A new & different academic year

A new (and different) school year

Welcome to issue 13 of the Fine Arts Connector and the start of a new academic year—one that we can definitely say will be unlike anything we’ve ever seen before.

With only about 3,500 students on campus and the majority of classes being held online, there’s no question UVic looks and feels different right now. But here in Fine Arts, we are still offering a number of face-to-face courses—primarily in Theatre, Visual Arts and the School of Music—and the changes to our campus spaces mirror the changes in our teaching curriculum.

If you’re curious about what life will be like on campus this fall, check out this short UVic video.

Normally, Fine Arts offers well over 200 public events a year, but while we have a few events confirmed (see below), we’re still figuring out exactly what our fall events will look like. More on that in the weeks ahead, but be sure to keep an eye on our social media feeds in the meantime.

As always, please enjoy—and circulate—this collection of material featuring our faculty, students, alumni, staff and guests as a way of both sharing what our creative community is up to and keeping us all connected. You can also help by keeping us in the loop if you’re working on a live-streaming project, have online material to share or are involved in something you’d like people to know about: just email either fineartsevents@uvic.ca or johnt@uvic.ca.

Finally, you can sign up here to receive automatic notice of The Connector each issue.

 New faculty members

The new academic year also sees three new full-time faculty members joining Fine Arts: Beth Stuart as an assistant professor in Visual Arts, Kathryn Mockler as an assistant professor in Writing and Dr. Anthony Tan as the School of Music’s new assistant professor of composition.

Beth Stuart works in an expanding range of media including writing, painting, ceramic, performance, textiles and sculptural installation, and has taught at OCAD University, the University of Guelph and the University of Toronto Mississauga. Recent material research has convened bizarre Victorian bathing customs, the politics of stretch, time travel, melting rock with her bare hands, pizza and contemporary art as a site of ritual sublimation.

An award-winning teacher who comes to us from Western University, Kathryn Mockler is the author of four poetry books and six short films. A TIFF Talent Lab Alumnus, Praxis Screenwriting Fellow and San Francisco Film Society Screenwriting Fellowship winner, she specializes in film/TV writing, poetry, short fiction and climate/ecological writing, among other areas. Her latest short film, Tornado, appears as part of the Arizona Underground Film Festival this month.

Anthony Tan is an award-winning composer, pianist and electronic musician who draws artistic influence from conceptual metaphors, an attention to the psychophysical experiences of sound and a reflection on music’s cultural context. A fellow at Harvard’s Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, he comes to us from the University of Colorado (Colorado Springs). He has presented his music at major festivals in North America and Europe, and has been commissioned by numerous international ensembles.

Welcome to all!

Beth Stuart, Kathryn Mockler, Anthony Tan

Media roundup

Carey Newman on colonial statues

Visual Arts Audain Professor Carey Newman was recently quoted in The Tyee article “Tearing Down Our Monumental Mistakes” about the push to remove problematic historical monuments across Canada, and the need to focus on how to transform the spaces these colonial statues held.

“They’re anti-reconciliation,” said Newman in the article. “They are not history. They are an illustration of a version of history . . . . They don’t serve the same kind of purpose as art.”

“For me, art is about expression of ideas about challenging people to think differently, about bringing beauty or commemoration for things that we never want to forget. Those things don’t exist in statues that are really about remembering a particular person for a particular purpose and, very often, a person who was an architect of something that was inherently oppressive.”

A new position

In August, very busy Theatre PhD alumnus Taiwo Afolabi appeared on the OMNI TV program New Canadians as part of a panel discussion on how his experience as a UVic Crossing Borders Scholar provided opportunities to find connections in the community. And while Afolabi had been the Manager of Artistic and Community Engagement with the Belfry Theatre (a position for which they are now hiring), he recently accepted a position as assistant professor Socially Engaged Creative Practices with the University of Regina’s Faculty of Media, Art and Performance.

As part of his farewell to Victoria, Afolabi speaks with Belfry artistic director Michael Shamata about his time at the Belfry in this short video, and in August he also held this artist conversation for the Creative Mornings series titled “Stress: To Peel or Not to Peel?” We congratulate Taiwo on his new position!

Music student explore reconciliation

As reported in this September 20 Times Colonist article, first-year School of Music student Lucas Hung has created a series of video interviews with four WSANEC members to explore what reconciliation means in Canada. Hung hopes his project—titled Taking Reconcili-Action—will inspire others to seek out their own first-hand learning about Indigenous cultures.

Hung has interviewed SENĆOŦEN language revitalization advocates John Elliott and Pena Elliott, as well as Tsartlip master carver Charles Elliott and Salish artist Chris Paul. The project, funded in part by the Heritage B.C. Heritage Legacy Fund, includes a guide for teachers to lead students through their own Reconcili-Action projects.

