It’s not often you find an off-campus arts event that’s almost exclusively organized by Fine Arts alumni and students, but that’s exactly what you’ll find when you peak behind the curtain at 2017’s Integrate Arts Festival.
Originally dubbed the Off-The-Grid Art Crawl, Integrate is now organized annually by the Integrate Arts Society — where two of the three current Board of Directors are Art History & Visual Studies alumni (president Brin O’Hare and vice-president Alanah Garcin). Even better, eight of their nine planning committee members also have ties to the AHVS department: development coordinator Regan Shrumm & operations coordinator Stephanie Dermann are both alumni, while communications coordinator Kristi Hoffman, partnership coordinator Megan Quigley, art coordinator Zahra Kazani and event coordinators Olivia Prior and Margaret Lapp are all current students. Rounding out the pack is art director Anna Shkuratoff, a recent Visual Arts alumna.
AHVS grad & Integrate president Brin O’Hare
IAS president Brin O’Hare credits AHVS for providing an “initial awareness” of the vibrancy of Victoria’s art scene, and says it helped push her — and many of Integrate’s team — to become involved in the festival.
“I think UVic’s Art History program, and particularly their graduate program, facilitates students awareness and involvement in this community,” she says. “For example, field trips to the Legacy Gallery and Kilshaw’s Auctioneers, and work experience within the arts community, are often available to students, and many courses use local artists, galleries and organizations as case studies for learning as well. This provides students with an opportunity to become aware of the arts community within Victoria.”
Now in its 11th year, the Integrate Arts Festival runs August 25-27 at a number of downtown locations and serves to do exactly what it’s name implies: integrate various galleries and exhibition spaces with a series of exclusive events, performances and tours.
Centered around an en-masse art crawl, it encourages interaction with artworks and performances by local artists, as well as the exploration of local galleries, art spaces, and artist-run centres. Best of all, Integrate remains a completely free festival celebrating Victoria’s diverse arts community.
To see a complete list of events, performances, parties and tours, be sure to check out the complete festival program.
Putting her academic training to good use, O’Hare — who worked as a research assistant for AHVS professor Carolyn Butler Palmer and graduated with an MA in 2014 — feels her work with Integrate provides a good opportunity to correct the “misguided perception” that art history is solely a study of the past.
“To give a personal example, my focus was modern and contemporary Canadian art. As a UVic Art History student, we did, of course, study artists of the past; however, we also focused a great deal on living, contemporary artists. A particular interest of mine — which was fostered by my studies at UVic — is how art historical traditions and concepts of the past play a role in shaping the practices of contemporary artists. This interest to a great extent pushed me to become more familiar with the artists working in Victoria and to help further awareness of our city’s amazing arts community by getting involved in the festival.”
Given that two of Integrate’s goals are to raise awareness of Victoria’s arts scene and to help facilitate the growth of diverse, emerging artists within the community, their collective Fine Arts background is serving them well — especially when you consider that a number of the festival’s featured artists are alumni of the Visual Arts department, including Courtney Chaney, Colton Hash, and Romi Kim, plus current students Laura Gildner, Leah McInnis and Libby Oliver. Also on view at various galleries and locations during the festival will be work by alumni Maddy Knott, Jim Holyoak and Matt Shane.
Artist Laura Gildner, for example, will be guiding a participant-driven performative walking tour between selected Integrate exhibitions in the downtown core from 1 to 2pm Saturday. Fueled entirely through anecdotal recollections sourced by interviewing strangers throughout Victoria, the piece — titled “Public Displays of Affection” — will examine layered intersections between the body, identity and art as they relate to urban geography.
There are also a number of workshops and special events planned, ranging from performance art and artist talks to dance, podcasting and zine-making workshops, . . . and, of course, the de rigueur opening night party running from 7-10:30pm Friday at Integrate HQ in the Bay Centre.
