The work we do is a potent mix of visceral storytelling, advocacy, and professional development.
We strive to consciously address systemic inequality as an integral aspect of our artistic practice, using art to build awareness and empathy as we illuminate how the intersection of race with all other oppressions deeply impacts the world today. It is at the heart of these intersections where artists, as agents-of-change, must ask the hard questions that spark inspiration, introspection, compassion, clarity, and ultimately, the act of creation that transforms incomprehensible human suffering into hope.
For we cannot fully understand the heartbreak of an Orlando, unless we are willing to recognize that the victims were not just queer, but queer and Latinx. We will never be able to stop the next Charleston unless we're willing to accept that the victims weren't just Christian seniors, but Christian seniors and Black. The outrage and shame of nearly 1200 murdered and missing women would not be tolerated except for the fact that they are women and Indigenous. The ugliness of the Brexit and Donald Trump campaigns scapegoat immigrants who are Mexican, Muslim, and Syrian; yet "ex-pats" – white immigrants – freely cross borders at will. Temporary Foreign Worker and Filipino: a biased system that guarantees exploitation and abuse. Housing foreign investor and Chinese: funny how no one complains about the white Americans and ex-pat Brits who buy Vancouver homes.
And when our screens and our stages – our art – fails to represent and include the faces and the voices of marginalized groups, we make it easy for our politicians and for ourselves to dismiss large segments of our society as unimportant. As not worthy of respect, compassion, and tax dollars. As less than human than the rest of us. As the Bard reminds us, are they not
fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject
to the same diseases, healed by the same means,
warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer...?
If you prick us, do we not bleed?
if you tickle us, do we not laugh?
if you poison us, do we not die?
At Visceral Visions, we believe that for an artistic practice to matter, to make a difference in the wider world, it's critical to support diverse artists, stories, and perspectives, ensuring diverse role models for youth. And that it can be done without sacrificing artistic excellence.
Images: Valerie Sing Turner and John Emmett Tracy, workshop presentation of Confessions of the Other Woman at the Shadbolt Centre for the Arts, August 2011 (top); Matt Ward and Valerie Sing Turner in Confessions of the Other Woman, 2012 premiere (bottom). Photographer credit: Tim Matheson.