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Mobile sculpture inspires meaningful exhibit for street community artists

Saanich, B.C. -

Tanya Bub started constructing her mobile sculpture after noticing that certain people were feeling unwelcome at her previous art gallery exhibits.

“There was kind of a discrimination that was happening,” Tanya says. “It was probably unconscious.”

But it was being directed towards people in the street community. So Tanya started purchasing some of the cardboard signs they were using to ask for help, up-cycled garbage she found, and crafted a sculpture that’s part throne, part woman opening her arms in welcome.

Tanya named the piece Grace, wheeled it downtown, and invited people in the street community to sit and share their stories without judgement.

“I hoped to highlight who they are,” Tanya says. “Rather than focus on those other things.”

Eight people agreed to have their candid conversations recorded for a documentary directed by Ross Alexander Whelan titled "Sitting with Grace."

Star Casement was one of them. She expressed her appreciation for how Tanya had turned so many discarded items into something so worthy.

“You see all the flaws,” Star says. “And yet she’s so beautiful.”

It inspired Star to wonder what might happen if members of the community could be seen from a different perspective too — as people, not problems.

“These people are so gifted, but nobody’s ever found where their positive is because they are so stuck on all the negative they have,” Star said. “If you celebrate the positives, you’d find so many of the negatives would fall away.”

Tanya and Star connected on camera, before continuing their conversation off camera.

It led them to team up and organize an exhibit showcasing the downtown street community’s creativity at a suburban gallery, where artists like "Potato" are preparing to display their work for the first time.

“When we went to look at the location, and I explained to (Potato) that this would be were her [art] was, she was in tears,” Star recalls, fighting back her own tears.

As Tanya helps to hang the work of the eight artists in the "Building Bridges" exhibit, she hopes the paintings, sculptures, and beadwork inspires all members of the community to come together with empathy.

“I hope the people who inadvertently make people feel not welcome confront their feelings,” Tanya says.

The exhibit runs through Feb. 4 at the Art Centre at Cedar Hill’s Main Gallery. Admission is free. The public is also invited to attend a by-donation screening of "Sitting with Grace" on Jan. 21 at 6 p.m.

And as Star prepares to display the beadwork she first learned to make as a girl being shuffled between foster homes, she says the exhibit is already proving to be life-changing for the featured artists.

“It gives them their self-confidence back, and allows them to begin the process of healing,” Star says as her eyes well with tears. “It gives them their soul back.” Top Stories

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