Figure 1. Painted flower pot example.
Try your hand at an art making activity inspired by contemporary artwork by Carlos Colín in his solo exhibition Little México, which was presented by The Reach from May 23 to September 15, 2019.
This activity is designed for middle school students from grade 6 – 8.
This activity fulfills Curricular Competencies in BC’s New Curriculum for the following subjects and classes:
To see relevant connections between this activity and BC’s New Curriculum, see downloadable PDF “Curricular Competencies Related to Painted Flower Pots: Activity Inspired by Contemporary Artist Carlos Colín.”
KEY CONCEPTS AND VOCABULARY
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Carlos Colín is an artist originally from Mexico, who now lives and works in Vancouver. His artwork takes many forms including photography, sculpture, text-based work, textiles, and installation. In all of his work, he explores Latin American history and culture in Mexico and in Canada.
ABOUT THE EXHIBITION Little México
This exhibition was presented at The Reach in the summer of 2019. It looked at the experiences of thousands of Mexican people who live in Canada for up to eight months of the year as temporary foreign workers, working legally on Canadian farms. While living in Canada far away from their homes and families, these foreign workers from Mexico form temporary communities in towns and cities across the county.
Colín’s project at The Reach was inspired by the many temporary foreign workers from Mexico that are a part of the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program (SAWP), who live and work on farms in the Fraser Valley. These people help with the berry harvest and maintain Abbotsford’s identity as the “Berry Capital of Canada” but these workers and their needs often go unnoticed within the wider Abbotsford community.
Through this activity participants will:
WHAT YOU WILL NEED
ESTIMATED TIME: 60 MIN
Figure 2. Carlos Colín. Festivities on Sunny Days. 2019.
This activity connects to Carlos Colín’s installation called Festivities on Sunny Days.
Why did Carlos Colín make work about Mexican workers in Canada?
Mexican foreign workers come to work in Canada because they need to make money to take care of their families in Mexico. The workers can make more money in Canada, away from their families, than they can working in Mexico. However, many of these workers are still paid very low wages by Canadian standards. While in Canada, the workers often work very long hours, sometimes in very difficult working conditions. Colín wants to raise awareness about the experiences of these Mexican workers in his artwork called Festivities on Sunny Days.
What inspired Carlos Colín to make Festivities on Sunny Days and how did he make it?
When making Festivities on Sunny Days, Colín was inspired by traditional, decorative Mexican folk art flags called papel picado. Papel picado is Spanish for “perforated paper” or “pecked paper” and is a form of folk art made by cutting elaborate designs into sheets of tissue paper to make flags that are suspended overhead. The designs that appear on traditional papel picado are widely varied, and may range from very simple to very complex patterns. Folk art is produced by artists who do not have formal training, and techniques are frequently passed from one generation to the next. It is often made of everyday materials and can be very decorative. Colín incorporated the folk art tradition of papel picado into Festivities on Sunny Days because it draws attention to the decorations that might be part of daily life for ordinary Mexican people, like the temporary foreign workers from Mexico living in Canada.
Instead of cutting traditional decorative patterns into the papel picado, Colín designed his flags with images of the most common fruits in the Fraser Valley that are harvested by local foreign workers: blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, and blackberries. Each flag also includes one of four different Spanish words, which are translated into English below:
Justicia = Justice
Dignidad = Dignity
Resistencia = Resistance
Tierra = Land
Figure 3. Papel picado in Mexico.
Figure 4. Detail of Festivities on Sunny Days.
Figure 5. Another flower pot example.
QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER
Did you know that the Dignidad Migrante Society in Vancouver helps temporary foreign workers living in the Fraser Valley? To learn more about the important work that they do and how you can support them check out their website at https://dignidadmigrantesociety.org/en/home/.
KEEP TRACK & GIVE BACK
If you use this free resource with your students at school / at home, we’d love to hear from you! Send an email to Diana Hiebert (Curator of Learning and Community Engagement at The Reach) at email@example.com, with your comments including the number and age range of participants. This statistical information is important to us as a not-for-profit organization and will allow us to continue offering this kind of content.