One highlight features alumna artist Courtney Chaney offering a performance of “Habitat,” which focuses on “the relationship between human and nature by allowing the viewer to encounter an exposed vulnerability within the space as the performer embodies a fetus or seed through direct contact with composted soil.” You can see that from 7-9pm Saturday at Integrate HQ.
Whether you go for the whole weekend or just take in one or two exhibits, Integrate offers a fantastic opportunity to catch some of Victoria’s emerging artists and to see our dynamic Art History alumni in action.
2017 marks the 150th anniversary of celebrated US architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s birth. It is also the year UVic will return seven Wright-designed stained glass windows to their original setting in Buffalo, New York.
Mary Jo Hughes (left), Emerald Johnstone-Bedell and one of the light screens (UVic Photo Services)
UVic acquired the windows only five years after the university was founded and nearly 10 years after the death of Wright, and has made good use of them as a highlight of our significant arts-and-crafts collection.
“This decision reflects our university’s ongoing commitment to artistic stewardship and heritage preservation,” says Mary Jo Hughes, director of Legacy Art Galleries. “We are grateful for these five decades with this exquisite collection of art glass. And we know we are doing the ‘Wright’ thing by reuniting them with their original home and within a meaningful context.”
Within their original context
Wright didn’t use the word “windows.” Instead, he called them “light screens.” The three individual screens and two pairs owned by UVic since 1968 include “Wisteria” light screens once used in clusters to hide heating radiators, as well as a set of cabinet door screens—all part of a home designed and built by Wright for wealthy US executive Darwin D. Martin.
Martin’s patronage of the young Wright brought acclaim to the architect’s early career, and the Darwin D. Martin Complex in Buffalo is one of his most impressive structures. It is Wright’s only residential project to involve multiple buildings. Martin House originally included a brilliant collection of nearly 400 art glass windows, doors, skylights and casements, as well as custom furnishings and other decorative objects.
Frank Lloyd Wright’s Martin House
Construction of the complex, an outstanding example of Wright’s “Prairie” period, was completed in 1907 but, as a result of the stock market crash in the 1920s, the family was deeply in debt when Martin passed away in 1935. The site was abandoned and left in disrepair. Recent renovation efforts have now restored this national historic landmark under the auspices of the Martin House Restoration Company and today, many pieces of the original art glass are being reinstalled.
“The light screens represent a broad sampling of Wright’s genius in glass, which is critical to the scholarly interpretation and general appreciation of the complex,” says Mary Roberts, executive director of Martin House.
The transfer of ownership of the light screens includes a $25,000 CDN donation from the Martin House Restoration Corporation to establish a collection care and research fund at UVic.
The interior of Martin House
Art History & Visual Studies alumna Emerald Johnstone-Bedell, curator of the upcoming exhibition So Long, Frank Lloyd Wright — running July 15 – September 16 at Legacy Downtown — remembers as a UVic co-op student “getting valuable hands-on experience learning how to care for collections.”
“The ability to see and handle objects, like the windows and other artwork, is a completely different experience than looking at pictures of them on a computer screen,” she explains. “Seeing artwork in person is essential to its study because you observe details, light, colour and texture that would otherwise be muted in digital imagery.”
“And it’s not only about putting art on the walls,” explains Hughes. “Cultural and academic collaborations, along with conversations using art to explore deeper issues, are vital aspects of the vision of Legacy Art Galleries.”
“Pair of Pier Cluster Casement Light Screens.” Frank Lloyd Wright, 1904-05. (photo: Mary Matheson)
People will have a chance to bid farewell to the light screens during the exhibition at UVic’s free downtown public art gallery on Yates Street. The windows return to the US in October. Johnstone-Bedell, who holds an Art History BFA (2012) and an MFA from Queen’s University (2015), was a curatorial assistant at the gallery through an internship with the federal program Young Canada Works and is currently on contract as an assistant curator.
She explains that the art glass is an intrinsic decorative and architectural part of Wright’s unifying design principle called “organic architecture,” which integrated the natural environment, his vision and architectural plan, and the home’s interior fixtures and furniture into a single harmonious scheme.
