A group of artists who cycled Canada from coast-to-coast displayed their photographs at the Woodnote.
ViaVélo was a temporary photography exhibition organized by Concordia student Sampson McFerrin and Luke Welton at the Woodnote Solidarity Cooperative between Sept. 15 and 17. The Concordian shared a friendly conversation with McFerrin regarding his experience organizing the show, the works on display, the team’s curatorial choices and the idea behind the exhibition.
McFerrin’s parents are both avid cyclists, therefore he and his brothers grew up cycling and exploring the world on their bikes. He spoke of the inherently healthy and unique lifestyle that comes with regular cycling. The activity became an inseparable part of his identity—as an adult he began to seek out opportunities to explore different parts of the world through cycling and build a community to share his passion with.
McFerrin is a Print Media major at Concordia University with a minor in Business—a combination that gave him the tools to successfully organize ViaVélo. The exhibition presented a collection of memories from his coast-to-coast journey across Canada. Photography and documentation captivated him during his earlier travels and these creative tools served as inspiration for the trip and offered him means to capture it.
The gallery consisted of two rooms that displayed a collection of photographs and paintings by McFerrin and Welton. The photos encapsulate the experience of the two artists and a few others, who cycled from Victoria, British Columbia, all the way to St. John’s, Newfoundland, spanning 10 provinces and over 11,000 km. They started their journey during the summer of 2020 before they were interrupted by the pandemic’s restrictions and finished their adventure in 2023.
By displaying the photos of their trip, the artists aimed to represent their journey and introduce different ways of seeing Canada. Through storytelling and captured memories of friendships, community and their lifestyle on the road, the exhibition proposes a new perception of the Canadian experience.
Viewers were met with photos of all 10 Canadian provinces, which McFerrin noted really capture the essence of the specific place and time it was taken. The presence of McFerrin’s bike in the gallery space, loaded with all the necessities for the trip, adds to the vivid memory of their life on the road. “The bike became the home that you take care of, and it takes care of you,” McFerrin said.