When the call went out in search of a new professor for the University of Victoria’s Department of Visual Arts, applications came in from across the country — yet the latest person to join the celebrated teaching faculty is an alumni artist who ultimately came from our own backyard. Starting July 1, 2018, the Victoria-based Rick Leong will become UVic’s new assistant professor in painting and drawing.
“It feels like an incredible privilege to come back to a place where I learned so much as a student, to be able to contribute to the education and formation of the next generation of artists in this community,” says Leong. “While I grew up in many different places, I never really felt attached to any one place until I found Victoria.”
A painter who uses the language of landscape to explore experiences of space and place, Leong’s practice is drawn from observation and influenced by historical Chinese art forms.
“I believe in fostering innovation through interdisciplinary experimentation, and that painting and drawing can form a powerful foundation from which to explore ideas and methods,” he says. “I’m passionate about painting, but I’m also always looking for ways that painting can inform explorations in other media.”
After receiving his BFA from UVic’s Visual Arts department in 2003, Leong earned his MFA from Concordia University in 2007 — after which his thesis work was acquired by the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. A finalist in the Royal Bank of Canada’s Painting Competition (2008), he has also had notable solo exhibitions at the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, Montreal’s McClure Gallery and the Anna Leonowens Gallery in Halifax, as well as participating in many group exhibitions at various Canadian and international spaces.
Being based in Victoria hasn’t slowed Leong’s career at all, with work held in the permanent collections of the Canadian Art Foundation, Canada Council Art Bank, Foreign Affairs Visual Art Collection, the Collection de Prêt d’oeuvres d’art, Musée National des beaux-arts du Québec and the AGGV, among others.
“The island is definitely the place I call home, and it is in large part because of the people and relationships that I have made here,” he says. “Home is where your community is.”
Leong’s “Hidden Hunger” (2016)
Leong joins the current full-time Visual Arts teaching faculty alongside Cedric Bomford, Megan Dickie, Daniel Laskarin, Kelly Richardson, Jennifer Stillwell, Robert Youds and Paul Walde,
“Known for his immersive layered paintings, Rick Leong is an artist of national repute and his work represents a unique voice in Canadian painting,” says Visual Arts chair Paul Walde. “He joins a department with a rich history in painting, boasting distinguished alumni and faculty in this area of research, and we have no doubt that he will enhance this reputation both here in Canada and abroad.”
Leong is looking forward to having “a positive impact” on Visual Arts students.
“It is incredibly rewarding to think that what we do as teachers creates a stronger community of creatives through individual development as well as fostering community relationships,” he says. “I will strive to enrich students’ education experience, encourage diverse perspectives and voices, and contribute to the Visual Arts Department’s goals of excellence and innovation.”
Leong’s latest solo exhibition will open at Montreal’s noted avant-garde gallery, Parisian Laundry, on May 31, 2018.
Currently marking its 50th anniversary, UVic’s Department of Visual Arts has produced such acclaimed contemporary artists as Governor General’s Visual Arts Award winner Kim Adams, Sobey Prize winner Christian Giroux, Aimia/AGO Photography Prize winner Erin Shirreff, sculptor Jessica Stockholder, photographer Althea Thauberger and 2017 BMO 1st Art! Invitational national prize winner Xiao Xue.
The Faculty of Fine Arts and Ocean Networks Canada at the University of Victoria in British Columbia, are sponsoring an Artist in Residence program. The concept strengthens connections between Art and Science to broaden and cross-fertilize perspectives and critical discourse on today’s major issues such as the environment, technology, oceans, cultural and biodiversity and healthy communities. This program is open to local, national and international applicants.
The Artist in Residence will interact with Fine Arts faculty members and scientists at Ocean Networks Canada as well as with other individuals using the world-leading ocean facilities to ignite cross-disciplinary exchanges. Open to artists working in any visual, written, musical or performance discipline, this residency is suitable for an early- or mid-career artist.
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 a body of work to be presented at the end of the residency. The selected Artist will actively engage with researchers on a variety of ocean science themes, that may include:
The ONC Artist in Residence program is established to:
- explore arts or alternative cultural practices’ potential in the area of the visions, challenges, philosophical, aesthetic, and ethical aspects of the ocean and the impacts humans have on it;
- add a complementary artistic and creative perspective to ocean science, the societal ramifications of its exploitation, and its cultural aspects; and
- help envision the potential long-term impact of ocean changes on humanity.
