Deborah Koenker: "Grapes and Tortillas"d Tortillas
Deborah Koenker: "Grapes and Tortillas"
'Grapes and Tortillas' by artist Deborah Koenker focuses on the 2,000 temporary agricultural workers from Mexico hired each year by the Okanagan Valley’s orchards, vineyards, and plant nurseries. It is intended as a celebration of the hard work and the personal sacrifices of these migrant workers.
The exhibition includes 160 photographic portraits of these men and women, as well as a giant curtain made from orchard netting threaded with 2,000 coloured ribbons – a visual reference to Mexican shrines and acknowledgement of the number of workers here.
In addition, there is a nod to a Mexican kitchen that also serves to convey the story of Doña Vicky, an activist from Oaxaca. Visitors will also see a shrine-like area, centred on an image of the Virgin of Guadalupe, who is the patron saint of Mexico.
Additionally, there is an 80-foot long Tortilla Wall piece comprised of photographs, and strung with barbed wire, which is accompanied by quotations from a poem called 187 REASONS MEXICANOS CAN’T CROSS THE BORDER by Juan Felipe Herrera, the current US poet laureate.
Deborah Koenker is a Vancouver-based interdisciplinary artist with interests in writing and curatorial projects. She holds a BFA from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and completed post graduate work at Central Saint Martins in London, England. She has an MFA from Claremont Graduate University in Claremont, California. Koenker has an extensive record of exhibitions in Canada, the United States, and Mexico.
Deborah Koenker: Grapes and Tortillas will be on view until October 30, 2016.
Watch a 9:35 video interview with Deborah Koenker: https://youtu.be/DmTXmngeRh0