Top 10 Fine Arts stories for 2014

2014 sees the end of another busy year here at the Faculty of Fine Arts, where there was always something afoot. Five departments and hundreds of annual concerts, theatrical productions, readings, exhibits and lectures by visiting artists, academics and professionals means Fine Arts is always one of the busiest faculties on campus when it comes to community engagement. Here’s a quick wrap-up featuring some—but certainly not all—of the leading Fine Arts stories of the year.

“Hear us roar!”

UVic President Jamie Cassels and Vikes mascot Thunder present Rally Song winner Colleen Eccleston with her iPad  (photo: Armando Turo)

UVic President Jamie Cassels and Vikes mascot Thunder present Rally Song winner Colleen Eccleston with her iPad (photo: Armando Turo)

To the cheers of a tight game and the applause of a packed house, the winner of the School of Music / Vikes Nation Rally Song Contest was decided at the Vikes men’s basketball game way back on January 10—and first prize went to the School of Music’s own songwriting instructor Colleen Eccleston. With 18 submissions from across campus—including entries by students, faculty and administration alike—the top three finalists were performed live at half-time by fourth-year Music student Josh Lovell. Eccleston picked up a brand new iPad for her winning song, “Vikes Nation” (“We are Vikes Nation, hear us roar!”) as chosen by judges UVic President Jamie Cassels, Director of Athletics and Recreation Clint Hamilton, Director of School of Music Dr. Susan Lewis Hammond and varsity athlete Kyle Irvine. Attendees now hear a recorded version of Lovell’s rendition before the starting lineups of each Vikes home game.

On the button blanket

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)

It may have been nicknamed “the big button blanket project” by Art History & Visual Studies, but the creation and subsequent exhibit of Adasla: The Movement of Hands at the Legacy Galley garnered a great deal of attention in the community and the media. Both the blanket’s inaugural dance at the opening ceremonies of UVic’s annual Diversity Research Forum in February at First People’s House and the accompanying exhibit—featuring a special contemporary performance collaboration between Governor General’s Award-winning performance artist Rebecca Belmore, former Audain professor for the Department of Visual Arts, and blanket co-creator, Tahtan Nation artist Peter Morin—represented one of the strongest examples of community engagement of the year.

A name you can trust

Chancellor-designate Shelagh Rogers meets the media. Credit: UVic Photo Services

Chancellor-designate Shelagh Rogers meets the media. Credit: UVic Photo Services

It was the kind of news that would warm the heart of any arts supporter when famed CBC Radio host Shelagh Rogers was named the University of Victoria’s 11th Chancellor in May. “To speak in a very non-chancellorian way, I’m thrilled out of my bean,” Rogers said at the time. “I feel like over the last little while I’ve been dating UVic—I’m glad now to be in a relationship with you.” Nominated by Fine Arts Dean Dr. Sarah Blackstone and Associate Dean Dr. Lynne Van Luven, Rogers’ term begins in January 2015. “As UVic’s chancellor, Shelagh Rogers will enhance the excellence of our university,” said Blackstone. “She will bring tremendous energy and great insight to her new role. Her national reputation as an advocate for Canadian arts and culture will serve the university well. UVic could not ask for a better ambassador as we build on our reputation for excellence in teaching, research, and community engagement.”

Getting an A in Queen B

Melissa Avdeeff

Melissa Avdeeff

There’s nothing like a little controversy to spark interest in a course, as School of Music instructor Melissa Avdeeff discovered when word broke in July that she’d be teaching a course on the music of Beyoncé at UVic, resulting in some less than positive comments (“I think I just gave up on Western culture!” “Truly a waste of education and money!”). It didn’t take long for media outlets ranging from the CBC, CTV and Macleans to the Globe and Mail and the Huffington Post to jump on the Beyoncé bandwagon. “I don’t see studying popular culture as any less academically or socially relevant than studying other forms of musicology like historical musicology or music theory,” Avdeef told the Globe. “It’s important to have these courses. They get people thinking more critically about how they are engaging with media.”

