Grapes and Tortillas [Workers Arts & Heritage Centre]

Serving to preserve, honour, and promote 
the culture & history of all working people.

51 Stuart Street, Hamilton  |  905.522.3003       
Public Hours:  Wed to Sat from 10:00 am - 4:00 pm


Deborah Koenker: Grapes and Tortillas

September 8 - December 16


Deborah Koenker’s project, Grapes and Tortillas, draws into focus 96 temporary agricultural workers from Mexico, contracted to work in the fruit orchards, greenhouses, farms and vineyards of BC’s Okanagan Valley. These individuals represent a fraction of the thousands of seasonal farm workers who come to Canada every year under Canada’s Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program (SAWP).

This exhibition, a tribute to farm workers’ hard work and sacrifices, highlights the cultural isolation they tolerate to realize their desires for a better life for themselves and their families while reflecting the profound impact of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) on the Mexican economy, food production and the lives of Mexicans. Through the images and words of these workers, this exhibition underlines the significant contribution of seasonal agricultural workers to the Canadian economy, and conveys the real, true cost of our food, and who is paying the price for it.

Visit our website, Twitter and Facebook pages for updates on program offerings presented alongside Grapes and Tortillas over our fall season, including two PA Day camps, Farm to Table Printmaking with Ingrid Mayrhofer and Workers Calaveras with Maria Lemus, and a public screening of the documentary Dolores (Dir: Peter Bratt, 2017) on October 26th at 7 pm.

About the Artist:

Deborah Koenker is a Vancouver, BC Canada based interdisciplinary artist with interests in writing and curatorial projects, and former Associate Professor at Emily Carr University of Art and Design. For the past three decades she has exhibited prints, drawings, sculpture and mixed media installations in public galleries and artist-run centres in Canada, the USA, Mexico and Spain. She was a founding member and first Director of Malaspina Printmakers Workshop for professional artists.

Her installations explore social and feminist issues using a range of media including audio, text/narrative, performance, sculptural objects, kinesthetic involvement, photography, print, textile and collaboration.  Her work in drawing, print media and collage is a parallel practice to her installation work. Koenker received a B.A. from the University of California, Santa Barbara in Fine Art, did post graduate studies at Central St. Martins (London, England), and earned an M.F.A. from Claremont Graduate University in Southern California. Her work is represented in 29 public collections in Canada and the United States.

For more information, contact Tara Bursey, Program Coordinator, at or (905) 522-3003 ex. 29

Friday, September 8, 2017 (All day) to Saturday, December 16, 2017 (All day)
Friday, September 8, 2017 - 19:00 to 22:00
Workers Arts and Heritage Centre, 51 Stuart St, Hamilton