below.

Tompalski Featured as March 2017 Artist of the Month at Exhibit-V

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SEE: http://exhibit-v.blogspot.ca/2017/03/sherry-tompalski-march-2017-artist-of.html

CONTACT SHERRY TOMPALSKI
quitecontrarysherry@gmail.com

GAGE GALLERY INFO,
open Tues-Sat 11 am – 5 pm, Sun 1 PM – 4 PM
2031 Oak Bay Avenue,
Victoria, BC, V8R 1E5
250-592-2760

WEB SITES
http://gagegallery.ca/
http://sherrypaints.info/
http://ardenroseart.com/

Guerilla Mag Ottawa, Voicing Refugee Identity

Ottawa’s Guerilla Magazine reviews Voices of Refugees Installation at the Parliament of Canada, June 2009.

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Ottawa’s Guerilla Magazine reviewed the Voices of Refugees Installation at the Parliament of Canada in a piece call Voicing the Refugee Identity by Tony Martins in May 2009.

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Tompalski and Thompson’s Voices of Refugees Installation featured portraits and videos of refugees from Afghanistan, Iran, Guinea, Congo, Darfur, El Salvador and Guatemala. The show was presented at the Parliament of Canada, June 15, 2009 during World Refugee Week. The presentation also featured speeches by the Honourable Jason Kenney, P.C., M.P. Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism and Abraham ABRAHAM, the senior representative of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) Canada. The event included a live presentation by Guatemalan singer/song writer Tito Medina. Special thanks goes to Ontario Arts Council, City of Ottawa, Canada Council, Citizenship and Immigration Canada and the United Nations High Commission for Refugees.

Guerilla Magazine Review Segment

The show was cover by Guerilla Magazine’s g-Gallery on June 22, 2009, and ran as follows …..One of the cool things about Canada: perhaps more than anywhere else, everyone gets a voice. Consider, for example, how the latest incarnation of the Talking Portraits project by husband-and-wife team Sherry Tompalski and Graham Thompson articulates the stories of some new Canadians who need it most: refugees. The newest portraits—each featuring mixed media and video components—took centre stage on Tuesday, June 16 at a Parliament Hill reception in recognition of World Refugee Day (Saturday, June 20). Key speakers at the event were the Honourable Jason Kenny, Minister for Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, and Abraham Abraham, Canada’s representative of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees..

Minister Kenney Launches Refugee Voices

Voices of Refugees Installation launched by Immigration  and Citizenship’s Minister Jason Kenney, June 2009.

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The Voices of Refugees Multimedia Installation was officially launched by Citizenship and Immigration Canada Minister Jason Kenney on June 16 2009.  SEE www.cic.gc.ca/english/department/media/photos/2009/

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Minister Kenney Launches “Voices of Refugees”

OTTAWA, ONTARIO–(Marketwire – June 16, 2009) – In recognition of World Refugee Day, “Voices of Refugees,” a new multi-media presentation combining portraits with videos of refugees telling their stories, was unveiled today by Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney and Mr. Abraham ABRAHAM, Representative in Canada of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

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“Voices of Refugees enables refugees to share their stories with all Canadians, to show that there are real people in real danger,” said Minister Kenney. “Refugees are sometimes forgotten as a faceless group stranded in a far away land. We need to heed these voices and listen to their stories.”

This project came from two ordinary Canadians – Graham Thompson and Sherry Tompalski – doing extraordinary things. The partnership between these two Canadians and the refugee artists featured in the multi-media presentation is the kind of initiative that will help bridge communities and build a more inclusive and cohesive Canada for all.

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“These works of art speak for themselves and help us understand that refugees are not faceless statistics, but real people with talents and with real needs like you and me. Ask them and you will know that every refugee has a moving story to tell,” said Mr. Abraham.

Every year Canada’s refugee programs provide protection to more than 30,000 people. We have a fair and generous domestic refugee protection system that is well regarded internationally. Through our resettlement program, we provide protection to 1 in 10 refugees who are resettled globally. In fact, since World War II, Canadians have provided refuge to over 1 million refugees.

