Tiko Kerr exhibit explores shrouded figures and tolerance

Kerr is probably best known for his landscape works of Vancouver scenes, but in his new exhibit Body language, he returns to the human form. The works explore hooded or shrouded figures, in part inspired by the niqab debate.

New exhibit Body Language opens May 6

Artist Tiko Kerr sits with some of the works that will appear in his Body Language exhibit. (Lisa Christiansen/CBC)

Artist Tiko Kerr is known for his Vancouver landscapes, but his gaze is shifting back to the human form in his latest show.

In Body Language, Kerr explores hooded or shrouded figures, and how we make almost immediate value judgments about them.

"We see the shrouded figure and we immediately dismiss them or have no idea about the deeper story," Kerr told On The Coast's Lisa Christiansen. "It's more or less an opportunity for me to think about value judgments and things happening in our world in a very shorthand way."

One story that got Kerr thinking about this theme was the niqab debate that became a major part of the last federal election. It made him think about the power of perception and distrust, but he said the debate also left him hopeful about Canada and how Canada and Vancouver can be welcoming places.

"People are taking refuge from all over the world, and we have a really great opportunity to embrace and really celebrate our differences," he said.

Kerr's exhibit explores other hooded figures who are often subject to snap judgements: homeless people, young kids in hoodies and the like.

Body Language opens May 6 at the SOMA Gallery.

With files from CBC Radio One's On The Coast

Tiko Kerr holds up one of his works in his Vancouver studio. (Lisa Christiansen/CBC)