Tashme Sisters

Posted on: July 31st, 2019
August 11, 2019 – October 27, 2019 all-day

Featuring Barb Miiko Gravlin and Mary Akemi Morris 

August 11 – October 27, 2019 

Opening reception: Sunday, August 18, 2 pm with attendance by artists and music by Bruce Tatemichi and friends. Light refreshments will be provided.


Barb Miiko Gravlin and Mary Akemi Morris were born two years apart near the end of WW2, with the surname Nishimura, in Tashme internment camp. Their interest in art, and the eventual significance of artmaking in their lives sprang from the isolated intensity and restive imaginings of their shared childhood. But each developed her artistic skills and vision in the practice of very different mainstream conventions: abstraction and realism. There was no ostensible acknowledgment of their Japanese Canadian roots. The naming of themselves as “Tashme Sisters” reflects an awakening to identity that, if not expressed in the works in this exhibition, is firmly demonstrated by the inclusion of recently produced “side-bar” materials such as Morris’ researched panels on the family history, and Gravlin’s illustrated book of childhood tales and memories, Yellow Cherries.

Their approaches to art practice contrast sharply as well. Gravlin’s early-on immersion in the exploding Toronto art scene of the 1960s, the rhapsodic bursts of painting mixed into the doleful reality of making a living in commercial design work, summarizes the episodic nature of her life in art. It’s a rambunctious narrative compared to her sister’s pragmatic path. Mary Morris obtained a Fine Arts degree at the University of Toronto, became a teacher, and pursued painting as a steady honing of technique and a carefully integrated and relaxed activity in her life.