Mami Wata's Heritage
Bernadette Phan and Valérie d. Walker
May 14 - June 25, 2022 | Strathcona

This exhibition by Valérie d. Walker and Bernadette Phan is an homage to our mothers and foremothers, the life givers and transmitters of our creative gifts. The gracious determined survivors of diasporic migrations, colonial takeovers, wars, who will always love us, their powers kept us safe. The works presented propose a blues song of love, lament, hidden stories, social change and awe. It is our intention to bring forth these confluent herstories, memories and transmissions with gratitude and humility. We want to celebrate their strength and courage, amidst many hardships, to provide and nourish the future.

In our respective fields, we are both engaged in an embodied practice and invest ourselves in quotidian gestures that demand repetition, labor and care. Haptic perspectives are incorporated into the materiality of processes, whether they are situated in: the tending of the indigo vat and slow-dyeing of the fabric, the Afro-futuristic photographs of Valerie; the active quietude of stipple paint by Bernadette. A common thread the artists share is the notion of water as essential, elemental, migratory. Water is flow and dispersion, it permeates every surface. It is memory, the protective feeling of floating in the womb, a bond of safety, freedom. The works unfold into layers, ripples, and waves. Embodying the seen and the unseen, an experiential trust in the gestation, experience and patience needed for a desirable outcome. They meditate on beauty and horror that exist side by side as we are all witnessing at this time. The multivalent narratives proposed in these sensuous idioms usher us in the now to experience our interconnections and reflect on what makes us strong in our fragility.

The percepts in the gallery offer a respite to the somatic hardship and endemic anxiety we are all undergoing. Our heritage is an invitation to spark joy and spread seeds of peace with our every breath for future generations. "Mami Wata's flow"- is an offering to perpetuate a sustainable loving transmission. 

 Exhibition description courtesy of Monica Reyes Gallery 

Valérie d. Walker and Bernadette Phan  


Valérie d. Walker and Bernadette Phan

Using Format