Symposium explores Gendered Threads of Globalization

Who makes our clothing? How has the shift from artisanal production to “fast fashion” over the last 150 years devalued women’s textile labor in Asia? How are heritage textile/garment traditions across Asia being preserved and revived by laborers and the organizations that support them?

Hosted by Art History & Visual Studies professor Melia Belli Bose, Gendered Threads of Globalization: 20th century Textile Crossings in Asia Pacific (GToG) unites scholars, activists and artists from across North America, Asia and Europe for a 3-day symposium dedicated to these issues.

All GToG events are free and open to the public, include panels (Fri-Sat, March 10-12, in room A103 of UVic’s Fine Arts building), a screening of Cathy Stevulak’s award-winning documentary THREADS (5:30pm Friday, same location) and a textile-based performance by visual artist Monica Jahan Bose (12:30 Sunday, March 12 in the lobby of UVic’s David Lam Auditorium).

Can’t make it in person? Register for the livestream here.

A scene from Cathy Stevulak’s documentary THREADS

About GToG

Gendered Threads of Globalization: 20th c. Textile Crossings in Asia gathers specialists from a range of academic disciplines and artistic/artisanal practices to discuss intersections of gender, textiles/garments/fashion, labour and heritage across Asia (India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Cambodia, the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, China, Taiwan, Japan, and the diaspora) during the long 20th century (ie: late 19th century to present).

GToG participants will investigate topics like

  • heritage textiles/garments—their demise and revival
  • gendered labor in the fashion industry
  • confluences of identity (regional, communal, ethnic, religious), domesticity and agency
  • activist art that critiques the global garment industry
  • the evolution, consumption, appropriation and display of heritage textiles/garments.

Expect plenty of stimulating conversation for Asian textiles enthusiasts!

Keynote address

Friday’s keynote speech features Ashoka Fellow Judy Frater on “Threads of Identity in Kutch 2022: Gender, Value, Creativity and the Marketplace” (4:20pm in Fine Arts 103). Judy Frater is steeped in the world of contemporary textiles of Kutch, India. Residing in Kutch for 30 years, she co-founded and operated Kala Raksha, a cooperative for women embroiderers, established the Kala Raksha Textile Museum, founded Kala Raksha Vidhyalaya. the first design school for traditional artisans, and reinvented the school as Somaiya Kala Vidya.

A scene from Monica Jahan Bose’s WRAPture

Live performance

Sunday will feature the work of Orion Visiting Artist Monica Jahan Bose, a Bangladeshi-American artist and activist whose work spans painting, film, photography, printmaking, performance, and interdisciplinary projects.

Her short film, WRAPture: A Public Art Project runs at 11:30am (Fine Arts building room 103), followed by a live textile-based performance in the lobby of the David Lam Auditorium (MacLaurin Building C-wing, room A144).

WRAPture follows a climate justice art project from Washington DC’s low-income Anacostia neighborhood to Barobaishdia—a remote Bangladeshi island on the frontlines of climate change—as Jahan Bose leads a dozen women farmers and over 200 Washingtonians to co-create 65 climate-themed saris, which wrap five Washington buildings. While they work on the saris, the participants recite poetry, sing, and dance, creating a trans-border community. The film includes rare footage and testimony of the impacts of climate change on coastal women farmers and the power of art to bring about change.

$1.4 million research fellowship for Dr Marcus Milwright

Dr Marcus Milwright, chair of the Department of Art History & Visual Studies, has been named a recipient of the British Academy’s 2022 Global Professorships.

This four-year research professorship — valued at £898,000 (about $1.48 million CDN) — will begin in February 2023 and will see Milwright working at the Department of History of Art at England’s University of York through to 2027.

“It’s an honour to receive this position,” says Milwright. One of only eight professors selected for this prestigious international professorship — and the only scholar in Canada to be chosen — his research project is titled, Making Meaning: Craft Practices and the Process of Change in Islamic Art.

“It’s based on the idea that we understand objects when we understand the processes of making them, and the people responsible for doing that — how they develop their skills, the environments they work in,” he explains. “It’s not simply a question of how something gets made: it’s through the process of making we understand the meanings those objects have in their societies.”

Studying Islamic art and archaeology

Milwright has already spent more than 20 years studying Islamic art and archaeology, and traditional craft practices in the Middle East. The author of seven books on the subject, his most recent publication is Made for the Eye of One Who Sees: Canadian Contributions to the Study of Islamic Art and Archaeology (McGill/Queens University Press & Royal Ontario Museum), co-edited with fellow AHVS professor Eva Baboula.

You can find out more about his work on the AHVS Gateway to Art website, as well as his own Crafts of Syria and Crafts of Iraq research websites.

For Making Meaning, he’ll still be working with archaeology, excavated artifacts and museum objects but he will also broaden the focus to include textual and photographic sources.

