Sometimes the most inspiring work occurs while students are still enrolled in university. Consider MFA Connect, an inter-institutional visual arts exhibit that literally connects UVic Visual Arts MFA candidates with fellow graduate students at UBC Okanagan.
Works by Conner Charlesworth & Crystal Przybille
Organized by second-year UVic MFA candidate Marina DiMaio, MFA Connect runs November 6-10 in UVic’s Audain Gallery in the Visual Arts building; the first part of the exhibit ran October 10-20 in the FINA Gallery at UBC Okanagan’s campus in Kelowna.
“MFA Connect is like a conference for visual arts,” says DiMaio. “Other departments make these kind of ‘connections’ all the time, but when we get together we share a visual language. This is about challenging each other’s research, getting our research out into the world, creating our own opportunities, establishing communities, and continuing the larger conversation of the place of the visual arts in an academic institution.”
As emerging artists and creative researchers, it’s essential for MFA candidates to connect with both local and international art centers, and to encounter and share visual methodologies. With that in mind, MFA Connect aims to deepen and challenge graduate student practices, as well as equip the larger academic communities with new records of interdisciplinary understanding.
David Michael Peters helps install the exhibit at UVic
“The academic community we are temporarily placed in while being in an MFA is perhaps the most valuable part of being here,” she says. “We have an immediate network of support, of individuals striving towards similar goals with a common passion for creative research.”
The first in what’s hoped to be a series of MFA art exchanges, MFA Connect will showcase the work of six UVic MFAs — Conner Charlesworth, Leah McInnis, David Michael Peters, Evelyn Sorochan-Ruland, Xristia Trutiak, and Di Maio herself — and five UBCO MFAs: Steven Thomas Davies, Jessica Dennis, Joe Fowler, Crystal Przybille and Meg Yamamoto.
“Conceptually, we are all working in very different ways,” DiMaio explains. “You will find some similarities in the general tendencies of each program toward materiality, craft, and the handmade — the show is filled with objects pointing toward a physical human experience — but this show ultimately finds its affinities in the ongoing conversation of visual art as a form of research.”
Pieces on display will tackle concepts ranging from discussions of labour and conversations with the history of art to investigations into process and material politics, explorations of internal and external gender identity, studies of soundscapes and perceptual experience, the mapping of place and possessions, and an examination of Indigenous rights and truths.
“We’re only in our MFAs for two years,” DiMaio concludes. “That goes by fast and we need to make the most of our time here and take advantage of all the opportunities that are available to us.”
MFA Connect runs 10am-4pm Monday-Friday, November 6-10 in the Visual Arts Building’s Audain Gallery, with a closing reception beginning at 4:30pm on Thursday, November 9
Following a series of on-campus solo exhibitions in the Audain Gallery this spring, this year’s graduating MFA artists have taken their work downtown for their final public exhibit.
Titled In Toto, the annual Visual Arts MFA graduation exhibition runs May 4 to May 14 at 821 Fort Street, between Quadra and Blanshard, with a special opening reception at 7pm on Friday, May 4.
Update: the MFA show will now return for one day only, 11am-2pm Sunday, May 27, as part of the City of Victoria’s Fort Street Celebrations. The MFA show will be used as the venue for a public drop-in session discussing the use of vacant store fronts as art spaces. Live music & refreshments will also be on hand to celebrate the opening of the bike lanes,
Featuring the work of David Michael Peters, Marina DiMaio, Leah McInnis, Connor Charlesworth and Evelyn Sorochan-Ruland, In Toto offers 10 different pieces, ranging from painting and sculpture to installation and media works.
Interestingly, the same storefront was home to the HeARTspace exhibit in the fall 2017, a pop-up art gallery featuring the work of people who have died from overdoses, as well as tributes to them; that exhibit was organized by UVic interdisciplinary PhD candidate Marion Selfridge.
The free exhibit is open noon to 4pm daily.
In addition to this exhibit, MFA candidate Marina DiMaio has also organized the second in the MFA Connect exhibit series. Running May 13-19 in the Audain Gallery in the Visual Arts building, this second iteration reconsiders the long-standing tradition of Mail Art through an entirely digital correspondence. This conception of MFA Connect integrates the work of six MFA students from Newcastle University in England and six UVic MFA students in a group show that will then travel to the Ex Libris Gallery in northeast England.
“MFA Connect is like a conference for visual arts,” says DiMaio in this article about the inaugural MFA Connect exhibit in November 2017. “Other departments make these kind of ‘connections’ all the time, but when we get together we share a visual language. This is about challenging each other’s research, getting our research out into the world, creating our own opportunities, establishing communities, and continuing the larger conversation of the place of the visual arts in an academic institution.”
In addition to Marina DiMaio, MFA Connect also features work by UVic’s Connor Charlesworth, Leah McInnis, David Michael Peters, and Evelyn Sorochan-Ruland, plus Xristia Trutiak. Participating artists from Newcastle U include Shaney Barton, Elizabeth Green, Peter Hanmer, Paul Jex, Hania Klepacka and Gill Shreeve.
Could this be the beginning of ongoing creative alliances between Newcastle University and UVic? Only time—and inspiration—will tell.
In response to the ongoing and global spread of the COVID-19 virus and the advice of the Provincial Health Officer, the University of Victoria is following provincial guidelines regarding large gatherings.
These actions have been taken in consideration of the recent declaration of a pandemic by the World Health Organization, confirming that the virus is likely to spread to all countries with a corresponding rise in the risk level of all international travel. It also supports our commitment to the safety and well-being of our campus community and the health of our broader community.
As part of our response to the evolving COVID-19 situation, UVic has created a COVID-19 response website to provide the university community with the most up-to-date information — including tips for staying healthy, information for travellers, and other resources for students, faculty and staff.
Following the advice of the Provincial Health Officer, gatherings of more than 50 people are now cancelled. These events involving Fine Arts faculty, students and alumni have been cancelled:
- The Children’s Hour, Phoenix Theatre
- Belfry Theatre’s SPARK Festival
- MFA Connect: Floatation Devices exhibit
- Legacy Gallery downtown (including Urban Regalia & FLUID exhibits)
- Yvonne Blomer book launch (March 18)
- Heng Wu guest lecture (March 19)
- Sonic Lab (March 20)
- Betsy Tumasonis AGGV guest lecture (March 22)
- Vocal Jazz Ensemble (March 22)
- Visiting Artist: Chantal Gibson (March 25)
- Chamber Singers (March 28)
- Faculty Concert: Connie Gitlin (March 29)
- Gendered Threads of Globalization symposium (March 27-29)
- UVic Wind Symphony (March 27)
- Don Wright Symphonic Winds (April 2)
- UVic Orchestra (April 3)
- Middle East & Islamic Studies Consortium conference, UVic (April 4)
- Mallory Tater reading, Munro’s Books (April 9)
The School of Music will be live-streaming a limited number of degree recitals in the coming weeks: please see their events calendar for specific details.
Stay up to date
Please see UVic’s COVID-19 website for all the latest information on UVic’s response to this health crisis.