As a celebration of global contemporary art, the opening of the Venice Biennale in May 2019 provided the ideal backdrop for the formal signing of a three-year research agreement between UVic’s Faculty of Fine Arts and La Fondazione Morra, a major art centre in Naples. The first formal agreement between the Faculty and an Italian cultural institution, it also paves the way for further engagement, collaboration and exchange between institutions.
“Our association with Fondazione Morra creates new opportunities for UVic scholars and artists to explore contemporary art from a multidisciplinary and global perspective,” says Susan Lewis, Dean of Fine Arts and current Acting Associate Vice-President Academic Planning. “The partnership will inform our faculty’s research and creative practice, and enhance the impact of our work abroad.”
Visual Arts chair Paul Walde with Fondazione Morra founder Giuseppe Morra in Venice’s Piazza San Marco
Preeminent archives and collections
Founded in 1969, the Foundation—along with its 2016 addition of the purpose-built museum, Casa Morra—is one of the most important archives of contemporary artistic and cultural production in the region and beyond. The Morra Foundation houses preeminent archives and collections documenting post-1945 theatre, painting, photography, sculpture, music, sound and concrete poetry, and conceptual and performance art.
Fine Arts will support faculty travel to Naples—including through the Orion Endowment in Fine Arts—where the Fondazione Morra will provide apartments and access to its rich archives and collections. A related agreement to support student activities was signed earlier this year. The agreement builds on collaborations initiated by Dr. Allan Antliff of UVic’s Art History & Visual Studies department, and includes plans to establish a field school and symposia. Fine Arts also plans to host a visit by Fondazione Morra director Teresa Carnevale and founder Giuseppe Morra over the next year.
“This moment creates an unprecedented joint venture that allows us to focus the attention of the Foundation on students by offering them a unique and intense experience made of crossings, connections, journeys and intersections . . . with a perspective on the future,” noted Morra director Teresa Carnevaleas the agreement was signed in Venice’s famed Piazza San Marco.
A transformational partnership
Fondazione Morra founder Giuseppe Morra and director Teresa Carnevale with UVic’s Susan Lewis in Venice’s Piazza San Marco
These agreements are a key example of the Faculty’s efforts to engage globally, promote student mobility and exchange, and share the impact of its research and creative practice on a world scale. Dean Susan Lewis first visited the Fondazione Morra in June 2018 to explore a potentially transformative faculty-wide partnership, and Visual Arts chair Paul Walde will be the first faculty member to visit the Fondazione Morra under the new agreement.
“Giuseppe Morra is a key figure in the presentation, promotion and development of international contemporary art in Italy,” says Walde. “The Morra collection and archive is world-class and this ground-breaking agreement provides our faculty and students unprecedented access to these extraordinary materials.”
Describing the new partnership as of “great cultural value,” director Carnevale says she sees the Fondazione Morra as “a driving and support element for students from all over the world,” and is excited to make the archives and collections of Casa Morra available to UVic’s faculty and students.
There’s never been a better month to see the bold contemporary work emerging from our Visual Arts department, thanks to a number of local solo exhibits by professors and alumni.
Professor Megan Dickie presents Blue Skies, her latest solo exhibit of new works. Recently exhibited at L’Oeil de Poisson Art Centre in Quebec City, this body of work continues Dickie’s exploration of agency, resilience and struggle. Combining a five-channel video installation with a series of glittering, hypnotic sculptures that claim the gallery space, Blue Skies reflects Dickie’s practice of using extreme physicality, choreographed set-ups and fantastic failures as a means to poke at dominant systems and structures.
Blue Skies runs until Oct 14 at the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria (1040 Moss).
Remarkably, Blips and other Info—the exhibit of new work by professor Jennifer Stillwell—is her first solo exhibition in Victoria. While she has been involved in group exhibits locally over the years, and often exhibits out of town, it’s a treat to see her latest work at the new Empty Gallery, run by Visual Arts MFA alum Matt Trahan.
Blips and other Info runs until Oct 5 at Empty Gallery (833 Fisgard).