“We wanted to show teachers, if you want to do something like this, here’s all the things that you can learn from just having a single conversation,” Hung said.

Student involved in social justice mural

Back in August, a group of 17 artists united to paint a mural in Bastion Square, with the intention of raising awareness around injustices suffered by Black and Indigenous people and people of colour. One of the artists is current Visual Arts undergrad Laveen Gammie.

The finished mural reads “More Justice More Peace”, with each artist changing large white block letters into individual pieces of artistic expressions. “It is perhaps a fitting metaphor for the project,” said Gammie in this Times Colonist article. “The letter starts out as white in the beginning and becomes filled with colour as the day wears on.”

Theatre student Zooms over Shakespeare

As the arts community continues to adapt to the new restrictions, our students continue to find new ways of staying involved. In this recent BC Local News article, current Theatre student Ryan Kniel discusses teaching and producing virtual stage plays using video conferencing platforms.

“Learning how to film on Zoom, how to collaborate as an ensemble in an online environment and how to communicate with scene members that you don’t see in a physical rehearsal are all important skills in this new world of theatre,” says Kneil.

Kniel was among 12 young actors from across Canada selected for funding from the RBC Emerging Artists Project, which included a spot in the Riotous Youth program—a paid internship with Vancouver’s Bard on the Beach festival, whose 2020 season was cancelled due to COVID-19.

Alumni guitarist

As noted in this recent article in The Province, School of Music alumnus and Vancouver-based guitarist Adrian Verdejo has put his COVID time to work developing new music initiatives.

Now an instructor at both Vancouver Community College and Douglas College, Verdejo has made a name for himself as a new music guitarist over the past decade, but with COVID cancelling planned travel activities, he’s been busy developing videos, podcasts and new online performance opportunities for other musicians. “Fortunately, projects started to come in,” Verdejo says in the article.

Improving diversity

Vancouver’s CityNews recently spoke with Theatre alumni Cecilly Day and Rahat Saini, who shared their perspectives and experiences facing race-based barriers in the program. Acting Dean of Fine Arts Allana Lindgren is quoted about the department’s commitment to improved diversity, inclusion and anti-racism efforts.

“While we have actively sought ways in recent years to expand our awareness and build skills in equity, diversity and inclusion, including ant-racism, we realize that there is more to do,” says Lindgren.

Festival voices

Writing professor Deborah Campbell kicked off the 2020 author season for the Sunshine Coast Literary Reading Series—which has been running for more than 40 years—by offering the first public reading in their pivot to Zoom. The event was mentioned in the Coast Reporter newspaper.

Carey Newman

Taiwo Afolabi

Upcoming events

Orange Shirt Day is September 30

UVic is committed to reconciliation. We’re working to foster respect and mutual understanding with all Indigenous peoples and communities. You can partner in the work of reconciliation by listening, learning and sharing on Orange Shirt Day.

Orange Shirt Day at UVic goes virtual this year, featuring a conversation between UVic Chancellor Shelagh Rogers and Phyllis Webstad, whose story sparked the drive to recognize Orange Shirt Day. Join the at noon on Wednesday, Sept. 30.

Faculty, staff and students are encouraged to wear an orange shirt (available at the UVic Bookstore) on Sept. 30 as a visual symbol of our awareness of the need for ongoing reconciliation. The UVic shirt was designed by Visual Arts Audain Professor Carey Newman.

You can show your support by uploading a photo of yourself wearing an orange shirt (or email your photo to socialmedia@uvic.ca) and be part of UVic’s social media campaign (use the #OrangeShirtDayUVic).

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 this year.

Read more about the history of Orange Shirt Day here.

The Art of Living in the Time of COVID

Given this year’s topic, it’s appropriate that the 15th annual Lafayette Health Awareness Series will take place as a webinar at 7pm on Thursday, October 1.

Hosted by Chancellor Shelagh Rogers and featuring a performance by the School of Music’s Lafayette String Quartet, guest speakers include BC Chief Provincial Health Officer Bonnie Henry, UVic Medical Sciences instructor Terence Tam (of the Victoria Symphony) and Steven Taylor (author of The Psychology of Pandemics).

“We’ve long believed that what affects one of us truly affects all of us—and we’ve never had a topic been more true to that idea than this,” says the LSQ’s Pamela Highbaugh-Aloni. “Let’s just keep living and figuring out what we need to do.”

The Art of Living in the Time of COVID is presented in partnership with UVic’ Institute on Aging and Lifelong Health. Donations will help establish a Lafayette Music and Health Legacy Fund.

Shelagh Rogers, Bonnie Henry, Terence Tam, Steven Taylor & the Lafayette String Quartet

Greater Victoria Regional Arts Awards

Formerly known as the ProArt Alliance Awards but now dubbed the Greater Victoria Regional Arts Awards, watching for a livestream broadcast of the 2020 program from 5-6pm Saturday, October 3.

