UBC Okanagan Gallery’s artist in residence Manuel Axel Strain opens art exhibition with performance

What: UBC Okanagan Gallery hosts Artist in Residence
Who: Manuel Axel Strain
When: Various events from June 8 to June 11, exhibition until June 30
Where:  University Theatre and the FINA Gallery, UBC’s Okanagan campus

UBC Okanagan Gallery is hosting its second Artist in Residence with a performance and exhibition by Manuel Axel Strain.

Strain is a two-spirit artist from the sacred lands and waters of xʷməθkʷəyəm, Simpcw and nk̓maplqs and lives on the traditional homelands of their q̓ic̓əy̓ and qʼʷa:n̓ƛʼən̓ relatives. Their work and practice are guided by Indigenous ways of knowing, embodied epistemologies, and ancestral collaborations that incorporate performance, painting, photography, sculpture, video, sound and installation.

As the gallery’s 2022 Artist in Residence, Strain will give an talk at the annual Indigenous Arts Intensive on Wednesday, June 8 at 2 pm in the University Theatre, 1138 Alumni Avenue.

Strain’s solo exhibition, puti kʷu alaʔ opens at UBCO on Saturday, June 11 at 3 pm in the Creative and Critical Studies building’s FINA Gallery. There will be an outdoor performance that day at 3:30 pm which features a collaboration between the artist, their family, drummers, the land and guests.

Using materials and methods such as plywood, spray paint, a chainsaw, metal, video, and petroglyphs, along with fir, sage and wild rose relatives, Strain’s new work is an immersive and multisensory installation. The exhibition is curated by UBCO Gallery curator Dr. Stacey Koosel:

“Manuel Axel Strain’s exhibition tells the story of a violent, yet absurd, act committed against the artist’s family when they inherited a building on Syilx Okanagan nation territory,” says Dr. Koosel. “What is particularly cool and unique about Manuel’s practice is the way they work with their family to remind us that ‘we are still here.’ It’s a simple but powerful statement.”

Strain’s work has been featured in the Vancouver Art Gallery, Richmond Art Gallery, Surrey Art Gallery and across Turtle Island. They are longlisted for the National Gallery of Canada’s 2022 Sobey Art Award and their exhibition We go to the Mountains, we go to the Big Water is now on display in Kelowna at the Alternator Centre for Contemporary Arts’ main gallery until June 25.

Artist residencies are supported by the BC Arts Council, and Strain is the second Artist in Residence since UBCO Gallery launched the program last year with Carrier Wit’at artist Whess Harman. The gallery is working in collaboration with the Alternator Centre for Contemporary Art and the Indigenous Art Intensive.

Strain’s exhibition, titled puti kʷu alaʔ, runs from June 11 to 30 in the FINA Gallery at UBC Okanagan. The exhibit is free and people are also welcome to participate in an opening reception and performance on Saturday, June 11 at 3 pm.

This project is supported by BC Arts Council.

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