New Legacy exhibit explores life stories through art

Technology and history may change across cultures and generations, but the human journey remains the same: we’re born, we age, we have relationships, we die. Yet along the way, we are all shaped by the objects which help us navigate life’s stages, passages and rituals—a favourite toy, say, or a wedding dress. This shared experience is at the heart of the new Legacy Gallery exhibit Life Stories, curated by art history & visual studies (AHVS) professor Erin Campbell.

“I like to use the present to interrogate the past,” says Campbell. “This was an extraordinary experiment for me to prove my historical contention that objects and artworks really do shape our life passages. I’ve published a lot of articles about that, and this exhibit gave me the chance to bring that thesis to the wider public.”

 

AHVS professor & Life Stories curator Erin Campbell at her Legacy Gallery exhibition (photo: John Threlfall)

A learning experience

A fixture in the AHVS department for nearly 20 years, Campbell’s research and teaching typically focuses on early modern European art and material culture, including cross-cultural connections and the domestic interior—yet she admits mounting a full gallery exhibit was a learning experience for her.

“Some would say it’s a bit of a risk, because this isn’t about deeply delving into a historical period and bringing forward objects with new research—it’s more about developing a theme and capturing the imagination,” she explains.

 

An ambitious undertaking

Featuring nearly 100 paintings, drawings, photographs, textiles, ceramics and furnishings from UVic’s extension art collection—plus a virtual exhibition, a range of public events (including a special alumni tour on January 27) and one commissioned art piece (“Related Repose” by recent visual arts MFA Elly Heise)—Life Stories is an ambitious undertaking, supported by Campbell’s latest SSHRC grant.

“Because art has the capacity to both fix and layer time—project the past into the present and the future, or the future into the past—we wanted to explore similarities across cultures, across time and across geographies, but we also wanted to avoid sentimentality,” she says.

Indeed, while art and objects may inspire memories and reflection, such imagery can also be a source of cultural stereotypes and result in marginalization, emotional pain and feelings of loss. “It’s important to me that we’re not presenting a monolithic, prescriptive approach to life stages that ‘everyone’ goes through.”

Planning for Life Stories actually began back in 2017, but Campbell and the Legacy team were dealt a surprise plot twist when the exhibit collided with COVID-19. “We had to modify not only when it would open but also the level of visitor engagement with the gallery,” says Campbell.

 

Canadian documentary filmmaker Jennifer Baichwal (left) with a scene from her latest film, Anthropocene: The Human Epoch, which is screening for free as part of her Feb 3 event

A range of online events

The exhibit includes a number of online events—including a public conversation between acclaimed Canadian documentary filmmaker Jennifer Baichwal (Anthropocene: The Human Epoch) and local director/producer Barbara Todd Hager (February 3), as well as a series of interpretive performances (February 13, 20, 27) and an artist talk (March 17) with Connie Morey, and a  poetry workshop (March 6) with Carla Funk, both UVic alumni.

There’s also a fascinating set of interdisciplinary thematic films featuring a range of campus voices—including Maureen Bradley (writing), Neena Chappell (Centre on Aging), Aaron Devor (transgender studies), Ulrich Mueller (psychology), Leah Tidey (theatre), Lorilee Wastasecoot (Legacy) and Victoria Wyatt (AHVS)—and a series of soundscapes responding to the exhibit, created by students in Anthropology professor Alexandrine Boudreault-Fournier’s “Anthropology of Sound” class.

“Related Reposed”, a piece created by recent Visual Arts MFA Elly Heise using this antique bed from the UVic Art Collection as inspiration

A team effort

While she coordinated the AHVS 50th anniversary exhibit at the McPherson Library’s Legacy Maltwood Gallery in 2017, this is Campbell’s first time curating an exhibit at downtown’s Legacy Gallery and she laughs at the misperception that all art historians are also, by default, curators. “I am not a professional curator,” she says with a gentle laugh. “It’s a totally different skill-set . . . you need to acquire those skills, you can’t just do it.”

Campbell gives ample credit to the work of her Life Stories co-curators, Holly Cecil and current PhD candidate Jaiya Anka—both AHVS MA alumni. “We worked as a team, the three of us—it came out of my research and I funded it out of my grant, but we brainstormed every aspect of this exhibit together,” she notes. “And the support from the Legacy team has been just fantastic. I give full credit to their staff: to have their help and guidance was invaluable—they’re a really great UVic resource.”

Life Stories continues until April 3 at downtown’s Legacy Gallery.

$1.875M gift supports environmental and climate journalism

The threat of climate change is the most perilous of our time—especially at the beginning of this new decade, which has been frequently identified as the most crucial for preventing catastrophic consequences. Now, one concerned individual is personally addressing that threat with an inspiring gift of $1.875 million to the University of Victoria in support of the Wayne Crookes Professorship in Environmental and Climate Journalism.