Fine Arts will be participating this year, with Acting Dean Allana Lindgren making an announcement, as well as Audain Professor Carey Newman once again presenting his award for the Witness Legacy Award for Social Purpose and Responsibility Through Art. Last year’s awards saw Fine Arts alumni Matthew Payne, Lindsay Delaronde and Colton Hash win all three categories; this year, there will be more awards presented in more categories.

The 2020 awards will be expanded to include a number of new categories and broaden the accolades to a wider number of local arts practitioners. Find out more here.

Resources

Free UVic masks for all

Even with limited numbers of people on campus, common areas can be congested, making it difficult to consistently maintain a safe physical distance. If you’re working on campus this fall, UVic recommends that you wear a mask in public indoor spaces like hallways, stairways, building entryways and other high-traffic areas, especially where it’s more difficult to keep distance.

With that in mind, UVic-branded reusable face masks are now available for each on-campus student, faculty and staff member. Just show your ONECard at the University Centre ONECard office to receive your mask throughout September and October.

AGGV FASP program

Our colleagues at the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria would like to remind all faculty and students about their Fine Arts Student Pass program.

Whether students are visiting solo for artistic inspiration or as part of a class assignment, the FASP program offers unlimited admission to the AGGV for the entire academic year—for just $12. (That’s only $1 more than a single admission ticket!) The FASP Membership is valid from September 1, 2020 (or date of purchase) to August 31, 2021.

Simply forward this link to your students and they can register online, then present their e-ticket at the front desk along with student ID. In addition to unlimited free entrances to the AGGV, Fine Arts students also receive email invitations to gallery events, their e-magazine and a 10% discount in the gallery shop.

While possibly of most interest to Visual Arts and Art History & Visual Studies students, this offer is open to any student currently registered in the Faculty of Fine Arts.

Students may also want to get involved with the AGGV’s volunteer program. With more than 300 volunteers working together with staff as assistants, docents and special event hosts in a variety of departments (education, curatorial, collections, advancement), it can be a good opportunity to gain experience for students who love art.

A giant achievement

The work of Department of Theatre design professor Patrick DuWors was featured in the 2020 edition of the Critical Costume Conference and Exhibition, hosted by the Costume Agency Artistic Research Project.

Originally intended to be a live event in August, the international exhibition was moved online due to COVID. With a focus on the agency of costume in performance and how costume can generate or be a centre of gravitation in performance, Critical Costume 2020 is supported by the Norwegian Artistic Research Program, Oslo National Academy of the Arts and Norwegian Arts Council.

DuWors, an alumnus of the Theatre department himself, was featured for his costume designs—alongside Robert Leveroos’ puppet designs—for Ghost River Theatre’s award-winning production of GIANT. As part of the exhibition, DuWors moderated two of the conference’s working group sessions.

GIANT tells the story of wrestler Andre the Giant. As a way of exploring the hyper-masculine, yet incredibly flamboyant, world of professional wrestling, five female actors played all parts—including Andre.

The Critical Costume Exhibition presents artworks that treat costume as their main medium—often as a starting point for a performance, and always as a crucial aspect of a performance. This exhibition aims to emphasize the immediacy and intrinsic nature of costumes to everyday human life and a person’s sense of self: connection to body, movement, identity, expression, sensuality, emotionality. The costume is a bridge between the body and the world.

Built on two main strands of costume performances—communication and exploration—eight further categories then unfold under these two central ideas, including “Identity Agency”, in which DuWors’ work is featured.

“The puppet design explored the dramaturgical role of scale, while the idea of masculinity-as-character was expressed through the costume design,” notes DuWors in the Critical Costume description of the production.

“Skins and shells formed the foundation of our approach. Shapes and textures meant to augment and distort the bodies of the five women inhabiting a very masculine profession were inspired by action figure versions of Andre once sold as toys. In each scene, the performers would attempt to put a different piece of Andre ‘on’ – to wear him as a way to understand him.”

Be sure to explore the remarkable range of work on display at Critical Costume 2020.

Patrick DuWors
Robert Leveroos’ puppet designs for GIANT (Photo, and above: Tim Ngyuen)

Singing for life

When graduating School of Music soprano Chelsea Kutyn decided to film a rehearsal for her graduation recital this spring, she had no idea that it would soon lead to national press coverage as a result of a life-threatening health risk.

When the campus started to shut down in March, Kutyn thought it would be a good safety measure to film herself singing.

“When we heard that countries were going into lockdown, my accompanist and I decided to film something just in case—we thought the building might be closed, but we never expected one of us to get sick,” she says.

