|THE OPENING is all about delving into the fascinating, quirky and wonderful visual arts in Vancouver. Each week we’ll feature an artist, cover an exhibition, discuss a lecture and everything else in-between to delve deep into who and what makes art happen!This week’s feature is brought to you by Roberta Staley.|
WORDS AND PHOTOGRAPHS: ROBERTA STALEY
The face is compelling; framed by black tousled curls, cheeks ruddy from cold and cherubic with fleeting childhood, she wears a lumpy wool turtleneck and scruffy red jacket. This is someone who has known extremes: wind, heat and winter. Being Afghan, she knows too well other hardships: poverty and the threat of insurgent violence. But the backpack straps over both shoulders show her to be a student — part of an emerging generation at the vanguard of a new Afghanistan that eschews warlordism and a religious conservatism that has oppressed women and girls for decades and prevented them from attending school.
“She is the identity of the gallery,” Wafi Gran says of the portrait, which hangs on the wall at the entranceway of The Archer & The Horseman Afghan Art Gallery & Café. The artist hasn’t given his subject a name, but her calm, perceptive gaze reveals a maturity beyond her years. “You can see in her face that she has figured out life,” muses Gran, the 31-year-old owner of The Archer, located at 208 East 16 Ave. just off Main Street.