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Even so, the Government of Canada is exploring ways to improve the refugee status determination system and our resettlement approach in order to better help refugees. Canada must focus our resources where they can do the most good. Working with its many partners including the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the International Organization for Migration, private sponsors and service providers, Canada is helping refugees begin their lives anew.

Voices of Refugees is a testament to those who have already come to Canada and of the thousands still in need of protection. This presentation highlights the remarkable bravery of these individuals and the important contributions they are making to Canadian society.

CBC All In A Day, Alan Neal Forced Migrations

CBC’s All In A Day covers Tompalski’s Forced Migrations: Portraits of Refugees from Africa, Central America and Central Asia at La Petite Mort Gallery.__01-consuelo-1500x1200

Alan Neal of CBC Ottawa Radio’s All In A Day program interviewed Sherry Tompalski regarding her show Forced Migrations: Portraits of Refugees from Africa, Central America and Central Asia at La Petite Mort Gallery in October 2009.

About the Show

All in a Day is music, news, current affairs, culture, theatre, movies, politics, history, humour and conversation, all wrapped up in an engaging and entertaining package. Airing weekdays from 3 to 6 p.m. in the greater Ottawa, West Quebec and Kingston areas, All in a Day helps you wind down from a hectic day and get ready for the evening.

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Regular features include D Is For Dinner, a mouth-watering recipe prepared live on the radio to tantalize you on the drive home. The Political Panel gives an insider’s take on Parliament Hill, while the Book Panel presents the high and the low brow of the latest in literature. And on Thursdays, Robert Fontaine’s film reviews are always entertaining, even if the movie isn’t. All in a Day’s dynamic, up-to-the-minute pace ensures that if you miss a minute, you’ll miss a lot!

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About the Host – Alan Neal

Alan Neal is host of Ottawa’s favourite drive home show All in a Day, on CBC Radio One, 91.5 FM. Alan is known to CBC Radio One listeners in Ottawa as the former host of Bandwidth and Ontario Today on CBC Radio One. During his stint on the noon show, he traded thoughts and quips with musicians including Blue Rodeo, Barenaked Ladies, The Arcade Fire, Feist, Hawksley Workman, Sarah Harmer, K’Naan, Sarah Slean, Metric, Emm Gryner, Most Serene Republic, Divine Brown and many more. (He actually feels a twinge of guilt making lists because he panics that people will feel left out. Then he remembers nobody reads these things. Which then makes him wonder why he’s typing this. And talking about himself in the third person. But anyway.)

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He’s been at CBC for 10 years now, massive amounts of that being as a casual associate producer and syndicated columnist (his TRENDS column was syndicated across the country), filling in as host of shows including THE ROUNDUP, OTTAWA MORNING and ALL IN A DAY, and launching a national summer show THE OTHER STORY. While his own musical career has not extended beyond singing songs about Canadian Idol and Dallas on the radio, he has had some success as a playwright, something he hopes to get back to once he figures out these shows.

Oxford University England Afghan Voices Video

Voices from Afghanistan video posted on Forced Migration BLOG of University of Oxford, January 2008.

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The Voices from Afghanistan video, part of the Voices of Refugees Installation, was posted in the Forced Migration BLOG of Online Refugee Studies Centre of the University of Oxford England’s Department of International Development (QEH) in January 2008.

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University of Oxford Backgrounder

The University of Oxford (informally Oxford University or simply Oxford) is a collegiate research university located in Oxford, England, United Kingdom. While having no known date of foundation, there is evidence of teaching as far back as 1096, making it the oldest university in the English-speaking world and the world’s second-oldest university in continuous operation.

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It grew rapidly from 1167 when Henry II banned English students from attending the University of Paris. After disputes between students and Oxford townsfolk in 1209, some academics fled northeast to Cambridge where they established what became the University of Cambridge. The two “ancient universities” are frequently jointly referred to as “Oxbridge”.