Art on view

"Hit for the sculpture!" Stillwell's piece in context of the baseball diamond

“Hit for the sculpture!” Stillwell’s piece as it appears from the baseball diamond

It was a busy year for professors in the Department of Visual Arts, with a number of exhibits and new sculptures being unveiled. Both Jennifer Stillwell and Robert Youds debuted new pieces of public art—Stillwell’s High Five began reaching for the sky in Winnipeg back in August and Youds’ For Everyone a Sunset was unveiled at the Vancouver Art Gallery’s Offsite in October—while departmental chair Paul Walde‘s Requiem For A Glacier installation appeared in Nelson in January, was written up in a  Times Colonist UVic Research feature in July, ran from September to November at the Evergreen Cultural Centre in Coquitlam, then ran at Laval University Art Gallery in Quebec City until the end of December. Meanwhile, photographer Vikky Alexander opened two photography exhibitions this fall—a show of new work Theatergarden Bestiarium in Los Angeles and the retrospective The Temptation of St Anthony in Vancouver—and will have two more shows opening in early 2015 in both Calgary and Montreal.

All for Two 4 One

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

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

Department of Writing professor Maureen Bradley‘s locally lensed debut feature film, Two 4 One, had  its world premiere at the 2014 Calgary International Film Festival in September, before moving on to its BC premiere at the Vancouver International Film Festival in October, and the Eastern Canada premiere at Montréal’s Image + Nation Film Festival in November.
Coming up in February 2015, it will be the opening gala film at the Available Light Film Festival in the Yukon and local audiences will be able to see the film—described as Canada’s first transgendered romantic comedy—as part of the Victoria Film Festival, also in February. Two 4 One is written and directed by Bradley and produced by digital media staffer Daniel Hogg.

The best exotic intergenerational theatre company

Theatre PhD Matthew Gusul (centre) at the field school in India

Theatre PhD Matthew Gusul (centre) at the field school in India

Department of Theatre PhD candidate Matthew Gusul attracted attention with his field school to India in October. Gusul and 13 undergraduates spent two months in the Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry regions to create the country’s first intergenerational theatre company. By positively highlighting the life experiences of residents at the Tamaraikulam Elders’ Village and the students of the Isha Vidhya Matriculation School, Gusul and his students worked with a team of Indian directors to encourage these seniors and rural youth to perform their own stories, develop strong community relations and create new lines of dialogue across generations. Stay tuned for an update on their efforts, coming the first week of January.

World War I history mystery

Marcus Milwright with JM's diaries

Marcus Milwright with JM’s diaries

When Art History and Visual Studies professor Marcus Milwright began planning his November exhibit The Arts of World War I, he had no idea that his use of a two-volume leather diary set featuring illustrations of life during the Great War—signed only by the initials “JM”—would generate so much publicity. But Milwright’s search for JM’s identity sparked a flurry of international media attention, which you can read about here. The Arts of World War I continues to March 2, 2015, in the McPherson Library’s Legacy Maltwood Gallery, and will be a featured part of UVic’s IdeaFest in March.

National honours

Arleen Paré accepts her award from the Governor General

Arleen Paré accepts her award from the Governor General

The Faculty of Fine Arts was remarkably well-represented in national awards this year, thanks to the nomination of five Fine Arts faculty and alumni in the 2014 Governor General’s Literary Awards—Writing professor Bill Gaston, Writing alumni Garth Martens & Arno Kopecky, and Department of Theatre aluma & playwright Janet Munsil, as well as eventual Poetry winner and Writing alumna Arleen Paré. But there was also Writing professor Tim Lilburn‘s induction as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, retired Writing professor Patrick Lane receiving the Order of Canada and Department of Visual Arts student Kim Adams winning the 2014 Governor-General’s Award in Visual and Media Arts. “Having so many areas of the Faculty of Fine Arts recognized illustrates the strength and vibrancy of fine arts at the University of Victoria in particular and in British Columbia generally,” says Dr. Lynne Van Luven, Acting Dean of Fine Arts. “Such achievements are all the more impressive given budget cuts for fine arts programs overall.” Add to that new books by Writing professors Lee Henderson (The Road Narrows As You Go), Bill Gaston (Juliet Was a Surprise) and Kevin Kerr (Tear The Curtain).