Legacy Downtown is open Wednesday through Saturday, 10am to 4pm, with Thursdays until 8pm for the summer.
Carolyn Butler Palmer with one of Ellen Neel’s masks in the Legacy Gallery exhibit
The newest exhibit at UVic’s Legacy Gallery Downtown seeks to correct gendered colonial myths with works by Ellen Neel, a woman carver of the Northwest Coast.
Ellen Newman Neel (Kwagiulth, Kwickwasutaineuk and ‘Namgis) is often described as the first Northwest Coast woman carver. A prolific artist, she was only 49 years old when she passed away in the 1960s. But her defiance of gender barriers and federal law carries deep resonance for all Canadians to this day—and now within the context of the Truth and Reconciliation Committee’s calls to action—and her legendary impact and artistic legacies live on in the work of her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
The first exhibition of Neel’s work in more than 50 years is showing at UVic’s Legacy Art Gallery Downtown until April 1.
Exhibit co-curator and Art History and Visual Studies professor Carolyn Butler Palmer was assisted throughout the process by two advising curators, David A. Neel (Neel’s grandson and the son of David Lyle Neel) and Lou-ann Ika’wega Neel (her granddaughter and the daughter of Neel’s son Ted). The exhibit includes artwork from six generations of the Neel family, including David’s two children.
The Globe and Mail recently featured a story on Neel and the exhibit in its national arts section. Lou-ann was interviewed by The Globe. She said that it’s “‘really a colonial idea that our women didn’t carve. Our women have always carved. I’ve already heard a few people say, “Well, you know, our grandmother was also a carver.” Good, I want to hear about her. Let’s talk about her, too. Because all of our communities need these role models to come from the last couple of generations and encourage our young girls and women to pursue the arts, too.’”
The exhibit was also covered in these articles by both the Times Colonist and Oak Bay News.
Mary Jo Hughes (left) and Butler Palmer at the exhibit opening (Photo: Corina Fischer)
Born in Alert Bay in 1916, Neel learned during the 1920s to carve from her grandfather—the eminent master carver Yakuglas/Charlie James—at a time when the Indigenous art of carving was banned in Canada under the Indian Act. She then launched her artistic career in the 1940s during the potlatch prohibition when carving was rare and the idea of a woman carver was even rarer still.
Butler Palmer, also UVic’s Williams Legacy Chair, worked for 15 years on research in support of the exhibit at UVic’s downtown public art gallery and a book project. “Ellen Neel was a remarkable woman,” she says. “Seven decades before the TRC published its findings, Neel graciously and very publically supported the rights of Indigenous people, to fish, to fair wages, to an education and to make art. Neel was also an important role model and mentor for young artists such as Bill Reid, Art Thompson and Robert Davidson. It is hard to imagine the Northwest Coast art world today without the foundation laid by Neel in the 1940s, 50s, and 60s.”
Director of UVic Legacy Art Galleries Mary Jo Hughes adds, “We are honoured to be able to facilitate this exhibition and be able to mobilize the important research by Dr. Butler Palmer and the Neel family. This project brings to public notice Ellen Neel who, perhaps unbeknownst to many of our gallery visitors, played such a pivotal role in the art of the northwest.”
Ellen Neel’s family attending the exhibit’s opening (Photo: Corina Fischer)
In 1947, with the ban still in place, Neel established her own carving business. She opened a retail outlet in Stanley Park, The Totem Arts Shop, in 1951 where she taught her children to make art. They carved hundreds of items destined for the tourist market. She also produced monumental and miniature memorial poles, including The Wonderbird Pole of 1953 for White Spot Restaurants, as well as an extensive collection including masks, hand puppets, textiles, jewelry and totemware ceramics.
Neel designed the famous Totemland Pole too, which was a commission from a tourism organization with hundreds of the miniature poles gifted to visiting dignitaries, as well as other people beyond BC including Bob Hope and Katharine Hepburn.
