Phenomenal. The artwork, the artists, the speakers and musicians, the message, the food, the venue, and the crowd. V-Day Oliver-Osoyoos, together with the support of the Osoyoos Indian Band and participation from many members of the Oliver Community Arts Council and its member groups, mounted the successful “Metamorphosis” art show event on the afternoon of Saturday March 8 at the OIB Community Hall.
V-Day organizers Tiffany Beckedorf, Ursula Wick and Norberto Rodrigues de la Vega and many V-volunteers created a well-balanced space, combining art exhibit, information booths, sales tables, a tasty reception, and performance area with audience seating.
A jam-packed schedule of speakers, spoken word artists, and singers kept the audience both informed and entertained. MC Marji Basso (left) first introduced Darlene George to bless the event with an OIB Elder Prayer and the Women’s Warrior song (top photo). OIB Chief Clarence Louie, in his opening remarks, noted the recent media attention paid to missing aboriginal women, and the timeliness of V-Day’s message “Stop the Violence”.
MLA Linda Larson paid tribute to Russian and Eastern European women who were the first modern-era women to fight for women’s rights in the late 1800s. Mayor Ron Hovanes reflected on growing up in Oliver, and “the good small town folks can do in support of their community”. He reminisced about caring adults who kept an eye out for everyone’s children, and who “raised a village”. He encouraged the audience to embody the best from Oliver’s history, keeping Oliver a nurturing and safe place to live.
Following these short speeches from community leaders, several spoken word artists and musicians entertained the audience. Jeannette McCall gave a meditative rendition of her poem “Reflections”. Aimee Grice shared the uplifting “Phenomenal Woman” by one of the most famous feminist poets, Maya Angelou. Penelope Johnson experimented with her first foray into “slam poetry” with a selection called “Pretty” by Katie Makkai, followed by a Margaret Atwood poem entitled “Siren Song”.
Following speakers from the Okanagan Nation Transition Emergency House, Desert Sun Counselling (Roxie van Aller, above), and Roots of Empathy, two musicians returned to the stage with their own compositions: Aimee (left) and Morgan (below).
Closing out the afternoon was a ceremonial burning of a painting by Leza Macdonald. Throughout the afternoon, visitors were invited to write messages of hope, defiance, and comfort across her canvas depicting a child confronted by a frightening stranger. Gathering in the community hall parking lot under a grey sky, the audience watched as flames gradually consumed the violent image. Let’s hope that the event’s message “Stop the Violence” continues to resonate and is transformed into action in our lives.
Photo Credit: Penelope Johnson