Former Visual Arts student wins Governor-General’s Award

Toronto-based sculptor and former Visual Arts student Kim Adams has been named one of the winners of the 2014 Governor-General’s Awards in Visual and Media Arts.

Kim Adams (photo: Henry Feather)

Kim Adams (photo: Henry Feather)

Recognized internationally for his large sculptures—often created from a mix of eclectic and everyday objects, including vehicles, dolls, toys and bicycles—Adams earns $25,000 for the Governor-General’s Award. This latest honour comes hot on the heels of two other significant awards for Adams: a 2013 Guggenheim Fellowship and the 2012 Gershon Iskowitz Prize from the Art Gallery of Ontario, which came with a $50,000 award.

Adams studied in the Visual Arts department from 1975 to 1980, when he also took courses in Theatre, Art in Education and History in Art. (Score one for interdisciplinarity!) In this video of his work, which features footage of various pieces and a glimpse inside his studio, Adams mentions the influence Visual Arts professor emeritus Mowry Baden had on the development of his work. “When we learned art history, it was through somebody who knew art today—and that was Mowry Baden. We started seeing things that were more real—the perception of the colours, the scale and the size, what happens between it and you and that space between. For me, it was the street level, I was trying to pull that into the art.”

One of eight veteran Canadian artists honoured at the Governor-General’s Awards, which are typically recognized as “lifetime achievement” awards, Kim Adams is an internationally recognized sculptor who has exhibited extensively throughout Canada, across North America and in Europe in both traditional gallery spaces and more public locations. He was also one of the artists included in 2012′s Oh, Canada exhibit at MASS MoCA.

Kim Adams "Autolamp - 2008" (Perforated ’85 Dodge Ram)

Kim Adams “Autolamp – 2008″ (Perforated ’85 Dodge Ram)

As his page at representing gallery Diaz Contemporary notes, Adams’ “challenging aesthetic and sense of humor emerge throughout his diverse practice.” Adams, along with the seven other winning artists, will be honoured at the official awards ceremony on March 26 at Ottawa’s Rideau Hall. There will also be a group exhibit of the winners’ works from March 27 to July 6, 2014, at the National Gallery of Canada.

The Governor General’s Awards in Visual and Media Arts were created in 1999 by the Canada Council for the Arts and the Governor General of Canada. The awards celebrate Canada’s vibrant arts community and recognize remarkable careers in the visual and media arts. Nominations are taken each spring, and winners announced the following March.

Carol Wainio (photo: Martin Lipman)

Carol Wainio (photo: Martin Lipman)

And in the good-timing department, another of this year’s Governor-General’s Award winners is Ottawa-based painter and University of Ottawa visual arts professor Carol Wainio. Known for her large, layered acrylic canvases, Wainio just happens to be the next Visiting Artist for the Visual Arts department. You can hear her speak at 8pm on Wednesday, March 12, in room A162 of the Visual Arts building. It’s free and the general public is welcome.

Getting medieval

It’s not a time machine per se, but it just might be the next best thing when it comes to art history. The 34th annual Canadian Conference of Medieval Art Historians runs March 7 and 8 right here at UVic, and features a fascinating lineup of speakers and presentations (a full list of which can be found below).

Amidst the faculty and graduate students coming in from universities across Canada, our own History in Art department is well-represented at the CCMAH, including presentations by Evanthia Baboula, Catherine Harding, Marcus Milwright, Erica Dodd and Lesley Jessop, as well as representatives from other UVic departments.

Milwright speaking to the media at 2012's Medieval Workshop

Milwright speaking to the media at 2012′s Medieval Workshop

(Relevant sidenote: Marcus Milwright is also presenting a separate talk this week, titled “The Crafts of Damascus at the Dawn of the Modern Age.” Milwright will be looking at how the Syrian capital achieved fame since the medieval period as a centre of craft excellence, particularly in media such as inlaid metalwork, glazed ceramics, enameled glass and decorative woodwork. These crafts survived into the 19th century, but many were adversely affected by competition with industrially manufactured goods coming from the factories of Europe. Milwright uses evidence from an Arabic dictionary of Damascene crafts assembled between 1890 and 1908 to demonstrate the interdependent nature of the 400 crafts operating in and around the city. 7:30-9:30pm Thursday, March 6, in the University Centre Senate Chambers.)

Former UVic prof John Osborne

Former UVic prof John Osborne

Keynote speakers for the CCMAH include Joe Polzer, associate fellow with UVic’s Centre for Studies in Religion & Society, and Dr. John Osborne. Currently dean of Carleton University’s Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences, as well as a professor of Art History, Osborne is particularly notable for his time as a professor of medieval art in our own History in Art department, as well as being the co-founder (alongside John Tucker) of UVic’s Medieval Studies program.

While there doesn’t seem to be an active link to any wesbite for the 2014 conference, click here to read more about past conferences. The Canadian Conference of Medieval Art Historians runs Friday, March 7, in UVic’s  Arbutus/Queenswood Room and Saturday, March 8 in room 103 of the Fine Arts building.

Here’s the complete list of speakers and their presentations:

FRIDAY, MARCH 7 – Arbutus/Queenswood Room

  • 9:30 Joe Polzer, Professor Emeritus, Calgary & Victoria: “Cimabue Reconsidered”
  • 10:00 Anne Napoli, Master’s student, University of Victoria: “How do you solve a problem like Maria? Examining polymateriality in the Madonna and Child Enthroned of Florence’s Santa Maria Maggiore.”
  • 10:30 Catherine Harding, University of Victoria: “Blood: The Relic of the Corporal at Orvieto Cathedral as Divine Witness”
  • 11:30 John Osborne, Carleton University: “The identification of the pope in the Santa Sabina narthex mural”
  • 12:00 Erica Cruikshank Dodd, University of Victoria: “A Silver Mythological Plate From Tarsos”
  • 2:00 Evanthia Baboula, University of Victoria: “Philagathos on the Cappella Palatina and the Mediterranean silk industry of the twelfth century”
  • 2:30 Munazzah Akhtar, doctoral candidate, University of Victoria: “Piety, Patronage and Politics: Samma Jams of Sindh and the Development of Makli Necropolis, 1380-1524”
  • 3:30 Marcus Milwright, University of Victoria: “Reading in the Round: The Evolution of Concentric Inscriptions in Early Islamic Architecture”
  • 4:00 Anthony Welch, University of Victoria: “A Tiger in Isfahan”
  • 4:30 Barry Magrill, UBC, Centre for Teaching Learning Technology: “MOOC’s Massive Open Online Courses”

