Born To Represent… Diversity!

By Franke James, (Teresa’s sister and cheerleader!)

Teresa Pocock’s art exhibition, “Born to Represent”, opened on Monday, July 22, 2019. The one-week show was presented by Planned Lifetime Advocacy Network (PLAN) at 312 Main Street, in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. The exhibition featured Teresa’s music videos, self-talk poetry, and numerous large-scale artworks. 

The date, July 22, 2019, was also significant because it was Teresa’s 55th birthday and represented a major milestone in her life. It was Teresa’s third solo show since 2016, and the biggest one yet!

Teresa uses words, pictures, and music to express her unique worldview and to assert her rights to inclusion. She challenges the systemic discrimination faced by people who are different — especially those who have intellectual disabilities.

Behind the Scenes: The Advance Show Preparation

On the left, artist Teresa Pocock holds up her "Heart Child" poem which is printed as a large 4' x 5' poster on styrene. On the right, Teresa points and laughs at her poem "Eyes of the Tiger". Both images were taken on July 21, 2019 at the hanging of Teresa's art show. Photos by Franke James.
Teresa Pocock holds up her “Heart Child” poem which is printed as a large 4′ x 5′ poster. On the right, Teresa points and laughs at her poem “Eyes of the Tiger”.

Organizing Teresa’s art show was a team effort which included the artist and many people pitching in to help. PLAN’s Director, Rebecca Pauls helped Teresa, myself and my husband Billiam James hang the show. Teresa told us which pieces she wanted in the show and also specified in which order they were to be hung. 

Teresa watches as Billiam James applies graphic lettering to the gallery wall at 312 Main on July 21, 2019. Photo by Franke James.
Teresa watches as Billiam James applies graphic lettering to the gallery wall at 312 Main St

Teresa watched with interest as my husband applied the ‘Born to Represent’ show signage to the gallery wall.

The gallery at 312 Main is a large space with screens at each end, which proved ideal to showcase Teresa’s videos from 2014 to 2018. In the video above Teresa is dancing to her “I am Alive” video from 2016.

Teresa Pocock wears headphones and leans toward the microphone in a radio interview with Cathy Browne for CO-OP Radio on July 24, 2019. Photo by Franke James.
Teresa Pocock wears headphones and leans toward the microphone in a radio interview with Cathy Browne for CO-OP Radio

The BC Alliance for Arts and Culture distributed a media release about Teresa’s show which helped spread the news. Teresa participated in two radio interviews and was remarkably comfortable and outgoing on-air. She invited people to come out to see her art — and in one live interview even gave out my mobile phone number. (Yikes!)

Teresa stands and looks intently at her artwork hung on the long gallery wall at 312 Main St. Photo by Isabella Sarmiento, This Is It Studios. July 22, 2019.
Teresa stands and looks intently at her artwork hung on the long gallery wall at 312 Main St.

Teresa put on her favorite tie-dye shirt for the opening. She said it was “tremendous” to see her art on the walls. (This photo, and all of the following event photos from July 22, 2019, are by This Is It Studios. Thank you, Isabella Sarmiento!)

On July 22, 2019, Teresa raises her hands and dances, mimicking the screen image of herself in a Change.org video from 2014. Photo by Isabella Sarmiento, This Is It Studios.
On July 22, 2019, Teresa raises her hands and dances, mimicking the screen image of herself in a Change.org video from 2014.

“I was born with what was seen to be a disability,” raps Teresa. “But no, no, no. It’s just me, me, me… living in reality.” Teresa has Down syndrome and is proud of her identity. Nevertheless, the discrimination and adversity she has experienced as a result of her genetic condition have inspired her to find her voice as an artist, author, and self-advocate.

Artist Teresa Pocock and Rebecca Pauls, Director of PLAN stand in front of Teresa's artwork at 312 Main Street, Vancouver. July 22, 2019. Photo by Isabella Sarmiento, This Is It Studios.
Artist Teresa Pocock and Rebecca Pauls, Director of PLAN stand in front of Teresa’s artwork at 312 Main St, Vancouver. July 22, 2019.

“As an active, contributing citizen in Vancouver’s Gastown neighbourhood, Teresa’s art taps into the often unspoken thoughts and pleasures of modern life,” says Rebecca Pauls, Director of PLAN. “For anyone looking for a bit of everyday joy, self-expression, and connection, this exhibit is not to be missed.”

