UVic hosts 2018 Building Reconciliation Forum

UVic is this year’s host for the fourth annual Building Reconciliation Forum, in partnership with Universities Canada, the national organization for Canadian universities. The forum (Nov. 15–16) brings together close to 250 thought leaders from universities, Indigenous governing bodies and communities, and federal and regional government officials to consider how universities are answering the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action.

This year’s theme is Ts’its’u’ watul tseep, meaning to help one another. The teachings of Coast Salish First Nations guide us to “work together in a good way” and “to be prepared for all work to come” so that universities across Canada make a difference in the lives of Indigenous students and their communities.

Panels over two days are addressing TRC topics such as child welfare, language and culture, education, health and justice. Participants will be discussing how universities and their partner institutions can work with Indigenous communities to answer the Calls to Action, obstacles to answering these Calls, and how universities can make a positive difference for Indigenous students and communities. Forum discussions will be compiled into an open-access report. See the schedule of events.

Dean Susan Lewis

As part of the Forum, Fine Arts Dean Dr. Susan Lewis will be hosting a panel discussion on First Nations Art Practice & Reconciliation. Local artists, administrators and activists will discuss how Victoria’s arts community can advance decolonization and reconciliation. The moderator for the panel is local Cree/Metis TV producer and writer Barbara Hager, and panelists include:

  • The Belfry Theatre’s Indigenous cultural advisor Kristy Charlie, from W̱SÁNEĆ territory on the Saanich Peninsula
  • Pacific Opera’s director of community engagement, Metis singer Rebecca Hass
  • Visual Arts MFA alumna and Iroquois Mohawk artist Lindsay Delaronde is, who was recently Open Space’s Acting Aboriginal Curator and the City of Victoria’s inaugural Indigenous Artist in Residence. Delaronde has also shown work at UVic’s Legacy Gallery, the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, and was artist-in-residence with the Royal BC Museum
  • Belfry Theatre executive director Ivan Habel
  • Open Space board member and Visual Arts sessional instructor Charles Campbell
  • Legacy Gallery director Mary Jo Hughes
  • Art Gallery of Greater Victoria curator of engagement Nicole Stanbridge.

Susan Algukark

The panel runs from 6:30–9:30pm Thursday, Nov 15 at Pacific Opera Victoria’s Baumann Centre, 925 Balmoral Road. Note: while this event is free, it is technically already sold out. Some seats may be available at the door.

Also during the Building Reconciliation Forum, Fine Arts will be hosting noted Inuk singer-songwriter and Order of Canada recipient Susan Aglukark as she presents Nomad, a musical and visual journey through Inuit history, shedding light on some of the psychological and cultural impacts of the rapid change in Canada’s North. Seating will be extremely limited for this event running from noon-1:30pm on Wednesday, Nov 14, in the Chief Dan George Theatre in the Phoenix Theatre building.

We acknowledge with respect the Lkwungen-speaking peoples on whose traditional territory the University of Victoria stands, and the Songhees, Esquimalt and WSÁNEĆ peoples whose historical relationships with the land continue to this day.

New artist residency strengthens connections between art & science

Victoria-based artist Colton Hash is the inaugural recipient of an Artist-in-Residence program announced today by the Faculty of Fine Arts and Ocean Networks Canada (ONC), a UVic initiative. The new ONC residency will strengthen connections between art and science, and broaden perspectives on major issues ranging from technology and the environment to biodiversity and healthy communities.

Colton Hash with his full-size sculpture of an adolescent female orca (photo: Ashton Sciacallo)

A recent graduate of UVic’s combined undergraduate program in Visual Arts and computer science, Hash was selected for the residency from a field of nearly 70 local, national and international applicants. He will hold the position from November 2018 to March 2019 and, following his residency, will provide a public exhibition of the resulting body of work.

“I see this as a great opportunity to collaborate with ocean scientists and experiment with digital media to communicate some of the dynamic processes that play a critical role in coastal waters,” says Hash.