As she told a UBC audience during a keynote address in 1948: “Were it not for the interest created by the tourist trade, the universities and the museums, we would no longer have any of our people capable of producing this art. I have strived in all my work, to retain the authentic, but I find it difficult to obtain a portion of the price necessary to do a really fine piece of work. Only when there is an adequate response to efforts to retain the best of our art will it be possible to train the younger generation to appreciate their own cultural achievements.”
—Written by Tara Sharpe. This piece originally ran in UVic’s Ring newspaper
From Borneo textiles to the world’s largest button blanket, from a 15th century alabaster religious carving to a 19th-century lady’s pocket revolver, from anarchist manifestos to a Jim Carrey movie, the objects studied by art historians continue to change with the times. So too does the study of art history itself, as evidenced by the current Legacy Maltwood exhibit Learning Through Looking, celebrating the 50th anniversary of UVic’s Department of Art History and Visual Studies (AHVS).
“Introducing people to the importance of art is only part of our job,” explains exhibit co-curator Atri Hatef. “Art history is not just about studying specific examples of art, objects and architecture, it’s also about how and why they were created, and what the similarities are across regions and centuries . . . the product of creation is sometimes less important than the process or intention of creation. It’s not just about the past and history, but also about the present and future.”
Hatef, a PhD candidate with a focus on Islamic medieval urban architecture, is acutely aware of what can happen when past and present collide; she came to UVic from Iran specifically to study with AHVS professor Marcus Milwright.“I’m looking at transcultural exchanges during 13th and 14th century Iran . . . it’s interesting how people from places like China, Cairo and Damascus talk to each other through the language of art and architecture,” she says. But, as recent events have shown, academic pursuits can easily be threatened by politics — both at home and abroad.
“We’re usually looking at people who lived 700 or 800 years ago, but consider what’s happening in Syria, in Jordan, in many countries around the Middle East: we’re losing the very materials we’re supposed to be working with,” says Hatef, who, as an Iranian, is also affected by the US travel ban. “Seeing monuments destroyed in Aleppo and Palmyra is very painful, and you can see how these things could happen in other places — like Iran, which is under constant threat from the US.”
It’s these kind of headlines that make the Learning Through Looking exhibit an idea part of the AHVS panel discussion “Why Art Matters in Dangerous Times” at UVic’s Ideafest. Featuring AHVS professors Victoria Wyatt, Astri Wright, Melia Belli, Evanthia Baboula and Lianne McLarty, this lively panel will discuss how, at a time when (sadly) xenophobia, ethnocentrism, political tensions and censorship are on the rise, art and the visual — from the meme to the masterpiece — have more to offer society than ever before in human history. All are welcome from 5 – 7pm Wednesday, March 8, in room 025 of the McPherson Library (right next door to the exhibit space).
But it’s no coincidence the exhibit is titled Learning Through Looking, says co-curator and Master’s candidate Jaiya Anka. “While the intention of the exhibit is to tell the story of our department and to celebrate the scope of our teaching, we hope the significance of the discipline will emerge through the stories of the objects.”
Indeed, given the vast chronological and geographical range of objects on display, the diverse focus of the AHVS teaching faculty is easy to discern. With cases dedicated to the nine full-time professors — as well as the history of the department itself — the exhibit nicely encompasses their global reach while still maintaining a local focus: the community engagement represented by the button blanket project, say, or the juxtaposition of 19th century objects recovered from Swan Lake with pottery shards from medieval Cairo.
Erin Campbell (right) at the exhibit opening
“We were pioneers in the field when we were founded 50 years ago — not just in Canada but across North America,” notes department chair Dr. Erin Campbell of what was then the History in Art program. “At the time, art history was very Western-focused but we were one of the few institutions willing to look at Asian and Indigenous art. And we are still one of the largest world art history departments in Canada.”
You can learn more about the exhibit at the Curators’ Talk with Hatef, Anka, Campbell and AHVS professors Victoria Wyatt and Astri Wright, 1 – 2 p.m. Tuesday, March 14, in the Legacy Maltwood Gallery on the lower level of McPherson Library.
