George Gilmour Members’ Gallery
As an adult language teacher to newcomers to Canada, Susan Cunningham’s role is to assist her students in acquiring proficiency in English, a skill that can be the key to success. She is acutely conscious of her privilege and of the power imbalance that persists between her and her students, just because by a trick of fate she was born in Canada. The majority of her students are highly educated, experienced and respected in their fields. All of them have risked leaving everything they know to begin new lives here.
Periodically, Cunningham’s students give her small gifts they have brought with them from their homelands. Each gift represents pride in their culture and functions as an assertion of their own identity. As well, these objects are tokens of their esteem and expressions of gratitude.
In this body of work, Cunningham has sought to elevate these gifts to objects of totemic proportions, four or more times their original size. Grouped together in a grid, they take on a presence that honours the people who gifted them.
Born and raised in Toronto, Susan Cunningham has been an active member of Open Studio since the early 90s. Primarily a screenprinter, she has exhibited locally, nationally and internationally. Cunningham is represented in various collections such as Air Canada, Seiko Canada, Falconbridge, BMO and the Government of Canada, Foreign Affairs.