Stories of Immigrants through Art

The building and very success of North America has been achieved on the backs of immigrants. Canadians of Chinese and Korean ethnic origin are the two most prominent immigrant groups making up our Tri-Cities community today. In 2012, I was fortunate enough to attend a local exhibition at the Port Moody Railway Museum, which recognized the local Chinese legacy; as repugnant as much of the actual history itself is. To hear the more-modern story of artist Gloria Han, the daughter of local Korean immigrants, through her art, was enlightening. Gloria Han’s “Dirty Laundry” exhibit, recently concluded a year as Ceramic Artist in Residence at the Port Moody Arts Centre.

A graduate of Emily Carr Art + Design University, Gloria references traditional Korean ceramic forms and mixes Korean and western cultures in her media. I enjoyed the piece by Janis Cleugh in the Tri-City News, so I decided to preview Dirty Laundry and had the chance to meet and chat with Gloria very briefly just prior to the exhibit opening.

Having read about the exhibit beforehand, viewing her 2-D images and pottery forms gave me the feeling that perhaps she had in some way been endangered, but when I asked her she told me (paraphrasing) that she had felt somewhat protected by her parents.  Her answer validated one of Gloria’s storylines that love was behind the sacrifices of immigrants, although it was something I’d never personally contemplated. I wondered if this was because I sacrificed so little as an English-speaking Caucasian immigrant, seamlessly fitting into the Canadian milieu of 1968.

Gloria said, “Dirty Laundry is a glimpse at the aches and passion within immigration journeys. Canada, as a nation, celebrates its multiculturalism and progressive politics. Showing mundane parts of one’s culture in small social settings can feel like showing something that was meant to stay hidden.”

I’m hoping we hear more of Gloria’s art stories as she pursues her profession through having been selected by the faculty of the Ceramics Department as recipient of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago’s New Artist Society Scholarship. Congratulations Gloria, and best wishes for a successful future.

Stories of Immigrants through Art

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