“It’s about how we can extract aspects of the lives of people who are often not well documented,” he says. “It’s the elites of society who tend to write — and be written about — so this is a way of finding out more about the lives of people who actually created the objects and made those societies work.”

More than just producing research, however, Milwright sees this Global Professorship as an opportunity to share his findings in different ways through articles, books, websites, podcasts and public engagement — as well as more open-source methods of information dissemination.

“There’s an urgent need to try and record craft practices across the Islamic world — as well as across the world itself,” he says. “As we see crafts dying out, we see how war, instability and displacement often lead to a severing of craft traditions that have been handed down over generations in families. I want to collect as much of that information as possible and then share it so other people can use it.”

Connection with the past

Originally trained as a painter, Milwright has always been interested in the relationship between an object and its making. But it was on an early archaeological excavation in Jordan that his relationship with the past first came alive.

“I remember one of the objects we found was a little cup used for drinking tea or coffee,” he recalls. “It was just a disc of clay which had been turned up at the edges then fired in an open bonfire, but you could see the finger marks in it. That was my first connection with someone I’d never know anything else about . . . a human being making decisions, using their expertise to make a cup. Even if we can never give people their names, we can still start to reconstruct their lives by knowing how they made things.”

All too often, our knowledge of the past is based on objects and structures — coins, ceramics, mosaics, temples — celebrating the rich and powerful. But, as Milwright reminds us, “even the great objects made for kings, sultans and emperors were dependent on the craft sector to make things.”

“Even when these people seem infinitely powerful, there are logistical concerns which come down to the aspect of crafts and resources,” he says. “It’s these things I keep coming back to, because they have an impact on meaning: if you don’t take practical concerns into consideration, you can be persuaded by the rhetoric of rulers that they have infinite power — but they really don’t.”

Making Meaning

Milwright’s four-year research focus is best explained through an excerpt from his Global Professorship proposal:

“Despite growing attention to the contexts of Islamic art, the intentions of patrons and the reception of artworks have dominated the interpretation of change from the seventh to the early twentieth centuries. This model has underestimated the role of materiality in production networks and individual products,” he writes.

Making Meaning: Craft Practices and the Process of Change in Islamic Art “acknowledges that meaning was shaped in decisive ways through the action of external political, economic and cultural challenges on groups of craftspeople, their knowledge and practices. The guiding hypothesis will be that the choices made through manufacturing processes are crucial to the generation of style (technical and visual) and meaning.”

Milwright will concentrate on the “context of making” through four thematic case studies, which will “address the diversity of media covered under the label of Islamic art and examine meaningfully the connections across craft traditions, craftspeople and materials while re-considering where the art stands between its patrons, makers and consumers.”

Milwright with some of the important Middle Eastern artifacts held in UVic’s Special Collections

Call for grad student proposals: Ocean Networks Canada Artist-in-Residence Program

2021 ONC Artist in Residence Dennis Gupa

UVic’s Faculty of Fine Arts and Ocean Networks Canada (ONC) are calling for graduate student applications for the 2023 ONC Artist-in-Residence program.

Note: the application period closes on December 17, 2022.

The Artist-in-Residence program strengthens connections between art and science that broaden and cross-fertilize perspectives and critical discourse on today’s major issues, such as environment, technology, oceans, cultural and biodiversity, and healthy communities. This program is open to all current Fine Arts graduate students who have completed most of their course requirements with practice in any visual, written, musical or performance media. Co-led and sponsored by Fine Arts and ONC, the Artist-in-Residence program receives additional financial support from UVic’s Faculty of Science and Office of Research Services.

About the residency

The Artist-in-Residence will ignite cross-disciplinary exchanges, interacting with Fine Arts faculty members and scientists & staff at ONC, as well as with other individuals using ONC’s world-leading ocean facilities. The Artist will learn from and engage with the current research, connecting it to the Artist’s own practice, and to wider societal and cultural aspects, creating work for public presentation at the end of the residency. The Artist will also be invited to contribute as a lead or co-author in scientific conference proceedings and/or journal articles.

The selected Artist will actively engage with researchers on a variety of ocean science themes that may include:

  1. Deep Sea Ecology
  2. Seabed-Ocean Exchanges
  3. Coastal Ocean Processes
  4. Marine Natural Hazards
  5. The Ocean Soundscape
  6. Arctic Ocean Observing
  7. Ocean Big Data

The ONC Artist-in-Residence program is established to:

  1. explore the potential of the arts or alternative cultural practices in the area of the visions, challenges, philosophical, aesthetic, and ethical aspects of the ocean and the impacts humans have on it;
  2. add a complementary artistic and creative perspective to ocean science, the societal ramifications of its exploitation, and its cultural aspects;
  3. create opportunities for potential new research questions, experimental approaches and knowledge synthesis resulting from interaction between the arts and science; and
  4. help envision and communicate the potential long-term impact of ocean changes on humanity.