SATURDAY, March 8 – Fine Arts building, room 103

  • 9:00  Malcolm Thurlby, York University: “Observations On Structure And Vault Design In Romanesque Italy”
  • 9:30 Caroline Novak, York University: “Gaping Maws: Orality and Oral-Figuration in English Romanesque Sculpture”
  • 10:00 Timothy Ashmore, Master’s student, York University: “Castle Hall of England”
  • 10:30 Valeriya Kotsyuba, York University: “Let me to the Marriage of Great Minds: An Examination of St Peter’s, Northampton”
  • 11:30 Richard A. Sundt, University of Oregon: “Oslo’s Stone Churches at Hovedöya and Gamlebyen and the Tradition of Double-Nave Planning in Scandinavia (11th-15th centuries)”
  • 12:00 Debora Alcide, York University: “Auxerre Cathedral: Innovation in Burgundy”
  • 2:00 C. Ruth Krindle, University of Manitoba: “The Theophilus Relief at Souillac:  The Second Foot of the Devil”
  • 2:30 Jim Bugslag, University of Manitoba: “The Trade Windows of Chartres Cathedral: Historiography and New Approaches”
  • 3:00 Lesley Jessop, University of Victoria: “Trade Images at the Cathedral of Notre-Dame in Paris”
  • 3:45 Jill Bain, University of the Fraser Valley: “Medieval Art and Modern Technology: Image-Enhancing Applications for the Study of Medieval Wall Painting”
  • 4:15 Helene Cazes, University of Victoria: “Tokens of friendship and symbols of erudition: the emblems of Amicitia in sixteenth century Alba Amicorum
  • 4:45 Michael F. Reed, University of Victoria: From Crown Colony to Confederation: Medievalism and Cultural Identity on Vancouver Island

Live from the set of Maureen Bradley’s feature film

Looking for creative practice and experiential learning all in one? Check out what Department of Writing professor Maureen Bradley is doing on her study leave: shooting the feature film Two 4 One, using a mix of professional and student crew. While Bradley is an award-winning short film veteran and the driving force behind the highly successful Writing 420 film production class (more on that later), Two 4 One marks her feature film debut. But it’s also notable for being the first transgendered romantic comedy, one created for a wide audience.

Director Maureen Bradley looks on from Club 9One9, one of the locations for Two 4 One (photo: Arnold Lim)

Director Maureen Bradley looks on from Club 9One9, one of the locations for Two 4 One (photo: Arnold Lim)

“I do want it to be a breakout film that a general audience sees,” Bradley said back in January before she started shooting. “I’ve had tons of films at film festivals but I want to reach a broader audience. Living life as a transgendered man is not something most people know anything about.”

Of course, they’ll know a lot more once Two 4 One is wrapped, edited and released. Starring Gavin Crawford (This Hour Has 22 Minutes, The Gavin Crawford Show), Gabrielle Rose (The Sweet Hereafter, The Five Senses) and Canadian TV veteran Naomi Snieckus (Second City), Two 4 One is described as “a bittersweet romantic comedy about oddball couple Miriam and Adam, who have an ill-advised one-night-stand and both wind up pregnant.” (Romantic comedy indeed!)

When asked why frame the story as a romantic comedy, Bradley opts for practicality. “I’m a lapsed activist, and storytelling is a way of reaching people that’s easier than activism,” she explains. “When people laugh, they’re open and might take in new ideas, and understand ‘the other’. From a film studies perspective, I’m dealing with ‘de-othering’ a huge ‘other’ in our culture—but in entertainment terms, I’m trying to tell a good story: it’s a familiar narrative, just with somebody new. As an activist, people will listen to me far more if I tell a good story than if I just shout, ‘You should accept difference!’ Humour is very subversive.”

Read more about her ideas behind Two 4 One in these recent interviews from The Martlet, Plenitude and the Times Colonist. And you can find out more about the long and arduous journey Bradley has taken to get this film made here . . . and here . . . and here.

Bradley speaks to actors dressed as construction workers on location (photo: Arnold Lim)

Bradley speaks to actors dressed as construction workers on location (photo: Arnold Lim)

Not only is Bradley shooting Two 4 One locally throughout February, but the $150,000 film is also set locally—a rare thing indeed for a city that has made its cinematic name as being able to stand in for American, British or European destinations. (Consider the TV series Gracepoint—starring David Tennant of Doctor Who fame—which is also currently shooting in Victoria, standing in for a fictional northern California town.) Reached during a hectic shooting schedule, Bradley juggled a conversation with her location manager while giving us the scoop on her shoot.

“The funny thing is, it doesn’t matter how much money you have—you’re always pushing it, you always want more, it’s never enough, you’re always racing the clock,” she says with a harried laugh. “We work these crazy days, it’s an adrenaline high—but that’s the nature of the beast. I can’t sleep because there’s still so much to do. It’s a lot like having kids: you think you’re never ready, but you’re never ready; then your baby is born and you just roll with it.”

