Winnipeg Arts Council

Picturing a Bright Future: The Eritrean Women’s Photography Project

Sarah Crawley worked with a group of Eritrean women over an eighteen-month period exploring the creative potential of photography. The group met regularly to make photographs and learn both darkroom and digital techniques. Just as important was the camaraderie of the group; many sessions involved the exchange of food and discussions around the women's new lives in Canada.

When the Eritrean community applied to participate in WITH ART it was with the hope that the women would learn not only skills and creative communication, but build confidence in their new home. The Eritrean Community in Winnipeg, Inc., has a twenty-eight year history with a strong record of valuable projects and commitment to the community. Lambros Kyriakakos, President of the Eritrean Community In Winnipeg, Inc. says “Eritrea has a long history of struggle for freedom in Africa. This project is about the revelation of a strong spirit engraved in the lives and experiences of Eritrean women.”

The completed project was celebrated in an exhibition opening at aceartinc., 2-290 McDermot Avenue, on Saturday, October 23, 2010, that featured Eritrean food and a traditional coffee ceremony. Photographs by the individual women were exhibited alongside the collective quilt. The exhibition continued at the gallery until November 3, 2010.

The collective quilt was later installed in the Immigrant Centre at 100 Adelaide Street on May 18, 2011.

The project had as much impact on artist Sarah Crawley as it did on the women. Sarah said “I am honoured to have met and worked with the project participants and the Eritrean community. Taking part in this collaborative art-making process has been an extremely meaningful and rewarding experience that has truly enriched my art practice.”

The artist and the Winnipeg Arts Council are grateful to the Winnipeg Foundation and to PrairieView School of  Photography for their generous support that greatly enhanced this project.

Sarah Crawley with the Eritrean Community in Winnipeg

In her art practice, Sarah Crawley explores aspects of memory, identity and non-verbal communication. She is interested in memory’s impact on identity and the non-verbal ways that identity is communicated. She is interested as well in objects or situations that indicate the human touch – things made or done by hand. Crawley uses many different photographic processes to create images with each body of work dictating the processes involved. Crawley has exhibited across Canada in solo and group exhibitions as well as internationally. She enjoys sharing her passion for photography and is an active member of the visual art community in Winnipeg.

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