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Rebecca Bair: Where the Light Meets My Shoulder
December 09, 2023 – February 11, 2024

Where the Light Meets My Shoulder is a solo exhibition of recent work by interdisciplinary artist Rebecca Bair. Using her camera, ephemeral materials like shea butter and sunlight, and improvised movement to create her art, Bair builds her work on a foundation of play. While primarily working with photography, Bair uses a multitude of mediums to expand the possibilities of representation. Over the past five years, the artist has developed a style that reflects her experience as a Black woman living on Turtle Island. Her work upends how Blackness is often (mis)represented and honours the diverse, plural experiences of people of African descent. She tenderly gathers symbols of Blackness that are specific to her as an individual, all of which are “manifestations of deep love and resilience that have culminated in who I am today, and who I will be tomorrow.”  

Using recurring imagery of her coily hair, the sun, shadows and circles, Bair plays with abstraction to decide what can be seen and what is withheld. For the artist, hair is a site for intense connection, tended to by family as well as community members. In Portal (n.1 and n.2) (2022), the artist captures and expands details of her hair, printed as large-scale photographs on swaths of fabric that physically obstruct the gallery space, while the imagery – at this immense size – becomes abstracted. Representations of Blackness hold infinite possibility, yet the irreversible damage of colonialism persists. As a way to resist the white gaze and co-opting of Black representation, the artist blurs, obstructs and redacts images to push back against the oppressive impacts of systemic anti-Black racism. Playing with abstraction, she uses her body as her main subject but reveals only hints of herself, such as the shape of her shoulder or the outline of curls. By intentionally creating visual barriers between audiences and her content, Bair highlights how what is visible and what is not are equally important, and each asks something different of the viewer. The softness of a shadow and the silhouette of a curl of hair hold boundless possibilities that cannot be contained. 

Images: Installation view of Rebecca Bair: Where the Light Meets My Shoulder, exhibition at the Art Gallery at Evergreen, Evergreen Cultural Centre, 2023. Photo: Rachel Topham Photography.

About the Artist

Rebecca Bair is an interdisciplinary artist working across installation, video, drawing and photography. Raised in Ottawa, Bair is based in Vancouver on the traditional and ancestral territories of the Coast Salish peoples. She has exhibited widely across the Lower Mainland, including group exhibitions at the Vancouver Art Gallery and Surrey Art Gallery and a solo exhibition at West Vancouver Art Museum. Her work continues to gain national recognition and has been featured in Canadian Art and NUVO Magazine.

As an educator and facilitator, Bair centres mentorship in her work, as she uplifts Black, Indigenous and racialized youth through teaching at Emily Carr University of Art + Design, Vancouver, where she also received her Master of Fine Arts in 2020. She also works across many not-for-profits around the Lower Mainland. Bair is a founding director of the Black Arts Centre, a Black owned and operated artist-run centre and community space in Surrey.  

The artist would like to acknowledge the BC Arts Council with support from the Province of British Columbia.  

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