Yet shortly thereafter, Kutyn fell ill. “They weren’t testing for COVID yet, but the doctors and nurses all said it was ‘suspected COVID’ due to my symptoms and the timeline of how it progressed.”

And while the School of Music did indeed close, Kutyn suddenly found herself unable to perform her grad recital due to illness—yet her performance video not only saved the day (“Luckily I passed with flying colours!”) but also helped her win the Victoria Medal, awarded annually to the Fine Arts student with the highest GPA in the faculty.

But the story of the young singer who contracted COVID but still graduated top of her class caught the attention of the media, with interviews appearing in the Times Colonist, CHEK TV, CBC News, Global TV, CBC Radio and even Newsweek magazine.

While she’s wary of being branded a cautionary tale, Kutyn does see the value in sharing her story. “I just hope it brings awareness to others who feel it’s not as much of an issue as it really is,” she says.

“If you don’t personally know someone who has been affected, people seem to assume it can’t happen to them. I would never wish that situation on anyone; it was a really terrifying situation.”

Read the full version of this story here.

Chelsea Kutyn

Art on view locally

As the weather turns, it’s a good time to head indoors and see some of the art on view by faculty, students and alumni of the Department of Visual ArtsThe first Visiting Artist on the 2020 academic year, being offered online by the Visual Arts department, features Toronto-based artist Kim Dorland.

Dorland pushes the boundaries of painted representation through an exploration of memory, material, nostalgia, identity and place. Drawing heavily from the Canadian landscape and his huge appetite for the history and language of painting, the loose yet identifiable scenes are interjected with areas of heavy abstract impasto. His refusal to remain faithful to one medium or approach plays into the symbiotic nature of his work.

You can watch & engage with Dorland’s Visiting Artist lecture starting at 7pm Wednesday, September 23 at this Zoom link.

Culturally Modified, a solo installation by MFA candidate and former Audain Professor Rande Cook, runs through to October 10 at Empty Gallery (833 Fisgard, 12-5pm Thursday-Saturday), a local gallery run by MFA alumnus Matt Trahan.

A Kwakwaka’wakw multimedia artist, Cook says this installation represents Umetl, The Raven, who had the ability to transform and carry messages between the spirit world and the life we live today.

“This installation is about Umetl rising up again, restoring the balance that has been broken by governments who are signing agreements over resource extraction with corporations, contaminating the waters, the inequality being forced upon the minority races and sexes, the lack of support and protection for women and children, the LGBTQ community, BLM, ILM, and the many more who are suffering due to capitalistic power and gain.”

Three alumni at Legacy

The work of three Visual Arts alumni are part of a pair of exhibits current open at UVic’s downtown Legacy Gallery (630 Yates).

TUKTUUYAQTUUQ (Caribou Crossing) features work by Maureen Gruben. Tuktuuyaqtuuq is the Inuvialuktun name of Gruben’s home on the Arctic coast (known in English as “Tuktoyaktuk”) and means “looks like a caribou.”

In TUKTUUYAQTUUQ (continuing to November 14), Gruben works with multiple facets of the animal to show how integral they are to Inuvialuit life, providing food, clothes, tools and stories.

Also on view is To Fish As Formerly: A Story of Straits Salish Resurgence (to November 21) a group exhibit curated by UVic alumni XEMŦOLTW̱ Dr. Nicholas Claxton (School of Child and Youth Care) and Katie Hughes, and featuring work by Visual Arts alumni Sarah Jim and Colton Hash alongside the likes of TEMOSEN Charles Elliott, J,SIṈTEN John Elliott, Chris Paul, Dylan Thomas, Temoseng, aka Chasz Elliott.

Art on view distantly

Out of town, professor Paul Walde’s Weeks Feel Like Days, Months Feel Like Years is on view at the Anchorage Museum in Alaska until October 31. A generative sound artwork in which performers are invited to interpret a series of five text-based scores responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, Weeks Feel Like Days is available as both an audio/video installation at the museum and an audio gallery on the website.

The scores were composed to be performed by individuals or groups in isolation, and welcomes performers to reflect on their own experiences during the pandemic.

Walde’s Tom Thomson Centennial Swim video installation recently closed at Touchstones Museum of Art and History in Nelson, after a run interrupted by the COVID outbreak, and three works from his Alaska Variations album were recently featured on the UK radio show, Signal to Noise.

Professor Richard Leong is showing as part of the group exhibit RELATIONS: Diaspora and Painting at Montreal’s PHI Foundation for Contemporary Art until November 29. This group show explores the complex and multiple meanings of diaspora, its condition and its experiences as expressed through painting.

“The questions and concepts of diaspora are of deep, personal interest to me as a person of colour born in Canada of mixed Asian heritage,” says curator and managing director Cheryl Sim.