A visitor pauses to read Teresa's poem 'Heart Child' at the opening event on July 22, 2019. Photo by Isabella Sarmiento, This Is It Studios.
A visitor pauses to read Teresa’s poem ‘Heart Child’ at the opening event on July 22, 2019.
Groups of people are engaged in conversation at the opening of Born To Represent on July 22, 2019. Teresa's large colorful artwork hangs along one wall. Photo by Isabella Sarmiento, This Is It Studios.
Groups of people are engaged in conversation at the opening of Teresa Pocock’s Born To Represent exhibition on July 22, 2019.

Teresa’s art show drew about 75 guests. It was a diverse mix of people from the disability sector, environmental groups, health, education, arts, music, as well as politicians and staff from the municipal, provincial and federal governments, who came out to support Teresa. 

Vancouver East MP Jenny Kwan stands beside artist Teresa Pocock at the opening of Born To Represent on July 22, 2019. Photo by Isabella Sarmiento, This Is It Studios.
Vancouver East MP Jenny Kwan stands beside artist Teresa Pocock at the opening of Born To Represent on July 22, 2019.

Teresa was honoured to have her Member of Parliament, Jenny Kwan come to her art show.

Teresa Pocock shows Jenny Kwan the text 'my human body' in her poem, 'Eyes of the Tiger' on July 22, 2019. Photo: This Is It Studios.
Teresa shows Jenny Kwan the text ‘my human body’ in her poem, ‘Eyes of the Tiger’

Teresa showed her poem Eyes of the Tiger to Jenny Kwan.

Teresa Pocock discusses her poem, 'Eyes of the Tiger' with Jenny Kwan on July 22, 2019. Photo: This Is It Studios.
Teresa discusses her poem, ‘Eyes of the Tiger’ with Jenny Kwan
A visitor stands in front of Teresa's colourful artwork and self-talk poetry at the opening of Born To Represent on July 22, 2019. Photo: This Is It Studios.
A visitor stands in front of Teresa’s colourful artwork and self-talk poetry at the opening of Born To Represent

Visitors commented on the exuberance of Teresa’s art. Some guests remarked that Teresa’s poem ‘More Mayonnaise’ spoke directly to them.

Teresa Pocock's poem and drawing "More Mayonnaise" is featured in her 2018 book, "Totally Amazing: Free To Be Me"
Teresa Pocock’s poem and drawing “More Mayonnaise” is featured in her 2018 book, “Totally Amazing: Free To Be Me”
Two visitors stand in front of Teresa's 'Those Monsters' artwork at the opening of Born To Represent on July 22, 2019. Photo: This Is It Studios.
Two visitors stand in front of Teresa’s ‘Those Monsters’ artwork at the opening event

Visitors remarked on the courage and resiliency which Teresa demonstrates through her art and poetry.

A selection of Teresa’s videos was screened at the opening. In this image viewers are watching “Human Rights Should Never Be Disabled”. Photo: This Is It Studios.
A selection of Teresa’s videos was screened at the opening. In this image viewers are watching “Human Rights Should Never Be Disabled”.

Vistors watched Teresa’s “Human Rights Should Never Be Disabled” video. The video was part of her Change.org campaign in 2014. Teresa’s art and social media campaign earned an apology from the Ontario government. “I love my human rights”, Teresa said. “Don’t take them away just because I have Down syndrome.”

A visitor poses for a photo in front of Teresa's 'Heart Child' artwork at the opening of Born to Represent. Photo: This Is It Studios.
A visitor poses for a photo in front of Teresa’s ‘Heart Child’ artwork at the opening event

Visitors pose for pictures in front of Teresa’s artwork.

Two international visitors hold copies of Teresa's 'Amazing' books as they pose for a photo. Teresa's 'Wind Warning' artwork hangs in the background. Photo: This Is It Studios.
Two international visitors hold copies of Teresa’s ‘Amazing’ books as they pose for a photo. Teresa’s ‘Wind Warning’ artwork hangs in the background.

Visitors posed with copies of Teresa’s books in front of Teresa’s artwork.

Teresa Pocock with her sister Franke James on July 22, 2019. Photo: This Is It Studios.
Teresa Pocock with her sister Franke James.

I posed with Teresa in front of her artwork. (I had wondered whether my dress was too colorful, but the two of us just complimented Teresa’s art!)