Fine Arts can be a picnic

Evocative 1940s costumes made Picnic a winner in the Spotlight Awards (photo: David Lowes)

Evocative 1940s costumes made Picnic a winner in the Spotlight Awards (photo: David Lowes)

Finally, Phoenix Theatre rounded out another busy year of productions in the Department of Theatre with their 1970s revamp of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, directed by professor Fran Gebhard, which followed their latest Spotlight on Alumni production The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe—which was so popular that it had to be held over! Both their spring productions—Picnic (directed by professor Peter McGuire) and Unity (1918) (written and directed by Writing professor Kevin Kerr)—were well-received and recently earned nominations and a win for Best Costumes in Victoria’s annual Critic’s Choice Spotlight Awards.

Here’s looking forward to an equally busy 2015!

Five for Fine Arts in Long Service Awards

Patricia Kostek with Chancellor Murray Farmer at the Long Service Awards (Photo Services)

Patricia Kostek with Chancellor Murray Farmer at the Long Service Awards (Photo Services)

The annual Long Service Awards were once again held in October, and Fine Arts was well-represented among the faculty and employees being honoured for 25 years or more at UVic.

This year, congratulations go out to five Long Service Recognition recipients in Fine Arts. From faculty, recognitions went out to Visual Arts professor and alumnus Robert Youds, School of Music professor Patricia Kostek and Art History & Visual Studies professor Victoria Wyatt, each clocking in at 25 years—and seen here with outgoing Chancellor Murray Farmer.

For staff, Visual Arts building caretaker Cheryl Crooks—previous winner of the President’s Distinguished Award for Excellence in Service—celebrates 25 years, and the School of Music’s Anthony Booker clocks in with an impressive 30 years under his belt as the accompanist for the UVic Chorus.

Victoria Wyatt (Photo Services)

Victoria Wyatt (Photo Services)

“You are the backbone of this university,” said Chancellor Farmer at the event. “It is your talent, hard work and dedication that make UVic’s accomplishments possible . . . that is what sets UVic apart: great people, people like you. On behalf of President Cassels and myself, I extend our deep gratitude for your years of service. We are all fortunate to be part of a university that has such caring, committed and enthusiastic faculty and staff. You have made UVic what it is today.”

“‘All the changes they must have seen,’ I was thinking as I attended the recent long-service awards,” noted Acting Dean Dr. Lynne Van Luven. “Twenty-five years, 30 years, all dedicated to one employer. The University of Victoria is a good place to work, and we attract good people. I’d like to say congratulations on your perseverance and dedication to all the Fine Arts staff and faculty who have served us all these years. Our campus is a better place because of you.”

Cheryl Crooks (Photo Services)

Cheryl Crooks (Photo Services)

First held in 1988 to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the university, the awards have been presented each year since then, with the university president presenting each recipient with a special gift or silver pin crafted for the occasion. The event was expanded in 1999 to recognize long service beyond 25 years, in increments of five years.

New student welcome

Now that classes are back in session, it’s time again for our annual Fine Arts New Student Welcome soiree, where we welcome our first-year students in style.

ice-social_960x540But rather than offer yet another year of pizza, this time around the Fine Arts faculty and staff will be serving something different: ice cream! Yep, we’re throwing an ice cream social—but better still, this Sept 11 event will feature tasty gourmet ice cream sandwiches by Cold Comfort, local purveyor of high-end ice cream yumminess.

ColdComfortRather than just the humdrum likes of vanilla, strawberry and chocolate, Cold Comfort offers ice cream sandwiches with flavours like Vanilla Bean sandwiched between chocolate cookies and Salted Caramel (that’s dairy and gluten-free, no less). We’ll also have a mystery box of random flavours for the more daring ice cream gourmands.

Coastal Giant

Coastal Giant

But there will be more than just ice cream up for grabs. In addition to popcorn and cookies (for those who don’t like chilly treats), we’ll also be featuring the music of local country funk band Coastal Giant.

Come for the food, stay for the fun! The New Student Welcome is always a great chance to connect with Fine Arts faculty and staff in a casual environment. All Fine Arts students, staff and faculty are welcome to join us from 4 to 6pm Thursday, September 11, in the Fine Arts Courtyard.

Last week for Heaven

If you haven’t been to Heaven yet, you’ve still got time. No need to bother St. Peter, however—simply pop into the Legacy Art Gallery Downtown for the final week of the  exhibit Windows Into Heaven: Religious Icons from the Permanent Collection.

Co-curator Regan Shrumm explains the significance of some of the icons

Co-curator Regan Shrumm explains the significance of some of the icons

Running through to Saturday, August 9, Windows Into Heaven is a result of the graduate research of History in Art MFA and exhibit co-curator Regan Shrumm.

