Student reflections: A Series of Nudges

He told me about a violin teacher his daughter had had when she was growing up. The teacher hardly ever spoke, or directed; she simply supported his daughter’s arm, repositioned her bow hold . . . I asked if that was teaching; he asked what teaching is supposed to be.

a series of nudges

I dedicated the past year of my life to studying and learning “De Profundis”: a piece for speaking pianist by Frédéric Rzewski, with text by Oscar Wilde. (Wilde was incarcerated from 25 May 1895 to 18 May 1897; he was charged with ‘indecency’ on account of his homosexuality, then condemned in Britain. From January to March 1897, Wilde wrote a 50,000-word letter to his former lover, Lord Alfred Douglas, from his cell in Reading Gaol).

A behemoth of a piece, the technical, conceptual, philosophical, and performative demands on the interpreter are many. The opportunity to work one-on-one with professors in piano, sculpture, voice/writing, and philosophy, was fundamental to any success had in the development of this project.

The opportunity to focus absolutely on one project and to delve into such detail at the undergraduate level is rare, and the understanding gained from such tailored support is inimitable. In a directed study, the professor is able to challenge you: “what do you give attention to, and why?”

“I made art a philosophy, and philosophy an art… I treated Art as the supreme reality and life as a mere mode of fiction.” (Wilde)

UVic provides exceptional artistic training, perhaps mostly because of the staff and faculty’s commitment to training, and supporting critical thinking, above all else.

the need to ask a question

“sorry”                                                 “we don’t do that”

            “not our policy”

                                                “not possible”

    “no one’s ever done that before”

With the exception of the time I wanted to hang – in a harness, suspended from the ceiling – for the duration of a performance, these are words I never heard spoken to me during my five years at UVic. Every challenge was met with openness and flexibility from all levels of the School of Music, and I would even venture to say from the entire Faculty of Fine Arts.

In my second year, I wanted to write and produce a 12-minute opera; my professor helped me book the hall and supervise rehearsals, while others helped construct a projection screen and stand, develop choreography/staging, and put together a performance in under two weeks.

In third year, I proposed the idea of doing my graduating composition outside, on top of Mt. Tolmie. In fourth year, my supervisors asked me what I needed and helped put me in contact with Indigenous elders, language specialists, and students with relevant experience.

(photo: Peter Farris-Manning)

(photo: Peter Farris-Manning)

They assisted me in a multitude of administrative tasks, including securing third-party liability insurance, booking rehearsal venues, and renting a port-a-potty!!

(photo: Emily Stewart)

In fifth year I wanted to do the “De Profundis” project as a sort of transition from ‘undergrad’ to ‘professional’ world, and I was fully supported in my endeavours to host this project off-campus. The school generously provided many resources and lessons even at the satellite location, once again going above and beyond regular university standards.

Rebekah Johnson from Blue Bridge Repertory Theatre helped put together this mock-up in the months leading up to “De Profundis,” so I would have the opportunity to experiment with different lights, GOBOs, colour gels, etc. This was organized through the help of my sculpture prof, Daniel Laskarin.


I wonder if a university is a place to learn skills, or ideas.
(I think probably ideally both.)

A place to learn how to think

…and the ability to pursue those ideas,

(a nudge is not a direction)

                                                    freely.

There is no question that I, my way of thinking, and my way of making art have all changed drastically since I came to UVic five years ago.

 Is learning the same as listening?

I wonder if a university is a place to meet new ideas, or new people.
(I wonder if there’s a difference.)

—Written by undergraduate student Kim Farris-Manning

This story was originally published on the My UVic Life student blog

Visual Arts students & alumni colouring the city

The creative practice of Department of Visual Arts students and alumni are in the spotlight in a series of street-level artistic initiatives around Victoria right now — a number of which are sponsored by the City of Victoria itself. Hop on your bike or plan a walking tour to catch some of this inspiringly creative work in action.

Integrate Arts Festival

Looking to expand your local artistic boundaries? Don’t miss the 12th annual Integrate Arts Festival, running August 24-26 at various venues around the city—all for free! Visit their site to download the venue map, and be sure to check out the timed events happening over the weekend.