RELATIONS presents a selection of work by artists who address questions of diaspora from diverse perspectives, methodologies and aesthetic languages. The medium of painting, with its deep and complex history, becomes a particularly provocative lens through which to explore the complications and diversities that are analogous to the richness of diasporic experiences. This collective body of work also aims for an intergenerational dialogue and presents artists whose work has pushed the boundaries of what painting is and can be.

Finally, Professor Kelly Richardson‘s future-focused Mariner 9 is running at the Attenborough Art Centre in the UK until December 18.

Created with software used by the film and gaming industries, and using data from NASA’s missions to Mars, Richardson has created a realistic representation of the Mars landscape covered by the debris of centuries of exploration. Despite the apparent abandoned state of the planet, some of the spacecraft continue to work, looking for signs of life.

Works by Kim Dorland
Rande Cook’s Culturally Modified
Work by Gruben, Hash and Jim on view at the Legacy Gallery
Two of Paul Walde’s prompts from Weeks Feel Like Days, Months Feel Like Years
Rick Leong’s “Goldstream” and “Wild Willows” on view in Montreal
Kelly Richardson’s Mariner 9. Photos by Ruth Clark (left) & PaolaBernardelli.

New book for chair

The latest book by Art History & Visual Studies chair Marcus Milwright is now out: Middle Eastern Encounters: Collected Essays on Visual, Material, and Textual Interactions between the Eighth and the Twenty-first Centuries was recently released by Georgia Press.

A wide-ranging volume, Middle Eastern Encounters focuses on interactions between the Islamic world and other regions. Topics explored are as varied as relief-moulded pottery production in Raqqa, the construction of palaces in Samarra, portraiture in Arabic manuscript painting, images of Muslim rulers in early Modern printed books and the broadcast of the medical examination of Saddam Hussein.

Milwright, a professor of Islamic art and archaeology, also focuses on the challenges involved in the study of cultural interactions between Islamic and non-Islamic regions. The volume also includes a previously unpublished study of recently discovered photographs, drawings and writings relating to the Middle East made by soldiers during and after World War I.

You can keep up on Milwright’s varied interests and influences via his frequent (and fascinating) posts on the Fine Arts Gateway to Art website.

Award noms for alumni & instructors

Along with the start of classes, September also sees the start of the annual book awards season—and so far, we’re looking at a bumper crop of nominations for Fine Arts alumni and instructors.

Kicking off the awards season is the $10,000 Writers’ Trust McClelland & Stewart Journey Prize, which annually celebrates the top short stories by Canada’s brightest emerging talents.

Among the 13 finalists for the 2020 awards are three Department of Writing alumni—Susan Sanford Blades, Cara Marks and Rachael Lesosky—all of whom will also see their work appear in the annual anthology, The Journey Prize Stories 32. (Winners announced October 21.)

Of the eight new books nominated for the annual $10,000 Victoria Book Prizes, only one wasn’t created by a member of our Fine Arts community. Nominees for the $5,000 City of Victoria Butler Book Prize include Writing alumni Carla Funk (Every Little Scrap and Wonder: A Small-Town Childhood) and Steven Price (Lampedusa), former Writing faculty Lorna Crozier (The House The Spirit Builds) and Christin Geall (Cultivated: The Elements of Floral Style), and Audain Professor Carey Newman and former Writing instructor Kirstie Hudson (Picking Up The Pieces: Residential School Memories and the Making of The Witness Blanket). Nominees for the $5,000 City of Victoria Children’s Book Prize include Writing/Theatre alumnus and current Writing instructor Mark Leiren-Young (Orcas Everywhere: The Mystery and History of Killer Whales) and Writing alumna Sara Cassidy (Nevers). (Winners announced October 4.)

Newman and Hudson’s Picking Up the Pieces is also a finalist in the $10,000 Norma Fleck Award for Canadian Children’s Non-Fiction, part of the Canadian Children’s Book Centre Awards.

Victoria Festival of Authors

Writing alumni are well-represented at the upcoming Victoria Festival of Authors—Vancouver Island’s largest literary festival, which this year is being held online for free from September 30 to October 4.

Featured alumni writers include current City of Victoria Poet Laureate John Barton (Lost Family), Carla Funk (Every Little Scrap and Wonder), Kyeren Regehr (Cult Life), Mallory Tater (Pushcart Prize nominee), Amanda Leduc (The Miracles of Ordinary Men), Serena Lukas Bandhar (Pushcart Prize nominee), Arleen Paré (Earle Street ), Yvonne Blomer (Sugar Ride) and former student K.P. Dennis (former Victoria Youth Poet Laureate), plus Lorna Crozier (Through the Garden), and Carey Newman in conversation with Leanne Betasamosake Simpson.

You’ll find the full schedule and find registration info here.