Producer Daniel Hogg, (left) and first assistant director Lorne Hiltser look on from the Roundhouse, one of the locations for Two 4 One  (photo: Arnold Lim)

Producer Daniel Hogg, (left) and first assistant director Lorne Hiltser look on from the Roundhouse, one of the locations for Two 4 One (photo: Arnold Lim)

With a 30-person crew drawn from California, Vancouver and Victoria—including Fine Arts digital staffer Daniel Hogg serving as the film’s producer (“we shot our longest day at Dan’s parent’s house, so we got to see baby photos of him,” she laughs)—Bradley is clearly practicing what she preaches in her Writing 420 film production classes by hiring past and present students as well. “I’ve got three students doing directed studies on set, and the other day I checked in with them and said, ‘You have completed plenty of hours and learned a ridiculous amount, so you really don’t have to be here anymore.’ But they’re sticking around—they’re into their jobs so much. The caliber of the crew is just so high.”

Not that she can focus on that. “I’m not very good at accepting and receiving and people giving me things or praising me—it freaks me out,” she admits. “So I look around and see 30 people working for peanuts and not sleeping all for my show, my vision, and it’s a bit overwhelming . . . so I just go back into the gopher hole and focus on the next scene.”

Gavin Crawford (left), Naomi Snieckus and Gabrielle Rose

Gavin Crawford (left), Naomi Snieckus and Gabrielle Rose

She’s also pleased with her cast, which is a similar mix of actors from Vancouver, Toronto and Victoria. “I was so happy to hear that the Toronto and Vancouver people are really impressed with our local talent,” she says. And it sounds like they’re all game for getting the job done, given that they’ve been shooting five script pages a day. “I’ve never shot that much in a day before. And every day it’s creeping up—five, six, seven pages. The other day we actually shot nine pages in one day.”

Bradley considering a shot on set  (photo: Arnold Lim)

Bradley considering a shot on set (photo: Arnold Lim)

Principal shooting on Two 4 One is due to wrap on March 1, but the work doesn’t end there; then comes the editing, the marketing, the promotion, the distribution . . . but for now, Bradley is just enjoying the process of shooting her first feature—if “enjoying” is the right word.

“I’ve only had two breakdowns on set,” she laughs. “And not in front of anybody yet.”

Latest Writing 420 film wins award

'Til Death is another outstanding Writing-created short film project

‘Til Death is another outstanding Writing-created short film project

Meanwhile, the latest film created by Bradley’s Writing 420 class—‘Til Death—recently picked up the Audience Favourite Short film award at the Victoria Film Festival. That makes three awards from various festivals for ‘Til Death—directed by recent MFA Connor Gaston, written by Writing alumnus Ryan Bright, produced by Bradley with Daniel Hogg as cinematographer.

‘Til Death also just played at the Sedona International Film Festival in Arizona, where director Gaston quipped, “Arrived just in time for the screening of ‘Til Death, which played before a feature film. Audience member: ‘The short was better than the feature!’”

That’s four festivals now for the well-received ‘Til Death (Sedona, Victoria, Whistler and the Vancouver Short Film Festival) with more no doubt to come. Read more about Writing 420 and their past successes here.

Jamie Kemp wins teaching award

Jamie Kemp is back in the news again. The busy History in Art and Medieval Studies PhD candidate was named one of three recipients of UVic’s Andy Farquharson Teaching Excellence Award for Graduate Students on February 6. Not that this is surprising for the 2012 TEDx Victoria alumna, who also just finished inspiring middle school students in her session for February’s Fresh Minds symposium here at UVic.

Jamie Kemp (left) with Andy Farquharson (Photo Services)

Jamie Kemp (left) with Andy Farquharson (Photo Services)

“Jamie is a gifted teacher who exemplifies the effective learning model, who is passionate about writing and who is a valued member of the History in Art Graduate Student community,” noted Dr. David Capson, Dean of Graduate Studies, in his award presentation. “Her students all attest that not only has she changed the way that they learn by fostering an open and collaborative environment free of boundaries, she also brings a sense of fun and excitement to whatever she is teaching.”

While only three recipients are selected to receive the Teaching Excellence Award, there were 16 nominations—so Kemp is indeed among the most outstanding Graduate Students here at UVic. She has participated in a number of teaching-related conferences and workshops over the past few years, including the 2012 Association of Learning Technology conference at the University of Manchester, and has led workshops for both UVic’s own Learning and Teaching Centre and the annual “Let’s Talk About Teaching at UVic” event. She has also been the Educator in Residence at MediaCore Technologies, an education software company, where she curated and created content for The Flipped Institute, a resource site for both K-12 and post-secondary educators. Clearly, Kemp is serious about her teaching.

Jamie Kemp at TEDx Victoria in 2012

Jamie Kemp at TEDx Victoria in 2012

Kemp’s own teaching philosophy is simple: “In our present ‘Age of Information,’ when students have a seemingly unlimited access to knowledge and ‘information overload’ is often the norm, my role as a teacher can’t revolve around transmitting facts from the front of a darkened room,” she says.

“I believe that in order to offer meaningful education, I need to create engagement in a positive and open learning environment, offer my students practical ways to apply their theoretical knowledge, and provide them with opportunities to share their work with each other, the wider university community, and the rest of the world. My goal is to give my students experiences that will get them as excited about learning as I am. Curiosity and intellectual pleasure push us to develop our minds and improve our work when it would be easier to do just enough to get by.”

Kemp in action with one of her classes (photo: Aurora Allen)

Kemp in action with one of her classes (photo: Aurora Allen)

How exactly does she do all that? “I’m really inspired by the flipped classroom method of teaching,” she says, “which is just an emphasis on making the time you spend in class with students count as much in possible—not always spending the time in front of a class lecturing, but also incorporating interactive projects, discussions and trips to special collections as well. I always ask myself what is my real function as a teacher—what can they do without me, and what do they need me for?”

When asked if she has any advice for other graduate students keen to improve their teaching, she doesn’t hesitate. “The key to effective teaching is actually quite simple,” she says. “You have to do what you can to stay passionate about the material you’re working with—I love the topic of every single course I teach, and that’s where the real passion comes from. If students see you’re enthusiastic about the topic, it’s easy for them to connect, get involved and really make a nice learning community out of the classroom.”

