Newcomers ponder the meaning of ‘home’ in Fredericton art exhibition

Newcomers ponder the meaning of ‘home’ in Fredericton art exhibition

Where is home?

That might be an easy question for some people. But for anyone who’s had to move across the world for a better life, there’s no easy answer.

An art installation in Fredericton featuring contributions from 127 artists who are immigrants or newcomers to the area doesn’t shy away from this tricky question.

The exhibit, hosted by the Multicultural Association of Fredericton, runs until Jan. 31 at Government House on Woodstock Road and is free to the public.

It features paintings, photography, sculpture, and textiles all focused on the question: what does home mean to you?

Alina Karmadanova, an artist originally from Irkutsk, Russia, was living in Shanghai when Russia invaded Ukraine.

After signing a letter against the war, she was summoned to the Russian consulate for a meeting, but declined. She now feels she cannot return home.

Two paintings
Karmadanova’s painting, titled ‘Propaganda: the beginning and the end’ explores the impact of propaganda. (Pat Richard/CBC)

“Since the Russian invasion in Ukraine, my feelings towards my home country and motherland became incredibly complex,” said Karmadanova, 30, who now lives in Fredericton and studies at New Brunswick College of Craft and Design.

Her piece in the show is a diptych, a painting made of two parts, called Propaganda: the beginning and the end.

“Propaganda kind of suggests to people a nice picture that will make them feel well,” Karmadanova said, adding that people targeted by propaganda might actually have a life of struggle.

“But they make this picture really attractive, so probably these bright colours is one of the ways to catch the attention and keep it and make people believe in something,” she said.

WATCH | ‘Where is home? Inside of me.’:

The meaning of ‘home’

Three newcomers create works of art around what home means to them — knowing they will probably never be able to return there.

Karmadanova said she feels like she’s lost her real home, and that she does not belong anywhere right now – though some aspects of life in Fredericton are comforting and familiar.

“Fredericton is really similar with my home town if we’re talking about weather and how small the community is. I really feel maybe it’s my new home,” Karmadanova said.

Newcomer artists deserve a chance: curator

Exhibit curator Misha Milchenko was born in Ukraine and grew up in Israel. He said there’s a “crazy amount” of talent in Fredericton, but the art scene can be challenging to break into — especially for a newcomer. 

“I’ve seen so many great immigrant artists leave for Toronto or Vancouver or somewhere they can be artists,” he said. “So I wanted to give them a place here.”

Misha Milchenko poses for a photo
Misha Milchenko is the curator of the exhibit, and said newcomer artists can face challenges getting into the art industry. (Pat Richard/CBC)

Milchenko said that immigrants are often the target of misconceptions or are homogenized.

“It’s not fun to uproot your whole life and start over in a new country, often we’re seen as kind of symbols of our home country,” he said.

Milchenko said immigrants might choose to leave because of politics, safety, or to obtain an education abroad.

He hopes people who come to the exhibit will be able to expand their view of what types of art are beautiful or popular in New Brunswick.

“There’s a lot of different viewpoints, I think it gives you a much more complete picture of immigration.”

‘Everyone misses their home,’ says artist

Adiba Samim is another artist showcasing her work in the exhibit.

“It’s normal that everyone misses their home,” said the 21-year-old, originally from Kabul, Afghanistan.

The city was captured by the Taliban in 2021. Samim’s sister worked for the Canadian Embassy, so she and her family of 10 were able to come to Canada.

Adiba Samim poses in front of her painting
Adiba Samim, origionally from Afghanistan, poses in front of her painting, which highlights the struggles of children in her home country who cannot access education. (Pat Richard/CBC)

Her painting shows a young child holding a cluster of colourful balloons as they light up the ground beneath the child’s feet. She said it represents children back home who have to work and are kept from school.

“When I see videos of kids from Afghanistan, I cry because there’s no one to support them and that’s the age they should play,” Samim said. 

She hopes to return one day, if it’s safe, and become a teacher.

Volodymyr “Vova” Kripak of Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine, fled the war with his family. They arrived in Canada last summer.

 Volodymyr “Vova” Kripak poses with his photo
Volodymyr ‘Vova’ Kripak and his family fled the war in Ukraine and came to Canada last summer. (Pat Richard/CBC)

His painting features a girl whose hair is blowing in the breeze as she stands in front of a wheat field and blue sky, an homage to the Ukrainian flag. The wind in her hair represents a fresh start, he said.

“Home, it’s not a spot on the map, it’s a spot inside of soul with your family, and only you can make a decision of where is your home,” said Kripak, 21.

“Inside of you or somewhere.”

A community spat over high-density development spills into a new forum Previous post A community spat over high-density development spills into a new forum
Sylvester Stallone’s Expend4bles leads with seven Next post Sylvester Stallone’s Expend4bles leads with seven