Last year, the Integrate Arts Festival (formerly known as “Off the Grid Arts Festival”) saw over 2,000 people attend art spaces across the city. This year it kicks off with and Opening Reception on Aug 24, where you can catch the first glimpse of the work by their featured artists. Download the Integrate Arts Festival map, which will guide you to a variety of exhibitions and events at 24 different participating galleries, publicly accessible studios, and various sites throughout the city. You can also access the map using the Integrate brochure (found at participating locations), and participants are encouraged to walk or bike to each site.

As always, plenty of Fine Arts students and alumni are involved in the fest, including the likes of Visual Arts students Christian McGinty, Lana Nyuli, Shae Anthony and Mona Hedayati; alumni Taryn Walker, Sadie Nielson, Evan Locke, Eriq Wong and the folks at Theatre SKAM; plus instructor Peter Sandmark at the FLUX media gallery.

Also involved behind the scenes on Integrate’s board to make this all happen are a mix of Visual Arts and Art History & Visual Studies alumni Brin O’Hare, Stephanie Eisenbraun, Libby Oliver, Selina Pieczonka, Olivia Prior, Regan Shrumm, Anna Shkuratoff, and current student Amy Smith. And UVic’s own Legacy Gallery is once again a venue for this event.

See Integrate’s Facebook page for current information.

Concrete Canvas

One of the participating events this weekend is the City of Victoria’s Concrete Canvas project, which features 16 local, national and international artists painting the same number of murals on the walls of 13 sites around Victoria’s Rock Bay neighbourhood—including Visual Arts MFA grad Kerri Flannigan. Watch as a neighbourhood is transformed into an outdoor gallery for street art and creative expression; work will be continuing through August 27.

Concrete Canvas provides a platform for Victoria’s vibrant art scene to contribute to the city’s cultural legacy for years to come. The City of Victoria is collaborating with community members to build social capital, develop a sense of community pride of space, represent diversity, and empower people to make change in their city—and putting their money where their vision is: each participating artist will be paid a fee ranging from $1,250 to $4,000, with an overall budget of $150,000, funded by the City’s Public Art Reserve Fund.

Don’t miss the Concrete Canvas launch party, running 2-11:30pm Saturday, August 25. Hosted by the Victoria Beer Week Society, the free event will include a mural workshop, live music curated by Holy Smokes Music, a food and beverage area for all ages, and walking tours of completed and in-progress murals (3-6pm), an artist panel talk (5pm), and a six different bands (from 6pm), all happening in the Hoyne and Driftwood Breweries parking lot, 450 Hillside Avenue.

“The Commons” by Libby Oliver

Commute

And while you’re traveling around the city, keep your eyes open for the Commute: Bus Shelter Art Exhibition, which features work by five different emerging artists — including Visual Arts alumni Libby Oliver and Kerri Flannigan. Oliver’s work “The Commons” can be seen at Yates & Ormond streets, while Flannigan’s “Feeling Measurements – Fathom 09 (Megan)” is on Yates between Camosun & Fernwood Road.

Commercial Alley

Watch for more work by Visual Arts students and alumni coming up in future rounds of the Commute project, including current student Austin Willis—who was recently selected as the sixth artist to install work in the city’s Commercial Alley Art Gallery, found in the alley between the 500-block of Yates and Bastion Square. His four-panel pieces use bright colours, bold lines, and shapes to create fun, yet intense energy, and will be on display for a year.

As an emerging artist I have a great interest in public art and creating work that beautifies spaces,” says Willis. Stay tuned for details about an artist’s talk, coming up in September.

 

Fine Arts fantastic at Fringe Fest

If it’s late August, it must be time for the Victoria Fringe Festival. Running August 22 to September 2, this annual explosion of live performance returns with 47 shows from around the globe in 12 venues, plus outdoor events for the whole family and late night programming in the Fringe Club. Pick up a program guide, get your Fringe button (you’ll need one in order to buy tickets) and get ready to Fringe!

Of course, Fine Arts is once again well-represented in the festival, with students, alumni and faculty from not only Theatre but also Music and Writing involved in creating, writing, designing, directing, performing and working behind the scenes in a number of shows. How many will you see?