One of Kemp's students examines a medieval text (photo: Aurora Allen)

One of Kemp’s students examines a medieval text (photo: Aurora Allen)

But isn’t there a bit of a disparity between her academic specialization in ancient manuscripts and her yen for using  modern technology in teaching? Not at all, says Kemp. “To me, they’re exactly the same thing—in my research, I work on medieval encyclopedias that were designed as schoolbooks to help students with their reading processes by teachers who didn’t know how to connect with them,” she explains. “These are actually very early kinds of intellectual technologies, used as mind-expanding objects to help with the education process. Manuscripts, videos on iPads . . . all of this is about communicating the initial round of communication so class time can be spent on things like discussion, and really synthesizing the information.”

As the TEDx site notes, “Kemp is tackling some of the oldest problems in education: her mission is to help the world learn more, do more, think more clearly, and manage knowledge in better ways by thinking about what tools, technologies, and situations make this possible—and sharing that knowledge with those who are transforming the educational landscape through technology.”

Be sure to watch her TEDx talk, “Head in the Cloud,” to get a sense of what this award-winning educator is all about.

WordsThaw this weekend

The Malahat Review‘s annual “intellectual icebreaker at the cusp of spring” returns this week, and many Department of Writing faculty, alumni and graduate students are involved. It promises to be a fascinating and illuminating weekend of literary learning. Here’s what’s in the works—but you can get all the details, including ticket information, at WordsThaw 2014.

Landsowne Lecturer Daphne Marlatt (7:30pm Thursday, February 20, in Turpin A120)

Daphne Marlatt

Daphne Marlatt

In the opening event to WordsThaw 2014, Vancouver writer Daphne Marlatt celebrates the fluid relationship between language and place—in particular, Vancouver—and how they stream into and out of one another, both of them accruing allusive sediments. (Lansdowne Lectures sponsored by the Faculty of Humanities)

Words on Ice: Evolution of the Author (7:30pm Friday, February 21, in HSD A240)

David Leach

David Leach

A reading featuring writers at every stage of a writing career, hosted by Malahat Review editor John Barton and local poet Yvonne Blomer. From high school-aged writers, University writing students, authors without a first book, those who’ve published a first book, to those with an established writing career. Panelists include paulo da costa, Cynthia Flood, Phil Hall, Anita Lahey, Daphne Marlatt and Miranda Pearson, as well as Writing professor David Leach and Writing student Benjamin Willems.

Author as Avatar: Social Media and Blogging (10am-noon Saturday, February 22, HSD A250)

John Threlfall

John Threlfall

Fine Arts communications honcho and Writing instructor John Threlfall will lead a discussion with local writers, bloggers, and publishers about the importance of social media for writers. Questions to be covered will include: How important is it for an author to develop a following and community on social media? What is the best tactic for an author to take while participating in social media? Roundtable panelists include Times Colonist journalist Sarah Petrescu, Brindle & Glass publicist Emily Shorthouse and Writing alum Will Johnson.

Spirit of Place: Writing Local History (10am-noon Saturday, February 22, HSD A240)

John Adams

John Adams

What role does history play in contemporary society? Has the rapid pace of today’s world led us to lose contact with our past? How acquainted are we with Victoria’s rich and fascinating heritage, with the stories and lives behind the streets and buildings we pass each day? Local-history authors will discuss their research, their craft, and how the writing (and reading) of local history can shape our perception of the present in powerful ways. The past is not dead. But it relies on writers to keep its spirit alive. Readers include John Adams, Linda Eversole, and Peter Grant. Moderated by Rosemary Neering.

The Inner Life of our Words: Writing and the Human Spirit (1:30-3:30pm Saturday, February 22, HSD A240)

Tim Lilburn

Tim Lilburn

Is there a relationship between poetry and the inner life? And if there is, what form or direction—or directions—does this relationship take? Can writing and reading be a useful, even insightful tool to probe the spiritual life (or lives) of the self, of another person, of a community, or even of an age? With moderator Andrew Rippin as their “guide,” poets Jane Munro and Writing professor Tim Lilburn and Writing instructor Marita Dachsel—also the current Artist in Residence for UVic’s Centre for Studies in Religion and Society—each approaching the inner life of our words from a unique perspective, talk about how poetry can be a catalyst to discovering and expressing not only “what we know,” but about “what we want to know.”

Shining a Light: Writer as Witness (3:45-5:45pm Saturday, February 22, HSD A240)

Gary Geddes

Gary Geddes

All writers are observers, perceptually attuned. But what is the difference between seeing and witnessing? In many cases, to be a witness is to dare—to risk one’s emotions, or one’s reputation, in order to make known what others would keep hidden. Representing different backgrounds and genres—First Nations, environmental science, and poetry—panelists will explore the various ways writers use their craft to speak out, raise awareness, and shine a revealing light on some uncomfortable truths. Readers include Gary Geddes, Monique Gray Smith, and Andrew Weaver. Moderated by Amy Reiswig.

Brief Encounters: 15-minute Critiques of Your Work (noon-1:15pm Saturday, February 22, in the HSD Building)

wordsthaw poster letter sizeThis year WordsThaw will also have one-on-one critiques set up in several genres over the lunch break. Local writers will be available to critique your writing in the following genres: poetry, short fiction, creative nonfiction, life-writing, or young adult/children’s writing. Critique spots will be filled in advance (once registered for WordsThaw), on a first-come first-served basis. Writers include Maleea Acker, Dede Crane, Catherine Greenwood, Steve Noyes, Aaron Shepard, Robin Stevenson, Christine Walde and Writing instructor Matthew Hooton and Writing graduate student JoAnn Dionne.

Fine Arts at IdeaFest

Want to change the world? All you need is the right idea.

ideafestUVic’s third annual IdeaFest is back and ready to expand your mind with fascinating ideas from fascinating people. Running March 3 to 8 at various venues across campus, IdeaFest offers over 50 ideas worth celebrating.