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Voices from Afghanistan Video

Notable Graduates from Oxford University
Theresa May
(1956- ) St Hugh’s Jul 2016 Conservative
David Cameron
(1966- ) Brasenose May 2010-Jul 2016 Conservative
Tony Blair
(1953-  )St John’s May 1997-Jun 2007 Labour
Margaret Thatcher
(1925-2013) Somerville May 1979-Nov 1990 Conservative
Harold Wilson
(1916-1995) Jesus Oct 1964-Jun 1970 Labour Mar 1974-Apr 1976
Edward Heath
(1916-2005) Balliol Jun 1970-Mar 1974 Conservative
Sir Alec Douglas-Home
(1903-1995) Christ Church Oct 1963-Oct 1964 Unionist/Conservative
Harold Macmillan
(1894-1986) Balliol Jan 1957-Oct 1963 Conservative

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The Refugee Studies Centre Overview

The Refugee Studies Centre (RSC) was founded in 1982 as part of the Oxford Department of International Development (Queen Elizabeth House) at the University of Oxford. Their mission is to build knowledge and understanding of the causes and effects of forced migration in order to help improve the lives of some of the world’s most vulnerable people. They aim to lead the world in research and education in the area of refugee and forced migration studies and to share our work on a national and global scale. They seek to realise this vision by taking forward new and transformative approaches to research, teaching and engagement with society, informed by Oxford’s long traditions of independent scholarship and academic freedom. A world-class centre for the study of forced migration and refugees has been created at the University of Oxford. With its pioneering research and innovative education and training programmes, the Refugee Studies Centre has had a major constructive influence throughout the developed and developing world and has stimulated effective international networks. In the early 1980s Dr Barbara Harrell-Bond undertook research regarding one such challenge: how to improve the performance of humanitarian agencies in the field. During fieldwork in Algeria she realised the paucity of academic literature available on the subject, and on her return to Oxford she founded the Refugee Studies Centre (then known as the Refugee Studies Programme).

National Gallery of Canada, Global Voices 2012

Global Voices 2012 at National Gallery of Canada, 37 paintings, 23 videos and 18 artists of Central Asia, Africa, the Americas, Cree and Mohawk Nations.

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The Global Voices 2012 event at the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa Canada featured 37 paintings, 23 videos and 18 artists of Central Asia, Africa, the Americas, Cree and Mohawk Nations, including musicians Eman the Warrior & the Abezamutima Burundian Traditional Dancers and paintings and videos by Sherry Tompalski and Graham Thompson respectively in December 2012.

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The Global Voices 2012 program featured:

  • Afghan Portraits and the Voices from Afghanistan video.
  • Native American Flute and World Beat composer David Finkle with Simon Handley (percussion, electronics) and  Andy W. Mason (percussion, guitar, vocals).
  • Iranian Portraits and a video of Iranian dancer Dr. Maria Modhaddam
  • The Abezamutima Burundian Traditional Dance Group
  • Residential School Portraits and the Irene Lindsay  video, Thomas Louttit video and Dr. Morgan Baillargeon (actor, costume designer and concept creator) in the Campfire, Tea and Bannock video
  • Eman the Warrior (Emmanuel Oletho) the Singer and Song Writer from Ethiopia
  • Central American Portraits and the Victor Fuentes and Tito Medina videos
  • Dr Lee’s West African Rhythms
  • Central American Portraits and the Delores of Guatemala video
  • African Portraits and Videos featuring the Hawa Kaba video and Hamid Ayoub vide

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Who Organized the Project?

The Global Voices 2012 Event was created and organized by Sherry Tompalski (painter) and Graham Thompson (videographer). The concept was based on the realization that many refugee artists and activists arrive in Canada with highly developed artistic skills and compelling personal stories of survival. As a result, the refugee’s work is uniquely suited to a multimedia presentation where audiences have the opportunity to see, to hear and to understand their personal accounts of, for example, walking across Chad, without food or money to escape the horrors of Darfur (Hamid Video).

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A Transcript of the Global Voices 2012 Event at the National Gallery of Canada

My name is Graham Thompson. I am a videographer. I am one of many artists you will see this evening. for 10 years we have created events involving art, dance, media and music, the projects have included over 100 separate artists. artists from Australia, Peru, Zimbabwe, Cameroon, the Philippines, Taiwan, Venezuela, Bolivia, Canada and the United States. This work has been shown in Taipei, Manila, Belgrade, Chicago, Melbourne, London, Vancouver and Toronto. we wanted to acknowledge the extreme challenges many people face in our complicated world and we wanted to have a focus on survival and renewal. IN ORDER TO CREATE THIS WORK we have been helped by a great many Embassies, NGOs, Universities, Museums, Government Departments and Arts Funding Agencies.