Sculptor and professor Daniel Laskarin joins with Vancouver-based painter Shelley Penfold to present waterfalling, an exploration of the nature and breadth of our human interactions. Employing an abstracted visual language arising from attraction and aversion, question and response, the work in this exhibition considers how our thoughts and conversations can break apart to reform and coalesce
waterfalling runs until Oct 5 at Deluge Contemporary (636 Yates). Laskarin will also be holding an artist’s talk at the gallery at 2pm Saturday, Sept 28.
Professor Cedric Bomford’s Mountain Embassy large-scale work examines our constructed environment through installation and photography, from surveillance towers to floating structures. A new work sited on Burnaby mountain that contemplates an embassy’s role as an official mission abroad and its physical presence as a building on the ground in a foreign country, Bomford’s temporary structure is the fourth in a series of architectural interventions that considers the power dynamics of a distant authority through international diplomacy, conventions of identity and ambassadorial relations.
Mountain Embassy runs through to Dec 7 at the SFU Gallery and offsite in Burnaby.
In other Visual Arts news, Audain Professor Carey Newman is looking at a busy autumn, with the launch of a new book—Picking Up The Pieces: The Making of the Witness Blanket—plus multiple screenings of his Picking Up The Pieces documentary on Sept 22 (Belfry Theatre), Sept 23 (Vancouver) and Sept 30 (UVic), as well as designing the T-shirt image for Orange Shirt Day (Sept 30), winning a $50,000 Storyhive documentary film grant, and presenting at the Vancouver Writers Festival in October.
Recently retired professor Robert Youds presents his recent installation “For Everyone A Fountain” as part of the group exhibit Garden in the Machine, running at the Surrey Art Gallery until Dec 15. Using computer software, Youds translates photographs of the iconic Butchart Gardens into coloured light sequences spanning the four seasons, appearing in a tower of gleaming metal building and office materials. Youds creates a compelling space that collapses the boundaries between architecture and nature, work and leisure, image and object, utopia and dystopia.
Professor emeritus Lynda Gammon presents the solo exhibit, Studio Practice: Meditation Practice at the Victoria Arts Council (1800 Store) until Oct 27. Bridging Gammon’s artistic concerns through installations that incorporate her long-standing use of photography with a renewed exploration of ceramics, this exhibit is inspired by Buddhist practices of meditation. “Over the past several decades, I have considered ideas of the studio through the disciplines of sculpture, assemblage, and photography,” says Gammon. “My work is positioned between the flat illusionistic space of photography and the volumetric physical space of sculpture,” she says.
The work of professor emeritus Sandra Meigs is also being featured in the latest publication from UVic Libraries: [untitled]: The Artists’ Archives at the University of Victoria Libraries is a series of interrelated booklets in a limited edition portfolio exploring the archives of multidisciplinary artist Meigs, ceramicist Robin Hopper, painter and digital artist Glenn Howarth, and painter and mosaicist Margaret Peterson, with a corresponding exhibit of Hopper’s work at UVic’s Legacy Maltwood Gallery.
John G Boehme
On the alumni front, noted local performance artist and art instructor John G Boehme opens Doing Things ‘n Stuff: An Accumulation of Actions, Relics, Recent Work and More at Open Space (510 Fort). Boehme will also give a free Visiting Artist talk in Visual Arts at 7:30pm Wed, Sept 25, in room A162 of the Visual Arts building.This month-long exhibition will highlight the international practice of this Victoria-based performance artist and cast a light on the vibrant performance art community within the city. Over the past 25 years, Boehme has created a body of work that explores his own physicality in relation to materials and processes. Often situating his work in critical response to current issues and concerns of contemporary performance art, Boehme works with sculpture, video, and live action, at times simultaneously, integrating materials, media, and processes into installations and time-based events.
Recent alum Austin Clay Willis presents Curious Construction, an exhibit of paintings and sculptural works that explore formal possibilities as they relate to their own construction. The visual rhetoric of the paintings is reflected in the sculptures, opening up a dialogue between the two disciplines and expressing a creative exploration of colour, form and material. Curious Construction runs to Sept 21 at Xchanges Gallery (2333 Government).