Alumni film debut

Finally, acclaimed novelist and Writing alumna Eden Robinson is having a great fall, thanks to a feature film adaptation of her debut novel, Monkey Beach (screening Sept 24 at UVic’s Cinecenta—with will also hopefully include an afterword conversation piece between Robinson and director Loretta Todd). Robinson is also seeing her recent novel, Son of a Trickster, transformed into the new CBC TV series Trickster.

Chelsea Kutyn sings for life

When graduating School of Music soprano Chelsea Kutyn decided to film a rehearsal for her graduation recital this spring, she had no idea that it would soon lead to national press coverage as a result of a life-threatening health risk.

As the campus started to shut down in March, Kutyn thought it would be a good safety measure to film herself singing.

“When we heard that countries were going into lockdown, my accompanist and I decided to film something just in case—we thought the building might be closed, but we never expected one of us to get sick,” she says.

Surviving COVID-19

Yet shortly thereafter, Kutyn fell ill. “They weren’t testing for COVID yet, but the doctors and nurses all said it was ‘suspected COVID’ due to my symptoms and the timeline of how it progressed.”

And while the School of Music did indeed close, Kutyn suddenly found herself unable to perform her grad recital due to illness—yet her performance video not only saved the day (“Luckily I passed with flying colours!”) but also helped her win the Victoria Medal, awarded annually to the Fine Arts student with the highest GPA in the faculty.

“I had no idea I had won it until they phoned me,” she admits. “I knew I had good grades, but I really wasn’t expecting to finish at the top of the class. It was a really nice surprise after having gone through such a chaotic end to the semester, and being so sick.”

Describing her as “a committed student who was a delight to teach,” School of Music professor Benjamin Butterfield has high praise for Kutyn—beyond her grades.

“She was always bringing new, challenging repertoire to the table, working diligently in the practice room, always stepping up for master classes and being a friend to all,” he says.

“We were so lucky to have such a bright light for the past four years. She was a model student who exhibited determination, flexibility and a genuine love for singing and learning. “

Media attention

Indeed, the story of the young singer who contracted COVID but still graduated top of her class caught the attention of the media, with interviews appearing in the Times Colonist, CHEK TV, CBC News, Global TV, CBC Radio and even Newsweek magazine (“College Student Who Battled Coronavirus for 29 Days Graduates Top of Class”).

“It was all a bit strange,” she says in retrospect. “I didn’t expect it would gain that much traction. I guess it’s a story people wanted to tell because it has a positive outcome and I’m in the younger age bracket.”

Kutyn had previously appeared as part of the chorus in a number of Pacific Opera Victoria productions, including Il trittico, La traviata, La bohèmeJenůfa and Countess Maritza, and was scheduled to be in Carmen this spring before it was postponed due to the COVID shutdown.

“Chelsea has grown up in the Victoria arts scene through dance and singing,” says Butterfield. “She held a job for some years as an usher at the Royal Theatre before becoming a mainstay in the POV chorus and taking on small parts as she grew in the company.”

Moving ahead

Now based in Winnipeg to pursue her Masters in Music Performance (Voice) at the University of Manitoba—where she is studying with POV regular Monica Huisman—Kutyn continues to deal with the after-effects.

“I haven’t been sick since April, but my lung capacity has been really impacted,” she explains. “I find any kind of cardio activity hard—even just stairs.”

And, as a singer, her illness has been particularly problematic.

“Even after four months, I’m still trying to relearn how to breathe and build back my lung capacity for singing, as well as doing some speech-therapy exercises with my new teacher. We’re just trying to get things working properly again.”

While she’s wary of being branded a cautionary tale, Kutyn does see the value in sharing her story.

“I just hope it brings awareness to others who feel it’s not as much of an issue as it really is,” she says.

“If you don’t personally know someone who has been affected, people seem to assume it can’t happen to them. I would never wish that situation on anyone; it was a really terrifying situation.”

Chelsea Kutyn

Writing prize nominations feature alumni, instructors

Along with the start of classes, September also sees the start of the annual book awards season—and so far, we’re looking at a bumper crop of nominations for Fine Arts alumni and instructors.

Journey Prize

Kicking off the awards season is the $10,000 Writers’ Trust McClelland & Stewart Journey Prize, which annually celebrates the top short stories by Canada’s brightest emerging talents.

We’re proud to announce that among the 13 finalists for the 2020 awards are three Department of Writing alumni: MFA Susan Sanford Blades for her story “The Rest of Him” which appeared in EVENT magazine; BFA Cara Marks for her story “Aurora Borealis” in Exile magazine and BFA Rachael Lesosky for her story “She Figures That” in The Malahat Review.

The selected stories by all 13 nominees also appear in the annual anthology, The Journey Prize Stories 32. Winners will be announced October 21.

