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Going to galleries is one of the few pandemic-friendly activities that I actually feel safe doing right now, and the East Side Culture Crawl has a kickass lineup of local artists ready to show their stuff (from an appropriate distance). “I think the Crawl is very important because art brings people together, and it’s been a long time since anyone has able to actually go out and do the things they love,” says artist and Culture Crawl participant, Kayan Hamadeh.
Hamadeh has dabbled in art all her life, but it wasn’t until she first visited her father’s studio (he’s also a painter) that she really felt inspired. “I started using professional brushes and canvases; I took myself seriously realized that this was something that I have always wanted to do,” she says. Hamadeh’s paintings are part of her own journey of cultural self-discovery, and much of her artistry stems from her Lebanese background. “I grew up around mostly Arab women, and I think the world of art is seriously lacking people of colour and strong women who have stories to tell,” she says.
As she learns more about her Lebanese heritage, Hamadeh feels more cultural pride and the need to express that through her art. “These women immigrated to Canada with nothing—and made it,” says the artist. She likes to paint real people, and much of her work is inspired by her mother, who raised her in Vancouver with a strong sense of Lebanese culture and values. “I guess I am still discovering my roots, but the more I learn, the more proud I feel,” she says.
Hamadeh’s painting entitled “hypebae” is the face of the Culture Crawl this year. It features a woman of colour wearing a mask and focuses on fashion, which is something the artist has recently taken an interest in. “I can’t afford these pieces, but I can paint them,” she jokes. The woman’s face mask is just as luxe as her fancy duds; Hamadeh thinks that face coverings will be a part of our wardrobes for a long time coming. “It’s not just about COVID any more—it’s about looking cool,” she says.
Culture Crawl participants can check out the work of Hamadeh and the 200-plus other artists at various venues across the city (there’s an online appointment scheduler here) or virtually. The Crawl runs for three weeks—November 2-9, 12-15, and 19-22. “I think it’s really important to get out there and culture yourself, especially within a city like this that has a lot of underground artists,” says Hamadeh. “Now’s the time to go out and discover.”
November 2-9, 12-15, and 19-22In-person and onlineculturecrawl.ca