Seymour Art Gallery’s latest exhibition puts emerging artists in the spotlight

The Seymour Art Gallery in North Vancouver is beckoning in the next generation of artistic talent, with a varied exhibition that spotlights the creativity of nine up-and-coming artists.

New & Emerging, running until Sept. 2, showcases the works of Celan Bouillet, Sena Cleave, Mahtab Eiva, Kyla Gilbert, Jake Kimble, Aiden Kirkegaard, Jacky Lo, Marcie Rohr, and Aileen Vantomme.

Selected by a jury comprising interdisciplinary artist and art educator Parvin Peivandi, visual artist Clare Yow, and the gallery’s curator Vanessa Black, each of the varied artists bring their own unique component to the show, with pieces spanning a variety of media from photography to paintings.

“I feel honoured to show work alongside these artists,” said multi-media artist Cleave, whose paper weavings will be one facet of the exhibition. “We all make work in such different ways, bringing knowledge and techniques from a range of cultural contexts and material practices. It’s a gift to be invited to meet them and experience their work in this way.”

Cleave said exhibitions like New & Emerging that put the focus on lesser known creators are vital for giving such artists much needed exposure and, with it, much needed revenue.

“It can be difficult for emerging artists to find ways to foster art practices,” she said. “The cost of living is ever rising, while our sources of income remain precarious. There is more money and resources available to established figures in our field, though often still not enough to live on.”

A show like New and Emerging might be the first time an artist receives pay for their work, said Cleave.

“It’s easier to receive grants once you’ve already received some funding and support through the exhibition,” she said, adding how it is “part of a much-needed support system” for under-resourced artists.

For exhibitors like Mahtab Eiva, whose work sheds light on the oppression and social injustices faced by women in Iran, an exhibition like New & Emerging provides a stage for her to spread an important message to exhibition guests and fellow artists.

"It is important to me to get my message out there to a wider audience, because the more this is broadcasted, the more people will be aware of what is happening to women in Iran," she said. "I have received many emails from people who have already visited the exhibition, who have asked me questions regarding Iran, and showed their empathy and support."

Jake Kimble, a multi-disciplinary artist whose photographic series delves into his own history, childhood and experience growing up two-spirited, said that while emerging artist showcases are “incredibly vital” to up and coming artists, they are equally as important for the audience.

Having emerging artists on the bill makes the experience of visiting a gallery more approachable to visitors, especially to those who may feel intimidated by the typically stuffy confines of other galleries, they said.

“This isn’t a Monet retrospective, it is a much more approachable showcase and environment,” he said.

Mina Kerr-Lazenby is the North Shore News’ Indigenous and civic affairs reporter. This reporting beat is made possible by the Local Journalism Initiative.

Mina Kerr-Lazenby, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, North Shore News