ANGELS & ALIENS  – Co-created and featuring second-generation Phoenix alumnus Jeff Leard (son of local theatrical legend Jim Leard), Angels & Aliens poses questions like, are we alone in the universe? Are we living in a computer simulation? What do two irresponsible roommates eat for breakfast the morning after awkward sex? In short. No. Yes. And eggs.

BEGINNING/MIDDLE/ENDFeaturing current Theatre student Douglas Peerless,  this eponymous production includes three short plays that are broken into a Beginning, a Middle and an End. The cast will then take those nine parts and mix them around, allowing chance and audience participation to decide their order of appearance — with no performance being the same.

CAREY, OK! VOLUME 1: TIMELESS TIMELY TUNES – Featuring Phoenix alumnus Carey Wass—who first came to the city’s attention thanks to his notable role in the original mounting of the musical Ride the Cyclone—this show features a mash-up of monologues and music, that mixes beatboxing, rap-singing . . . and Sir Ian McKellen? It’s described as a must-see musical experience, and with Wass, we’d believe that.

CORNELIUS & TITANIA OR, A TRAGEDY OF THE COMMONS (A COMEDY) – Written by Phoenix alumna playwright and director Pamela Bethel (whose After The Beep was a hit at the recent UNO Festival) and featuring current Theatre student Tallas Munro, this Shakespearean spin focuses on Cornelius who, having had barely one line in Hamlet, finds he usually gets cut and ends up here — with all the other inconsequential characters. Today Titania shows up. According to this fax that just came through, she’s been replaced by a hologram. A comedy about power, privilege and the age old question — who’s responsible for the dirty dishes in the shared kitchen?

DISASTER! – Directed by Phoenix alumnus Cam Culham, this recent Broadway hit musical lovingly parodies the 1970’s disaster-film genre is presented by the St. Michaels University Music Theatre Intensive. Join a colourful group of New Yorkers at the grand opening of a floating casino and disco as they fall prey to all sorts of tragic disasters. This hilarious “jukebox musical” revives popular ’70s songs performed by local teens. They’ll have you grooving and in emergency preparation mode all at the same time!

ERNIE AND BETHY – First performed as a Phoenix SATCo show in early 2018, this comedy examines what happens when puppets grow tired of being controlled and decide to overthrow the human regime. Expect puppet revolution, a struggle to create “real art,” and a healthy dose of existentialism as down-and-out Ernie and overachieving Bethy try to create a children’s show while the foul-mouthed puppets attempt to take over. This show is filled with Theatre students and recent alumni: written, created & assistant directed by Sophie Underwood, directed by Molly McDowell Powlowski, set design by Conor Farrell, costume design by Hailee Jake with an assist by Mackenzie Monroe, lighting design by Tori Isaak, sound design by Aaron Smail, stage managed by Siena Shepard, assistant stage manager Danny Handford, production manager by Logan Swain, puppet engineers Sasha Lazin and Christian Tervo. Featuring Sheldon Graham, Emma Grabinsky with puppeteers Rachel Myers.

FADO – A tale of love and ghosts told through the saddest music in the world—Portuguese fado — this show features the talents of Phoenix alumni Cyllene Richmond, with designs by Patricia Reilly. Brought to you by the creators of the 2015 Fringe Favourite Lieutenant Nun – featuring live music by local fado singer Sara Marreiros.

THE FITTING ROOMWritten by Writing grad Ellery Lamm and original mounted by local Vino Buono theatre in 2017, this is a play about growing up, coming out, facing loss and finding faith. Four teens, a mom, a rabbi and one fitting room: six people all linked to the sudden death of thirteen-year-old Noah. This Phoenix-heavy production is directed by Anna Marie Anderson, with stage manager/sound designer Aaron Smail, set/costume designer Delaney Tesch, lighting designer Elizabeth Martin, and featuring actors Ciaran Volke, Emma Newton, Emma Grabinsky and Eva Hocking.

FOOL’S PARADISE – France, 1686. Mathilde is a young nun whose life radically changes when she meets Julie d’Aubigny, a notorious Parisian opera singer and swordsmaster. Together they plan a daring escape from the convent and elope across France, but it isn’t long before Julie’s colourful past catches up with them. Featuring Phoenixers Julie McGuire and Sophie Chappell, with designs by Annie Konstantinova.

