Piecework is a colourful and engaging major textile piece by Renay Egami currently installed at the Kelowna International Airport in the Kelowna Art Gallerys satellite space.
Egami, a 1989 Emily Carr graduate now on faculty at UBC Okanagan, earned an MFA in Fiber and Material Studies at the School of the Art Institute, Chicago. Including sculptural pieces, video, light projection and immersive installations, Egami creates work with a strong visual presence based on themes addressing her Japanese heritage, the immigrant experience, displacement of communities, and memorials. Previous exhibitions include Picnic (2007), a body of work inspired by travel to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum and Peace Park; Unsolved Mysteries (2004), a commemorative garden and video work about her father, a first generation (Issei) Japanese immigrant; and Bittersweet (2003), a series of cast sugar pillow forms commemorating Japanese labour on Alberta sugar beet farms.
Piecework runs 28 feet along the airport wall space. Hundreds of 8-inch letters cut from cloth form a single long red-and-white curtain. Repeatedly spelling I AM HERE, the letters speak to the invisible labour of marginalized women in a highly globalized garment industry, and in particular to the experiences of Egamis mother, a non-English speaking immigrant from Japan who made her living sewing during the 1950s. Through Piecework, Egami seeks to reclaim space, voice and visibility.