Highway of Tears, Goldenrod and Peonies Photo: David Barrowman
Missing / Highway of Tears – The highway refers to a short stretch of Highway 16 between Prince Rupert and Prince George, where 18 girls, almost all Aboriginal, were murdered. On the piece of highway from Vancouver to Edmonton RCMP records show that over 200 people have disappeared on this route.
The Highway of Tears is an installation of individual portraits alternating with flower paintings, and was inspired by two poems of the Pulitzer Prize winning American poet Mary Oliver, entitled “Goldenrod” and “Peonies”. These nature poems form a potent metaphor for the young lives lost.
The estimated 120 women who have disappeared and/or been murdered, from a two city block radius within Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside is beyond comprehension. That these women were involved in the sex trade (part of society’s most disenfranchised) and a disproportionate number of them Aboriginal, is an indictment to all of us – it happened under our watch, with very little public outcry. Although we are no Willie Pickton, as Canadians we find ourselves in the court of public opinion for our inaction.
As tragic as the deaths of these women are, united in their circumstances, their legacy is a powerful and collective voice and this is the intended empowerment I bring to the paintings in the Missing Series.
Venter states, “I hope my paintings achieve some type of memorial, awareness and resolution in converting the subject into life affirming art.”
Sponsored by The Honeywell Charitable Fund, Kim Miller, San Juan County, Town of Friday Harbor, San Juan Island Community Foundation, Printonyx, Harbor Rentals and Browne’s Home Center.
MISSING Number 3 – Photo: David Barrowman
Flower Memorial – Photo: David Barrowman
Pyramid detail – Photo: David Barrowman