Campbell says the recent addition of “Visual Studies” to the department’s title is indicative of changes to both the world and the program itself, which continues to attract students from nearly every other faculty on campus with its popular range of electives. “As society becomes more and more digital, the importance of visual literacy is obvious: visual studies has grown beyond art and architecture to include everything from fashion and advertising to film, graffiti and digital culture itself. It’s essential to keep up with that.”
Anka hopes the exhibit, which continues until April 30, captures the department’s far-reaching implications. “Art history is a discipline that touches everything and changes the way we look at and understand the world. Each object has a story — it embodies a place, a time and a people, but also economics, chemistry, religion, language . . . . every day I learn something new, and I love that.”
Ideafest — UVic’s week-long free festival of world-changing ideas — is once again ready to welcome thinkers, innovators, artists and audiences to a fascinating range of events across campus. This year’s festival features hundreds of speakers, presenting on topics ranging from the creative economy and ocean sustainability to cybernetic innovations and Indigenous resurgence. Fine Arts is once again a major participant in Ideafest, with our faculty or students participating in eight different events.
For the Faculty of Fine Arts, Ideafest starts off with the student exhibit Sensitive chaos: The Creation of Flowing Forms in Water and Air. Organized by instructor David Gifford, the exhibit showcases the work of his Drawing 300 class and expands the concept of what it means to illustrate an idea. The exhibit is inspired by Theodor Schwenk’s 1965 book of the same title, an exploration of fluid dynamics in relation to our ability to read patterns revealed in nature and art. As Jacques Cousteau says in the book’s forward, “All that life around us was really water, modeled according to its own laws, vitalized by each fresh venture, striving to rise into consciousness.” 9am – 5pm daily March 6-11 in the Visual Arts courtyard and Audain Gallery.
Our signature Fine Arts panel discussion this year is focused on Rethinking the Creative Economy, an important and timely discussion about the economic impact of creativity and creative production. Indeed, when it comes to the creative economy, myths often trump facts: while some believe the arts have no significant financial impact, the cultural sector boasts 700,000-plus jobs and contributes more than $60 billion annually to the Canadian economy—10 times more than sports, and that’s not even factoring in the value of art. This lively panel discussion will blow the lid off outdated arts myths, consider culture’s lasting impact and explore our key investment: our students. Moderator and Dean of Fine Arts Susan Lewis will be joined by panelists including Kirk McNally (School of Music), Maureen Bradley (Writing), Tony Vickery (Theatre), Cedric Bomford (Visual Arts) and Melissa Berry (Art History & Visual Studies), plus special guest David Dunne from the Gustavson School of Business. 4 – 6pm Tuesday, March 7, in Turpin A110.
That same night, Rande Cook — the current Audain Chair in Contemporary Art Practice of the Pacific Northwest for the Visual Arts department — will join university chancellor and celebrated broadcast journalist Shelagh Rogers for Reconciliation and Resurgence: How Indigenous Artists are Re-imagining the Story of Canada. Rogers, an honorary witness to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, offers an intimate conversation with Indigenous visual artists Cook, Carey Newman and visual anthropologist and Art History and Visual Studies alumna Andrea Walsh. Across Canada, contemporary Indigenous artists are using images to explore place, truth and identity and challenging us to transform our perspectives, conversations and ideas. Collectively, this great imagining is playing a unique and pivotal role in understanding our past and determining our shared future. This event will be hosted by UVic’s Vice-President Research, David Castle. 7 – 9pm Tuesday, March 7 at Alix Goolden Hall, 907 Pandora. Note: registration is required for this free event.