The residency period can start any time between May and December 2018 and last for up to eight months. A cost-of-living stipend of up to CAD $2000/month will be paid to the selected Artist. Following the residency, a public exhibit of the resulting art will be displayed, performed and promoted by ONC and the Faculty of Fine Arts.
Please note: the application period closes on 27 April 2018.
If interested, please send your application to email@example.com at Ocean Networks Canada with the subject line “Artist in Residence Ocean Program.” The application should include your CV, a concise portfolio of previous relevant artistic work, and a letter of motivation outlining your project proposal for the residency. Applications will be reviewed by representatives of Fine Arts and Ocean Networks Canada, and artists may be contacted for an interview or to supply further information.
About Ocean Networks Canada: Established in 2007 as a major initiative of the University of Victoria, Ocean Networks Canada 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. These 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, Fine Arts provides the finest training and learning environment for artists, professionals, and students. Through our departments of Art History and Visual Studies, Theatre, Visual Arts, Writing and School of Music, we aspire to lead in arts-based research and creative activity and education in local, national, and global contexts. We integrate and advance creation and scholarship in the arts in a dynamic learning environment. As British Columbia’s only Faculty exclusively dedicated to the arts, Fine Arts is an extraordinary setting that supports new discoveries, interdisciplinary and diverse contributions to creativity, and the cultural experiences of the students and communities we serve.
From the frozen lands of the High Arctic to the scorching streets of Liberia, filmmaker Judith Pyke has never shied away from diverse and challenging locations. Currently the 2018 Southam Lecturer in Journalism and Nonfiction for UVic’s Writing department, the award-winning documentarian will be sharing her insights and experiences at the annual free Southam public lecture. “Discovering Documentary: A Filmmaker’s Journey Through the Foundational Aspects of Documentary-Making” begins at 7pm Thursday, April 5, in room A240 of UVic’s Human & Social Development Building.
Judith Pyke will offer behind-the-scenes insight into her documentaries, like “Cracking Cancer”
“Filmmaking is my passion so I am always excited about it,” Pyke told the Oak Bay News in this April 2 article. “I’m always challenging myself to tell the best story possible.”
As a writer, director, executive producer and showrunner, Pyke has traveled the world to interview people ranging from top scientists and international figures to village locals and renowned artists like Lou Reed, Philip Glass and Stephen King. “Documentaries are a great way to engage with the world and tell stories,” she says. “The public has really fallen in love with the form.”
Listen to a live interview with Judith Pyke on CBC Radio’s On The Island at 7:20am on Thursday, April 5.
Her talk will focus on her two most recent films: Inseparable and Cracking Cancer. Inseparable focuses on a set of conjoined 10-year-old twin girls in Vernon, BC; made for CBC Docs through her own company, Curious Features, Inseparable recently won a Remi Award at the 51st Annual Worldfest-Houston International Film Festival, and has also been nominated for a Golden Sheaf Award in the “Documentary History and Biography” category at the Yorkton Film Festival. Pyke’s 2017 documentary Cracking Cancer, which she wrote and directed for Dreamfilm Productions, was recently nominated for best direction at the Canadian Screen Awards.
But as the Vancouver-based writer-director will share in “Discovering Documentary: A Filmmaker’s Journey Through the Foundational Aspects of Documentary-Making,” her interest in the form goes back to her own days as a UVic undergrad taking writing classes in the early ’90s.
“As soon as I started at UVic, I knew I wanted to be a documentary filmmaker, but there were no filmmaking courses then,” she says. “But even though I’m a visual storyteller, I’m in love with the written word—I’m a writer and a director, which use different parts of your storytelling brain.”
As the Southam Lecturer, Pyke’s class of 50 students have been learning from her 20 years of filmmaking experience, but her April 5 public talk will offer a rare behind-the-scenes glimpse into her award-winning creative process. “I loved going to UVic, so it is really great to be back as an instructor,” Pyke told the Oak Bay News. “I’m basically teaching the course that I really wanted to take when I was there.”
As the 11th person to hold this prestigious journalist-in-residence program, Pyke is currently teaching a course on documentary film and television for UVic’s Writing department. She joins a list of fellow Southam Lecturers that includes broadcaster Jo-Ann Roberts, late Indigenous author Richard Wagamese, immersive journalist Terry Glavin, and many others.
The Southam Lecturer in Journalism and Nonfiction was established in 2006 and is made possible by a significant gift from one of the country’s leading publishing families.