KITT & JANE: AN INTERACTIVE SURVIVAL GUIDE TO THE NEAR-POST-APOCALYPTIC FUTURE – Co-created by Phoenix alumni Kathleen Greenfield and Ingrid Hansen, this encore presentation features Fringe favourite Hansen in the cast, with LX design by Michael Franzmann. Two 14-year-olds hijack their school assembly and train their classmates to survive the coming apocalypse. A poignant exploration of the world today’s youth are inheriting, and how they’re willing to fight for it. Last seen locally at Phoenix’s 2013 Spotlight on Alumni.

LA PALABRA EN EL TIEMPOWith bold rhythm and improvisation, local company Palabra Flamenco presents this mix of fierce dance, live guitar, troubled song and English-language poetry – a grief and praise that soak their way to dark corners. How to confront what’s buried? Hold death near, affirming life? This myth-inflected encounter honours what we’ve lost, what we’re going to lose. Written by Writing MFA alumnus Garth Martens, winner of the Bronwen Wallace Award for Emerging Writers, shortlisted for the Governor General’s Literary Award for Poetry and author of Prologue for the Age of Consequence (Anansi). With acclaimed guitarist Gareth Owen, singer Veronica Maguire (co-founder of Alma de España), and principal dancer Denise Yeo.

THE MEASURE OF LOVE – Phoenix alumnus director Wendy Merk presents this remount of an earlier Fringe hit. Love, betrayal, redemption . . . The Measure of Love is a dramatic exploration of the friendship between two women. “This story of Catholic obsession with guilt and sin is a charmer and devilish fun and in the hands of these veteran performers it’s sensational. Powerful, moody and rewarding. Who said there are no good roles for women anymore?” – Times Colonist.

RATFISH COMEDY SHOW – Join musical director and School of Music professor Patrick Boyle and experience everything that’s made Ratfish Victoria’s favourite local comedy show for 7+ years, all jammed into less than an hour: amazing hosts, a great band, surprise guest performers, hilarious headliners, roast battles — even open mic spots where you can sign up at the show for a chance to grab a 3-minute spot to perform your own original comedy at the Fringe!

SHERLOCK HOLMES & THE CURSE OF MORIARTY Sherlock Holmes is back in his deadliest adventure yet in this new show from Victoria’s Triple Fringe Award-winners Outpost 31. This brand new re-imagining of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s timeless classic by David Elendune (Leer, Winnie The Pooh, Casino Royale) features Phoenix alumni Trevor Hinton, Ian Simms, Ellen Law and Connie McConnell.

WAR OF 1812 – Phoenix alumnus Ian Case directs this hilarious historical romp, featuring a who’s-who of the local comedy scene—including Wes Borg, Morgan Cranny, Rod Peter Jr and Mike Delamont. A young boy hates Canada until the ghost of Pierre Burton  takes him on a tour of Canadian History, from the tennis ball battle fields of York to a Laura Secord mega musical, all in a Birchbark time canoe. Get ready for the funniest history lesson of a lifetime!

WATER PEOPLE – Phoenix alumnus and instructor Clayton Jevne directs this drama about Beth, a middle-aged novelist, who begins caring for her disabled mother. It seemed the right thing to do at the time, but a sociopathic social worker, a diabolical sibling, a high maintenance cat, and the woman in the mirror confirming time is not standing still are now “writing” the story that is defining Beth’s life.

THE WILDS – Co-created and featuring Kate Braidwood, this production by 12-time Best of Fest winners The Wonderheads (Loon, Grim & Fischer) features their iconic larger-than-life masks. Wendell’s wife and their beloved tree have vanished, so he must venture into the Wilds to bring them home. Pixar meets Miyazaki in this extraordinary adventure. And watch for a special one-night-only presentation of Grim & Fischer on November 8 at the Metro Studio!

And we’d like to offer a special shout-out to our alumni and students working with Fringe organizers Intrepid Theatre to get this event up, including Jaxun Maron, Sienna Shepard, Emma Leck, Melissa Taylor, and Carolyn Moon with Ticket Rocket box office support by Kate Loomer.