Interested in what Fine Arts students are creating and researching? Don’t miss the always-fascinating Jamie Cassels Undergraduate Research Awards (JCURA) Fair, which offers exceptional undergraduate students the opportunity to carry out research in their field of study. The annual JCURA Fair will feature over 100 of these inspiring projects, with Fine Arts student projects ranging from Saskatchewan folklore and 19th century social behaviour here in Victoria to the use of brass instruments in Chinese music and intergenerational theatre for educational sexual health projects. Click on the links to read about JCURA projects by Writing students Leone Brander and Holly Lam, Visual Arts students Artemis Feldman and Brandon Poole, Music students Ian VanGils, Alex Klassen and Jordan Shier, Art History & Visual Studies students McKaila Ferguson, Lorinda Fraser and Baylee Woodley, and Theatre students Mary Barbara Clerihue and Leah Tidey. 11:30am – 3pm Wednesday, March 8, in the Student Union Building (SUB) Michele Pujol room and Upper Lounge.
Goya’s The Third of May 1808
From the Russian Revolution to the Arab Spring uprising, from Palestine’s West Bank to the gates of the White House — wherever there is political unrest, there is art. And at a time when (sadly) xenophobia, ethnocentrism, political tensions and censorship are on the rise, art and the visual — from the meme to the masterpiece — have more to offer society than ever before in human history. Don’t miss the lively panel Why Art Matters in Dangerous Times featuring Art History & Visual Studies professors Victoria Wyatt, Astri Wright, Melia Belli, Evanthia Baboula and Lianne McLarty. This panel event accompanies the exhibition Learning through looking: Celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Department of Art History & Visual Studies. 5 – 7pm Wednesday, March 8, in room 025 of the McPherson Library.
Meet the next generation of Canadian literature at The Write Stuff, where MFA students from UVic’s legendary Department of Writing read (and perform) ground-breaking graduating manuscripts in fiction, poetry, screenwriting and playwriting and creative nonfiction at this lively (and licensed) literary cabaret. Presenters include Claire Mulligan (screenwriting), Alexa Eldred (fiction), Melissa Taylor (playwriting), Kelsey Lauder (fiction) and Nicola MacWilliam (poetry). 6:30pm Thursday, March 9, at the Copper Owl, 1900 Douglas. While admission is free, please note there are no minors allowed in this licensed venue.
How do artists of colour experience race and identity? That’s the question behind Re-imagining Race, Art and Landscape. Hooked to the current Legacy Gallery exhibit The Mystery of Grafton Tyler Brown, three contemporary Victoria artists of colour — Victoria’s 2016 youth poet laureate Ann-Bernice Thomas, also a Writing/Theatre undergrad — plus painter and performance artist Charles Campbell and filmmaker Kemi Craig — will perform new work relating to racial identity. Grafton Tyler Brown was one of the first professional landscape artists in BC, and the story of his racial identity shifted throughout his career to where he eventually passed for white. 7 – 9pm Friday, March 10, at the Legacy Gallery Downtown, 630 Yates.
Borrow a book, discover a person: that’s the whole focus of the Phoenix Theatre Human Library, a fascinating project that pairs Phoenix pioneers, current educators and local industry professionals with visitors. At the “circulation desk,” you’ll get your own Human Library card and the chance to check out one of a dozen possible human books ranging from titles like “Actor”, “Playwright” or “Producer.” A one-on-one informal conversation will begin and the rest is up to you. Following a theme of “Theatre then and in the future,” participants include the likes of former faculty member John Krich, alumnus playwright/author Mark Leiren-Young, Intrepid Theatre director Heather Lindsay, theatre historian James Hoffman, and local actor Kirsten Van Ritzen, with more to be announced.
“Books” are available on a rotating schedule and are subject to availability, so please be aware that not every book will be available during all hours the Human Library is open. If you’ve never participated in a Human Library before, don’t miss this chance to participate in this culture phenomenon that began in Denmark in 2000; since then, over 65 countries have connected tens of thousands of “readers” with “books” from all walks of life at thousands of these events! Please arrive earlier than before you expect to “read” your book — books are checked out on a first-come, first-served basis starting at 9:30am, 30 minutes before the Phoenix Theatre Human Library opens. This is another signature event in the Department of Theatre’s ongoing 50th anniversary celebrations. 10am – 4pm Saturday, March 11, in the Phoenix Theatre lobby.