This year’s theme is “Ideas that can change everything,” and Fine Arts is once again in the mix, with every department offering something. Here’s a quick rundown by date of what we’ve got scheduled, but be sure to see the main schedule for complete details. Remember, all events are free and don’t require registration—unless otherwise noted.

• Get an inside look at how musicians make music with a Cello Master Class featuring School of Music professor Pamela Highbau Aloni. (1:30-2:30pm Tuesday, March 4 in the Phillip T Young Recital Hall, MacLaurin B Wing)

Inside the Kwisitis Visitor Centre

Inside the Kwisitis Visitor Centre

• What do you do when you suddenly find yourself over your head with a creative project? Find out in “A Props Master Out of his Depth”, a slide lecture by Department of Theatre master props artist Bryn Finer. Finer will address how his theatre experiences translated to the development of sculptures and dioramas for the Kwisitis Visitor Centre at Pacific Rim National Park near Tofino. (12:30-1:30pm Wednesday, March 5, in the Roger Bishop Theatre, Phoenix Theatres)

• The annual Jamie Cassels Undergraduate Research Awards feature new research produced by 115 young scholars—of which 10 are from Fine Arts: Caroline Baicy, Justin Barski and Evelyn Brotherston (History in Art); Alannah Bloch and Jocelyne Lamarche (Theatre); Abigail Laycock and Graham Macaulay (Visual Arts); Bethany Hughes and Benjamin Willems (Writing); and Sondra Moyls (Music).  Be sure to check out what they’ve got on hand in this fascinating exhibit. (11:30am-3pm Wednesday, March 5, Michelle Pujol room, SUB)

• Get an inside look at how musicians make music as School of Music professor Patricia Kostek leads a master class on the clarinet in this workshop. (1:30pm – 2:30pm Wednesday, March 5, in the Phillip T. Young Recital Hall, MacLaurin Building)

Lafayette String Quartet

Lafayette String Quartet

• Find out how young musicians hone their craft and learn from master musicians at this string chamber master class with UVic’s own artists-in-residence, the Lafayette String Quartet. (7-9pm Wednesday, March 5, in MacLaurin B016)

• Ever heard of Soundpainting? Find out what it’s all about at this presentation and interactive demonstration by UVic’s new music ensemble, Sonic Lab. All are invited to participate with movement, visual arts, spoken word, acting or music in a real-time, gesture-based group composition. (1-2:30pm Thursday, March 6, in the Phillip T. Young Recital Hall, MacLaurin Building)

• A late addition to our IdeaFest lineup: The 3-Minute Thesis competition! School of Music graduate student Michael Dias will have three minutes to explain the ideas behind “The Creative Process: A Composer’s Sketches and Drafts” with one slide, 180 seconds and no jargon. Can he do it? Find out 7-9pm Thursday, March 6, in the David Lam Auditorium.

IdeaFest_WR1• In this age of digital publishing, you don’t need a printing press to create your own magazine—unless you choose to go the traditional publishing route. So You Want To Launch A Magazine offers an interactive panel discussion and showcase of some of the very successful magazines—both digital and print—created by students in the Department of Writing to address social and literary concerns in society. The panel includes moderator Dr. Lynne Van Luven (Writing), Nadia Grutter (Coastal Spectator), Patrick Close (The Warren), Kimberley Veness (Concrete Garden), Patrick Grace (This Side of West) and Andrea Routley (Plenitude). (noon-1:30pm Friday, March 7, in HSD A270)

• If you’ve ever been to an opera, you’ve heard how the voice can be an instrument in itself. Learn more about this primordially human instrument when professor Benjamin Butterfield leads a master class in voice. (2:30-3:30pm Friday March 7, in the Phillip T. Young Recital Hall, MacLaurin Building)

Biro

Dániel Péter Biró and students

• Unless you’re a musician yourself, the process of creating music can offer be a complete mystery. Discover more in “Exploring Aesthetic Diversity Through Music,” an interactive workshop where you can experience the excitement of live music creation. School of Music composition and performance students will also perform their latest music compositions, created under the guidance of Music professors Dániel Péter Biró (Tsilumos Ensemble) and Joanna Hood (Lafayette String Quartet). The general public is welcome to attend! (7-9pm Friday, March 7 in MacLaurin B016)

Csaba rehearsing the UVic Orchestra (UVic Photo Services)

Csaba rehearsing the UVic Orchestra (UVic Photo Services)

• This year’s “Concert Without Borders” features the UVic Orchestra, under the direction of Ajtony Csaba, offering a program that includes Berlioz, Grisey and Beethoven and is punctuated by multi-media interventions highlighting Learning Without Borders projects from across campus. Theatre, song, visual art and spoken word shine a spotlight on the many ways in which members of the campus community are working to internationalize the curriculum and campus life. (8-10pm Friday, March 7 in the Farquhar Auditorium. Note: this is a ticketed event, and tickets can be purchased at the UVic Ticket Centre.)

Bruce Vogt

Bruce Vogt

• Finally, we offer the concert, A Night of Schubert. What makes a composer great? Why do we revere the music of one artist over another? Is it the beauty of the melody, a special harmonic sound, or something else? Discover the secrets of the romantic music of Franz Schubert (1797-1828) as explained and performed by pianist and School of Music professor Bruce Vogt. There will be a pre-concert talk at 7:30pm as well. (8-10pm Saturday, March 8, in the Phillip T. Young Recital Hall, MacLaurin Building. Note: this is a ticketed event, and tickets can be purchased at the UVic Ticket Centre.)

Adasla performance on February 22

Now that the exhibit Adasla: The Movement of Hands is open at the Legacy Downtown and the Big Button Blanket has had its inaugural dance at the opening ceremonies of UVic’s annual Diversity Research Forum at First People’s House, the focus now shifts to the next performance on February 22.