“Whether it’s how a kelp forest responds to climate change or how the thawing of frozen methane affects sediment stability of submarine slopes, I hope I can use interactive art to inspire viewers to care more about what is happening beneath the ocean’s surface.”

Hash has built his artistic practice on the integration of environmental knowledge through visual art and computer programming in order to communicate concepts related to ecosystems and climate change. A short film of his interactive sculptural installation, “Resonant Disintegration” (with projected visualizations of climate data and underwater recordings of shipping traffic), won the two top awards at the Research Reels contest during UVic’s Ideafest in 2018, and was recently remounted at Victoria’s Flux Media Gallery in October during the Antimatter Media + Art Festival. His work was also featured in UVic’s KnowlEDGE news feature in March 2018.

Colton Hash with his “Resonant Disintegration” sculpture

“The ecological challenges we face are complex and hard to be understood through science alone,” he adds. “People are being flooded with scientific data and intellectual analysis of what is wrong with the world, without having time to process what it means to them on deeper, more personal levels. Art can create spaces for people to reflect emotionally, spiritually and intuitively on our relationships with nature.”

While in the position, Hash will interact with UVic fine arts faculty members and ONC scientists, as well as other individuals using ONC’s world-leading ocean facilities. He intends to develop an interactive digital media installation that allows the public to explore and emotionally connect with ocean systems.

“Ocean Networks Canada is looking forward to collaborating with Colton,” says ONC chief scientist Dr. Kim Juniper. “We’re excited to see what his use of ocean data will produce to convey marine conservation and global change in his art.”

Wind & song highlighted in Faculty Chamber Music Series

Welcome the fall breezes with this special Faculty Chamber Music concert on Saturday, October 13. Wind and Song will highlight the School of Music’s brass, woodwind and voice faculty, along with some special guests, with a bold and surprising lineup of pieces.

From duos to large chamber works, the diverse and entertaining program features Fisher Tull’s Concerto da Camera for alto saxophone and brass quintet, Sonatine en trio by Florent Schmitt, James Barnes’ Divertissement, Op. 50 for brass quintet, and Partita in G by Don Sweete. Tenor Benjamin Butterfield will also sing a few favourites from the songbook of contemporary American composer Randy Newman, including “Marie” and “Lonely At The Top.”

The impressive line-up of performers also includes faculty members Merrie Klazek (trumpet), Scott MacInnes (trombone), Paul Beauchesne (tuba), Suzanne Snizek (flute), Shawn Earle (clarinet), Wendell Clanton (saxophone), Alex Olson (bass), and Arthur Rowe (piano), plus guests including current Masters candidate Marianne Ing (trumpet), alumnus Kelby MacNayr (percussion), and guests Yoomi Kim (piano). Allison Zaichkowski (horn) and Simon MacDonald (violin).

You can learn more about the music on the program in a special pre-concert talk at 7pm.

Wind and Song starts at 8pm Saturday, October 13, in the Phillip T. Young Recital Hall (UVic’s MacLaurin Building B-wing). Tickets range from $10-$25.

Alumni show spotlights the ups & downs of new motherhood

From Jedi knights and gold-rush explorers to doomed puppets and romantic clowns, over the past 15 years Phoenix Theatre’s annual Spotlight on Alumni has presented a range of shows as diverse and accomplished as the graduates themselves. But this month, Phoenix is entering a world as strange and terrifying as any yet imagined: motherhood.

Just ask Department of Theatre alumna Nicolle Nattrass, whose solo show, Mamahood: Bursting Into Light, courageously chronicles the journey of becoming a mother at age 40 . . . complete with a rock ‘n roll soundtrack.

“I don’t like to be bound by restrictions like ‘comedy’ or ‘drama’,” Nattrass explains. “I really believe life is full of both, so I’ve always written to connect with the audience, using comedy to talk about more serious things.”