“Discovering Documentary: A Filmmaker’s Journey Through the Foundational Aspects of Documentary-Making” begins at 7pm Thursday, April 5, in room A240 of UVic’s Human & Social Development Building.
It’s doubly fitting that the upcoming concert by UVic’s Wind Symphony is titled “Finale” — not only is it the final Wind Symphony concert of the 2017/18 season, but it will also mark the final bow for beloved conductor and highly respected music educator Dr. Gerald King.
Dr Gerald King
For the past 29 years, King has been the primary conductor of UVic’s highly praised Wind Symphony, but the maestro will put down his baton after the March 23 concert as he prepares to retire from UVic’s School of Music in June. And, fittingly enough, the program for this special concert includes pieces significant to both the Wind Symphony and to King himself.
“These are works which I consider to be cornerstone pieces,” he says. “They are not necessarily all incredibly profound, but they have contributed to the growth of the Wind Symphony and have very personal meaning for me.” This includes Fantasia on Klezmer Themes by Russian-Canadian composer Airat Ichmouratov, which he recalls “the audience went wild for when we performed it in 2013.”
Clarinetist Patricia Kostek — who retired from the School of Music at the end of 2017 after 28 illustrious years at UVic — will return for this encore performance. As colleagues, the two have collaborated extensively (clarinet is also King’s instrument), so it was fitting to bring the piece back to the stage in March with Kostek.
Other works on the program include Jack Stamp’s Gavorkna Fanfare — a nonsense title that King conducted in his very first concert with the Wind Symphony — as well as Lux Aurumque by Eric Whitacre, LOL by Robert Buckley, A Movement for Rosa by Mark Camphouse and others.
An enviable legacy
The UVic Wind Symphony is recognized as one of the premiere performing wind ensembles in the Pacific Northwest and among the finest university wind ensembles in Canada — and much of that credit goes to King’s expertise, commitment to the students, and his sometimes “tough-love” approach to teaching — as evidenced by the praises to Dr. King coming in on social media once word of his retirement got out.
Leading the Wind Symphony
“His seriousness encouraged us to put in maximum effort,” recalls Shannon McCready (BMus ’02). “He had very high expectations, which let us know that he believed in us, sometimes more than we believed in ourselves,” agrees Cooper Reed (BMus ’17), who feels especially grateful for all of his words of encouragement and support. “I have had so many wonderful performance opportunities since graduation because he gave me the confidence and tools I needed to be a successful musician.”
See below for even more reaction to Dr. King’s retirement.
But King’s work with the Wind Symphony is but one of the many legacies he will leave behind. He started his teaching career at UVic 30 years ago in the Faculty of Education, and his appointment as conductor of the Wind Symphony in 1989 was the first of many stepping stones in his vision to see Music Education formally housed within the School of Music; this became a reality in 2014 following King’s two terms as Director of the School of Music.
As Fine Arts Dean Susan Lewis notes, King leaves behind an enviable legacy. “Dr. King’s service to the School, the province and Canada more broadly is significant — over the past 25 years he has worked with over 10,000 ensembles and soloists representing more than 500,000 musicians,” she says. “His vision and leadership of the music education program has led to UVic alumni directing music programs in the K-12 sector across the province; his mentorship of new and continuing faculty and students, his leadership of Music Education, and his expertise as a band conductor are most appreciated and will be missed. As Dean, former Director of the School of Music and a colleague, I’d like to express my warm congratulations to Dr. Gerald King as he retires after 29 brilliant years in the School of Music.”
Indeed, UVic’s Music Education program is nationally recognized and many of the province’s elementary and secondary school music educators were once students of his. “I owe Dr. King so much for helping shape me into the music educator I am today,” says Cameron Kenis (BMus ’15), band and musical theatre teacher at Abbotsford Traditional Secondary School. “He has influenced my teaching is so many ways and I thank him for it.”
During his eight years as Director of the School of Music, King was also instrumental in UVic’s 2008 designation as Canada’s First and only All-Steinway School (a title which still stands today), leading the campaign to equip all Music classrooms, practice studios and concert halls with over 60 Steinway pianos. Given that Steinway pianos are known for their outstanding acoustical and performance properties, the opportunity to play on the best pianos in the world puts UVic students at a tremendous advantage.