Featuring Christian Orthodox icons and crucifixes from the permanent collection of the Legacy Gallery, this exhibition examines religious, historical, and cultural meanings past and present. “A lot of people don’t know what icons are or what they’re used for,” says Shrumm, who originally started exploring the Legacy’s collection for the Jamie Cassels Undergraduate Research Award in 2012.

Frequent readers of this blog may well remember Shrumm’s name as the winner of the 2013 Victoria Medal—awarded annually to the student with the highest GPA in the Faculty of Fine Arts. Describing her as “a remarkable student” with “a lively, vibrant spark,” History in Art chair Dr. Catherine Harding noted Shrumm “made these precious items come alive through her focus on their materiality and their special relationship to other artistic traditions, such as the close visual connections between Greek Byzantine and Russian religious culture.”

Eva Baboula speaks to a packed house at the curator's talk in April

Eva Baboula speaks to a packed house at the curator’s talk in April

Windows Into Heaven is co-curated HIA professor and recently appointed Associate Dean of Fine Arts, Dr. Evanthia Baboula, who also led Shrumm’s directed studies course which led to the creation of this popular exhibit. Over a hundred people turned out for the curator’s talk and tour back in April, showing the continuing interest in this kind of religious iconography.

Just a few of the icons on display

Just a few of the icons on display

The 18th and 19th century icons—created from egg tempera, enamel and silver metalwork—are from the eastern Christian tradition and show how religious imagery maintained a central role in orthodox Christianity. Many of the icons are from the donated collection of Dr. Bruce and Mrs. Dorothy Brown.

Icons were venerated in churches, private homes or during a journey to provide protection to body and spirit. Images of saints, Christ and the Virgin that date back to the Byzantine tradition, the medieval empire of Constantinople, are also a concrete remnant of how the religious communities of imperial Russia built on these traditions to create a recognizable, yet distinctive and lively art.

Viewers at the exhibit

Viewers at the exhibit

“The icons in this exhibition are similar in age and importance to others found in major galleries and museums worldwide, including the Metropolitan Museum, the British Museum, and the Ashmolean,” says Baboula.

Windows Into Heaven must close on August 9 at the Legacy Art Gallery Downtown, 630 Yates. Admission is free and the gallery is open 9am to 4pm Wednesday to Saturday.

“History in Art” soon to be history

Change is afoot in the Department of History in Art . . . a name change, to be precise. Starting next year, HIA will become the Department of Art History and Visual Studies.

“[The name] History in Art is unique—there is no other department in the world with that name,” explains department chair Catherine Harding. “[Department founder Alan Gowans] wanted to signal that we were not about the elite practice of art, but it’s honestly been the bane of our existence. People hear the name and they ask, ‘What’s that? Is it some different branch of history or art history?’”

HIA film listShifting to “Art History and Visual Studies” isn’t just about making fewer explanations, however; Harding says it’s also about being more inclusive within the department itself. “We’ve had people teaching with us for years who are film historians, not really art historians, and they’ve always felt like a bit of a sidecar.”

A new name also provides the opportunity for curriculum revision. “Instead of being focused on geographies and chronologies, we’re now going to have three streams: visual literacy, including all the film courses; intercultural/cultural understanding; and our experiential community base. We’re retooling what we offer, and the name change will be huge for that.”

Medieval coursesHarding points to the recent brouhaha when US president Barack Obama took an offhand swipe at art history: “Folks can make a lot more potentially with skilled manufacturing or the trades than they might with an art history degree”—a remark for which he later apologized. (“As it so happens, art history was one of my favorite subjects in high school.”)

Ironically, she has been looking south of the border for examples of the increasing importance of visual literacy in society. “They do visual literacy In the American secondary school curriculum, but there’s no visual literacy in BC secondaries,” she says. “We can do an important job here advocating for visual literacy in BC’s schools. “

Now that all the planning and paperwork is completed, Harding is looking forward to their new designation. “It still has to go through Senate, but the signs are that everyone really supports it,” she says. “But it probably won’t show up until next year’s calendar—let’s say September 2015 to do all the administrative changes.”

Call for Courses

The Faculty of Fine Arts is requesting expressions of interest for the following sessional assignments:

Got a great course idea?

Got a great course idea?