While these are what we’ll have on view for Fine Arts, be sure to see the complete schedule of all Ideafest events. Let your curiosity guide you and be inspired by ideas that really can change everything!
What is the role of Indigenous women in Canadian art history? That’s the issue under discussion at UVic’s latest Distinguished Women Scholar Lecture.
Presented by the Department of Art History & Visual Studies, the 2017 Distinguished Women Scholar Lecture features professor, artist and curator Dr. Sherry Farrell Racette. Her free public lecture — “I Want to Call Their Names in Resistance”: Claiming Space for Indigenous Women in Canadian Art History — runs from 5 to 6pm Wednesday, Feb 22 at UVic’s Legacy Gallery, 630 Yates Street
Dr Sherry Farrell Racette
One of only five Indigenous women art historians to hold an academic appointment in Canada, Dr. Farrell Racette is an interdisciplinary scholar with an active arts practice — including beadwork, painting and multi-media textile works. She has also illustrated children’s books by noted authors Maria Campbell, Freda Ahnenakew and Ruby Slipperjack and currently teaches at the University of Manitoba in the departments of Native Studies and Women and Gender Studies.
An exceptional scholar who has mentored many women academics—including other Indigenous women academics—in the fall of 2017, Dr. Farrell Racette will also become the first recipient of the Distinguished Indigenous Scholar at the Jackman Humanities Institute, in conjunction with the University of Toronto’s Massey College where she is currently a Visiting Resident Scholar.
Her research interests are diverse indeed — including, but not limited to, First Nations and Metis women’s history, art history and educational history; Indigenous knowledge and pedagogy; contemporary First Nations art, photography and museum collections; First Nations and Metis traditional arts; and issues of representation and self-representation. “I love drifting through the Hudson’s Bay Company Archives — or any archive for that matter — and opening random drawers in museum collections,” she explains. “Stories are my principal focus, stories of people, stories that objects tell, painting stories, telling stories and finding stories.”
While at UVic, Dr. Farrell Racette will visit undergraduate students in a number of classes, including the Art History & Visual Studies course “Contemporary Indigenous Art” to be held at First Peoples House, as well as Creative Being, the signature Fine Arts 101 class, where she will hold a beading and storytelling circle with students.
Farrell Racette’s 1990 painting “Ancestral Women Taking Back Their Dresses”
While Indigenous art and art history is gaining currency, Indigenous women artists and scholars remain under-recognized in comparison to their male counterparts. As such, her keynote address is nicely timed to coincide with the exhibit Ellen Neel: The First Woman Totem Pole Carver, currently on view at the Legacy Gallery. Not only does this exhibition celebrate the career of Kwagiulth (Kwakwaka’wakw) carver Ellen Neel (1916-1966), the first woman carver of monumental totem poles, but it also acknowledges her contribution towards the recognition of what she called “Indian Art” and the role of women Indigenous artists.
Farrell Racette’s recent academic publications include Returning Fire, Pointing the Canon: Aboriginal Photography as Resistance, In The Cultural Work of Photography in Canada (McGill-Queens University Press, 2011), “Nimble Fingers, Strong Backs: First Nations and Metis Women in Fur Trade and Rural Economies,” in Indigenous Women and Work: Transnational Perspectives (University of Illinois Press, 2011), and “‘I Want to Call Their Names in Resistance’: Writing Aboriginal Women into Canadian Art History,” in Rethinking Professionalism: Essays on Women and Art in Canada, 1850-1970 (McGill-Queens University Press, 2011).
Recent curatorial and artistic projects include Resistance/ Resilience: Métis Art, 1860-2011 (Batoche Heritage Centre, 2011), We Are Not Birds (Canadian Museum for Human Rights, 2014) and From Here: Story Gatherings from the Qu’Appelle Valley (2015), a public installation of paintings based on memories of Métis elders.
The Distinguished Women Scholars Lecture series was established by the Vice-President Academic and Provost to bring distinguished women scholars to the University of Victoria.