Learn more about previous Artists in Residence

Previous ONC Artists in Residence include Colton Hash (Visual Arts, 2019), Dennis Gupa (Theatre, 2021) and Colin Malloy (School of Music, 2022). Watch for a special performance event in late January 2023, when Colin will be debuting his project created as part of the residency.

But you can get a sneak peek of Colin’s work by listening to these two compositions which he created during his time with ONC:

2022 ONC Artist-in-Residence Colin Malloy

Financial provision for the Artist

The residency period can start anytime between 1 Feb 2023 and 31 May 2023 and last for up to four months. A cost-of-living stipend of CAD$2000/month will be paid to the selected Artist, with limited additional funds to support production or materials.

At the conclusion of the residency, a public exhibit of the resulting art will be displayed or performed, and will be promoted by ONC and the Faculty of Fine Arts.

Proposal Submission

Interested applicants are to email ONC at with the subject line “Ocean Artist-in-Residence Program,” and attach:

  1. the artist’s CV
  2. a concise portfolio of previous relevant artistic work;
  3. a letter of motivation outlining the artist’s project proposal for the residency, and
  4. a 500-word project proposal with a separate project-costs budget.

The application period closes on 17 December 2022. Applications will be reviewed by representatives of Fine Arts and Ocean Networks Canada. Artists may be contacted for an interview or to supply further information before a decision is made.

Public Exhibit or Event

At the conclusion of the residency, the artist will host a public exhibit or event within a specified budget agreed to during the residency and depending on the type of project to be exhibited. Assistance for marketing and/or ticketing could be made available from other UVic departments (Visual Arts, Theatre, etc.).

About Ocean Networks Canada

Established in 2007 as a strategic initiative of the University of Victoria, ONC operates world-leading ocean observatories for the advancement of science and the benefit of Canada. The observatories collect data on physical, chemical, biological, and geological aspects of the ocean over long time periods, supporting research on complex Earth processes in ways not previously possible. The observatories provide unique scientific and technical capabilities that permit researchers to operate instruments remotely and receive data at their home laboratories anywhere on the globe, in real time. The facilities extend and complement other research platforms and programs, whether currently operating or planned for future deployment.

About the Faculty of Fine Arts

With experiential learning at its core, the Faculty of Fine Arts provides the finest training and learning environment for artists, professionals, and students. Through its departments of Art History and Visual Studies, Theatre, Visual Arts, Writing and School of Music, the Faculty of Fine Arts aspires to lead in arts-based research and creative activity and education in local, national, and global contexts by integrating and advancing creation and scholarship in the arts in a dynamic learning environment.

As British Columbia’s only Faculty exclusively dedicated to the arts, UVic’s Faculty of Fine Arts is an extraordinary platform that supports new discoveries, interdisciplinary and diverse contributions to creativity, and the cultural experiences of the students and communities UVic serves. With thanks also to the Vice President Research & Innovation and Faculty of Science for their support.

Explore UVic on Nov 26

Considering a future as a student in the Faculty of Fine Arts? Join us on Saturday, Nov 26, as we open our doors as part of Explore UVic—UVic’s free, all-day open house. We’ve created a fun-filled day of student panels, sample lectures, presentations, tours and more. Check out the schedule of events, plan ahead and make the most of your visit!

This is your chance to discover what it’s like to be part of BC’s only stand-alone fine arts faculty, which means you’ll be learning as part of a dedicated arts-specific community. On Saturday, we’ll be hosting an open house (12-2pm in the lobby of the Fine Arts building) with representatives from our departments of Art History & Visual Studies, Theatre, Visual Arts, Writing and the School of Music who can answer your program questions. We’ll also have a general representative on hand to answer your questions from 11-12 and 2-3pm if you can’t make the open house.

Explore where you’ll be learning

We’ll also be offering behind-the-scenes tours of our facilities at these times and locations:

  • Art History & Visual Studies: 11:00, 12:00, 1:00, 2:00, 3:00 (meet in the Fine Arts building lobby)
  • Fine Arts/Writing: 11am-3pm (meet in the Fine Arts building lobby)
  • School of Music: 11:00, 12:30, 2:00, 3:30 (meet in Music’s upstairs lobby, MacLaurin B-Wing)
  • Theatre: 11:00, 11:45, 12:30 (meet in the Phoenix Building lobby)
  • Visual Arts: 11:00, 12:00, 1:00, 2:00 (meet in the Visual Arts building lobby)

Enjoy a sample lecture

You can also catch a sample lecture on “Activating Performance” with Theatre professor Sasha Kovacs from 2:15-3pm in room 167 of the Elliott Building.