Fall Term - FA 200 A0: Special Topics in Fine Arts (maximum enrollment: 150 students), September-December 2014.
A multi-disciplinary investigation into various aspects of the arts. Focus may vary from year-to-year. Class runs Monday and Wednesday, 4:30pm – 5:50pm.

Spring Term -FA 335 A01 – Popular Culture (maximum enrollment: 75 students), January – April 2015.
An interdisciplinary examination of the popular arts and their place in society. The topics for
examination will vary in different years and sections. Class runs Monday and Thursday, 8:30am – 9:50am.

Expressions of Interest are due by 4:30pm Thursday, June 19th, 2014. Positions will be assigned no later than June 27, 2014.

Insert your course here

Insert your course here

Please submit a written letter of interest indicating qualifications and experience,
potential course outline along with a current Curriculum Vitae to:
Samantha Knudson, Academic Administrative Officer
Faculty of Fine Arts (Fine Arts Building, Rm 116)
University of Victoria, PO Box 1700 Stn CSC, Victoria BC V8W 2Y2

If you are interested in proposing future courses that fit within the Fine Arts curriculum (see Undergraduate Calendar pg. 310), please contact the Dean of Fine Arts Office to schedule an appointment. Sessional Instructors are CUPE 4163 (Component 3) positions with Sessional Lecturers Certification.

The University of Victoria is an equity employer and encourages applications from women, persons with disabilities, visible minorities, aboriginal peoples, people of all sexual orientations and genders, and others who may contribute to the further diversification of the University. The University reserves the right to fill additional teaching assignments from the pool of applicants for this posting. All positions are subject to enrolment and budgetary approval.

Rotating and protecting UVic’s art collection

With 2,200 works of art currently on display—out of more than 20,000 pieces in the university’s overall art collection—UVic has more art on view in public, non-museum spaces than at any other university in Canada. Managing the collection responsibly through the Legacy Art Galleries’ Art on Campus program has also meant that a number of pieces previously on display in public spaces have been deemed to be at risk—and are in the process of being replaced with thematically similar works.

Mary Jo Hughes at the 2013 Legacy exhibit Paradox (photo: Don Denton)

Mary Jo Hughes at the 2013 Legacy exhibit Paradox (photo: Don Denton)

“The Department of Canadian Heritage designate some of our works to be of outstanding national significance,” explains Legacy Art Galleries director Mary Jo Hughes, “so they require we only show and store these pieces in places with ‘Category A’ museum standards—which we unfortunately don’t have in the public spaces and offices on campus.”

The risks that Legacy must be concerned about are more than just the possibility of theft. “Art can be damaged from light, temperature, humidity, airborne contaminants, pests and vandalism,” she says.

Canadian Heritage requires nearly 1,000 nationally significant artworks in UVic’s collection to be protected for the benefit and education of both present and future generations. Consider, for example, Legacy’s precious William Morris tapestries. “They are so valuable and so vulnerable to light that we only bring them out for short-term display, and for examination and research,” says Hughes. “We always have to balance preservation with the desire for long-term display; if we were to put them out, they would be so faded after a couple of years that they ‘d be worthless for future generations.”

Legacy curator Caroline Riedel, History in Art Professor Dr. Erin Campbell and History in Art student Holly Cecil (photo by Gary McKinstry)

Legacy curator Caroline Riedel, History in Art Professor Dr. Erin Campbell and History in Art student Holly Cecil (photo by Gary McKinstry)

But while this curatorial shuffle means you’ll no longer find Myfanwy Pavelic’s paintings in the McPherson Library or Robert Davidson’s prints in the Fraser Building, you will now find equally strong and relevant pieces in their place. Pavelic’s portrait of famed conductor Yehudi Menuhin that previously hung outside the library’s Music and Media department has been replaced with alumna Eva Campbell’s portrait of filmmaker Kemi Craig. “Legacy is attempting to match pieces that will continue to speak those messages,” explains Hughes. “Maintaining First Nations prints in the Law faculty, for example, speaks to their respect for and interest in indigenous approaches to law.”

Even though Legacy Art Gallery Downtown and the Legacy Maltwood in the Mearns Centre for Learning are the only “Category A” spaces available, that doesn’t mean the campus will be short on art to display. “We have the most art on public display of any university in Canada,” Hughes says. (By way of comparison, the much larger University of Toronto campus only has 800 pieces on view.) “The Art on Campus program makes a valuable contribution to the educational environment at UVic. It reinforces an interdisciplinary approach in how people work, teach and learnon campus, and recognizes art as a vital part of everybody’s life; it provides invigoration and stimulation wherever it is.”