The button blanket receiving its inaugural dance at UVic's First Peoples House (Photo Services)

The button blanket receiving its inaugural dance at UVic’s First Peoples House (Photo Services)

Featuring a special contemporary performance collaboration between Governor General’s Award winning performance artist Rebecca Belmore—a former Audain professor for the Department of Visual Arts—and blanket co-creator, Tahtan Nation artist Peter Morin, this remarkable experience will begin at 2pm on Saturday, February 22, at Legacy Downtown, 630 Yates. All are welcome to witness this free event.

The Times Colonist ran this article previewing the February 22 performance, summarizing the history of the button blanket and this blanket’s specific intention.

We talked to Morin recently about his upcoming performance with Belmore. “Button blankets are used as teaching tools—younger artists get told its story, how it was made, what it was made with, who made it, the importance and significance of it in relation to the larger community—so our collaboration will be about acknowledging the blanket as a metaphor for indigenous knowledge practices,” he explains. “Her art has fundamentally changed how I see the world. A lot of my practice is about the places where indigenous and western knowledge intersect or collide, so it’s exciting we can work together on this.”

Peter Morin & the button blanket (photo: Michael Glendale)

Peter Morin & the button blanket (photo: Michael Glendale)

Morin doesn’t hesistate when asked about the idea behind the project. “I want people to understand and think differently about button blankets. This is an this art form that has been practiced for more than 150 years over a large geographic region. They are just as beautiful and significant as totem poles—and, in fact, I wanted to make a button blanket the size of a totem pole so people can see them better. It’s an invitation to see this art form differently.”

Morin, who recently returned to Victoria as the keynote speaker for the annual History in Art graduate student symposium Visual Impetus, is now with the Visual Arts faculty at Manitoba’s Brandon University.

Student Ali Bosworth Rumm sews buttons onto the Big Button Blanket (photo: Michael Glendale, Martlet)

Student Ali Bosworth Rumm sews buttons onto the Big Button Blanket (photo: Michael Glendale)

An ambitious collaborative project between Morin, History in Art professor Carolyn Butler Palmer, local indigenous blanket makers and HIA students, there has been a great deal of media coverage about both the exhibit and the blanket itself. CBC Radio’s All Points West featured this interview with Morin and host Jo-Ann Roberts (scroll down to the January 7 entry). Local visual arts writer Robert Amos also ran this Times Colonist article about Adasla, describing it as a “stimulating and multi-faceted show.” The exhibit is also featured in the February/March issue of Preview: The Gallery Guide magazine, was written up in this article for the UVic student newspaper Martlet and Morin is featured in this interview for the February issue of the UVic newspaper The Ring.

Legacy’s Justine Drummond (left) & Caroline Riedel with a small slice of the world’s biggest button blanket (photo: Edward Hill/Vic News)

Legacy’s Justine Drummond (left) & Caroline Riedel with a small slice of the world’s biggest button blanket (photo: Edward Hill, Vic News)

The Victoria News also ran the article, “Big Art Emerges From A Big Blanket,” focusing on how the 300-pound blanket will be a logistical challenge for the Legacy Gallery. “It’s easily the biggest art object we’ve received or displayed here,” Caroline Riedel told reporter Edward Hill. “The sheer weight and logistics to hang an object of this size is a challenge. The buttons are extremely fragile.” Riedel also explains how they had to enlist Royal B.C. Museum exhibit designer Allan Graves to design a scaffolding for the blanket.  “It’s a new challenge with the installation, but it opens up new ways to think about this as an art form,” she says.

Hill also explained how Morin designed the blanket to represent the headwaters of northwestern B.C.’s Klappan River, a sacred place for the Tahltan First Nation, and Tsartlip artist Barrie Sam contributed the design at the centre of the blanket.

For both Morin and Butler Palmer, the exhibit Adaslā—a Tahltan word referring to the act of creation—hinges on the lack of general knowledge surrounding button blankets. “It’s a textile art form, and that’s often associated with women, and textile arts have been suppressed in their recognition in art history, as has indigenous art forms,” explains Butler Palmer. “Even if they are recognized, they’re often configured more as ‘craft’ than art. So we’re challenging both the absence and suppositions of button blankets as an art.”

You can keep up to date with the Big Button Blanket Project via their Facebook page, and the project’s own blog.

Adasla: The Movement of Hands continues to April 25 at Legacy Downtown, 630 Yates. The gallery is open noon to 4 p.m., Wednesdays to Saturdays.

Going for the gold . . . in art?

Who says you’re never too old to compete in the Olympics? Just ask John Copley—he was 73 when he won a Silver Medal in the 1948 London Olympics. A septugenarian shotputter, perhaps? A sailor still in his prime? Nope—Copley won Silver for art in the “Mixed Paintings, Engraving and Etchings” category.

Olympic medal winner John Copely and his wife, Ethel

Olympic medal winner John Copely and his wife, Ethel

As CBC Radio’s Under the Influence marketing show host Terry O’Reilly notes in his latest entertaining episode, “Marketing the Olympics”, art was included as a competitive category in the Olympic Games between 1912 and 1948. Modern Olympics founder Pierre de Courbertin wanted Olympic athletes to compete in both body and mind, so the Olympics included medal categories for literature, music, painting, sculpture and architecture.

Each piece of art had to have a sport theme (Copley picked up the Silver for his painting “Polo Players”) and, by 1928, Olympic officials were judging over a thousand entries in Painting and Sculpture alone. No big surprise, considering the artists didn’t have to create new works under the gun, they simply had to enter previously unseen works.

See a complete list of all previous winners here. Music, Literature and Painting are each subdivided into four categories, Sculpture three and Architecture two—who knew you could once win a medal for designing a ski jump, pool or stadium?

The-Forgotten-Olympic-Art-Competitions-Stanton-Richard-EB9781412242691According to the Smithsonian.com article “When the Olympics Gave Out Medals for Art”, Olympic judges handed over 151 arts-focused medals over the years . . . not that anyone really remembers. As Richard Stanton, author of The Forgotten Olympic Art Competitions, told Smithsonian.com writer Joseph Stromberg, “Everyone that I’ve ever spoken to about it has been surprised. I first found out about it reading a history book, when I came across a little comment about Olympic art competitions, and I just said, ‘what competitions?’”

