Saturday, February 17, 2018

Local artist examines colonization from personal experience

November 30, 2016 by Adam Boyle, staff writer

Art wasn’t something that Victoria’s Mike Alexander thought he was able to commit to. Originally working as a guidance counsellor for at-risk youth, Alexander has worked with mainly inner-city youth for 15 years. But he drew from his identification with those youth and from his passion for helping others, and it shows in his art.

“The fact is that I really identified with kids in the inner city,” says Alexander. “I felt like we looked similar, we had similar experiences in life, so I figured that maybe I could be that person that could maybe change their life.”

Skin of Ash: A Contemporary Indigenous Response to Colonization, an exhibit of Alexander’s art on display at Cavity Curiosity Shop, features a collection of ink-drawn pieces focused on colonization and Alexander’s own life.


An example of local artist Mike Alexander’s work (photo of art provided).

“I guess it’s really about what [colonization] has done and meant for me on a personal level,” he says. “I’ve spent the majority of my adult life understanding colonization on an academic level and a social level. The past few years I’ve been forced to examine it in my own life, so the show is really dealing with a lot of that subject matter.”

Alexander hopes to move to a lighter theme for his next pieces. He admits that the pieces in this exhibit deal with darker themes, but he says that he’s already working on a series using more traditional styles of art.

“This ongoing procedure of celebrating my own culture and discovering more elements of my own identity through the process of pushing the limits of what I can do is definitely something I want to keep doing,” he says. “I’m taking a turn in my art that I think shows where I’m at now mentally and emotionally. I want to know more about who I am and what I’m capable of.”

Alexander says that anyone who wants to pursue their interest in art needs to follow their heart and to not always listen what people have to say. And that goes for students, too.

“If someone wants to take art seriously, don’t listen to people who say that it’s not important,” he says. “Students are encouraged to take things like business or things that will land them degrees instead of pursuing a love or a passion. I think that if someone has passion about what they do, they should really explore that and challenge themselves. Being happy is the most important thing, whether it’s art or anything, really.”

Skin of Ash: A Contemporary Indigenous Response to Colonization
Until Saturday, December 31 (opening reception 7 pm Friday, December 2)
Cavity Curiosity Shop (556B Pandora Avenue)

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