UVic's Legacy Gallery Downtown

UVic’s Legacy Gallery Downtown

Hughes also points out what our art collection says about the university as a whole. “It reinforces key messages about UVic, about our values, about our culture,” she says. “Think about the remarkable amount of First Nations art we have campus: that speaks to our connection with the Coast Salish people, with being grateful for being on their territory, with recognizing their culture as a vital part of our world right now. That’s very important to UVic, across disciplines. We don’t want to just pigeonhole art in the Fine Arts or Visual Arts buildings.”

Though some key works have been moved out of offices where they were well-loved, protecting the art will create opportunities to share the pieces with a wider audience through the gallery—in our own era and in the decades to come.

Maxwell Bates' "Circus People" (1969) will be seen in Legacy's upcoming Epiphany exhibit

Maxwell Bates’ “Circus People” (1969) will be seen in Legacy’s upcoming Epiphany exhibit

The program is also providing new opportunities for community engagement, as seen in Legacy’s upcoming exhibit Epiphany:Highlights from the Legacy Permanent Collection opening May 1. Featuring artists of national significance like Norval Morrisseau, Lawren Harris, Frederick Varley, Robert Davidson, Emily Carr, Myfanwy Pavelic, Robert Rauschenberg, Jack Shadbolt and Jean-Paul Riopelle, among others, Epiphany will showcase art that may previously have had limited exposure. “This will enable a lot of people to see some of the cultural properties that have been taken off-campus,” she explains. “A piece may have been hanging in someone’s office or a hallway the general public couldn’t get to before. We’re trying to give access to these key pieces in exhibitions like this.”

Hughes also feels it’s important to remember that community engagement is only part of the role of UVic’s art collection—with the other part being experiential learning. “We cater to faculties whenever they want to have artwork as part of their teaching. We offer art for teaching in classes on campus or at Legacy and we provide study access to reseachers . . . what we do is very much linked to the academic mandate, and real-life experience of working with art. ”

“We’re still dedicated to providing access to all our pieces,” Hughes concludes, “through temporary exhibits, research, classroom visits, and through our database. We have to balance the protection of the artwork with access for scholarship, research and exhibition purposes.”

 

Recent Fine Arts media roundup

Whatever the season, our Fine Arts faculty always seem to be in the media. The only trick is keeping up with it all!

EdgeKicking off 2014, History in Art’s Victoria Wyatt was announced as a contributor to the influential Edge blog. For those not familiar with Edge, it’s an ongoing conversation of intellectual adventure. As they say on the Edge website, To arrive at the edge of the world’s knowledge, seek out the most complex and sophisticated minds, put them in a room together, and have them ask each other the questions they are asking themselves.

The 2014 Edge question was, “What scientific idea is ready for retirement?” and it’s a bit  unusual for a History in Art professor to be asked to contribute to the conversation. But Victoria Wyatt was more than game for it, weighing in with her idea that “it’s time for the rocket scientist to retire.” She’s not talking about the folks at NASA, mind you, but that tired old cliche, “It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to . . . ” Read Wyatt’s engaging short essay here. All the responses are compiled in one really long list, so if you want to find hers quickly, just search for “Wyatt”.

The online Edge salon is, as they put it, “a living document of millions of words charting the Edge conversation over the past 15 years wherever it has gone.” In the words of the novelist Ian McEwan, Edge.org offers “open-minded, free ranging, intellectually playful . . . an unadorned pleasure in curiosity, a collective expression of wonder at the living and inanimate world . . . an ongoing and thrilling colloquium.”

JMPS_new_covIn other History in Art news, Allan Antliff recently edited a special issue of The Journal of Modern Periodical Studies focusing on “Anarchist Modernism in Print” (Volume 4, Number 2, 2013). As Antliff says in his introduction, “This issue of the Journal of Modern Periodical Studies examines political engagements with modernism in journals where productive comingling gave rise to new modes of anarchism contiguous with modernism, while modernism itself was propelled in new directions. In this instance we have a critical/creative nexus . . . keyed to values profoundly at odds with modernity, including its ‘socialist’ guise. Anarchism’s modernisms grapple with such issues as power relations, sexual difference, colonialism, and the economics of art—to name a few—with revolutionary intent.” Read more about Antliff’s issue here.