When he was rebooting the Olympics, de Courbertin was adamant that the arts be included in the modern Olympics. “There is only one difference between our Olympiads and plain sporting championships,” Stanton quotes de Courbetin as saying, “and it is precisely the contests of art as they existed in the Olympiads of Ancient Greece, where sport exhibitions walked in equality with artistic exhibitions.”

Yet despite de Courbetin’s efforts, the artistic side of the Olympics remained a quirky sidenote to greater Olympic glory. As the Smithsonian’s Stromberg notes, categories were fractured, medals were inconsistent and prominent artists never really entered. It all ended in 1952, and the artistic medals were officially struck from the Olympic record.

210612-sport-art-02The news isn’t all bad, however—for the past decade the International Olympic Committee has held an official “Sport and Art Contest” on the build-up to the Summer Games. No medals, alas, but there is a cash prize for three winners in each category (sculptures and graphic works), and the winning pieces are displayed in conjunction with the Summer Games. Winners of the 2012 prize in graphic works—selected from 86 entries—include (from left) “In Cerca Dell’ Armonia” by Italy’s Volha Piashko (mixed media, collage) in first, “Excellence Rising” by Romania’s Luisa Balaban (paper, ink, watercolour, pastel) in second, and “Hope” by Portugal’s Isabel de Cunha Lima (acrylic on canvas) in third.

210612-sport-art-01Sculpture winners were the USA’s Martin O. Linson’s “Omnipotent Triumph” (bronze) in first, Georgia’s Levan Vardosanidze’s “Olympic Hymn” (bronze, brass, marble, wood) in second, and Spain’s Fernando Serrano Munoz’s “The Cycling Woman” (sapeli wood carving treated with wax, rusty iron support) in third.

Interested in participating in the upcoming 2016 Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro? Entries are welcome from any country with a participating National Olympic Committee. Check out the 2012 entry form here.

Meet Michael Whitfield, 2014’s Distinguished Alumni

It’s hard to think of a more deserving person to be named Distinguished Alumni than Michael Whitfield. Not only is Whitfield (BA, 1967) a veteran lighting designer with an enviable career illuminating professional stages across North America, but he literally got in on the ground floor of UVic’s Theatre department back in the early ‘60s.

Michael Whitfield at UVic's Distinguished Alumni Awards

Michael Whitfield at UVic’s Distinguished Alumni Awards night, Feb 5 2014 (Photo Services)

“I started in Sciences in the fall of ‘62, and you were supposed to take an elective in arts,” Whitfield recalls. His mother, who was then working as a stenographer in UVic’s English department, mentioned that a new theatre course was being developed. “So I took the course and got hooked. It was like a smorgasbord of everything to do with theatre—including painting the floor,” he says with a chuckle. “I abandoned the whole Science program and switched over to arts.”

Whitfield quickly began to shine as the primary lighting design student because, as he puts it, “I could plug two lights together without blowing the place up—I think it was because of my science background.”

Whitfield's lighting design for Madama Butterfly (Canadian Opera Company, 1990)

Whitfield’s lighting design for Madama Butterfly (Canadian Opera Company, 1990)

Now an internationally acclaimed lighting designer with over four decades at the likes of the Stratford Festival, Shaw Festival, Canadian Opera Company  and San Diego Opera under his belt, Whitfield has also taught at the likes of the National Theatre School, York University, the University of Windsor, the University of Illinois and Carnegie Mellon University Pittsburgh. Now he’s back here at UVic, where he has been a sessional instructor with the Department of Theatre for a number of years.

Given his extensive background, Whitfield is clearly one of Canada’s most versatile and experienced lighting designers, and says he feels honoured to be named a Distinguished Alumni for the Faculty of Fine Arts.

“It’s a wonderful sense of coming full circle,” he says. “Thinking back on it, it was an amazing time on campus at the point I was in the program. In a strange way, had it not been that kind of flying-by-the-seat of your pants period, I probably would’ve chosen a different path—but the chemistry of that time was ideal for the things I liked to do. It was all about the highly inventive use of whatever you had.”

Long Day’s Journey Into Night (Stratford Festival, 1980)

Long Day’s Journey Into Night (Stratford Festival, 1980)

That inventive perspective has fuelled Whitfield’s career, both at Stratford—where, for over 25 years, he was Resident Lighting Designer for over 100 productions on Stratford’s three stages, as well as acting as consultant on major upgrades to the lighting rigs for the two lead theatres—and as a freelancer.

“It’s really been a fascinating career,” he says. “I’m lucky because a lot of people get into a job and think they’re set, only to have it end and wonder where they go next—but that was my entire career as a freelancer, moving from one production and one theatre to another. And that goes right back to my time at UVic—it was that whole seat-of-your-pants thing. It wasn’t always a case of a lot of planning, it was just getting things done.”

Among the hundreds of shows he’s lit, one memory still makes him chuckle—lighting Keanu Reeves in the lead role for the famed 1995 production of The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark at Winnipeg’s Manitoba Theatre Centre . . . mounted just six months after Speed thrust Reeves to the top of the Hollywood A-list.

Keanu Reeves & Lissa Repo-Martell (as Ophelia) in 1995's Hamlet  (photo: Bruce Monk)

Keanu Reeves & Lissa Repo-Martell (as Ophelia) in 1995′s Hamlet (photo: Bruce Monk)

“He was extremely athletic and did a really great job,” he recalls. “The sword fights were some of the best I’ve ever seen on stage. And you could have heard a pin drop during the shows—the kids were hanging on his every word.”

But it isn’t the memory of Reeves’ performance that makes him laugh; it was the fact that they had a complete lighting failure days before the production opened. “On the break between the tech rehearsal and the first dress rehearsal, the lighting board literally collapsed; everything disappeared,” he recalls. “And we still had to get that show open in three days. It was one of those best-laid-plans situations—but you couldn’t just say, ‘Oh well, it’s not going to work.’ You had to find a solution.”