This is the first time Mamahoodrunning October 9 to 20 at the Phoenix — will be fully mounted in Victoria, following a staged reading in 2014. “I’m so glad I get to come back to my alma mater to perform this,” says Nattrass, who graduated in 1991. “UVic has been a big part of my journey as an artist and I’m constantly collaborating with other Phoenix alum, including this show’s director, TJ Dawe.”

Life into art

With nine plays and a busy life as an actress, director, dramaturge, certified addiction counselor and parent, Nattrass is a great example of how Fine Arts alumni can transform life experiences into art. Indeed, with Mamahood, she’s using her own story to reach out to other moms (and dads and grandparents) and deconstruct some prevailing motherhood myths.

“Parenting is really an individual experience: the only one who can define how you’re going to be as a mother is you,” she says. “We’re told it should look like a Pamper’s commercial — all the right outfits, everything is good — but that excludes a lot of moms. It’s okay to not have an ideal experience every day of the week . . . or at all. Whether you’re a co-parent, step-parent or foster parent, it’s all about accepting your own story.”

Nicolle Nattrass

Like so many alumni, Nattrass birthed Mamahood through her fusion of teaching and creative practice. “I was asked to teach a course on ‘Mama Memoirs’ at Camosun College and I realized I hadn’t written down my own story yet,” she says. “There’s this romantic idea that we only write at perfect times — four hours with a latte at your favourite coffee shop — but the reality of motherhood is getting up at 4:30 in the morning when you’re exhausted from breast feeding and trying to get inspired.”

The realities of the birth experience

Nattrass also doesn’t hesitate to talk about postpartum realities in her play, which sets it apart from straight-up comedies like the Mom’s The Word series. “The postpartum experience can be anything from anxiety, fear and sleep deprivation to issues surrounding the pregnancy or birth itself.”

With that in mind, she makes a point of connecting with local birth educators and support networks wherever Mamahood tours — in Victoria, she’s working with Mothering Touch Centre — and builds that into the theatrical experience. “I always do a talkback session at the end of each show, so people can not only ask me questions but also connect with resources in their community.”

Not just for moms

Not that Mamahood is only for mothers. “The biggest surprise to me are the men’s reactions,” says Nattrass of her audiences that frequently include partners, grandparents, teenagers, doctors, midwives, nurses, doulas and dudelas. “The director isn’t a dad, and a lot of men who come to the show aren’t dads, but they’ve all been so supportive.” Nor is the play only for laughs. “I’ve had people come out who are dealing with issues other than parenting — like anxiety and depression — and they can really relate to the show, because it’s funny but it’s also talking about serious issues.”

The public is also invited to a free preshow lecture with UVic English professor Sheila Rabillard on “Motherhood Out Loud”, discussing the changing face of motherhood in theatre (7pm Friday, October 12).

Ultimately, Mamahood is a comedic story about her own journey . . . so far. “The core message is that motherhood is a rock ‘n roll ride,” she laughs. “My son is nine now and the ride is definitely not over! My whole journey really has been about bursting into light.”

Mamahood: Bursting into Light runs October 10 – 20, 2018 at UVic’s Phoenix Theatre. Tickets are $16 – $26 at 250-721-8000 or phoenixtheatres.ca. Note: there is also an October 9 preview, offering $8 tickets only after 5pm on the day-of the show.

Dept of Writing busy at Victoria Festival of Authors

Looking to familiarize yourself with the fantastic range of talent associated with the Department of Writing? Don’t miss the third annual Victoria Festival of Authors, where the literary talents of Writing faculty and alumni will be showcased alongside top local and visiting authors.

Running Sept 25 to Oct 1 at a variety of downtown locations, the VFA features the talents of Writing professors Bill Gaston and Lee Henderson, as well as current instructors Marita Daschel and Annabel Howard, plus celebrated alumni authors Esi Edugyan, Eden Robinson, Yasuko Thanh, Carla Funk, Garth Martens and Erin Fisher. Better still, VFA co-artistic director Vanessa Herman is an alumnus herself. Explore the entire author lineup here.