New scholarship looks to the future
One final nod to the future is the establishment of the Dr. Gerald King Legacy Scholarship in Music Education. This new student award will see one or more scholarships awarded to academically outstanding undergraduate students in the Bachelor of Music (Music Education) program. Selection of the recipients will be made by the Senate Committee on Awards upon the recommendation of the School of Music. Please join us in contributing to this outstanding scholarship worthy of Dr. King’s years of service to the students and the university community. Donation cards will also be distributed at the March 23 concert.
King describes his upcoming retirement as bittersweet. “I love the students and faculty that I’ve worked with over the years, but the new horizons are also very exciting,” he says. (Already on his calendar are numerous engagements for guest conducting, adjudicating, keynote speaking and working with graduate students at other institutions.) “The biggest change will just be my office,” he says with a chuckle.
Don’t miss maestro King’s Finale concert with the UVic Wind Symphony on March 23 in the University Centre Farquhar Auditorium — sure to be a memorable evening!
—by Kristy Farkas, with files from John Threlfall
School of Music alumni offer some thoughts on the legacy of Dr. Gerald King
“I thank my lucky stars to have been a student at the School of Music between 1998-2004,” writes Mandart Chan. “One of my favourite memories was being the Ensemble Librarian for the Wind Symphony and Orchestra. Gerry taught me so much about repertoire, programming, conducting, teaching, cooking and life; I wouldn’t be where I am right now if it wasn’t for his mentorship over those years and now. He will be missed at UVic!”
“I’m thankful to Gerry for modeling that a teacher’s job is to set a very high standard for our students while sharing our passion of music,” notes Jenn McVie-Britton.
“I basically put UVic on my dream-school list because of the awesome experience of playing flute and piccolo in the MB provincial honour band with Dr. King,” says Erin Bardua. “I didn’t get to take Education classes and I think I only spent one term in Wind Symphony, but he continued to terrify and impress me in the halls.”
“I am so honoured to have had the opportunity to work with Dr. King in my journey to become a music teacher,” writes Emily McDermid. “I have very fond memories of instrumental techniques where he suggested I learn the ‘most noble instrument’ — the clarinet. At the end of the semester he joined us in a barely recognizable version of ‘Jingle Bells.’ Point is, I got to play clarinet with Gerry!”
“Gerry recruited me right from high school to come to UVic,” recalls Ken Roberts. “I did four years of Wind Symphony on tuba and I also took his Music Ed classes. I have to say although my life took me in a different direction, I cherish the time I spent learning, laughing and playing. I’ll always remember the many looks I received from over the top of his glasses. Enjoy your retirement, Gerry!”
“I did directed studies with Gerry and have corresponded at length with him about social action through music,” says Jonathan Govias. “He is the kind of person you imagine will always be there . . . until he isn’t.”
“Gerry King jacked me up, military style, when I told him I wanted to quit the Wind Symphony,” recalls Nadia Pona. “I left in tears, got my shit together, and now I’m in the Navy. The irony is not lost on me. That conversation in his office was a pivotal moment in my introduction to professionalism as a young adult and a very important memory. I learned a great deal under his baton as well. I hope he enjoys a well-deserved retirement.”
“I had the pleasure of playing in Wind Symphony for one year with Dr. King,” writes Heather Raines. “It was a difficult year for the French horns, as it was the year that Dick Ely, our beloved horn teacher died. Dr. King was sympathetic and understanding. I’m not sure if it was intentional but he found a piece of music that was exceptionally challenging for the French horn. Before introducing it to the orchestra, he showed it to the horn section and asked if we’d be able to play it. By involving us in this decision, he managed to engage us and have us interested in the music, while we were grieving.”
“In my first or second rehearsal ever with Wind Symphony, Gerry tore me apart for not being able to play a tom solo,” recalls Jay Schreiber. “I practiced hard for the next week and nailed it at the next rehearsal. He looked at me in his signature ‘over the glasses’ glare and sincerely remarked, ‘percussion . . .good job.’ Taught me a lot about playing in a section, and doing a service to the greater musical cause. Next semester I was section leader in Wind Symphony until the end of my tenure at UVic.”
“I had never been in a band like the Wind Symphony before and I had never had a conductor like Gerry,” writes Ethan Shoemaker. “I was terrified and inspired at the same time; I knew from the minute he stepped on the podium that I didn’t want to let him down and that at the very root of it, all he wanted was for each and every one of us to succeed. From my very first rehearsal to my music education classes to our conducting classes, I was lucky enough to learn and grow from the careful and honest guidance of Dr. King. So much of how he taught, conducted, and carried himself off and on the podium impacted me personally and professionally. I can honestly say that a day does not go by where I don’t have a ‘What would Gerry do?’ moment in my teaching and conducting life. I am privileged to have been taught by Dr. King and I am honoured to call him my friend: this is truly the end of an era. All the best with your retirement Gerry! Thanks for more than you will ever know!”
