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R to L: Tova Vickar with her grandson's Vaughn and Mason at the ARTiculate Our Rights Exhibit

R to L: Larry and Tova Vickar with their grandson Vaughn at the ARTiculate Our Rights Exhibit

photo credit: CMHR, Jessica Sigurdson.

Larry and Tova Vickar Made The CMHR Aware Of A Florida Exhibit That Has Led to the CMHR's ARTICULATE OUR RIGHTS EXHIBIT MARKING MB'S 150th ANNIVERSARY

by Rhonda Spivak October 1, 2020

Larry and Tova  Vickar, who regularly spend winters in Sarasota Florida, saw an innovative annual exhibition there where youth were able to display their artwork about the importance of diversity and accepting others for who they are, called Embracing Our Differences. The Vickars made the CMHR aware of this Florida exhibit. As Larry Vickar says, "I liked what I saw in the Embracing our Differences exhibit and was struck by the notion that this type of exhibit could be an exciting  model for an exhibit for our own CMHR to put on. I thought it was a natural fit for the CMHR. I approached the senior management of the CMHR with the idea of putting on this exhibit, and last August, the CMHR said that they liked the idea and they wanted to make it a special  CMHR project to mark Manitoba's 150th Anniversary Year. The CMHR adapted the idea and changed the name of the exhibit from Embracing our Differences to ARTiculate Our Rights, which I think is a terrific name for the CMHR exhibit."
Vickar recalls that he met with the Brenna Wilm from Embracing Our Differences a few times while he was in Sarasota and "the last time was in my condo on the conference line with two people from the CMHR in Winnipeg and an employee of the CMHR in Ottawa."
As Mena Gainpaulsingh, CEO of the Friends of the CMHR wrote to the Winnipeg Jewish Review in an email when the Vickars made the CMHR aware of this innovative annual exhibition in Florida  "We were struck by the impact of this model, and the potential to adapt it to create an outdoor exhibition about the future of human rights through the lens of Manitoba youth, given that 2020 is the 150th anniversary of Manitoba entering Confederation. After months of promoting the opportunity to Manitoban teenagers and receiving submissions from across the province, we opened ARTiculate Our Rights in July." The exhibition opened at the Forks on July 15 with art by 26 youths presented on 13 large installations mounted on cement blocks, which are on display outside throughout the Forks until the end of October, 2020.

The Vickar Automotive Group provided seed money for the ARTiculate Our Rights Exhibit and Gainpaulsingh says "We are so thankful to the Vickar Automotive Group for their generous support of ARTiculate Our Rights."
Vickar points out that the annual Sarasota exhibit is modeled after Coexistence, a traveling  exhibit of very large panels which was created  by the Museum on the Seam in Jerusalem some 20 years ago to promote peace and understanding.  The Sarasota exhibit Embracing our Differences uses the power of the arts to educate and inspire to create a better world, and envisions a world that respects differences and actively rejects hatred and prejudice. The Embracing Our Differences exhibition is a juried exhibit that consists of 50 billboard-sized works of art, each accompanied by an inspirational quote and it has taken place since 2004.There are a number of NGO's who are sponsors of the Embracing Our Differences art exhibit, including the Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee. The CMHR exhibit differs from the Sarasota exhibit in that the CMHR exhibit focuses strictly on submissions by youth, whereas the Sarasota exhibit encourages not only students but amateur and professional artists to submit pieces.


Sarah Wertheimer, who is currently the Executive Director of the Embracing Our Differences non-profit organization wrote to the Winnipeg Jewish Review in an email that the Sarasota Embracing Our Differences "art exhibit has been in existence for more than 17 years now. We have received incredibly positive feedback from community members and visitors over the years. To date, more than 3.3 million people have visited our exhibit, in addition, for last year’s exhibit, we received 16,118 submissions from 127 countries, all 50 states and 398 schools."



The CMHR's ARTiculate Our Rights exhibit took a year to plan and launch. As Gainpaulsingh explains, "The artwork on display explores so many important themes, such as the importance of equality, privacy and freedom of expression, LGBTQ2+ and non-binary rights, Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, accessibility, mental health and much more. The submissions highlight how thoughtful and talented Manitoba’s youth truly are."
Gainpaulsingh notes that the CMHR "received 116 submissions" from young people ages 13-18, and "26 of those are currently on display." Submissions for the outdoor exhibition were chosen by a panel of six jurists:


  • Candace Lipischak, Multidisciplinary Métis Artist
  • Mercedes Maduka, Artist
  • Connie Wyatt-Anderson, Educator, Northern Manitoba
  • Jackie Wild, Manitoba 150 Representative
  • Karine Duhamel, Curator, Indigenous Content, CMHR
  • Lise Pinkos, Manager, Education and Professional Programs, CMHR


Gainpaulsingh adds, "We also have plans to display the remainder of the submissions in an indoor exhibition at the Museum, however these plans have been delayed by the pandemic. "



When asked how the CMHR decided that this exhibit would be a project worthy of being done for Manitoba's 150th anniversary year, Gainpaulsingh responded, "This milestone is an opportunity to reflect on Manitoba’s past, and on the future we want to create together. We need youth to consider what our future should look like, and the role that human rights will play. This exhibition is an opportunity to do just that."



Vickar says that he has been very impressed with the quality of the CMHR exhibit and urges people to come out to the Forks to see it. "There are several installations that are really very meaningful on different subjects such as on diversity of  religion, diversity of colour and  geographical background, to name a few."


Gainpaulsingh notes that because the exhibition is outdoors, the Museum has not been able to track specific attendance numbers, but they have been receiving very positive feedback. " It has been amazing to hear from so many folks about the quality of the submissions and how thought-provoking they are. It’s also wonderful for people to engage with these incredible works of art without having to come to an indoor public space, which they might not feel comfortable doing during the pandemic."
Gainpaulsingh adds that "to ensure the exhibition is accessible, people can use mobile devices to retrieve text-to-speech and visual descriptions from QR codes at each installation."



She also states "I’d like to recognize The Forks and Parks Canada for allowing us to use their space for the exhibition. And, in addition to the Vickar Automotive Group, I’d like to thank PCL Construction and Crosier Kilgour & Partners Ltd. for their generous support."



Vickar notes that the hope is that eventually the ARTiculate Our Rights exhibit will tour across Canada. "That would be very exciting," he says.  
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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

Opinions expressed in letters to the editor or articles by contributing writers are not necessarily endorsed by Winnipeg Jewish Review.