Featuring a range of local and national authors, the VFA offers seven days of readings, events, workshops, master classes and discussion panels all aimed at connecting book-makers and book lovers. They embrace poets, fiction and creative nonfiction writers, as well as other storytellers who come from a spectrum of communities and are at all levels of their writing careers.

It all kicks off on Sept 25 with a celebration of the shortlisted authors for the 2018 City of Victoria Butler Book Prize. Among this year’s nominees are professor Bill Gaston (A Mariner’s Guide to Self-Sabotage), professor emerita Lorna Crozier (What the Soul Doesn’t Want), recently retired veteran instructor Patrick Friesen (Songen), and Dr. Maria Tippet (Sculpture in Canada: A History), a longtime friend and supporter of UVic’s Faculty of Fine Arts. (Winner announced Oct 17.)

La Palabra En El Tiempo

Here are the events we’re involved in at a glance, but be sure to check the VFA schedule for full event info and ticket prices:

• La Palabra en el Tiempo | The Word-in-Time: Poetry and Flamenco – described as “a 75-minute depth-charge of frenzied dance & guitar, troubled song & English-language poetry” by Governor General’s Literary Award nominee & MFA alumnus Garth Martens, alongside guitarist Gareth Owen & flamenco dancer Veronica Maguire (Sept 26)

• Noon-Hour Author’s Farea casual conversation with writers Bill Gaston, Erin Fisher & Jan Zwicky (Sept 27)

• The Literary Twist – a tasty combination of music, literature, cocktails & art emceed, by alumna Yasuko Thanh & featuring Eamon McGrath, Vivek Shraya & Tom Wilson (Sept 27)

From top left: Howard, Gaston, Funk, Robinson, Fisher, Henderson, Dachsel, Thanh, Edugyan

• Pure Poetry current Writing instructor Marita Dachsel moderates a discussion with poets David James Brock, Laisha Rosneau & Katherena Vermette, as hosted by Victoria Poet Laureate Yvonne Blomer (Sept 28)

• We Are the Weirdos, Mister – discover writers who remix & defy genres when professor Lee Henderson hosts this panel featuring Dina Del Bucchia, David James Brock & Daniel Zomparelli (Sept 29)

• Who Was the Real Lolita? – MFA alumna & instructor Annabel Howard explores the real-life origins of Nabokov’s famous novel with The Real Lolita author & “literary detective” Sarah Weinman (Sept 29)

• Poetry is All Around Us – alumna Carla Funk moderates what promises to be a fascinating discussion with poets Jonina Kirton, Dan MacIsaac, Laisha Rosnau & Katherena Vermette (Sept 29)

• Dream | Love | Leap | Transcend –  Double Man Booker Prize & Giller Prize nominated alumna author Esi Edugyan joins international authors Sheena Kamal, Darrel J. McLeod, Sarah Selecky & Sarah Weinman at this panel discussion (Sept 29)

 • This Life, Here explore the human desire to belong with this panel featuring alumni Erin Fisher & Esi Edugyan plus Sheena Kamal & Sarah Selecky, hosted by bestselling local author & national literary critic Robert Wiersema (Sept 30)

The Trickster in Literaturecelebrated alumna author Eden Robinson wraps the whole festival up with this final “In Conversation” event with Daniel Heath Justice (Oct 1).

Tickets are available online for all events, and students can receive a 20% discount by using the promo code Student2018 when booking. While some events are free, most range from $15 to $25, with the day-long workshops being more.

Visual Arts students & alumni colouring the city

The creative practice of Department of Visual Arts students and alumni are in the spotlight in a series of street-level artistic initiatives around Victoria right now — a number of which are sponsored by the City of Victoria itself. Hop on your bike or plan a walking tour to catch some of this inspiringly creative work in action.