A visitor takes a Smartphone photo of Teresa's 'Heart Child' artwork at the opening of Born to Represent. Photo: This Is It Studios.
A visitor takes a Smartphone photo of Teresa’s ‘Heart Child’ artwork at the opening event.

Visitors captured Teresa’s artwork on their smartphones.

Teresa Pocock's poem and drawing "Heart Child" (2018) is featured in her 2018 book, "Totally Amazing: Free To Be Me".
Teresa Pocock’s poem and drawing “Heart Child” (2018) is featured in her 2018 book, “Totally Amazing: Free To Be Me”.

Six visitors stand in front of Teresa's 'Wind Warning' artwork at the opening of Born To Represent on July 22, 2019. Photo: This Is It Studios.
Six visitors stand in front of Teresa’s ‘Wind Warning’ artwork at the opening event.

Teresa’s art show was a magnet for inclusion. It brought together people from many different social sectors and all levels of government.

Teresa holds a rose plant given to her by Laurel, an inclusion support teacher in BC. Photo: This Is It Studios.
Teresa holds a rose plant given to her by Laurel, an inclusion support teacher in BC.

Teresa was delighted to receive roses from Laurel, an inclusion support teacher in BC — and one of Teresa’s “fans”.

Teresa looks up as she holds the rose plant gift she has just received. Photo: This Is It Studios.
Teresa looks up as she holds the rose plant gift she has just received.
Teresa's friend Rosh congratulates her on her art show. Photo: This Is It Studios.
Teresa’s friend Rosh congratulates her on her art show.

Teresa was congratulated by Rosh, a friend, and fellow self-advocate, artist and author.

Teresa smiles as she holds a bouquet of pink Gerbera daisies. Photo: This Is It Studios.
Teresa smiles as she holds a bouquet of pink Gerbera daisies.

Teresa was thrilled to receive a bouquet of flowers to celebrate her art opening.

Teresa smiles and shakes hands. Photo: This Is It Studios.
Teresa smiles and shakes hands.

Everyone wanted to shake Teresa’s hand.

Aaron Johannes from "Imagine a Circle" shakes Teresa's hand. Photo: This Is It Studios.
Aaron Johannes from “Imagine a Circle” shakes Teresa’s hand.

Disability consultant and researcher Aaron Johannes from “Imagine a Circle” congratulated Teresa on her show.

Teresa smiles as a friend from the disability support community shakes her hand. Photo: This Is It Studios.
Teresa smiles as a friend from the disability support community shakes her hand.

Friends from the disability support community shook Teresa’s hand and congratulated her on her art show.

A visitor congratulates Teresa as he shakes her hand. Photo: This Is It Studios.
A visitor congratulates Teresa as he shakes her hand.

Everyone wanted to shake Teresa’s hand. She was so pleased!

Friends congratulate Teresa and shake her hand. Photo: This Is It Studios.
Friends congratulate Teresa and shake her hand.

More friends congratulated Teresa on her show.

Franke James shakes her sister Teresa's hand and congratulates her on her successful show. Photo: This Is It Studios.
Franke James shakes her sister Teresa’s hand and congratulates her on her successful show.

Even I got to shake Teresa’s hand to officially congratulate her on her milestone achievement!

Franke James hugs her sister Teresa on July 22, 2019. Photo: This Is It Studios.
Franke James hugs her sister Teresa on July 22, 2019.

And I gave the Artist a big hug, too!

DTES artist Edzy shakes Teresa's hand as she sits by her book table on July 22, 2019. Photo: This Is It Studios.
DTES artist Edzy shakes Teresa’s hand as she sits by her book table on July 22, 2019.

DTES artist Edzy came out to support Teresa and her art show.

Teresa enjoys looking at her 'Totally Amazing: Free To Be Me' on July 22, 2019. Photo: This Is It Studios.
Teresa enjoys looking at her ‘Totally Amazing: Free To Be Me’ on July 22, 2019.
Friends Liz and Teresa pose for a photo while holding up Teresa's Born To Represent cards. Photo: This Is It Studios.
Friends Liz and Teresa pose for a photo while holding up Teresa’s Born To Represent cards.
Friends Rosh and Teresa make notes on Teresa's Born To Represent cards. Photo: This Is It Studios.
Friends Rosh and Teresa make notes on Teresa’s Born To Represent cards.