—with files from Adrienne Holierhoek

New donations benefit students

Never underestimate the impact a donation can have for students. For many, both undergraduate and graduate, it can make all the difference in their academic career.

“As a student from a rural town and a lower income family, this scholarship will go a long way in making it possible for me to focus on my studies in the coming academic year,” says Lauren, a third-year Theatre student.

For some, it provides opportunities previously undreamt of — “I didn’t think I’d ever have the opportunity to go to university, and the generosity of your gift has already made such a lasting impact on my studies,” says Laura, a third-year Visual Arts student — while for others, it offers the chance to realize their dreams: “My dream to teach music would be much more difficult without the generosity of you and your family,” writes John, a fourth-year student in the School of Music, in a donor thank-you letter.

The Faculty of Fine Arts distributes over $1.5 million annually from more than 200 separate student awards, benefiting students in all five of our departments. Each year, we’re proud to not only distribute funds from previously created or endowed awards, but also to facilitate the creation of new awards — in fact, 2016/17 saw six new awards created.

Here are just a few of them:

Writing professor Maureen Bradley in the active-learning classroom

Technology expands the horizons of literature

A lifelong love of literature, theatre and education has been fused with digital technology, thanks to a $25,000 donation by Dr. Robert Aitken in memory of his mother. Mary Aitken was a well-loved teacher at both Mt. Douglas and Esquimalt Secondary schools who strongly believed in fostering creativity and keeping up with the latest technology. Now, the Mary Aitken Legacy Scholarship will support students in our new Digital & Interactive Media in the Arts minor, enabling future generations of writers to get their start.

New art therapy scholarship established

There’s no doubt art can make you feel better, and now the Centre for Human Science Research and Its Relation to Human Science Association (formerly the British Columbia School of Art Therapy) has donated $32,000 to establish a new award. The Kathleen G. Collis Art Therapy Scholarship will support Fine Arts students with an interest in phenomenological approaches or other forms of community engaged creative activity that contributes to the field of art therapy and the therapeutic use of the arts.

Dean Susan Lewis (left) with Anna & Eunice Lowe

Fundraiser grows Legacy Scholarship

The Faculty of Fine Arts co-hosted an elegant fundraising dinner at the Union Club in June, in support of the Stephen and Eunice Lowe Legacy Scholarship. A silent auction of over 80 items of art and sculpture from Eunice Lowe’s private collection raised over $18,000 for the scholarship, which is awarded to undergraduate in either Art History & Visual Studies or Visual Arts. Widow of the late celebrated artist, Stephen Lowe, Eunice has tirelessly and graciously sought ways to support our students with her generosity of time and financial support and as an arts ambassador for our community.

New Music award commemorates CFUV host

For over 30 years, Eric LeBlanc’s blues show Let the Good Times Roll appeared weekly on UVic’s CFUV radio. While he spent 25 years as the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory’s librarian, Eric was also a self-taught blues scholar: his collection of thousands of recordings was donated to CFUV after his death in 2015, and over 300 music-related books were donated to the McPherson Library. Now, friends and family have created the Eric LeBlanc Memorial Scholarship for School of Music students with a passion for jazz and blues.

Making the most of a century

Samantha Krzywonos (far right) marks the
98th birthday of longtime donor Tommy Mayne in 2016, with three Theatre student recipients of his scholarship

When noted teacher, philanthropist and lifelong theatre devotee Tommy Mayne passed away in April at the remarkable age of 99, he had already begun to see the impact of his legacy: the Thomas and Elizabeth Mayne Bursary in Theatre, established in 2010, has benefited a number of students, many of which Tommy was able to meet. “I was filled with admiration at his generosity,” said Theatre professor Brian Richmond on his passing. “The city—and the arts community—has lost a wonderful man.”

New awards this year

Indeed, the impact of these kind of gifts lingers long after students graduate. “This award comes at a crucial moment in my studies,” noted one Masters candidate in Theatre. ”Simply put, I don’t know how I would be able to graduate [without it].”