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Special thanks goes to: The Catholic Immigration Centre, The Canadian Red Cross, USC Canada, Ottawa Carleton Immigrant Services Organization, Odawa Friendship Centre, The Minwashin Lodge, Metis Nation of Ontario, The World University Service Canada, the University of Oxford in England, Carleton university, the University of Ottawa, York University, The United Nations, Library and Archives Canada, Foreign Affairs and International Trade, Canadian Trade office in Taipei, Canadian Embassy in Manila, The Canadian Embassy in Belgrade Serbia, Canadian Heritage, the Parliament of Canada, Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, The Canadian Museum of Civilization, The International TV Festival Bar Montenegro, the Coalition of New Canadians for Arts and Culture, Canadian Centre for International Justice, The City of Ottawa, the Ontario Arts Council, Canada Council for the Arts, SAW Video, the SAW Gallery and Donna Cona Inc

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A Transcipt of the Event

TONIGHT WE OFFER DANCE, ART, MEDIA AND MUSIC. Representing Afghanistan, Sudan, Burundi, Ethiopia, Iran, El Salvador, Guatemala, and the Cree & Mohawk Nations of Canada.

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WE  SHALL BEGIN  IN AFGHANISTAN. with the portraits, as shown on the screen,  of a family of refugees from KABUL. the paintings were created in Sherry Tompalski’s studio there were cameras covering the evolution of the artwork, and any comments the models wished to make we didn’t ask any questions, we simply let the people speak, if they wanted to for example, we will play 5 short videos from the sittings some people from the project, have requested that we use ONLY there first names. BAHARA from KABUL describes: a party which took place in her home which was invaded by patrolling soldiers as there  was a BAN on MUSIC. HER  BROTHER Remembers the escape from his village during an attack  in the Afghan war. HER other BROTHER Recounts his experience at the National football stadium where the Taliban used to publicly execute women accused of adultery. FATIMA who insisted that she not be photographed is shown through the creation of her portrait. Her story of 30 years of War in Afghanistan  is translated by Bahara.

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WE Move to Iran, on the screen you can see portraits of the Iranian Scientist and Folk Dancer Dr. Maria Modhaddam our work with MARIA includes portraits, videos and dance performances. The work was first shown in the PARLIAMENT OF CANADA in 2009, The event included speeches by the Honourable Jason Kenney, Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism and Abraham ABRAHAM the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees  in Canada. later we worked together at the University of Ottawa, As part of the 2nd Annual Conference of the Canadian Association for Refugee and Forced Migration Studies. in the following video, which features dance footage from her own archive, Maria talks about the life of a REFUGEE.

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IN PART 4, we feature the ABEZAMUTIMA  Burundian Traditional Dance Group the dance troop is made of highly experienced Burundian folk and traditional dancers. Through its artistic endeavors, the group hopes to share its heritage with communities and promote cultural diversity in the National Capital Region. ABEZA = beautiful inside, MUTIMA = heart or soul. Has anyone been to BURUNDI? Has anyone visited AFRICA? Burundi is located on the equator in eastern Africa.

IN PART 5, We move to CREE NATIONS  in SASKATCHEWAN and ONTARIO on the screen we see portraits of 5 participants in a project involving people who attended residential schools. I am grateful for the help of the Odawa Friendship centre and the Minwashin Lodge in helping with this section of the project. The Indian residential schools of Canada were a network of “residential” or boarding schools for First Nations, Metis, and Inuit funded by the Canadian government’s Department of Indian Affairs, and adminstered by Christian churches, according to wikipedia – The system had origins in pre-Confederation times. The last residential school was not closed until 1996. We have selected 2 video clips that will play after the portraits where IRENE LINDSAY and THOMAS LOUTTIT describe their experiences BOTH activists attended residential school  for 8 years after Irene and Thomas, we have a short instructional video showing a metis fur trader creating a campfire and tea and bannock on a winter’s day.

