By Jaclyn Hayward

As students wander the Simon Fraser Univesity campus in Burnaby, attending classes, and seeking academic mastery, the current exhibition at the nearby SFU gallery offers a reprieve from this world of constant pursuits.

Inside, artist Guadalupe Martinez takes us on a peaceful and existential journey that reminds us who we are outside of the ambitions we’ve realized as adults. Sensorial Visualities: Embodying Together and Alone displays a vulnerable reflection of what it means to be, here and now, as we are. The exhibit is the opposite of the overthinking we may have used while trying to come up with the right answer ; it’s grounded, humble, connected, maternal and gentle with our spirit.

As the show’s centrepiece, in the middle of the gallery, Martinez has created an inviting space with a circle of cushions on the floor. A soft, curious space with a handful of items scattered in the middle – but for what? The cozy spot makes you want to roll around and indulge in the sensory experiences that live in our collective memory as children- to play.

As adults, we often spend our days seated in hard chairs, touching our cold keyboards, going weeks or even months without feeling earth, sticks, and stones. These items that may now seem foreign to us- a feather, some foliage, and pieces of wood- lie in the center of the circle. What are they for? Maybe we don’t remember anymore. We’ve since been removed from such grounded things.

The space’s invitation to reconnect is a stark contrast to the routine of sitting separately, using our bodies only for work and capital. It’s the offer of an alternative way of being, existing, living, feeling. Reminiscent of our lives as children. Circle time. Shared experiences. Taking turns. Being together. Touching things. Looking at each other. Seeing each other. Distant memories to our colonized bodies. They seem foreign, but we still crave the familiarity of each.

Further into the gallery, a wall of imperfect papers covered in imperfect writing is displayed. This piece reminds us that we are all imperfect, perfect beings. We make mistakes, feel things, and want more than what we present in our PowerPoints. The writings carry on in incomplete sentences referencing things like the body, the soul, the moon. Again, it’s hard not to be reminded of childhood when we were learning to write in our duotangs, unabashedly true to our feelings, and humbled by our consistent yearning to grow and evolve.

On the walls, videos of bodies moving and photos of faces covered in hair and adorned with earthly elements feel like familiar somatic experiences filled with comfort, joy and silliness. The coldness of a rock on our cheek. The weightlessness of slow dancing in the sun. Wind-blown hair. Tummy touches.

This exhibit meditates on the sense of freedom we carry in memories but think that no longer applies to us. We are relational beings with each other and the earth. Earthly things. This land that we settle on but don’t acknowledge, humbly. But we remember. In our bodies. All of this. We are here. We are feeling.

Sensorial Visualities: Embodying Together and Alone is on display now at SFU Gallery until September 8.
For more information, visit

Simon Fraser Gallery: From Waterfront Station, you can take the R5 SFU Rapid Bus all the way up to the SFU campus on Burnaby Mountain.
To easily plan the route for your next artistic outing, you can use the TransLink Trip Planner.

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