Rocky La Rock’s “The Northlander” (2019) is made with maple wood, horse hair and leather. A new exhibit at The Reach will feature the body of Rock’s work from his 40-year career. (Photo by David Campion)

Rocky La Rock’s “The Northlander” (2019) is made with maple wood, horse hair and leather. A new exhibit at The Reach will feature the body of Rock’s work from his 40-year career. (Photo by David Campion)

Fraser Valley artists well represented in new season of exhibitions at The Reach in Abbotsford

4 exhibits will run from Jan. 28 and run until May 8

Artists based out of the Fraser Valley are going to be well represented in a new season of exhibitions at The Reach Gallery Museum in Abbotsford.

The exhibitions will open on Jan. 28 and run until May 8. There will be no formal openings, as events and gatherings are prohibited under public health guidelines, but visitors will be welcome to visit during the museums regular hours of operations, according to a Jan. 22 news release.

The E’yies’lek Rocky LaRock: The Wild Inside exhibit introduces the body of work of Stó:lō master carver Claude “Rocky” LaRock over his 40-year career.

LaRock was born in Seattle, but moved as a child with this mother to her original home in the community of Sts’ailes (Chehalis) in the Fraser Valley’s Coast Salish territories.

“His practice is inseparable from his Stó:lō identity and his relationships to community, family, and land. He has mastered the skills, techniques, and stories of traditional hand-carving,” said the news release.

“He is equally committed to experimentation, incorporating contemporary elements and techniques, creating carvings intended solely for display, and using a unique visual language to express contemporary, global concerns through the lens of a Stó:lō cosmology.”

The 2021 Fraser Valley Biennial exhibit is returning to show off the artwork of local artists made in the last two years. It features artwork from: Sidi Chen, Isabella Dagnino, David Evans, Karen Johnson, Chenny Kwon, Russell Leng and Alysha Creighton, Dana Mandeville, Karlie Norrish McChesney, Dona Park, Hong Park, Sora Park, Amberlie Perkin, Patricia Peters, Rosa Quintana Lillo, Isam Sharkia, Meghan Spence, Candice Stenstrom, Chantelle Trainor-Matties, Jordan Turner, Michelle Vandyck, Mandeep Wirk, Qahraman Yousif, Vanessa Lefan Yuen, and Ketty Zhang. The collection has been sponsors by RDM Lawyers.

The focus of the exhibit’s curators this year was to highlight the work of BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and people of colour).

“It’s been really wonderful bringing this incredible group of local Fraser Valley artists together to exhibit their work, especially with the difficulties the last year has brought,” says Kate Bradford, one of the curators.

Kendra Anderson, another curator and graduate student in Carleton University’s Art History program, said the experience has been formative.

“As an emerging curator, having the chance to break through on an exhibition like the Biennial has been a rewarding experience and a privilege to work with such talented local artists and amazing staff at The Reach,” Anderson said.

The Art on Demand 7.1 exhibit shows the work of the emerging artist Yifei Zhang, and is curated by Calvin Bergen. Zhang is a biomedical researcher and visual artist and her drawings, titled Connections, were inspired by her study of the human brain.

“Featuring exuberant and spontaneous gestures of mark-making with ink on paper, the series as a whole offers both mimetic and metaphorical insights into Zhang’s scientific research,” the news release said.

Last season’s exhibit, Semá:th Xó:tsa: Sts’ólemeqwelh Sx̱ ó:tsa /⁠ Great-Gramma’s Lake, is also being extended to May 8, due to popular demand. It’s based off a children’s book published by the museum in 2020, which was co-authored by Chris Silver, Carrielynn Victor, Kris Foulds, and Laura Schneider, and illustrated by Carrielynn Victor.

“The collaborative book and exhibition recall a time when Semá:th Xó:tsa (Sumas Lake) was a source of cultural, spiritual, and physical abundance for the Stó:lō people, using memory and story to allow the lake to live on today,” says a description in the news release.

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