The donation from Vancouver business leader and political activist Wayne Crookes includes both the $1.5 million professorship and a separate $375,000 fund to focus on environmental and climate journalism research and outreach. The new professor—to be appointed later this year within UVic’s Department of Writing—will help mentor the next generation of climate correspondents and writers.

“Wayne Crookes’ support of environmental and climate journalism echoes UVic’s deep conviction to help address the challenges posed by climate change,” says UVic President Kevin Hall. “Extreme weather, melting ice sheets, incessant flooding and other alarming events serve to remind us that we are not only together in this crisis, but also of the urgent need to effectively counter misinformation through the rigour of credible journalism. Actions like Wayne’s will carry us into a better future.”

 

Wayne Crookes (photo: Martin Roland)

A former federal Green Party campaign manager and political campaigner, Crookes is the owner and founder of West Coast Title Search Ltd. and the founder of Integrity British Columbia. He sees this donation as a way of increasing the quantity, quality, depth and prominence of science-based environmental journalism and media coverage to address the impacts of climate change and biodiversity loss.

Action needed now

“This is a very important priority for me,” says Crookes. “We need to communicate more effectively with journalists—especially editors—about the risks of climate change and the threats to biodiversity that humanity as a whole is facing. I believe climate change is an existential threat that the world is not doing enough to meet.”

Crookes’ gift will increase media literacy and coverage by connecting students, journalists, citizens and policymakers through a public database of environmental scientists and climatologists, as well as strengthen UVic’s journalism and publishing program. It will support research and outreach to enable the professorship to catalyze a variety of community-based research projects, advocacy initiatives and educational activities for maximum impact.

“People recognizing the problem is the most important step in it being dealt with and being solved,” Crookes adds. “To do that, public opinion needs to change, and that can most efficiently be changed by increasing—and having a higher quality of—media coverage.”

A commitment to sustainability

“We share Mr. Crookes’ profound commitment to sustainability and believe that training journalists and artists who can communicate in ways that inform, persuade and inspire the public and political leaders is an urgent priority,” says Allana Lindgren, acting dean of the Faculty of Fine Arts. “Environmental journalism is a growing emphasis in UVic’s Department of Writing, and many of our graduates pursue careers investigating and advocating for solutions to global environmental issues.”

As one of Canada’s leading research universities, UVic produces internationally acclaimed research on climate modelling, climate-change mitigation and adaptation, sustainable energy systems and the human dimensions of climate change.

Applications for the new five-year professorship are now open. Information can be found on the Writing department’s website.

Orion Series presents artist Manuel Mathieu

The Orion
Lecture Series in Fine Arts

Through the generous support of the Orion Fund in Fine Arts, the Faculty of Fine Arts, University of Victoria, is pleased to present:

Manuel Mathieu 

Visiting Artist

 

7:30 – 9:00 pm (PST)
Wednesday, January 27, 2021 

Free & open to the public via Zoom

Presented by UVic’s Department of Visual Arts
For more information on this lecture please email: visualarts@uvic.ca 

 

A multitude of realities and perspectives 

Haiti-born, Montreal-based multidisciplinary artist Manuel Mathieu is known for his paintings which investigate themes of historical violence, erasure, as well as Haitian visual cultures of physicality, nature and religious symbolism. 

Marrying abstract and figurative techniques, his compositions carve out space for us to reflect on Haiti’s transformative history while inviting us to consider the different futures the act of remembering creates. 

Drawing from a wide-range of subjects, Manuel’s practice combines his Haitian heritage and his formal arts education, which culminated in an MFA Degree from Goldsmiths, University of London.

Exhibitions at home and abroad

He has exhibited in England, Belgium, China, Canada, the United States, Spain, France, Morocco, and Martinique. His work is part of different collections, such as the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec, the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal and the Museum of Fine Arts of Montreal. His work has recently been included in The Other Side of Now at the Perez Art Museum Miami.

2020 was a significant year for him, having presented solo exhibitions at the Museum of Fine Arts of Montreal and The Power Plant (Toronto). He also presented his work in the context of group exhibitions at Musée d’art contemporain of Montreal, at the Phi Foundation (Montréal), at the Song Museum (Beijing) and at the Kunstmuseum (Stuttgart).

Intersecting identities

While Mathieu’s trajectory may be easily traced to his Haitian upbringing, his work articulates his positionality from a multitude of realities and perspectives. The abstractness of his work conveys the abundance in existing at the intersection of racial, geographical, and cultural identities. 

