CANMORE – With the view that every local has a story to tell that is worth listening to, a new gallery exhibition arrived at artsPlace on Aug. 29.
In the exhibition called We Are Locals, Claudia Aceituno and Victor Saavedra have aimed to create a legacy for future generations through photography, video and storytelling to create a record of those who live here. Within the Bow Valley, there are people from more than 60 countries that represent many different religions, cultures, and ethnicity.
Aceituno, who is the art director and photographer of the project, is a graduate of Universia Chile and has been creating art since a young age thanks to the influence of her art teacher mother.
Saavedra, a graduate of Instituto Professional Arcos in Chile, started the We Are Locals project three years ago and upon arriving in the area has endeavoured to contribute culturally and creatively to the Bow Valley.
“It was my father who inspired me to create something here,” Saavedra said. “I always say I was lucky to meet people from around the world here.”
For Saavedra, he wanted to see how people from around the world came to find a home in Canada and specifically the Rockies.
“I would like to see people from all around the world, how they choose to live in this area of the Bow Valley,” Saavedra said. “That is why I said I can probably do something here that I can show with my pictures.”
The project started with portraits at the beginning, before moving to interviews and videos.
“We are locals and a very supportive group. I started from scratch, most of the people lived in Banff in staff accommodations and a friend was my first model,” Saavedra said. “After that, another one comes, and another one, and then we started to make interviews. Now we are over 60 people involved. All are local.”
The exhibit was chosen as part of the community exhibition program by artsPlace to continue to provide community access to the art gallery.
“Victor and Claudia applied to that program and a jury of community members picked their exhibition with a lot of enthusiasm,” said Nicole Fougere, artsPlace programs director. “The jury felt the voice they were bringing to artsPlace was an important voice to be heard.”
The hope for people attending the exhibit is that they see the diversity of the Bow Valley reflected in the We Are Locals exhibit.
“I hope they hear meaningful stories from community members,” Fougere said. “It is important to understand who our community is and what their story is. I think this exhibition shares an aspect of local culture that is really important.”
On Sept. 23, from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m., a free party called Celebration Extravaganza For We Are Locals will be held at artsPlace.
“That evening, there will be a photo booth set up where people can take their photographs,” Fougere said. “We will include people’s photographs in a collaborative installation in one corner of the gallery space.”
The event will also include friends of Aceituno and Saavedra, who will contribute to the event.
“One of their friends is creating a signature We Are Locals cocktail and musician friends of theirs called Bueno Hermanos will be singing a signature song called We Are Locals,” Fougere said.
On Sept. 17, 18 and 24 from 10:00 a.m. to 4 p.m., there will also be the opportunity to participate in the We Are Local project, by having your photo taken.
“Community members can take their own photo and have their photo e-mailed to them,” Fougere said. “We will print copies of those photos and make it part of this collaborative and collective art installation in one corner of the gallery space.”