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IN PART 6  We MOVE to ETHIOPIA. Specifically, to a singer song writer called EMAN his music promotes peace, love and inspiration. Emmanuel Oletho was a refugee for three years in Kenya Yet, he was granted a scholarship to study at Carleton University through the World University Service of Canada. He is graduating in 2013 with Bachelor of political science. EMAN WILL SING – SHINE A LIGHT

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IN PART 7, We move to CENTRAL AMERICA, these portraits are refugee artists from Guatemala and El Salvador, we have selected 2 video clips for tonight that will play after the portraits. VICTOR, whose music you hear in the second video was almost killed in El Salvador in a torture chamber. TITO, whose music you hear in a video,  was just a kid when his songs got him into trouble in his home country Guatemala. some of the portraits were created with mixed media using a collage of sheet music from an Ottawa orchestra, symbolizing the person reassembling themselves in a new setting, in Ottawa. Some of the portraits have exported video frames from their videos clips, which symbolize the person having to reinvent themselves in their new country.

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In PART 8, we return to AFRICA, to listen to DR LEE’S WEST AFRICAN RHYTHMS Dr Lee  studied in Guinea, West Africa with renowned drum master Aboubacar Camara. Dr Lee has collaborated with the Cirque du Soleil and The Soul Jazz Orchestra. 2 YEARS AGO, Dr Lee performed with us at the National Library and Archives of Canada. the installation featured 65 works of art, 25 artists, 23 videos, 19 speakers, 13 NGOs & 2 plays.

PART 9, we return to CENTRAL Amerca, these portraits are created with graphite on paper and  ink and graphite on paper. AND we have selected 2 video clips, that will play after the portraits of the participants. The following video is NOT SUITABLE for YOUNG AUDIENCES, as there are graphic descriptions of violence Ms D, whose name is withheld by request, provides a detailed account of the destruction of her family during a labour dispute. Her story includes graphic details of her kidnap and imprisonment.

IN PART 10,  We again feature singer song writer EMAN, He is a voice for the voiceless. EMAN is an advocate for the poor, the victims of genocide, HIV orphans, and humanitarian related issues. EMAN WILL SING –  I AM A WARRIOR

IN PART 11  We look at portraits and videos of artists  from Guinea and Sudan we have selected 2 video clips that will play after the portraits of the participants that are shown on the screen. HAMID describes his escape from Sudan through the deserts of CHAD he Escaped, on foot, and without food, water or money. He trekked across the desert day and night, through small villages avoiding the main highways, and the possibility of detection. He survived a violent car jacking episode on his way to Niger. HAWA, who is A Refugee Artist from Guinea, West Africa, also tells her story…. she was sent to jail, because she filled out an application for a passport. In order to leave the jail, she was forced to sign a confession, that said she was a counter-revolutionary. HAWA exhibited paintings at the 2010 library and archives event.

IN PART 12 WE FEATURE COMPOSER DAVID FINKLE AGAIN, along with Simon Handley on percussion and electronics, and  Andy W. Mason on percussion, guitar, and vocals we have worked together since 2008 when David performed with NORTHERN VOICES in a large installation of 20 video screens and 8 computers. The installation featured 100 short videos of 30 aboriginal artists.

IN PART 13 we return to the ABEZAMUTIMA  Dance Group, the ABEZAMUTIMA Burundian Traditional Dance Group have created a 2nd dance for us this evening. Then  ALL MUSICIANS ON STAGE, DANCERS join musicians on stage, ALL speakers and behind the scenes people on stage playing available percussion instruments play a final song and dance.

I want to thank everyone for all their help and support in the creation of this GLOBAL VOICES 2012 event, including Sherry Tompalski, Petra Hawkes, Richard and Darren the Technicians, the national Gallery of Canada, The Abezamutima Dancers, David Finkle, Simon Handley, Andy W. Mason, Dr Lee, EMAN, the camera work of CE SOIR FILMS. This marks the end of our 10th international event in 10 years, involving over 100 artists from Asia, Africa, Europe and the Americas, tonight we have selected an overview of a project that contains over 50 portraits, and 5 hours of video. Thank you for coming tonight.

Parliament of Canada, Refugee Voices

Federal Minister Jason Kenney launches the Voices of Refugees Installation at the Parliament of Canada in 2009.