He expands his artistic repertoire to delve into subjects that investigate themes of historical violence, erasure, as well as Haitian visual cultures of physicality, nature, and religious symbolism. He takes us along a journey that brings pleasure and purpose in being vulnerable and ever-changing. His compositions carve out space for us to reflect on Haiti’s transformative heritage while inviting us to consider the different futures the act of remembering creates. 

About the Orion Fund

Established through the generous gift of an anonymous donor, the Orion Fund in Fine Arts is designed to bring distinguished visitors from other parts of Canada—and the world—to the University of Victoria’s Faculty of Fine Arts, and to make their talents and achievements available to faculty, students, staff and the wider Greater Victoria community who might otherwise not be able to experience their work. 

The Orion Fund also exists to encourage institutions outside Canada to invite regular faculty members from our Faculty of Fine Arts to be visiting  artists/scholars at their institutions; and to make it possible for Fine Arts faculty members to travel outside Canada to participate in the academic life of foreign institutions and establish connections and relationships with them in order to encourage and foster future exchanges.

Free and open to the public  |  Seating is limited (500 Zoom connections) |  Visit our online events calendar at www.uvic.ca/events

Orion Series presents filmmaker Jennifer Baichwal

The Orion
Lecture Series in Fine Arts

Through the generous support of the Orion Fund in Fine Arts, the Faculty of Fine Arts, University of Victoria, is pleased to present:

Jennifer Baichwal

Canadian Filmmaker

Public webinar: “Representing the Anthropocene: Challenges & Adventures”

4:00 – 5:30 pm (PST)
Wednesday, February 3, 2021

Zoom webinar invitation to register: https://uvic.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_8yiNulRCQVGCfi8uQVm-ig

 Free & open to the public

*Note about pre-screening:*  A password-protected film link to view Baichwal’s documentary, Anthropocene: The Human Epoch, will be distributed to registered guests prior to the event.

Presented by UVic’s Department of Art History & Visual Studies
For more information on this lecture please email: ahvsasst@uvic.ca

Discover the life story of the planet 

Join Canadian filmmaker Jennifer Baichwal in conversation with local writer, filmmaker and TV producer Barbara Todd Hager for this lively Orion Series discussion, which is part of the public programming for the exhibition Life Stories, curated by AHVS professor Dr. Erin Campbell. Life Stories continues at UVic’s Legacy Gallery until April 3.

The Life Stories exhibit showcases artworks from the UVic art collection to show how our own life stories are shaped by the objects we not only gather around ourselves but which also help us navigate life stages, passages and rituals.

Jennifer Baichwal will highlight the “life story” of our planet, and how its life stages shape the life stories of human and non-human species. A link to her award-winning, feature-length documentary Anthropocene: The Human Epoch will be available to registered webinar guests for a limited time before and after the discussion. She will also visit Art History & Visual Studies classes and speak with our students as part of her Orion visit.   

Barbara Todd Hager will bring to this conversation her perspective as a writer, producer and creator of the award-winning environmental documentary series Down2Earth, amongst other projects. Erin Campbell will moderate the talk. 

 

A life in film  

Jennifer Baichwal has been directing and producing documentaries for 25 years. Among other films, installations and lens-based projects, she has made 10 feature documentaries which have played all over the world and won multiple awards nationally and internationally. Her current project is a feature documentary on global insect collapse.

Her most recent undertaking is The Anthropocene Project, an acclaimed collaboration with director Nicholas de Pencier and artist-photographer Edward Burtynsky. It includes a major touring exhibition—which debuted simultaneously at the Art Gallery of Ontario and National Gallery of Canada and is currently travelling around the world—as well as the award-winning feature documentary film Anthropocene: The Human Epoch. 

Anthropocene premiered at TIFF 2018, played Sundance and the Berlinale, was released theatrically in Canada and the US in 2019, and is now in international release. The film won the Toronto Film Critics Association prize for Best Canadian Film, and a Canadian Screen Award for Best Documentary Feature. The Anthropocene Project also includes an art book published by Steidl and an educational program in partnership with the Royal Canadian Geographical Society.

Previous work

Baichwal is also known for the documentary Manufactured Landscapes, which won TIFF’s Best Canadian Film, Al Gore’s Reel Current Award and the Toronto Film Critics Association prize for Best Canadian Film in 2006, among other awards; after a prolonged and successful run in Canada, it played theatrically in over 15 territories worldwide and was named as one of the “150 Essential Works In Canadian Cinema History” by TIFF in 2016. 