Allan Antliff's latest book, Joseph Beuys (Phaidon Focus)

Allan Antliff’s latest book, Joseph Beuys (Phaidon Focus)

Antliff also has a soon to be released new book about sculptor, painter, draughtsman, teacher, theorist and political activist Joseph Beuys. Simply titled Joseph Beuys, the 144-page book from Phaidon Focus is part of a groundbreaking new series that offers accessible, enjoyable and thought-provoking books on the visual arts. Described as “An enigmatic figure whose complex imagination drew on his research across a wide range of themes . . . Beuys strove to establish a truly democratic approach towards artistic creativity, and prove that modern art need not be confined to the museum or the gallery.”

Phaidon notes, “As Antliff effectively demonstrates, the ecological and political issues that informed much of Beuys’s art can be considered as relevant today as they were in his own lifetime.” You can read more about the art and life of Joseph Beuys in this article and this one. The book will be released on March 23.

A happy—and no doubt relieved—Carolyn Butler Palmer watches as the big button blanket is raised in First Peoples House (UVic Photo Services)

A happy—and no doubt relieved—Carolyn Butler Palmer watches as the big button blanket is raised in First Peoples House (UVic Photo Services)

Still in History in Art, Carolyn Butler Palmer‘s Big Button Blanket project—which earned all sorts of media attention during its fall 2013 creation—continued to make headlines with its 2014 public debut. Times Colonist art writer Robert Amos called the blanket’s exhibit at Legacy Gallery Downtown‘s Adasla: The Movement of Hands (continuing through to April 25) a “stimulating and multi-faceted show” in his review. Following the blanket’s debut at the opening of the Diversity Research Forum, UVic’s Ring newspaper previewed the upcoming performance by blanket co-creator Peter Morin and former Department of Visual Arts Audain Professor Rebecca Belmore in this article, and the Times Colonist also ran this article previewing the February 22 performance, summarizing the history of the button blanket and this blanket’s specific intention.

Peter Morin observes the big button blanket after it has been raised in First Peoples House (UVic Photo Services)

Peter Morin observes the big button blanket after it has been raised in First Peoples House (UVic Photo Services)

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 was 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 appeared in the Victoria News article, “Big Art Emerges From A Big Blanket.”

Shifting to the Department of Theatre, professor emeritus  Juliana Saxton was the focus of this March 7 Montreal Gazette op-ed by Andrea Courey about life-long learning. At 80, Saxton certainly knows how to walk the talk! (“When asked to comment on the fun of still ‘coming to class,’ Saxton said she had no time to talk. She was off to teach a class! Bingo. I smiled and remembered the old adage: If you want to learn something, teach it. And if you can, keep learning.”)

Some of the cast of Unity (1918), on to March 22 at Phoenix Theatre (photo by David Lowes)

Some of the cast of Unity (1918), on to March 22 at Phoenix Theatre (photo by David Lowes)

Phoenix Theatre’s last production of the year—the award-winning Unity (1918), written and directed by Department of Writing professor Kevin Kerr—picked up a great deal of media attention in advance of its March 13 opening. The Times Colonist, CTV VI and CFUV’s U in the Ring all featured previews of the production, and the reviews coming in have all been outstanding (“Who knew a play about the flu could be so moving?” writes the Times Colonist). Click to this separate post to read a roundup of the press surrounding Unity (1918).

School of Music instructor Colleen Eccleston was a guest on CFAX 1070’s “Cafe Victoria with Bruce Williams” show (unfortunately not archived online). Eccleston spoke about the recent anniversary of the Beatles appearing on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1964, and the impact they have had since that day 50 years ago. Music’s Wendell Clanton was also featured on CFAX 1070 in February (but also not archived); both he and members of the UVic Vocal Jazz Ensemble were interviewed about their Singing Valentines fundraiser.

12tet-frontThe UVic Wind Symphony and the Naden Band appeared on Shaw TV’s Go Island South show in advance of their Naden Scholarship fundraiser concert on February 7. Also in the brass department, congratulations go out once more to School of Music professor emeritus Ian McDougall on his latest Juno Award nomination! His album The Ian McDougall 12tet LIVE is nominated for “Traditional Jazz Album of the Year.” The winners will be announced on the March 30 broadcast from Winnipeg.