Writing students, faculty and alumni are no stranger to the Journey Prize, either: past winners include the likes of alumni Eliza Robertson and Yasuko Thanh, as well as current professor Lee Henderson, while previous nominees include the likes of Kai Conradi (while still an undergraduate student), Samantha Jude Macpherson and Angelique Lalonde.

Victoria Book Prizes nominated authors Kirstie Hudson, Carey Newman, Mark Leiren-Young Young and Sara Cassidy, with Visual Arts alumnus Gareth Gaudin, seen at an Orca Book launch event in November 2019 (photo: Leon Fei)

Victoria Book Prizes

Wow! Of the eight new books nominated for the annual $10,000 Victoria Book Prizes, only one wasn’t created by a member of our Fine Arts community. Much like Victoria itself, the nominated books represent a wide range of interests and genres: from non-fiction about floral design, the history (and mystery) of orcas and the creation of a travelling residential school memorial sculpture to more traditional forms of memoir, poetry and novels, the nominees once again offer a remarkable breadth of material.

Nominees for the $5,000 City of Victoria Butler Book Prize include:

Nominees for the $5,000 City of Victoria Children’s Book Prize include:

Winners of the 2020 Victoria Book Prizes will be announced at a free virtual gala hosted by CBC Radio’s Gregor Craigie on October 4, where you can also hear the nominated writers read from their books.

Canadian Children’s Book Centre Awards

Carey Newman and Kirstie Hudson‘s Picking Up the Pieces is also a finalist in the $10,000 Norma Fleck Award for Canadian Children’s Non-Fiction, part of the Canadian Children’s Book Centre Awards—which annually awards $175,000 in prizes in eight different categories.

“A book for bookshelves everywhere, this thoughtful and beautiful book takes a look at the dark history of residential schools through the making of the Witness Blanket,” notes the prize jury. “The book itself is a rich artefact to treasure the memories, narratives and images of the Witness Blanket . . . artist Carey Newman takes the reader on his journey from the first idea to completion.”

Winners of the CCBC awards will be announced this fall.

BC & Yukon Book Prizes

Alumni nominees in the various categories of the previously announced BC and Yukon Book Prizes include Yasuko Thanh (Mistakes to Run With), Steven Price (Lampedusa), Ali Blythe (Hymnswitch), Kayla Czaga (Dunk Tank) and Sara Cassidy (Revers).

And, at the online awards presentation on September 19, Steven Price was announced as the winner of the Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize, awarded to the author of the best original work of literary fiction. Congratulations!

CBC Books Poetry Prize

Five Writing alumni are on the longlist for the 2020 CBC Books Poetry Prize—congratulations go out to Yvonne Blomer,

Leah CallenTroy Sebastian, Amanda Merritt, Patricia Young and Anna Moore! These five are among the 32 poets who made the longest out of nearly 3,000 submissions. The shortlist will be announced on November 5, with the winner announced on November 12. The winner will receive $6,000 from the Canada Council for the Arts, have their work published on CBC Books & attend a two-week writing residency at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity; four finalists will each receive $1,000 from the Canada Council for the Arts & have their work published on CBC Books.
And while we have no nominees for the 2020 Scotia Bank Giller Prize, it is worth noting that this year’s Giller jury includes acclaimed novelist and Writing alumna Eden Robinson. Robinson is having a great fall, thanks to a feature film adaptation of her debut novel, Monkey Beach (screening Sept 24 at UVic’s Cinecenta), and the new CBC TV series Trickster, based on her recent novel Son of a Trickster.

Congratulations to all nominees!

Victoria Festival of Authors

Finally, UVic Writing alumni are well-represented at the upcoming Victoria Festival of Authors—Vancouver Island’s largest literary festival, which this year is being held online for free.

Running September 30 to October 4, the fifth annual VFA will host 28 authors from across Canada, taking part in 11 different events featuring poetry, prose, music, panels, readings and a poetry walk, all culminating with the presentation of the Victoria Book Prizes.

Featured alumni writers include current City of Victoria Poet Laureate John Barton (Lost Family), Carla Funk (Every Little Scrap and Wonder), Kyeren Regehr (Cult Life), Mallory Tater (Pushcart Prize nominee), Amanda Leduc (The Miracles of Ordinary Men), Serena Lukas Bandhar (Pushcart Prize nominee), Arleen Paré (Earle Street ), Yvonne Blomer (Sugar Ride) and former student K.P Dennis (former Victoria Youth Poet Laureate), plus Lorna Crozier (Through the Garden), and Carey Newman in conversation with Leanne Betasamosake Simpson.

You’ll find the full schedule and find registration info here.

Welcome (and/or) welcome back!

Welcome to all new Fine Arts students, and welcome back to all returning students! We’re looking forward to offering safe and engaging courses this year—whether you’re attending classes in-person or online.