Integrate Arts Festival

Looking to expand your local artistic boundaries? Don’t miss the 12th annual Integrate Arts Festival, running August 24-26 at various venues around the city—all for free! Visit their site to download the venue map, and be sure to check out the timed events happening over the weekend.

Last year, the Integrate Arts Festival (formerly known as “Off the Grid Arts Festival”) saw over 2,000 people attend art spaces across the city. This year it kicks off with and Opening Reception on Aug 24, where you can catch the first glimpse of the work by their featured artists. Download the Integrate Arts Festival map, which will guide you to a variety of exhibitions and events at 24 different participating galleries, publicly accessible studios, and various sites throughout the city. You can also access the map using the Integrate brochure (found at participating locations), and participants are encouraged to walk or bike to each site.

As always, plenty of Fine Arts students and alumni are involved in the fest, including the likes of Visual Arts students Christian McGinty, Lana Nyuli, Shae Anthony and Mona Hedayati; alumni Taryn Walker, Sadie Nielson, Evan Locke, Eriq Wong and the folks at Theatre SKAM; plus instructor Peter Sandmark at the FLUX media gallery.

Also involved behind the scenes on Integrate’s board to make this all happen are a mix of Visual Arts and Art History & Visual Studies alumni Brin O’Hare, Stephanie Eisenbraun, Libby Oliver, Selina Pieczonka, Olivia Prior, Regan Shrumm, Anna Shkuratoff, and current student Amy Smith. And UVic’s own Legacy Gallery is once again a venue for this event.

See Integrate’s Facebook page for current information.

Concrete Canvas

One of the participating events this weekend is the City of Victoria’s Concrete Canvas project, which features 16 local, national and international artists painting the same number of murals on the walls of 13 sites around Victoria’s Rock Bay neighbourhood—including Visual Arts MFA grad Kerri Flannigan. Watch as a neighbourhood is transformed into an outdoor gallery for street art and creative expression; work will be continuing through August 27.

Concrete Canvas provides a platform for Victoria’s vibrant art scene to contribute to the city’s cultural legacy for years to come. The City of Victoria is collaborating with community members to build social capital, develop a sense of community pride of space, represent diversity, and empower people to make change in their city—and putting their money where their vision is: each participating artist will be paid a fee ranging from $1,250 to $4,000, with an overall budget of $150,000, funded by the City’s Public Art Reserve Fund.

Don’t miss the Concrete Canvas launch party, running 2-11:30pm Saturday, August 25. Hosted by the Victoria Beer Week Society, the free event will include a mural workshop, live music curated by Holy Smokes Music, a food and beverage area for all ages, and walking tours of completed and in-progress murals (3-6pm), an artist panel talk (5pm), and a six different bands (from 6pm), all happening in the Hoyne and Driftwood Breweries parking lot, 450 Hillside Avenue.

“The Commons” by Libby Oliver

Commute

And while you’re traveling around the city, keep your eyes open for the Commute: Bus Shelter Art Exhibition, which features work by five different emerging artists — including Visual Arts alumni Libby Oliver and Kerri Flannigan. Oliver’s work “The Commons” can be seen at Yates & Ormond streets, while Flannigan’s “Feeling Measurements – Fathom 09 (Megan)” is on Yates between Camosun & Fernwood Road.

Commercial Alley

Watch for more work by Visual Arts students and alumni coming up in future rounds of the Commute project, including current student Austin Willis—who was recently selected as the sixth artist to install work in the city’s Commercial Alley Art Gallery, found in the alley between the 500-block of Yates and Bastion Square. His four-panel pieces use bright colours, bold lines, and shapes to create fun, yet intense energy, and will be on display for a year.

As an emerging artist I have a great interest in public art and creating work that beautifies spaces,” says Willis. Stay tuned for details about an artist’s talk, coming up in September.