“I am very thankful for Gerry’s guidance and support throughout my years at UVic,” says Kristen Birley. “I remember being unsure about whether I wanted to go into music education and he was pretty determined to encourage and convince me that it was where I belonged. He was right! Thank you, Gerry!”
One of the best parts of being a Fine Arts faculty in an arts-rich city like Victoria are the opportunities available to current students through our associations with local cultural institutions. From Pacific Opera Victoria and the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria to Open Space and the Belfry Theatre (to name but a few), our students don’t have to wait to graduate to gain valuable first-hand experience working alongside professional artists, technicians, designers and directors.
Case in point: the Belfry’s annual SPARK Festival, running March 8 to 25. Beyond their outstanding lineup of fascinating shows — including the monologue Who Killed Spalding Gray? written and performed by Canadian theatre royalty Daniel MacIvor, who previously worked with Department of Theatre students to present the world premiere of Inside at the Phoenix Theatre in 2011 — SPARK 2018 offers current students in both the Theatre and Writing departments the chance to show their talents to Victoria’s wider community.
Noted playwright Janet Munsil
Playwriting students will have the opportunity to present scenes from shows-in-progress at a special New Play Cabaret. Working in conjunction with student actors and directors from the Theatre department, SPARK audiences will enjoy scenes from new plays by Department of Writing MFA candidates Janet Munsil and Elliott James, and fourth-year undergrads Sarah Pitman and Alaina Baskerville-Bridges.
The free New Play Cabaret starts at 7pm Sunday, March 18, in the Belfry’s lobby.
Talented Fine Arts students and alumni are also heavily on display during SPARK’s annual free Mini-Play Festival, which offer short 10-minute productions staged all over the Belfry’s building — from hallways, offices and storage rooms to the basement and the attic, you’ll never know where you’ll see one of these micro-plays.
This year’s Mini-Plays feature work by Theatre alumni Pamela Bethel, Charles Ross (of One-Man Star Wars fame), Monica Ogden and Tony Adams, current Theatre student and 2016 City of Victoria Youth Poet Laureate Ann-Bernice Thomas (directed by fellow student Karen Saari), plus Writing alumni Kai Taddei (formerly Kat Taddei), and Visual Arts alumna Lindsay Delaronde, currently Victoria’s Indigenous Artist In Residence and creator of Pendulum, the contemporary Indigenous artist showcase recently seen at the Belfry.
Have you heard? Mini-Plays are back at SPARK!
This year’s Mini-Plays are all commissioned by the Belfry and inspired by 6ixty 8ight, a new play by former Department of Writing instructor Charles Tidler. But be warned: most Mini-Plays only offer space for less than 10 people, so be sure to get there early to get a spot.
Mini-Plays run in two batches March 14 -17, and March 21 – 24: Wednesday/Thursday at 7:00 & 7:15 pm and Fridays/Saturdays at 7:00, 7:20 & 7:40 pm. Week one features Lindsay Delaronde, Charles Ross, and Monica Ogden & Tony Adams, while week two features Pamela Bethel, Kai Taddei, and Ann-Bernice Thomas.
Also on view during the SPARK Festival is the annual Belfry 101 Live presentation, a new play created and performed in just one short week by local high school students. This year, Belfry 101 is directed by Theatre alumna Erin Macklem, and local improviser par excellence Dave Morris of Paper Street Theatre. Belfry 101 Live starts at 7:30 pm on Sunday, March 25, on the Belfry’s mainstage.
En’owkin alumna Krystal Cook
Also part of SPARK is the new play reading of Sunday in Sodom by noted playwright Jordan Tannahill, which is being performed by a number of Phoenix alumni including Trevor Hinton, Paul Terry, Jack Hayes and Laura Jane Wallace, as well as longtime Theatre professor Jan Wood. That free reading starts at 7:30pm Monday, March 19, in the Belfry lobby.
Finally, Krystal Cook, an alumna of the En’owkin International School of Writing — which jointly awards the Indigenous Fine Arts Certificate with UVic’s Writing department — is part of the creative team behind Why We Are Here!, a site-specific pop-up choir production on Monday, March 12.