While most of the following information can be found on the Fine Arts website, we thought we’d offer a bit of a roundup for you as we ease into the new semester. And if you’re a first-year student, be sure to spend some time reading through the New Student Handbook, which is full with important and useful information about your new role as a UVic student.

We also recommend you familiarize yourself with the New Student Checklist and, if have any questions regarding dates, please see this list of important dates for campus.

If you’re curious about what life will be like on campus this fall, please watch this short video.

If you’re primarily learning from home this fall but still want to get a sense of the extensive facilities Fine Arts offers, please visit the Fine Arts YouTube page, which has virtual tours of most of our departments.

And if you have questions about your courses—including major or minor degree options—please connect with our Fine Arts Advisor, Sarah Riecken, who will be offering drop-in sessions via Zoom this fall.

Fine Arts Advisor Sarah Riecken is here to help with courses, programs, majors & minors

Social media

The best way to stay connected is to follow the Fine Arts social media feeds—on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter& YouTube—in order to stay up to date on student job opportunities, call for entries from galleries and magazines, arts contests, audition notices and regular information that will make your student experience better. But each of our departments have their own social media feeds, so be sure to follow those as well:

Our Faculty blog offers a regularly updated selection of stories highlighting the work of Fine Arts students, faculty and alumni. And our blog page also hosts The Connector, our monthly roundup of faculty news: sign up here to receive automatic notice of that.

You (or your family or your community supporters) can also sign up for the Coming up in Fine Arts email list to stay updated on events happening both on and off-campus. (Note: this email list mostly focuses on events, however, instead of student-focused information and opportunities.)

Fine Arts also has a dedicated Communications Officer, John Threlfall, who handles our storytelling, social media and media relations. As well as writing about faculty and alumni accomplishments, he regularly writes and promotes stories about student activity on campus and in the community. He can also help prepare you for interviews or tell you how to work with the media. 

Visual Arts student Rudra Manani had her art profiled in the media

Get involved

We also encourage you to join the student group for your area of study; most of our departments have at least one course union. You can find a full list of links for those here.

Getting involved beyond your classes is an important part of being a Fine Arts student. We encourage all first-year students to connect with these groups to meet new people and help grow the Fine Arts student community. You can also see about joining one of the many student clubs on campus via their posts on the UVSS Facebook page.

But whether you’ll be on campus this fall or not, everyone is welcome to participate in the special events planned by your UVic Student Society. The annual UVSS Campus Kick-Off runs from September 9 – 11 and includes live music, online trivia, a free movie at Cinecenta, an e-sports tournament and more.

UVic also offers a special Week of Welcome for Indigenous Students from September 14 – 18.

Student jobs

Once the semester gets underway, you’ll be able to see our list of student job postings, some of which will be on-campus and others which will be online (often including positions as social media assistants).

But, as you heard during the Fine Arts orientation on September 8, our dedicated Fine Arts Career Educator Joy Andrews can also help you with longer-term goals and plans. Connect with her to search for work or explore workshops options for resumes, cover letters and other interview resources.

And if you’re interested in exploring a Co-op option for your program, touch base with Fine Arts Co-op Coordinator Allison Benner. UVic offers one of Canada’s largest and most diverse co-op programs: each year, students from more than 40 different programs areas complete more than 2,700 work term placements across Canada and around the world.

Writing student Hugo Wong put his journalism & photography skills to use in his co-op position with Parks Canada

Student health

We are as concerned about your health as you are. With only a third of our usual population on campus this fall, UVic is able to offer a safe environment for students and classes thanks to physical distancing, reduced building capacity, increased surface cleaning and other ongoing efforts.

New for September 2020 is UVic’s Student Wellness Centre, bringing together counselling, health and multifaith services in one central location. The centre provides holistic care to support UVic students’ emotional, physical and spiritual well-being. The team includes counsellors, doctors, nurses, administrative staff, chaplains and other practitioners.

But our commitment to student wellness also extends to the current health crisis. Be sure to read UVic’s comprehensive roundup of COVID-19 student information, covering topics like masks, funding, housing, campus life, health services, counselling, mental health and more. This page is frequently updated and will be your best source of information regarding resources and programming for the academic year.

The UVSS also offers their own COVID-19 resource hub, which offers information ranging from financial aid and community care to support for online learning, international students, monthly bills and more.

Finally, as UVic recently announced, we will continue to offer a blend of face-to-face and online instruction for the spring term beginning in January 2021.

“UVic remains committed to offering high quality academic programming to all of our students—locally and around the world—and we will continue to invest in resources to support students, faculty and instructors,” says Valerie Khune, UVic’s Vice-President Academic and Provost. “Thank you for all that you are doing to help us create a vibrant and inclusive university community.” 

We look forward to learning together with you!