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World vision

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MY Place staffer hopes local exhibit can have global impact

What: The World as Our Teacher Photography Exhibit

Where : MY (Millennium) Place Upstairs Gallery

When: Exhibit reception Monday, Nov. 3, 7 p.m. Exhibit runs through the end of November.

When Christian Kessner starts to talk about the photo exhibit set to grace the upstairs gallery walls at MY Place for the month of November, he practically hums with excitement. His eyes brighten; his voice becomes animated. He practically glows with tempered idealism.

While many in his shoes would be cracking under the stress of preparing and displaying approximately 45 different shots by just over 20 different contributors, Kessner – MY Place’s jack-of-all-trades, whose duties extend to everything from routine maintenance to audio-visual wizardry and now to curating – is embracing the challenge with vigour. If he’s at all daunted by the task at hand, he’s doing a great job hiding it.

It helps the subject matter, loosely defined as travel and global vision by the exhibit’s title, The World as Our Teacher, is something Kessner is passionate about. An avid traveller himself, he envisioned a diverse exhibit of lifestyle shots from all corners of the globe on the gallery walls last year. In February he received confirmation that he could present The World as Our Teacher.

Word that he was seeking photographic and artistic contributions from anyone, professional or amateur, that had anything to offer on the subject of worldview and travel spread quickly.

"I had no idea I was going to get so much interest," says Kessner from across the table at the coffee shop, where he’s constantly interrupted by friendly greetings from staff and other patrons. "I thought maybe I’d get five or six contributors. I got over 20."

He received approximately 70 shots, most of which he says were "just stunning," and managed to narrow the group down to approximately 45 photos, with a couple of drawings and paintings thrown in for good measure. There are too many individuals with too many backgrounds to name, but Kessner says they range in age from early 20s to late 50s.

It’s a departure from the style of exhibit that reveres specific pieces by one featured artist, but Kessner isn’t interested in exclusivity. Rather, he’s hoping The World as Our Teacher will be the catalyst for likeminded individuals to join together.

This is not just about displaying pretty photos, he says, but conveying travel experiences, such as his own from a trip to Nepal, where the wealth disparity between his life in Whistler and that of a group of Nepalese children became glaringly real. He’d ultimately like to initiate a project that makes a tangible difference in the lives of people like those kids, he says, such as building a school. And he hopes the exhibit will help bring together others who also wish to use their knowledge and first world fortunes for social change on a global level.

Having the exhibit on display for an entire month means there will be an extended opportunity to make contacts.

"I’m so excited to see it come together," Kessner enthuses, "to meet people passionate about what I’m passionate about.

"I truly believe the world is our teacher," he adds, referencing the title with conviction. "And this is just the start of what I want to do."

The World as Our Teacher runs through the end of November in the upstairs gallery at MY Place. An exhibit opening party takes place this Monday, Nov. 3 from 7 to 11 p.m. and features tunes by DJ Chili, interactive visuals combining still shots and short film clips, and artist Gavin Livingstone painting live. The upstairs bar will be operating and several local restaurants, including Bavaria House, Sachi Sushi and Tandoori Grill, are making food their contribution to the international flavour of the exhibit. Call 604-935-8410 for more information.

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