Cue the spotlight!
Interested in contemporary Indigenous art practices? Excited by some of the dynamic and engaging work being created and exhibited both locally and nationally? Wondering how contemporary artists respond to important issues like Truth & Reconciliation, and Murdered & Missing Indigenous Women & Girls? Join the Visual Arts department for a special illustrated lunchtime lecture series featuring three prominent local Indigenous artists.
Tlehpik Hjalmer Wenstob: Friday, March 9 • room 103 of the Fine Arts building
Lindsay Delaronde: Monday, March 12 • room A146 of the Visual Arts building
Carey Newman: Friday, March 16 • room 103 of the Fine Arts building
All talks run noon to 1pm, and all are free.
About the artists:
From Tlehpik Hjalmer Wenstob’s “Transfigurations”
Visual Arts BFA/MFA alumnus Tlehpik Hjalmer Wenstob is a multidisciplinary artist from the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation, on the West Coast of Vancouver Island. Coming from a background of carving, Wenstob’s work has transformed and reformed many times over the years, working in many different mediums, with a focus on sculpture. He has three dialects of art practices, all from the same visual language: traditional work, community/engagement, and contemporary art. While heavily involved in youth engagement and politics, as the Assembly of First Nation’s youth representative for BC and Canada, Wenstob’s work has taken on a balance of history, education, humour, question, and politics.
Coming from a background of carving masks, totem poles and working predominantly in red cedar, Wenstob’s work has transformed through materials and subject matter. With an interest in public installation, curation, mentorship, and sculpture, Wenstob has had work displayed and installed nationally across Canada. His most recent installation—created while mentoring youth—was four Bighouses on the front lawn of the BC Legislature building, which then led to a show currently on view at the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria.
Lindsay Delaronde running a corn doll workshop at Legacy Gallery in 2016 (photo: Corina Fischer)
Visual Arts MFA alumna Lindsay Delaronde is currently the City of Victoria’s Indigenous Artist in Residence and a strong advocate for Indigenous voices, stories, culture and history. Born and raised on the Kahnawake reservation, Delaronde has been living on the West Coast for the past 10 years. In addition to her Visual Arts MFA, she holds a BFA from the Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design, and a Master’s degree in Indigenous Communities Counselling Psychology, also from UVic.
A professional multi-disciplinary visual artist who works in contemporary Indigenous performance and facilitator of traditional workshops, Delaronde has been consistently active and made significant commitments at the local and national level. Her areas of research are stemmed in Contemporary and Traditional First Nations art, expressive arts therapy and working with Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples within the arts and counseling. Her research focuses on land- based, collaborative practice, cultural resurgence and social/political activism through the arts.
Carey Newman or Hayalthkin’geme is a multi-disciplinary artist and master carver. Through his father he is Kwagiulth from the Kukwekum, Giiksam and WaWalaby’ie clans of Fort Rupert, and Sto:Lo from Cheam along the upper Fraser Valley; through his mother he is English, Irish, and Scottish. Through his work he strives to highlight either Indigenous, social, or environmental issues. He is also interested in engaging with community and incorporating socially innovative practice into his artistic process. Newman’s most recent major work — the Witness Blanket, made of items collected from residential schools, government buildings and churches across the Canada — deals with the subject of reconciliation. (Another prominent local public piece is the ornately carved ceiling of Pacific Opera Victoria’s Baumann Centre on Balmoral Road.)
In 2008, Newman was selected as the master carver of the Cowichan 2008 Spirit Pole, a journey that saw him travel BC sharing the experience of carving a 20-foot totem with over 11,000 people. In 2009, he was selected from a national call to artists by VANOC and won the right to create a large installation: his piece “Dancing Wind” was featured during the 2010 Olympic Games, and consisted of 4 large panels, made from stainless steel, cedar and glass. He has done work for corporations, government agencies and museums around the world and is continually thankful for the opportunity to try new ideas.
These talks are in addition to the Visual Arts department’s proven commitment to Indigenous artists and their practices, as evidenced by their long-running Audain Professorship of Contemporary Art Practice of the Pacific Northwest—which has afforded Visual Arts students the opportunity to work with the likes of Governor General’s Award-winner Rebecca Belmore, Michael Nicol Yahgulanaas, Rande Cook, Nicholas Galanin and Jackson 2Bears. And the Faculty of Fine Arts supports the work of Indigenous artists and creative practitioners in a variety of ways, which you can read about here.