Young & Giroux
And Visual Arts alum Christian Giroux, as half of the celebrated artist team Young & Giroux, present Film Path, Camera Path, with Under-titles at the AGGV until Oct 6. This exciting new project merging their sculpture practice with film installation using high tech design and manufacturing technologies. Film Path, Camera Path, with Under-titles collides the projected image with the apparatus of its presentation and the moving image with sculpture. A film path is composed into a complex knot made possible by multi-planer geometric modeling, perimetric design, and additive manufacturing. Inside the path is a film looper that projects a one-minute long 3D rendering of a camera’s travel along the path that has been printed to 35mm motion picture film. Accompanying the projection is an LED screen that displays under-titled text prepared for the piece by poets, theorists, and artists. Daniel Young & Christian Giroux have been making art together since 2002.
Finally, watch for MFA alum Chris Lindsay‘s upcoming exhibition, running Nov 14-Dec 14 at Victoria’s Empty Gallery.
What better way to start the academic year with our annual Fine Arts Welcome (Back) Party?
All new & returning Fine Arts students are invited to enjoy free pizza, salads, drinks & cookies from 4 – 6pm Thursday, Sept 12, in the Fine Arts courtyard—please, be our guest and let our faculty and staff serve you.
This annual event is a great way to reconnect with friends, meet new colleagues from across the faculty, and just hang out with the Fine Arts community in our quad.
And while such annual back-to-campus activities as the Campus Kick-Off, Free Movie in the Quad, Bands on the Roof, Welcome Back DJ Party, Free Multicultural Lunch and the Blue & Gold Afterparty were all held during the first week of classes by the University of Victoria Students’ Society, there are still some events happening that you can check out.
UVic also offers a Week of Welcome for new & returning self-identified Indigenous students, with various events running Sept 9-13. Explore the First Peoples House, a home-away-from-home for Indigenous students, or get involved with Indigenous student groups; meet the Elders-in-residence, participate in Indigenous cultural programming and learn about Indigenous student supports on campus.
Clubs & Course Union Days also runs 10am-4pm Sept 11-12 at the SUB, and offers you the chance to discover some of the amazing clubs and course unions the UVSS has to offer. Clubs and course unions are a great way to get involved in your campus community and, with over 175 clubs, there’s something for everyone.
Nothing’s sexier than consent, as you’ll learn when Sexualized Violence Awareness Week runs Sept 16-20 on campus. Help prevent sexualized violence with this week of interactive tabling, activities and giveaways. There’s even a night of burlesque with the saucy Velvet Unicorn and her EmPOWERment show (6-8pm Sept 19 in Vertigo), featuring a 30-minute interactive Contact Dance workshop, performances, free food and a Q&A session.
On a more serious note, the UVSS also invites you to participate in free Harm Reduction Training sessions on Sept 25, Oct 9 & Oct 23, where you will learn to administer naloxone to reverse an overdose. Fentanyl is a dangerously potent pain-killer that is being found in many different types of drugs. Naloxone training will help you be prepared and safer. Every participant will receive a naloxone kit and training certificate at the end of the session. This training is open to everyone: students, faculty, staff and community members, but there are a limited number of spots so please arrive on time.
There’s also the annual Orange Shirt Day on Sept 30, where you’re invited to be a partner in the work of reconciliation by listening, learning and sharing in events and discussions throughout the day—including a free screening of the documentary Picking Up the Pieces: The Making of the Witness Blanket, followed by a discussion with Coast Salish/Kwagiulth filmmaker and artist Carey Newman, and Elder and residential school survivor Victor Newman.
Carey is also the Audain Professor of Contemporary Art Practice of the Pacific Northwest with our Department of Visual Arts, and the designer of the logo for UVic’s orange shirt—which you can buy for $20 at the UVic Bookstore. Proceeds from T-shirt sales support the Elders Engagement Fund and the Witness Blanket Project. If you already have an orange shirt, please consider making a $20 donation directly to the Elders Engagement Fund.