november, 2021

01nov16:4517:15H Okano: Till the End of Time16:45 - 17:15 Studio 6Event type:PresentationTopic:Rites & Rituals


(Monday) 16:45 - 17:15


Studio 6

Event Details

Haruko Okano: Till the end of time

Till the End of Time Artist Talk by Haruko Okano To begin this talk I would like to respectfully acknowledge that I live on the unceded, stolen territories of the Coast Salish people, particularly the xwməθkwəyəm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), and selíK lwK itulh (Tsleil-waututh) Nations. It is with deep gratitude that I am able to live, work and enjoy this place I call home. Well before I began training as a Death Doula, I had used my art practice focused largely on community engagement and collaborations. Much of my earlier work concentrated on cultural, socio-political issues of inequality. Now I am developing ways to hold space that is open to a more embodied visceral process as rite of passage. that is layered, deep and cyclic like nature. Death in its various manifestation is at the forefront of many people’s minds and I sense and witness the anticipatory grief being expressed because it is hard to know what to do or what is coming. Like our discomfort in facing our own death in this culture; we as a species are equally resistant to facing how we are complicit in the wounding of the earth and the harm and violence that is so prevalent in the world. My creative process gives birth to humble forms of public art and community engagement. All of my various areas of practice in reiki, chi gung, my participation as a sun dancer with the Otosi Nahan Sundance in Alberta, and training as a death doula are being braided together so that I can respond authentically to uncertainty with the means to support and walk with other humans and non-humans. It is the combination of all of these experiences that guide the aesthetics, Intention and application of my art to my ecological, humanitarian concerns and growing sense of responsibility. Much of what I create involves community participation or audience involvement as an integral part of bringing kinetic works to full fruition. Whether I am cultivating fungus, experimenting with mould, living or detritus natural materials, it is my conversations with materials and with community that informs how and what is created. This requires patience mixed with curiosity and commitment of time. The separation between humans and humans to other inhabitants of the earth expresses a need to heal all our relationships. It is with that awareness that I am moving towards using the works I make, as catalysts facilitating conversations on death, dying and loss to developing the stamina to face uncertainty without collapsing. Transitioning the role of art out of being a collectable/consumable object or experience, into being a shared emotional, and cognitive unlearning/relearning is something art as a creative process can facilitate. Through investigating what lies beneath contemporary human behaviour and re- discovering the generative resiliency we have beyond our primal survival instincts, may be to reclaim our humanity within the human.

Speakers for this event

  • Haruko Okano

    Haruko Okano

    I am a 75-year-old Japanese-Canadian, interdisciplinary artist. I was born in the last year of WWII to a single mother, in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. She passed away when I was 9 years old at which point, I became a permanent ward of the Provincial Children’s Aid Society. I’ve had a near death experience in my mid-twenties. Loss in its’ various forms is something I am familiar with. But I am here, alive and am as curious about life as I am about death and loss. I have just completed a course to begin training as a Death Doula. I have received training in reiki, all the levels into a teacher’s degree with Harue Kanamitsu and Phyllis Victory. I am a practitioner of Chi Gung, having trained for 12 years with Sifu Tchong Ta Chen who died when he was 92. As much as I am involved in holistic energy healing modalities, I continue to be involved with human rights, anti-racism and other forms of advocacy based on my continued learning about indigenous protocols of engagement both in Canada and South America. I am a member of the Gesturing Towards a Decolonial Futures Collective and Primary Colours, the Vancouver based team developing new metrics for bringing indigenous artists and their practices to the forefront of Candian Art. I am just completing a 2 year artist residency working alongside 4 other invite artsts and have just been accepted for a 4 month artist residency for 2021.