Image courtesy of Stephanie Pollard. The image is from Stephanie’s 13th birthday party, which doubled as a goodbye party for heading to Canada, 2002.
By Stephanie Pollard
When my family and I immigrated to Canada from Jamaica in 2003, my mother worried about how we would celebrate our first Christmas in our new home. All we knew – including aunts, uncles, and our two grandmothers, would be 3,028 miles away. Fortunately, we had each other, and my mother found a Filipino grocery store that also sold Jamaican ingredients for Christmas cake and ham. My mother made our first Christmas in Oshawa feel a bit more like home.
Fast-forward 15 years (and two Jamaican grocery stores), the Robert McLaughlin Gallery asked residents what feels like home, and to send pictures of those reminders. Alongside those reminders will be the Thomas Bouckley collection, 4,000 photographs of what his Oshawa looked like over 100 years ago. Curator Sonya Jones explained the project came from the idea of seeing art being created from a point of view en masse, part curiosity and part professional ethos.
“Community engagement is a huge curatorial philosophy for me…in the past when I had done similar projects, I’ve asked viewers to respond to pieces like the Thomas Bouckley collection, or works from (the gallery’s) permanent art collection…this time, I’m going to be responding to what the community does by exploring this really beautiful idea of home, and how it can be so many things (to many people), I like the idea that home and community can be merged into one,” Jones said. While sorting through the submissions Jones found a few threads that keep home and community together: candid shots of family, pictures of food, views from a special place, a favourite room in the house, even images of places traveled to, all highlight the need to belong safely. Such a need, even in the form of a community art piece, isn’t exclusive to a specific group of people.
“…Usually with the historical photographs, I get a lot of response from seniors – the demographic who tend to be really passionate about history… but I’m also getting young people, people all across the map in terms of demographic and that has been a happy surprise,” Jones said.
Chances are, some those images are coming from people who are going through the process of making Oshawa their home, and other images from those who spent time navigating worlds away from home. The feelings behind the circumstances are one in the same – we all long for belonging, regardless of what it took to arrive, or return. And a community that feels like home takes us all in stride: one moment, one day, one image at a time.
#FeelsLikeHome will be on display at the RMG until August 26, 2018. Click here to learn more about #FeelsLikeHome and submit your images.