Her other acclaimed films include Let It Come Down: The Life of Paul Bowles, which won an International Emmy in 1999; The Holier It Gets, a documentary filmed in Canada and India, which won Best Cultural and Best Independent Canadian Documentary at Hot Docs 2000, as well as Gemini Awards for best writing, directing and editing in a documentary series; Act of God, about the metaphysical effects of being struck by lightning, which opened the Hot Docs Film Festival in 2009; and Payback, an adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s Massey Lectures produced by Ravida Din and the National Film Board, which premiered in competition at the Sundance Film Festival in 2012 and was released in Canada and the US that spring.

The feature documentary Watermark—made with Edward Burtynsky and Nicholas de Pencier—premiered at TIFF 2013, was released in Canada by Mongrel Media and won both the Toronto Film Critics Association prize for Best Canadian Film and a Canadian Screen Award for Best Documentary; it has since been released in 11 countries.

Baichwal and de Pencier were also co-directors of Long Time Running, a feature documentary on the Tragically Hip’s final 2016 summer tour. The film, produced by Banger Films, premiered as a gala at TIFF 2017, and was subsequently released by Elevation Pictures and broadcast by Bell and Netflix. 

Baichwal sits on the board of Swim Drink Fish Canada, and is a member of the Ryerson University School of Image Arts Advisory Council. She has been a Director of the Board of the Toronto International Film Festival since 2016, and is a passionate ambassador of their Share Her Journey campaign, a multi-year commitment to increasing participation, skills and opportunities for women behind—and in front of—the camera.

 

Barbara Todd Hager

About the Orion Fund

Established through the generous gift of an anonymous donor, the Orion Fund in Fine Arts is designed to bring distinguished visitors from other parts of Canada—and the world—to the University of Victoria’s Faculty of Fine Arts, and to make their talents and achievements available to faculty, students, staff and the wider Greater Victoria community who might otherwise not be able to experience their work. 

The Orion Fund also exists to encourage institutions outside Canada to invite regular faculty members from our Faculty of Fine Arts to be visiting  artists/scholars at their institutions; and to make it possible for Fine Arts faculty members to travel outside Canada to participate in the academic life of foreign institutions and establish connections and relationships with them in order to encourage and foster future exchanges.

Free and open to the public  |  Seating is limited (500 Zoom connections) |  Visit our online events calendar at www.uvic.ca/events

Orion Series presents writer Semi Chella

The Orion
Lecture Series in Fine Arts

Through the generous support of the Orion Fund in Fine Arts, the Faculty of Fine Arts, University of Victoria, is pleased to present:

Semi Chellas 

TV writer, show-runner & film director 

 

2:30 – 4:00 pm (PST)
Monday, January 18, 2021 

To register for this Zoom webinar, email writingevents@uvic.ca  

Free & open to the public

Presented by UVic’s Department of Writing
For more information on this lecture please email: writing@uvic.ca 

 

Sharing experience with next-generation writers

Semi Chellas is best known as a writer/producer of The Romanoffs and Mad Men, where she was nominated for six Emmys, won two Writers Guild Awards, and ran the writers’ room in the final seasons. She will be speaking with the Writing 100 class, sharing her professional experience with the next generation of writers.  

Chellas has written a number of indie features, including Ophelia (starring Daisy Ridley, Naomi Watts, George MacKay and Clive Owen) and made her directing debut in 2019 with American Woman, which she adapted from Susan Choi’s Pulitzer short-listed novel. The film had its world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival and a Gala Presentation at the Toronto International Film Festival, where programmers called it a “classic political thriller [with] shades of the best ’70s American cinema”.

American Woman opened The Female Eye Film Festival; won Best Director, Best Film, Best Actress and Best Cinematography at the Downtown Los Angeles Film Festival; was awarded a Special Jury Prize for the lead actresses at the Calgary International Film Festival; and won the Gold Remi Award for a period film at Houston WorldFest. Chellas was also named one of IndieWire’s 25 Rising Directors to Know

She began her career co-creating and showrunning the two-time Canadian Best Series winner The Eleventh Hour, and is currently a consulting producer with the hit TV show, Snowpiercer.  

 

About the Orion Fund

Established through the generous gift of an anonymous donor, the Orion Fund in Fine Arts is designed to bring distinguished visitors from other parts of Canada—and the world—to the University of Victoria’s Faculty of Fine Arts, and to make their talents and achievements available to faculty, students, staff and the wider Greater Victoria community who might otherwise not be able to experience their work. 

The Orion Fund also exists to encourage institutions outside Canada to invite regular faculty members from our Faculty of Fine Arts to be visiting  artists/scholars at their institutions; and to make it possible for Fine Arts faculty members to travel outside Canada to participate in the academic life of foreign institutions and establish connections and relationships with them in order to encourage and foster future exchanges.

Free and open to the public  |  Seating is limited (500 Zoom connections) |  Visit our online events calendar at www.uvic.ca/events