KPU artist’s work keys on importance of protecting biodiversity

Wed, Jun 28, 2023

An exhibition from Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU) fine arts instructor Amy-Claire Huestis showcasing the importance of the Fraser River estuary opens June 29 at Richmond Art Gallery.

The storytelling exhibition MOTHLIKE/silvery-blue highlights the research and activity along the foreshore of the Fraser River delta by Huestis and her collaborators. Artworks, recordings, and costumes from past riverside performances – including a participatory public performance in Richmond on June 21 that celebrated the longest day of the year – are all part of the exhibition, which aims to draw viewers closer to nature.

“My practice is experiential, so the show, the community programs, and the performances are all made so that others can share in that art experience,” says Huestis. “My goal is to build community. Not just with people but community including other species – our more-than-human kin – thinking of the trees, the diatoms, and the birds as our community. Strengthening kinship and community with nature is what this is about.”

Threaded through this storytelling exhibition is the mytho-poetic tale of Silvery Blue, a fictional character who embodies the land. The artworks in the exhibition are created to be re-animated through dance, sound performance, and community participation. Through this, a story cycle unfolds of Silvery Blue’s transformation from woman to butterfly to land.

These artworks are made with ecologically friendly materials including recycled packing materials and foam, recycled fabrics, natural pigments, and eco-certified cotton.

Huestis’ work raises awareness about the importance of protecting biodiversity in ecological areas currently under threat due to human development and expansion – particularly at Roberts Bank in Delta, where the port is slated for expansion following recent federal government approval. The exhibition also celebrates the Fraser River estuary and our kinship with birds.

“When you’re studying the estuary you get to see so many birds. It’s just a glorious, abundant place – possibly the most important estuary in Canada for birds. It really needs to be protected.”

Part of the exhibition is “Nest-work,” a place inside the Richmond Art Gallery space that includes bird-friendly window treatments, artworks, and live footage of a barn owl nest box. The space will house gatherings, performances and storytelling activities about birds and the estuary.

MOTHLIKE/silvery-blue launches June 29 with an opening night reception, performance, and artist talk at Richmond Art Gallery from 7 to 9 p.m. All are welcome; admission is free.