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The Voices of Refugees Installation was exhibited at the Parliament of Canada in Ottawa Ontario June 16, 2009. The multimedia event featured 8 portraits of refugees from Central America, Central Asia and Africa, with segments of their life stories displayed on four large screen video monitors and was introduced by Federal Minister Jason Kenney.

The Voices of Refugees Project at the Canadian Parliament

The event involved 4 large video displays, 10 short films, 8 portraits and the music of Tito Medina, revolutionary singer from Guatemala in celebration of World Refugee Week. The project was reviewed by Radio Canada International’s Link Program, Tony Martins of Guerrilla Magazine of Ottawa and Alan Neal on CBC’s Ottawa Morning.

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The event included the following speakers: The Honourable Jason Kenney, Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism and Abraham ABRAHAM the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Representative in Canada. The projects partners included United Nations, Citizenship and Immigration Canada, Coalition of New Canadians for Art and Culture. The project’s funders included the Ontario Arts Council, Canada Council, City of Ottawa and Citizenship and Immigration Canada.

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Tito Medina Backgrounder

Mayan musician and activist Tito Medina was just a kid when his songs got him into trouble in his home country Guatemala. After fleeing Guatemala he lived in several countries – Nicaragua and Mexico – before settling in Canada.

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Tito Medina in front of his Portrait

Tito recounts, “I started to sing songs about what was happening in my country when I was twelve years old. I have two brothers that are still missing, disappeared. My mom was heavily tortured both by national forces and foreign international advisers and mining companies, that have small armies locally. They force the people out of their communities, you know, they just to strike gold or nickel or something. We need to learn to forgive but we don’t have to forget.”

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Victor Fuentes Video Transcript

SINGING: What’s the use of having so much, What the use of having so much power, If when the day of my death comes, Nothing, absolutely nothing, I am going to take with me. What the use of having so many possessions? What is the use of all these wealth? When there are so many that have nothing? No even a bread on the table? SPEAKING: I was almost killed in my country, I was tortured, I was arrested on 2 occasions, I was a student at the National Salvadorian University. 1 week the first time, with no food, no sleeping, no water, being beaten up by 7 soldiers, although, I couldn’t see anybody. The first time I was put into a torture chamber, they put me on a chair and I was blindfolded. I was hand cuffed in the back. There was a minute of silence, complete silence, before they started to beat me up.

Citizenship and Immigration Canada Press Release

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Global Voices 2012 Catalogue Launch

Global Voices 2012 Catalogue launched at Research In Art, 2013. 

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The Global Voices 2012 Catalogue was launched at the Research In Art Artist Project Room  May 11, 2013. During the event, Sherry Tompalski spoke about her paintings from the Global Voices Project during the period 2008 – 2012.

Artists Graham Thompson (media) and Sherry Tompalski (painting), create videos and portraits that draw attention to human rights issues and organize multimedia events that celebrate diverse communities in Europe, Africa, Asia and the Americas. Their last event was held in the auditorium of the National Gallery of Canada in December 2012. See the Global Voices Board at Pinterest and at the Global Voices Page on Facebook.

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A catalogue was produced for this occasion with an essay by Petra Halkes, “Shaping Identities in a Turbulent World.” Although Tompalski’s paintings were featured in Thompson’s videos, this will be the first time the painted, collaged and drawn portraits will be shown, on the walls of the RIA Artist Project Room.

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Sherry Tompalski writes: Talking Portraits is a series of videos and portraits of people whose lives have been derailed by and engulfed in trauma. These deeply personal narratives were recorded while their portraits were being painted. Narratives bravely spoken aloud that beg to be mirrored back, so that what was once in pieces, often hidden and dreamily disorganized can become known, experienced and integrated…so that the unburdening can begin. The reassembling of the fragmented self experience becomes the foundation of the portrait and the culture they reassemble in symbolized as pieces of sheet music, helping to hold together, patch and harmonize the sharp edges as they knit together.

