One of the highlights of any Fine Arts semester is the long-running Visiting Artist program in the Department of Visual Arts. Designed to introduce both students and the general public to some of the top artistic talent at work in the visual arts field today, the Visiting Artist program regularly brings in acclaimed national and international artists working in a variety of mediums.
For students, it’s integral to engage with contemporary art movements and discover the personalities and work of artists from across Canada and around the world. The Visiting Artist program invites artists, curators, critics and other practicing art professionals to discuss their work and it’s relation to the world of contemporary art. We encourage our students and the greater Victoria arts community to regularly attend this prestigious program.
While the program has been running in the department since the late 1970s, recent Visiting Artists have included the likes of Haida artist Michael Nicoll Yahgulaanas, National Gallery curator Josée Drouin-Brisebois, interdisciplinary artist Brendan Fernandes, former Visual Arts professor and haptic sculptor Mowry Baden, collaborative art team Blue Republic, projection artist Daniel Barrow, photographer Jessica Eaton, architect Luigi Ferrara, war artist Andrew Wright, art critic Barry Schwabsky, video artist Diedre Logue, sound artist Marla Hlady, installation artist Kevin Schmidt, Seattle curator and writer Eric Fredericksen, intermedia artist Gary Hill, sculptor Liz Magor, multimedia artist Gary Spearin, painter Melanie Authier, sculptor Michel de Broin, and many, many others.
Visual Arts professor Jennifer Stillwell is currently organizing the series, and she’s booked another dynamic group of artists for this fall. “We look for a range of experiences, ideas and mediums,” she explains. “The Visiting Artists are initially coordinated through open discussion in the department about who we may want to bring in. It’s important to include a diversity of contemporary approaches to creative practice, as we hope to extend the thinking of our students and provide dynamic learning opportunities on artistic research.”
Stillwell notes that the Visiting Artist series helps maintain ties with Victoria’s dynamic arts community, through collaborations and partnerships with the likes of Open Space Arts Society and the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria. “That allow us to bring in higher profile artists,” she says.
The best part of the series, however, is the one-on-one time that Visual Arts graduate students get with the Visiting Artists. “It’s a cornerstone of our MFA Program,” says Stillwell, “as the visiting artists, curators and critics actively participate in roundtable
discussions in our graduate seminar and they also provide individual studio visits to our graduate students.”
All Visiting Artist series begin at 8pm on Wednesday evenings in room A162 of the Visual Arts building, unless otherwise noted. And all the lectures are free, of course. Click here to add yourself to the Visiting Artist email list, which will keep you informed of upcoming events.
First up this season on September 16 is Vancouver-based sculptor Myfanwy MacLeod. In 2008, she was commissioned to create a permanent public work for Vancouver’s Olympic & Paralympics legacy public art program, and she is currently collaborating on a new public sculpture park for the grounds of the BC Children’s Hospital and BC Women’s Hospital & Health Centre. A multiple award-winner, her work has been exhibited throughout Canada, the United States, Australia and Europe and is held in the collections of the National Gallery of Canada, the Vancouver Art Gallery, and in numerous private Canadian collections.
Next up on September 30 is renowned Mexican-American performance artist GuillermoGómez-Peña . A writer, activist, radical
pedagogue and director of the San Francisco performance troupe La Pocha Nostra. His artwork has been presented at over 900 venues around the world and his performance work has contributed to debates on cultural and gender diversity, border culture and US/Mexico relations. While at UVic, Gómez-Peña will be presenting a performance lecture titled “Imaginary Activism: The Role of the Artist Beyond the Art World.” His UVic appearance will also correspond with the Stories From the Edge series featuring Peña, James Luna, Saul Garcia Lopez and Amy Malbeuf, organized by downtown’s Open Space Society.
October 14 sees a presentation by award-winning Lethbridge-based video and installation artist David Hoffos. Since 1992 Hoffos has maintained an active practice with over 50 group shows, hundreds of screenings, dozens of school and community collaborations, a few
works for the stage and over 40 solo exhibitions, including a recent survey at the National Gallery of Canada. In 2010 his touring five-year installation series, Scenes from the House Dream, was showcased at Halifax’s Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, and the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art, Toronto. In 2014 Hoffos completed permanent public sculpture projects in Grande Prairie and Lethbridge.
Then on November 4, we have Montreal conceptual artist Suzy Lake. Known for her large-scale photography dealing with the body as both subject and device, Lake
was one of a pioneering group of artists inthe early ’70s to adopt performance, video and photography in order to explore the politics of gender, the body and identity. Early examples of her work form part of two touring exhibitions, WACK! Art and the Feminist Revolution 1965-1980, and Identity Theft: Eleanor Antin, Lynn Hershman, Suzy Lake 1972-1978. Lake’s work continues to use references to the body as a means to investigate notions of beauty in the context of youth and consumer culture. She has a long exhibition career in Canada, and has also shown her work in Europe, the United States, South America and Asia.
Finally, the fall season wraps up on November 25 with Montreal visual artist Stephen Schofield. The materials, procedures and subject of his sculpture, drawing and performance practices spring from the laboratories and private spaces of the home: the kitchen, the bathroom and the garden. Schofield has presented major ensembles of his work at the Power Plant in Toronto, le Musée d’art contemporain, la Biennale de Montréal, the Musée national des beaux-‐arts du Québec, the Dalhousie Art Gallery, in France at the CAC de Vassivère, l’Aquarium, and the CREDAC. In 2012, he presented new work at the Cue Foundation, New York and recently won the Public Art competition for the Quartier des spectacles in Montréal.
There will be a fresh series of Visiting Artists beginning in January 2016. Be sure to check the Visiting Artist page for updates and new information.