Manuel Axel Strain: Why does this land seem so small?

  January 13 – April 21, 2023

College Art Gallery 1

Curator, Leah Taylor

Opening Reception on Friday, January 13th – the artist will be in attendance

Creating artwork in collaboration with and reference to their relatives, their shared experiences become a source of agency that resonates through their work with performance, land, painting, sculpture, photography, video, sound and installation. Their artworks often envelop subjects in relation with ancestral and community ties, Indigeneity, labour, resource extraction, gender, Indigenous medicine and life forces. Strain often perceives their work to confront and undermine the imposed realities of colonialism. Proposing a new space beyond its oppressive systems of power.

Manuel Axel Strain, Why does this Land seem so small?, 2020, oil on canvas, 121.9 x 91.4 cm. 
Image courtesy the artist and Unit 17 (Vancouver).

Manuel Axel Strain, The regalia my dad tried to pass on to me, Strain’s father’s old work overalls, safety vests and rope, found family photo of Strain’s father and uncles, tourniquets, dimensions variable, 2021.

Manuel Axel Strain, Cutting through a sickly white child to show my nephew and my brother, 2022, Oil on canvas. Image courtesy of the artist.


Manuel Axel Strain is a 2-Spirit artist from the lands and waters of the xʷməθkʷəyəm (Musqueam), Simpcw and Syilx peoples, based in the sacred region of their q̓ic̓əy̓ (Katzie) and qʼʷa:n̓ƛʼən̓ (Kwantlen) relatives. Strain has contributed work to the Richmond Art Gallery, Vancouver Art Gallery, Surrey Art Gallery, UBCO Fina Gallery and were longlisted for the 2022 Sobey Award.