Sara Lopez Assu
Sara Lopez Assu: photo by Wild Shay Photography
Born in Montreal (Tiohtià:ke), Sara received post-secondary degrees from Marianopolis College and Concordia University, in Commerce and Urban Planning. She worked in child development, communications, and academic counseling for many years following her schooling.
A desire to raise her kids (Kwakwa̱ka̱ʼwakw and Nuu-chah-nulth) in community, immersed in their culture, led her to move to Campbell River, the traditional territory of the Liǧʷiɫdax̌ʷ people, in 2016. Since then, Sara has been engaged in the community through volunteer Board and governance work and a career in culture, communications and corporate social responsibility.
Since 2020, Sara has been the Executive Director of the Campbell River Art Gallery. At the time, the Gallery already had a social justice direction and a goal to decolonize its practices and structures under a new Strategic Plan. Sara has taken this to heart, and has been working tirelessly to turn these sometimes vague principles into concrete action and organizational accountability towards reconciliation.
Curator of Contemporary Art
Born and raised at Mohkinstsis, I have lived on Vancouver Island for 15 years, and have been the Curator of Contemporary Art at the Campbell River Art Gallery since 2018. I work daily toward being a good ally as a settler on the unceded, traditional territories of the Liǧʷiɫdax̌ʷ speaking people; the Wei Wai Kai, Wei Wai Kum, and Kwiakah First Nations. Through a research and relationship based approach, I work to ensure that diverse communities see their experiences reflected in the cultural offerings of the institution. I aim to create community impact through exhibitions and programs that support the endurance of communities, the resurgence and celebration of diverse cultural perspectives, and the recovery of erased histories. By working in consultation with Ligwiłda’xw Knowledge Keepers, I strive to ground exhibition work on the territory, and take real steps toward decolonizing the institution and my curatorial approach by re-examining current practices, asking who they are meant to serve, and adapting ways of working to respond to the needs of artists and communities.
I completed a Masters in art history and visual studies at the University of Victoria on the unceded territories of the Lekwungen speaking peoples of the Songhees and Esquimalt Nations, in 2015. My thesis examined transnational and post-colonial frameworks for studying art histories, the rich artistic traditions and modernities of West Asia, and contemporary West Asian artists of the diaspora living and working on Turtle Island. I focussed specifically on Parviz Tanavoli, the father of modern Iranian sculpture, who had his first solo at the Vancouver Art Gallery in 2023 since immigrating from Iran in 1989.
Over the five years I have been here at the CRAG, I have seen the institution professionalize, shift to a social justice mandate, make real community impact, and gain wider recognition in the field of arts and culture on Turtle Island. I am honoured to work with the brilliant team, inspired by the mutual support, and amazed by the work a small and dedicated group can accomplish.
Jenelle Pasiechnik photo by Wild Shay Photography
Programs & Outreach Manager
Growing up on the unceded territory of Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh) Nation in North Vancouver, I have now called many communities on Vancouver Island my home over the past 15 years. With a history and education as a professional artist at Emily Carr University of Art and Design, I was excited to start working with the Campbell River Art Gallery in 2021 as organizer of the Raven Artisan Market collaborating with the CRAG to showcase artisans from across Vancouver Island.
In 2021 I accepted the position of Operations Manager at the CRAG and then transitioned to Programs & Outreach Manager in 2022.
My past involvement with different Non-Profit Organizations and Societies garners appreciation for the work that is going on at the CRAG and I am looking forward to supporting this Non-Profit that aligns with many of my own ethics and values. As an Artist, Event Organizer and Manager I am excited to bring my years of experience to the CRAG and support this fantastic team, engage with the community and work with the remarkable professional artists in our exhibitions.
In my own professional art practice I am passionate about making space for an inclusive community through art and action, uplifting voices of under-represented groups including promoting body positivity and 2SLBGTQ+ representation.
Shilo Coulter, Diane Daly and Tom Lackey.
Board of Trustees
Chair: Denise Mitchell
Co-chair: Cole Speck
Co-chair: Cory Cliffe
Treasurer: Lacey Service
Secretary: Libby King
Officer: Ian Baikie
Officer: Pete Allen
Officer: Shawn Decaire
Officer: Brett Woodside
Officer: Jane Hirst
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