The word “performative” is everywhere across social media. People add “performative” in hashtags to denounce those who don’t, as Hamlet advised his players, “suit the action to the word, the word to the action.”

Performance has always gotten a bad rap. People criticize performance as hollow, ineffective, lazy and false. But does this account for performance’s power to activate and incite real-world change? Through historic and contemporary examples, we’ll reconsider the power of performance as an agent of positive change.

Sasha Kovacs

Take in a show

If you’re specifically interested in Theatre, take the opportunity to see first-hand what our students can do by catching a matinee of our mainstage show Spring Awakening, running 2-4pm Saturday. This powerful rock musical transformed Broadway in 2006 and went on to win eight Tony Awards including Best Musical, Best Book of a Musical and Best Original Score — now, our Phoenix students are bringing this electrifying fusion of morality, sexuality and rock ‘n’ roll to life on stage. (Note: this is a separate ticketed event that must be booked separately from Explore UVic.)

Spring Awakening (photo: Dean Kalyan)

And if you’re interested in Music, you can hear what our students are creating at two separate concerts on Saturday: a Piano Studio Recital (2-4pm, featuring students from the studio of May Ling Kwok) and a Student Composers’ Concert (8-10pm, featuring new and daring works by composition students), both in the School of Music’s Phillip T Young Recital Hall in the MacLaurin B-Wing. 

Register now for Explore UVic

Register in advance now for this free day of exploration and activities . . . or just drop by on Saturday. We’d love to meet you!

Orange Shirt Day 2022

Artist Carey Newman Hayalthkin’geme (Kwakwaka’wakw/Coast Salish) on “Hearts and Hands”
UVic is committed to reconciliation. We’re working to foster truth, 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.

The theme of this year’s Orange Shirt Day event is resurgence. Resurgence means to reclaim, regenerate and reconnect one’s relationship with Indigenous homelands, culture and community.

Faculty, staff, students, alumni and community members are invited to attend campus Orange Shirt Day events on Thursday, September 29 in the quad. You are welcome to drop in and stay for as long as you are able.

The university will be closed and the university flags lowered on September 30 to mark the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, a federal statutory holiday to honour the lost children and survivors of residential schools, their families and communities.

Schedule of events

Emcees: Dr. Jacquie Green, executive director, Office of Indigenous Academic and Community Engagement, and Mercedes Neasloss

9 a.m. Lighting of the Sacred Fire

9:30 a.m. Opening remarks
With Eugene Sam and Christine Sam, Songhees Nation

  • opening blessing
  • welcome to the Territory
  • singing and drumming
  • calling of the Witnesses

9:50 a.m. Significance of the Sacred Fire with Ry Moran, associate university librarian, Reconciliation and co-chair, Orange Shirt Day committee

10:05 a.m. Survivors share their reflections
Speakers: Eddie Charlie, Karla Point, Mark Atleo and Laura Manson

11:45 – 12 p.m. Witness reflections

1 – 2 p.m. Open dialogue on resurgence

  • moderator: Dr. Heidi Stark, associate professor, Indigenous Governance and director, Centre for Indigenous Research and Community-Led Engagement at UVic
  • panelists: Dr. Sarah Hunt, assistant professor in Environmental Studies & Canada Research Chair; Dr. Sarah Morales, associate professor, Faculty of Law; Dr. Gina Starblanket, associate professor in School of Indigenous Governance; and Andrew Ambers, 4th year Political Science and Indigenous Studies student

2 – 2:30 p.m. Closing remarks and closing prayer

About the design

The design for the t-shirt was created by Fine Arts Impact Chair in Indigenous Art Practices Carey Newman Hayalthkin’geme (Kwakwaka’wakw/Coast Salish).

“This design was made to honour the children who died in residential school. The hearts express love for all those in unmarked graves and compassion for the families and communities who waited for them to be found. The small and colourful hands remind us of the uniqueness and beauty of every child. Taken together, they represent our commitment to listen to our hearts and use our hands, to do the work that needs to be done,” says Newman.

“The visceral confirmation of Survivor accounts that has come from locating these graves has affected many of us on an emotional level. It has changed the way that many people think and feel about our histories and current realities in Canada.”

If you would like to support Orange Shirt Day initiatives, please consider making a $25 donation directly to the Elders Engagement Fund, Witness Blanket Project or Orange Shirt Society.


Fine Arts Welcome (Back) Party

If you’re a Fine Arts student in Art History & Visual Studies, School of Music, Theatre, Visual Arts or Writing, then you’re invited to our annual Welcome (Back) Pizza Party. The Fine Arts teaching faculty & staff will be serving, so swing by and say hi!

Join us from 4-6pm Thursday, Sept 15, in the Fine Arts courtyard for pizza, cake, drinks & a prize draw for 5 Fine Arts hoodies (1 per dept)—and it’s all free!