The School of Music’s new live streaming initiative also sparked this Times Colonist article about the pros and cons of digital content when it comes to audience impact. Concert Manager Kristy Farkas was interviewed, saying “she knows of no evidence suggesting that this program compromises attendance at UVic concerts.” The TC’s Kevin Bazzana quoted Farkas on how technology is “broadening our reach with the community” by allowing a student’s family in another city to watch a graduating recital, for example.

Sandra Meigs' "The Basement Panoramas"

Sandra Meigs’ “The Basement Panoramas”

Over in Visual Arts, the Toronto exhibit of Sandra Meigs‘ new series of paintings The Basement Panoramas got a great full-page review in the Toronto Star, which called it “perhaps the most potent work of Meigs’ career.” As anyone who saw the show when it appeared locally at Open Space back in November 2013 will recall, these are really, really big paintings—so large the Toronto exhibit was split between two galleries!

Daniel Laskarin at Deluge

Daniel Laskarin at Deluge

Current Visual Arts chair Daniel Laskarin had his fourth exhibition at downtown’s Deluge Contemporary Art from January 31 to March 8. In fallen and found, Laskarin returned to a decades-old preoccupation with the role of the sculptor as matterist in this solo exhibit, and you can hear him discuss the work in this video interview from ExhibitVic website.

WainoAnd the timing was perfect for Carol Wainio’s March 12 appearance as the latest in the long-running Department of Visual Arts VIsiting Artist series. Wainio had just been announced one of the recipients of the 2014 Governor General’s Awards for Visual & Media Arts on March 4, alongside Visual Arts alumnus Kim Adams. Wainio’s talk was teased by an advance photo in the local Victoria News listings.
Finally, in the Department of Writing, Joan MacLeod‘s latest play The Valley opened in Winnipeg recently, earning her this Winnipeg Free Press article: “Over almost three decades, the Victoria-based MacLeod has won a shelf full of awards for her plays, including the 2011 Siminovitch Prize, Canada’s richest theatre award. She is taken aback by the news that anyone thinks of her as a groundbreaking dramatist. ‘That’s extremely flattering and shocking,’ MacLeod says from her office at the University of Victoria, where she teaches. ‘When I sit down to write, I never feel like a master playwright. It’s nice to hear people think that. I’m blushing.'”
BCB-Feb2014-Cover_5_2Fellow Writing professor and Technology & Society program director David Leach wrote a great piece for BC Business magazine’s special all-TED issue in February. “Over the past 30 years, the annual Technology, Entertainment and Design conference has grown into a media juggernaut, fuelled by “ideas worth spreading” (as its tag line promises) and the most effective marketing on the social web,” writes Leach. “Today, this brand without borders aspires to reprogram our entire global operating system for the greater good.”

And the 2014 Southam Lecturer, Tom Hawthorn, popped up in the news a few times recently—not surprisingly, given that his Southam course focuses on sports journalism, and we’ve just come through a flurry of coverage on both the Super Bowl and the Winter Olympics. While it’s no longer archived, Hawthorn spoke to CBC All Points West host Jo-Ann Roberts—also a former Southam Lecturer herself—about his January 29 public Southam Lecture titled, “In Defence of Sports Writing (Not All of it, Just the Good Stuff)”.

HawthornHawthorn also spoke about the importance of UVic’s new Centre for Athletics, Recreation and Special Abilities (CARSA) in this article for the CARSA website: “When it comes to training facilities, there’s no question: CARSA will attract a very high level of athlete,” he says. “You’re going to attract people who want to succeed in athletics—that will definitely be weighed in their decision of where they’re going to do their studies—and you’ll have more people dedicated to success at that elite level.”

Cleve Dheensaw, sports writer for the Times Colonist, also talked to Hawthorn ahead of his lecture in this article. “Even people who don’t follow sports should read the sports pages because sport tells us a lot about ourselves as a society,” he says. (Plus, who wouldn’t want to take a class where your homework is watching the Super Bowl?) And Hawthorn talked about the likelihood of queer activism at the Olympics in this Victoria News article. “I fully anticipate that some athletes will make a display of solidarity with gay people in the community of Russia,” he said.

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

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.