Artists Rosh and Teresa were in deep conversation.

Teresa signs copies of her books for buyers. Photo: This Is It Studios.
Teresa signs copies of her books for buyers.
People line up to have Teresa sign copies of her books. A Spectrum Society support worker leans forward towards Teresa. Photo: This Is It Studios.
People line up to have Teresa sign copies of her books. A Spectrum Society support worker leans forward towards Teresa.

People lined up to have Teresa sign copies of her “Totally Amazing” and “Pretty Amazing” books.

Teresa Pocock's books - Totally Amazing: Free To Be Me (2018), and Pretty Amazing: How I Found Myself in the Downtown Eastside (2016) | Display Photo: This Is It Studios.
Teresa Pocock’s books – Totally Amazing: Free To Be Me (2018), and Pretty Amazing: How I Found Myself in the Downtown Eastside (2016)
Photo of Teresa Pocock's Born to Represent opening at 312 Main Street | This Is It Studios.
Photo of Teresa Pocock’s Born to Represent opening at 312 Main Street
There is laughter and smiles as Teresa leads a group of friends in doing her signature chicken dance. Photo: This Is It Studios.
There is laughter and smiles as Teresa leads a group of friends in doing her signature chicken dance.

Teresa inspired everyone to get up and do the chicken dance.

Billiam James laughs and smiles as he does the chicken dance. Photo: This Is It Studios.
Billiam James laughs and smiles as he does the chicken dance.

Billiam James joined in the fun chicken dance.

Friends Laurel, Bob, and Rosh pose for a picture in front of Teresa's artwork. Photo: This Is It Studios.
Friends Laurel, Bob, and Rosh pose for a picture in front of Teresa’s artwork

Friends Laurel, Bob, and Rosh smiled in front of Teresa’s artwork.

Friends Liz, Barb, and Franke -- all wearing colourful patterned dresses laugh as they pose for a picture in front of Teresa's colourful patterned artwork. Photo: This Is It Studios.
Friends Liz, Barb, and Franke — all wearing colourful patterned dresses laugh as they pose for a picture in front of Teresa’s colourful patterned artwork.

Liz, Barb, and Franke remarked that their patterned dresses match Teresa’s colourful patterned artwork very well.

Billiam James, Teresa Pocock, and Franke James are joyful as they celebrate Teresa's success on July 22, 2019. Photo: This Is It Studios.
Billiam James, Teresa Pocock, and Franke James are joyful as they celebrate Teresa’s success on July 22, 2019.

“Teresa, her sister Franke James and brother-in-law Billiam James demonstrate the power of relationships and family leadership in everything that they do.” says Rebecca Pauls, “Without the loving, natural care and advocacy of family, friends and supportive organizations, Teresa’s life would not be what it is today.”

PLAN's Rebecca Pauls poses for a picture with consultant and researcher Aaron Johannes on July 22, 2019.  Photo: This Is It Studios.
PLAN’s Rebecca Pauls poses for a picture with consultant and researcher Aaron Johannes on July 22, 2019.

The host, Rebecca Pauls, Director of PLAN posed for a picture with educator & researcher Aaron Johannes, Imagine a Circle.

Group photo of Teresa Pocock with friends from Spectrum Society, PLAN, Rebecca Pauls, Franke James and Billiam James. Photo: This Is It Studios.
Group photo of Teresa Pocock with friends from Spectrum Society, PLAN, Rebecca Pauls, Franke James and Billiam James.
Group photo of Teresa Pocock with friends from Gallery Gachet, Franke James and Billiam James. Photo: This Is It Studios.
Teresa Pocock with friends from Gallery Gachet, Franke James and Billiam James.

Exterior view of Teresa Pocock's Born to Represent opening at 312 Main Street on July 22, 2019 | Photo: This Is It Studios.
Exterior view of Teresa Pocock’s Born to Represent opening at 312 Main St on July 22, 2019
Teresa blows out a candle on her birthday cake at the Flying Pig restaurant in Gastown. Photo: Franke James
Teresa blows out candles on her birthday cake at the Flying Pig restaurant in Gastown. Photo: Franke James

Happy Birthday, Teresa!

Teresa thanks everyone for coming to her ‘Born To Represent’ show! Special thanks to PLAN, Spectrum Society, Community Living BC, and the Vancouver Foundation.

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