New graphic novel exhibition presents stories of strife, loss and triumph at PAMA

The new Graphic Novel Exhibit For a Social Cause brings together three graphic novels by diverse artists and thinkers spanning generations from across Canada and abroad. Opening June 8 at Peel Art Gallery, Museum and Archives (PAMA), this exhibition explores how this genre raises awareness about the complex human condition through moving illustrations and fictional stories of strife, triumph and loss to convey moral lessons. Join PAMA  for an Exhibition Reception on Sunday, June 16, from 2 to 4 pm.

In his 1951 wordless graphic novel, Southern Cross: A Novel of the South Seas, the late British-born, Canadian artist Laurence Hyde created 118 self-contained prints using the wood engraving technique. The dramatic black and white impressions effectively represent the tragic story of a young family trapped alone on a remote, South Pacific island during an atomic bomb testing, alluding to the unthinkable aftermath of such a horrific act.

British Columbia-based Indigenous artist Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas invents a new visual language in his 2008 large scale watercolour and ink masterpiece RED: A Haida Manga, turned graphic novel in 2009. He accomplishes this by mixing Pacific Northwest Coast Haida imagery and a traditional oral story with Manga, popular Japanese-style comics. RED is an epic tale about an obsessive warrior-leader scared by the kidnapping of his sister Jaada and driven by vengeance. Unable to forgive or forget, he goes on a violent quest in hopes of reuniting with a lost loved one and punishing the offender. His actions exact a heavy price on himself and others.

Brampton’s own graphic novel writer Ricky Lima and French graphic artist Nicolas Londeix bring a modern twist to a conventional narrative of romantic conquest in Happily Ever Aftr. Two heroines must navigate the troubled waters of family pressure, kidnapping and even boredom in their journey to self-realization and self-fulfilment. Combining digital art with humorous puns, this scripted comic book brings to the forefront issues of women’s empowerment, sexual identity and social expectations.

“All three works are cleverly executed relying on the power of images—one strategically and successively linked to the next—to communicate serious social messages, and act as a warning to the repercussions of adverse human actions. Southern Cross and RED come to grievous conclusions while Happily Ever Aftr offers hope if change is embraced. In the end, the course of humanity and its future is one of our own making. We alone can decide our fate based on the choices we make,“ explained PAMA Curator, Sharona Adamowicz-Clements

Some key dates to note are the PAMA Kids P.A. Day Activity on June 10, from 10 am to 3 pm, the Exhibition Reception on June 16, from 2 to 4 pm and the PAMA Thursdays, Caricature Workshop on June 20, from 6 to  8:30 pm. Enjoy an Artist Talk with Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas on Sunday, Aug. 18, at 2 pm and the PAMA Kids Staycation Activity on  Aug. 20, from 10 am to 3 pm. Participate in the Self-publishing Workshop with Graphic Novel Writer Ricky Limaon Sept. 28, from 1 to  3:30 pm. Pre-registration is required for all and prices vary.  Visit pama.peelregion.ca for details.

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