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I wanted to bring to life with humanity the different adaptations to trauma and deprivation. I hope the participants feel the work is a honest reflection of their experience and furthers their own healing. Moreover I hope it is a catalyst for further inquiry and dialogue about trauma and recovery. I have had two career paths. I started in Fine Arts in Saskatoon in the 70’s only to segway into medicine and psychiatry in Vancouver in the 80’s, and then continue with both of them in Ottawa over the past 18 years. Each has informed, enriched and given voice and meaning to the other. In both I strive to be helpful, emphasize beauty and facilitate the mystery of healing. Sherry Tompalski.

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Shaping Identities in a Turbulent World – An Essay by Petra Halkes

In one way, Graham Thompson and Sherry Tompalski’s ongoing collaborative project Global Voices holds a mirror to personal lives lived in a tumultuous globalized world of interconnection and dispersion. The project includes painting, drawing, collage, video and organized events with invited speakers, dancers and musicians: it presents a fusion of sounds, images and voices. Bright patches of paint, repeated photo-images, words and musical scores vie for attention in Tompalski’s portrait paintings, while Thompson’s videos cover a myriad of film formats, from quiet, straight monologues with abrupt beginnings and endings, to kaleidoscopic montages, jump cuts and tracking shots against a range of background music; Global Voices reflect the world we live in.

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In another, more pertinent way, Global Voices goes beyond representation, and demonstrates how people build personal identities within a frantic world. Thompson’s videos were recorded in Tompalski’s studio during the portrait sittings. Their process of listening to and looking at the sitters and consequently recognizing and validating the storytellers’ experiences through representation in video and painting, illustrates in a concrete and artful way how identities are constructed in everyday life. As the renowned cultural theorist, Stuart Hall wrote:  “Perhaps instead of thinking of identity as an already accomplished fact, which the new cultural practices then represent, we should think, instead, of identity as a ‘production,’ which is never complete, always in process, and always constituted within, not outside, representation.” [i]

Global Voices includes videos and paintings of people from a wide range of backgrounds, but the majority of participants have had to overcome traumatic experiences brought on by forced migration from strife-torn countries, or, in the case of First Nations people, internal displacement.  The importance of telling stories has long been recognized as a personal way of healing, and as a way to re-build a communal identity, augment official history with deeply personal stories, and prompt socio-political action.[ii] Thompson and Tompalski’s focus is not on political systems and histories of who did what to whom; what comes through in their unstructured recordings and in the paintings is the effect that ideologies and state institutions have on the personal lives of individuals. This is felt most intensely in politically troubled areas of the world, but also in post-colonial countries such as Canada.

Global Voices provides a site for ordinary people to speak about the personal horrors inflicted on them by impersonal powers. Hawa Kaba, an artist from the Republic of Guinea, landed in jail through an activity as innocuous as applying for a passport; it changed her life forever. Fatima Parween from Afghanistan tells us, through translation, that she has “really bad memories from the time of the Russians and the Taliban,” and she flatly lists the names of the young men in her family who were killed.  In Canada, a cold political decision to assimilate aboriginal people, made in nineteenth-century colonial times, continues to reverberate in the personal lives of many to the very present. For Maggie Jefferies of James Bay, the governmental policy caused the loss of a brother. For Irene Lindsay from One Arrow, Batoche, Saskatchewan, it led to a troubling estrangement from her father.

As a former psychiatrist who has worked with refugees and soldiers, artists, couples and families, Tompalski is deeply aware of the power of such stories. Silence condemns victims to an unbearable, inhuman loneliness that precludes healing. Speaking out can facilitate a process of re-building a life of normalcy, transforming the horror of the past into the creation of a new strong identity. “Basically,” she writes, “I’m trying to understand the processing of loss and the tendrils of hope that allow us to survive.” [iii]Building on her professional experience of immersing herself in the lives of others, Tompalski became a prolific portrait painter. Her painting style of brightly coloured patches shows identity formation as a dialectical process of breaking-up and coming-together of personal and communal experiences. Although the faces are tightly cropped to foreground the individual subject, what is left of the background is filled in, in some paintings with words picked up from the video and in others with multiple photographs of the sitter. The portraits themselves are often multiples: the young Bahara Parween is painted eight times, Tito Medina, a musician from Guatemala, appears several times. Identity is not a singular truth; the paintings suggest that an ongoing multiplicity of events and choices shape and reshape our identity.