Now that he’s retired and back teaching as a sessional at UVic, how does he feel about how the Theatre department has developed? “Considering it began with one course, it has now become a well-established program covering a wide range of topics,” he says. “There aren’t many places that offer the diversity of spaces that the Phoenix has—a thrust stage, a proscenium stage, and a black box. I think that’s one of the attractions . . . . the building itself is a little gem. I’ve ranged fairly widely over the theatre training world, and haven’t seen its equal.”

Pagliacci (San Diego Opera, 2008)

Pagliacci (San Diego Opera, 2008)

Considering the vast advances in stage technology that have occurred during his career (computerized lighting boards, the introduction of moving and LED lights, for example), what’s the key to successful lighting instruction? “I try to stress the fact that it’s your imagination that makes the difference,” he says. “You have to be able visualize something in order to accomplish it. Sure, it’s easier to do in a well-developed theatre complex like we have here, but you’re going to get out there, be given 15 lamps and told that you’re going to light Pericles—so you better have your imagination cranked up.”

Whitfield back where it all began

Whitfield back where it all began

Whitfield pauses, and offers one of his beaming Santa Claus smiles. “There are no answers, there’s no magic bullet,” he says. “You have to find solutions by thinking on your feet—that’s what’s going to help you work in the theatre, not necessarily a highly developed skill set.”

Great advice from a well-deserved Distinguished Alumni.

Reel Life Learning

The tools writing professor Maureen Bradley uses with her students may not immediately leap to mind when most people think about research at UVic. But for Bradley, lights and cameras are very much the focus of the action when it comes to film production.

Maureen Bradley and Daniel Hogg (photo: Nik West)

Maureen Bradley and Daniel Hogg (photo: Nik West)

“Research is the creation of new knowledge,” she says, “and literature, art and film are knowledge. Those images and stories explain to us who we are, and how we function as humans.”

Bradley has been teaching film-based courses at UVic since 2004, but her real success began with the creation of the writing department’s CFI Hi-Def Story Incubator Laboratory in 2009. This film production class allows her to take experiential learning to a whole new level.

Thanks to nearly $350,000 in funding from the Canadian Foundation for Innovation, the BC Knowledge Development Fund and UVic’s Office of Research Services, the Story Lab continues to have great success with their experiential “class as crew” model.

Filming an episode of "Freshman' Wharf"

Filming an episode of “Freshman’ Wharf”

Their inaugural effort—Freshman’s Wharf, a light-hearted, 10-episode web series looking at the first-year student experience—won a 2010 Leo Award, presented annually to the best in BC’s film and television industry.

Bradley and her writing students have since gone on to create three other short films: Stuck, How Socrates Bought the Farm and ‘Til Death—the latter of which won a pair of awards at the Vancouver Short Film Festival in November 2013, and will screen at the Victoria Film Festival in February.

With students taking on all the jobs of a film crew, from lighting and continuity to set decoration and film editing, Bradley has created a hands-on course that teaches how film production really works. “It’s just such a fantastic experience,” she says. “They love being on set.”

But while there’s clearly talent aplenty among the 20-odd students who enroll in her class each year, Bradley sees the writing department as the key to their success.

'Til Death is another outstanding Writing-created short film project

‘Til Death is another outstanding Writing-created short film project

“Film is just a development of writing’s already well-known streams—fiction, poetry, creative non-fiction and drama,” she says. “I don’t know anywhere else in the country where this is happening. There are good student films being made, but they’re not being driven by faculty-led courses.”

Bradley has spent the past four years building up the technical equipment and supporting talent needed to create professional-looking 10-minute short films.

“Drama and film are really applied forms of learning,” she explains. “A screenplay and a play are not final products, and they’re always open to interpretation. Students need to see how hard it is to make a film, how to adjust the writing as the film is made, how to write with a budget in mind.”

With no other Vancouver Island college or university offering film production classes, UVic’s writing department is uniquely situated to help fill a gap locally and nationally.

“I think we have the best student screenwriters in Canada here,” she says. “This is a unique situation where the production comes through the writing first.”

“I’ve seen beautiful films at student screenings across Canada, but the story is usually lacking, so it’s really exciting to see story and surface come together here. Why make a film if there’s no heart to it?”

Other notable UVic-related film projects

  • Connor Gaston's Bardo Light

    Connor Gaston’s Bardo Light

    Previous Story Lab student films have played at the Whistler Film Festival, the Vancouver Short Film Festival and the Victoria Film Festival. Current master’s student Connor Gaston’s short film, Bardo Light, had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2012.

  • ‘Til Death screens at the Victoria Film Festival as part of the “Love & Danger” short film series (8:45 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 11, at the Vic Theatre, 808 Douglas Street). “It’s quite extraordinary for a student film,” says Bradley, “and it’s really exciting seeing it screening at a local festival.”
  • Bradley will start shooting her film Two 4 One locally in February. It’s a transgender romantic comedy produced by Story Lab partner Daniel Hogg and featuring 10 former and current film students working on the set. Bradley sees Two 4 One as delving into new territory. “Living life as a transgendered man is not something most people know anything about,” she says. “But people are open when they laugh and might take in new ideas. I want to reach a broader audience with this one.” Read more about Two 4 One in this interview in Plenitude magazine.
  • D.W. Wilson & Daneil Hogg puttin' on the ritz in Cannes

    D.W. Wilson & Daneil Hogg puttin’ on the ritz in Cannes

    Writing department alumni Jeremy Lutter, Ben Rollo, D.W. Wilson and Daniel Hogg took their latest short film Floodplain to the Cannes Film Festival in 2013. Floodplain recently won two awards at the Vancouver Short Film Festival, and was produced with support from the National Screen Institute and BravoFACT.

Learn more about Maureen Bradley’s research in this Faces of UVic Research video.

This article originally appeared as part of UVic’s KnowlEDGE series in the January 26 edition of the Times Colonist.