Art exhibit explores life as first-generation Canadians
Rosemary Sloot "Immigrant" on display at Redeemer's Art Gallery
2 min. read
September 21, 2013

On Saturday, September 21, the Redeemer University College Art Gallery began its 2013-2014 season with an exhibition of works by London-based artist Rosemary Sloot. The exhibition, Immigrant, which opened with a prayer by president emeritus Justin Cooper and a short talk by Art Department Chair Chris Cuthill, was followed by introductory remarks by the artist.In her talk, Sloot noted that the genesis for this collection began when her mother passed away in 2003. Just prior to her death, her mother quietly told her children that she had only one regret — immigrating to Canada. What Sloot described as a “bomb” was transformed into a “gift” as she changed the trajectory of her work to record her family’s immigration story. Her efforts as artist-chronicler have resulted in a series of intimate works that rely heavily on black-and-white photographs taken by her parents in the Netherlands. Describing the work as “photorealist” paintings and pastel drawings, Sloot highlighted the various texts employed in the final layers of the paintings, culled from the few fragments of documentation that survived, such as the passenger list booklet from the ship SS Waterman and immigration identification cards. Several of the pieces are based on still-life objects, which are on display in the collection. They represent some of the meagre bits and pieces of household articles that were carefully chosen by her parents for their new life. In a number of the paintings the subjects are out of focus or obscured. This blurring and softening, she suggested, was intended to push the images back in time, as well as to make individuals look more generic. As such, the images have resonated with immigrants who have come to see this exhibition as their story as well. “It is my hope,” she expressed, “that this body of work will make at least a small contribution to the social and historical documentation that continues to accumulate about this most pivotal point in Canada’s migration story.”

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