We are grateful to these and our other donors who expanded the range and breadth of awards available to our students by establishing new awards this past academic year:

Sarah Blackstone Endowed Scholarship in Theatre
Dave Ian Dunnet Music Education Scholarship
Eugene Dowling Scholarship Fund in Music
Roger J. Bishop Writing Prize

As Miriam, a second-year Writing student, puts it, “This award has lit me with the confidence I need to take risks and trust my voice and my visions.” It’s hard to not feel good about making this kind of a difference in a student’s life.

To learn more about our giving initiatives, please contact Fine Arts Development Officer Samantha Krzywonos at 250-721-6305 or finedev@uvic.ca.

Bequest welcomes Cuarteto Chroma to a uniquely Canadian degree program

As the final notes vibrated through the concert hall, the first violinist stood to address the audience again. “Any other ideas for where we should sit?” he asked.

Cuarteto Chroma

Hands of audience members shot up, and a young student offered, “How about cello and viola at the front, violins at the back?”

The four musicians nodded, then bustled into a new formation, before playing the same piece for a third time. The audience listened carefully for the change in sound, appreciating, perhaps for the first time, the influence of such decisions.

Cuarteto Chroma’s interactive public performance at UVic’s Ideafest led the audience through several exercises that illustrated the complexities of this quartet’s journey of growth and learning. All four members of this quartet moved here from Mexico to earn their Master’s in Music Performance (with an emphasis on string quartet), under the mentorship of UVic’s artists-in-residence, the Lafayette String Quartet (LSQ).

Made up of Ilya Gotchev, Carlos Quijano, Felix Alanis and Manuel Cruz, Cuarteto Chroma are the first quartet to take part in this one-of-a-kind program in Canada, which is modelled on prestigious programs at universities in the United States. It provides a unique and hands-on learning opportunity for a quartet to earn a collaborative performance degree with guidance from members of a well-established and successful quartet — the LSQ.

LSQ violinist Ann Elliot-Goldschmid explains that this type of training is vital to the success of a quartet. “You hone your skills to be the best you can possibly be on your instrument, then bring those skills into the ensemble, matching the timing, harmony, vibrato, bow speeds and articulation of the others. It’s a magical process but it takes an enormous amount of work.”

The Watsons’ passion for music

Chroma’s interactive session at 2018’s IdeaFest

Cuarteto Chroma’s fellowships are funded by a bequest from the late Claire Watson Fisher, through the Victoria Foundation. Claire grew up in a music-loving family in Montreal. Her mother, Cecile, belonged to several musical organizations and her father, William Watson, was one of the founders of the Montreal Symphony Orchestra.

During World War I, Claire worked for the Canadian Red Cross in England and France, where she received several awards for her service. Her career in Fine Arts began after the war, when she worked for her father’s art gallery, then the Art Gallery of Ontario, and finally, the National Museums Department in Ottawa. After retiring, she and her husband moved to Victoria.

“Her love of music was a passion, and it inspired her to give back to the art form that had given her so much pleasure and joy”, says Louise (Watson) Slemin, Claire’s sister. “I only wish Claire had known the extent of her bequest.”

That extent of the gift is still being discovered by the university as it unlocks the potential of this new program.

“This funding brings a very high-level, prize-winning quartet to UVic, which elevates the learning and research in the whole music department” says Ann. “It’s inspiring for other students to be around this level of professionalism, in practice rooms, or alongside them in the orchestra.”

Cuarteto Chroma in action

Cuarteto Chroma brings benefits to the greater community, through playing at local schools, at benefit concerts, or at public events such as Ideafest. When they travel for concerts, festivals and competitions, they raise awareness of the calibre of UVic Music around the world. After witnessing the quartet’s significant improvement, Ann thinks they could have an even greater impact—at UVic and beyond—during their second year.

Unlocking potential

The opportunity to coach the four musicians has been a highlight in LSQ’s long residency here at UVic. “It’s a real joy. Like all teachers, our wish is to have our students eventually surpass us. We longed for UVic to develop something like this for many years and Claire Watson’s bequest gave us the opportunity. We’re hopeful we can continue to fund graduate quartets after the gift from this donor has been spent,” says Elliot-Goldschmid.

—Written by Sarah Tarnopolsky