The past, and the places where the sitters came from, are signified in the culture-specific symbols and patterns that make up snippets of their clothing: a collar here, a bit of a shirt there. The paintings (and videos) do not deny that cultural heritage forms a vital part of people’s identity, but the exotic lure that such heritage could have provided for the viewers is denied. In some portraits, the artist adds scraps of paper that came from her own place, from her own collection of sheet music and paper cuttings: a gift to be taken into the mix of cultural influences that become part and parcel of building an identity. To the degree that we all live with such a mix, we are brought face to face here with people like us, people in our neighbourhood, and we get to know them just a bit better.

Identities are formed in a process of loss and renewal, but the personal control we have over this process depends to a great extent on the happenstance of the place and time of our birth. For over one hundred years, aboriginal children of Canada were taken away from their parents to attend boarding schools that were often overcrowded, underfunded and unhealthy. The children were not allowed to speak their native languages and sometimes did not see their family for up to a year. “For Canada,” Justice Murray Sinclair, the Chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) of Canada writes, “this is a shameful story.”[iv] Much of this shameful story is still coming to light, thanks to the work of people such as Irene Lindsay, who is featured in Global Voices. A grandmother of nine, she runs a Residential School Outreach Program in the seniors building she lives in. Among the stories she tells is one of her own eight years in residential school. She talks of becoming so estranged from her father that she couldn’t grieve for him when he died. Only years later, when a friend’s father was dying and she witnessed the warmth and care of the family that surrounded him, was she able to shed tears. It is not just the physical and sexual abuse, and the high death rate that turned the residential schools into such a disastrous failure. It is, as Lindsay says, “the other things, in between,” such as languages and traditions that can only slowly be relearned, and bonds between parents and children that can never be recuperated.

Lindsay is one of the heroes in the story of the Residential Schools in Canada, heroes who “continue to do the heavy labour of sharing their stories, and, by so doing, educating their children, their communities, and their country.”[v] At the events organized by Thompson and Tompalski, Lindsay shares a virtual stage with heroes like her, who have arrived in this country from elsewhere fleeing from other disasters. The people in Global Voices talk not only about what has happened to them in the past, but how they shaped their personal history of responses and choices and create an identity that continues to evolve. They show that self-identity is constituted, as Hall writes, “not outside, but within representation.”[vi]

Global Voices shows a world that continues to spin around us, influencing our thoughts and our feelings, never stopping to let us “find ourselves,” never providing a static identity. Through their videos and paintings Thompson and Tompalski have acknowledged and validated the life stories of others, and have provided a site for viewers to do the same. They have shown us a process of representation and recognition through which the past can be transformed and tentative new identities can emerge.

Petra Halkes, November 2012

[i] Stuart Hall: “Cultural Identity and Diaspora.” In Jonathan Rutherford, ed.: Identity: Community, Culture, Difference.  (London: Lawrence & Wishart 1990) pp 223 – 37 (p.222)

[ii] The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum maintains a database of oral history testimonies: http://www.ushmm.org/research/collections/oralhistory/search/

Oral histories have played an important part in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) in South Africa 1995 – 2006, and in the TRC commissions that followed in many countries, including Canada.

[iii]  Sherry Tompalski, exhibition proposal 2011, unpublished.

[iv] Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada: They came for the children: Canada, Aboriginal peoples, and residential schools. (Winnipeg: Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, 2012) p. 1  Electronic resource: http://publications.gc.ca/collections/collection_2012/cvrc-trcc/IR4-4-2012-eng.pdf

[v] Ibid p.86

[vi] Stuart Hall, ibid p. 236

Cultural & Info Center in Podgorica

North-South-East-West at Cultural Center in Podgorica Montenegro, November 2004.

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North-South-East-West DVD was exhibited at the Cultural and Informational Center in Podgorica Montenegro. WebArt Show in November 2004.

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Podgorica is the capital and largest city of Montenegro. The city was also called Titograd  between 1946 and 1992 when Montenegro was part of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRY). The city’s population was 204,877 in the 2011 census. The Podgorica Municipality contains 10.4% of Montenegro’s territory and 29.9% of its population. It is the administrative centre of Montenegro and its economic, cultural and educational focus.