Visual arts grad Dieu Anh Hoang has designs on life

If you ask international student Dieu Anh Hoang what aspect of her undergraduate degree had the biggest impact on her, she’ll tell you it wasn’t the pandemic, it wasn’t her co-op terms and it wasn’t even earning her BFA in Visual Arts with honours: it was actually a teacher’s advice about living with fear.

“At the start of my second-year sculpture class, my professor told me, ‘If you’re not scared, you’re not in the right place’—and that stuck with me,” she says. “It changed my attitude completely: I was scared of that professor and wanted to drop the class, but I realized it was good for me to accept the challenge and step out of my comfort zone. Now, I just tell myself ‘I can do this’ and I don’t think there’s anything I wouldn’t be able to do.”

Learning by doing

That “no-fear” attitude perfectly sums up Hoang on the cusp of graduating: in addition to her academic and artistic accomplishments, her workstudy positions with the Faculty of Fine Arts and her leadership as chair of the Visual Arts Student Association, she also stepped up as the architectural lead for UVic’s Seismic Design Team and as a Community + Engage Leader, representing both the faculty and her department.

“I like to put myself in a working environment and take charge of whatever I can,” says Hoang on a Zoom call from her family home in Hanoi, Vietnam. “That’s how I learn: leadership skills, communication skills, managing skills . . . I actually put my studies at the bottom of my priority list, as it was always the least of what I was doing.”

Hoang wasn’t even phased by the pandemic. “I was really lucky,” she admits. “I did my co-op terms online working with UVic’s Learning and Teaching Support and Innovation, and my classes were among the few held in-person during the pandemic. And my family managed okay in Vietnam, too, so I didn’t have to worry about that. It was actually pretty good for me!”

Hoang shows her work to CHEK TV

Behind the scenes

Describing herself as a visual designer (“I like to solve problems within any existing design to make it better and more accessible for everyone”), it was an interest in art and architecture that drew her to UVic after completing the International Baccalaureate Diploma in Abbotsfordbut it was her online abilities that probably had the biggest impact on campus life: her three co-op terms with LTSI saw her managing the transition from CourseSpaces to Brightspace.

“I was there the entire time migrating the platforms during the pandemic, facilitating the Zoom workshops for faculty and students,” she says. As well as organizing training sessions, she also created helpful infographics and content for the campus community. “It was great problem-solving!”

Skills beyond degree

As for her art practice, Hoang has a clear preference towards geometric and design imagery—whether that’s an exploded cube-based wall sculpture or culture-jamming a bag of groceries as a commentary on consumerism and food fads. (“Do people actually read the labels on what they’re eating?”)

Looking into the future, she can see herself working at a design agency in Seattle’s tech hub (“It’s very fast-paced and competitive there—I like that environment”) and possibly earning a Master’s in computer science.

In addition to having learned the positive side of fear itself, Hoang feels one of her biggest degree takeaways is her enhanced people skills. “Knowing how to work with people, learning how to focus on their strengths rather than their weaknesses . . . those are skills I can apply anywhere.”

New Summer Arts Series with Continuing Studies

New for summer 2022, Fine Arts is offering our inaugural Summer Arts Series in partnership with UVic’s Division of Continuing Studies and Alumni Relations, which will see returning alumni teaching courses for the general public. And for this first series, we’ve chosen to focus on two topics:  one related to sustainability and the arts, and the other on professional development. 

Environmental Writing Workshop: Turning Knowledge into Feeling

Join environmental journalist, author and Department of Writing alum Arno Kopecky for this four-day workshop exploring how to turn complex information into emotionally compelling narratives. Participants will dive into a range of current environmental writing, from advocacy journalism to op-eds and longform creative nonfiction.

This in-person session runs on the UVic campus from 9am to 1pm Monday-Thursday, July 4-7 ($390).

Arno Kopecky graduated from UVic in 2001 with a double major in Creative Writing and Environmental Studies. A regular contributor to The Globe and MailThe WalrusThe TyeeThe Narwhal, and other publications, he has also written three books of literary nonfiction: The Devil’s CurveThe Oil Man And The Sea (shortlisted for the 2014 Governor General’s Award), and most recently, The Environmentalist’s Dilemma: Promise And Peril In An Age Of Climate Crisis.

 

But if you’re looking for something more performance-based, check out an Introduction to Voice Acting.

In this series of four online workshops, Department of Theatre alum and now LA-based voice actor Erin Fitzgerald will introduce you to the basics of voice acting. You’ll learn how to apply theatre experience to behind-the-mic acting and pick up the basics of body and breath for creating characters for either animation or video games. You’ll also learn proper breathing and vocal warm-up techniques, create fresh new characters, and go over professional voiceover audition copy for animation and video games. Erin will then provide personalized feedback and teach a new technique on how to approach audition copy.

Erin is a Canadian-American voice actress and actress who has been living and working in LA since 2000. She is best known for her voice-over roles of May Kanker and Nazz in Cartoon Network’s classic original series Ed, Edd n’ Eddy. Erin also plays Bo in the Emmy Award-winning show  Storybots on Netflix and is known for her voice work in We Bare Bears, Ever After High, Monster High, Wild Grinders, The Jungle Bunch and Miraculous Ladybug. She is also a frequent voice on video games, including World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor, Heroes of the Storm, Hearthstone, The Last of Us, Danganronpa, League of Legends: Skullgirls, Persona 4: Golden, Persona 5, FFXIV, FFIX, FFVIIR, Bravely Default and many many more.

While current or former theatre students will get the most out of this workshop, however this method is for anyone. This session runs July 5 – 14, online ($390).

For full information and registration, please visit the Summer Arts Series page on the Continuing Studies website.  

Young Alumni Lunch & Learn Series: Finding Meaningful Work in the Arts

Everyone wants to find a relevant job after graduation, but what are the actual steps you’ll need to take to get there? How do you make connections and learn to network? How important can volunteering be to career development? What career assistance is available to you, both before and after graduation?

Bring your questions when recent Fine Arts alumni offer the inside scoop in these moderated, informal, free lunch & learn sessions on a variety of topics

“Finding Meaningful Work in the Arts” with Caroline Riedel

Find out the steps some recent grads took to get where they are—and how they applied skills they already had—in this new Fine Arts Young Alumni Lunch & Learn webinar series. 

Did you know UVic’s Coop & Career Services offers free career services for students and alumni—regardless of when you graduated? From  brushing up your resume and cover letter to mock interviews and more, the Fine Arts rep can help you find the work you want to be doing. 

An experienced arts professional, Caroline Riedel is passionate about creating job opportunities help students mobilize classroom learning into rewarding professional experiences. with UVic’s she coaches students & alumni on career development, employment prep and work search transitions.

12-1pm Friday, April 8: register here

Are You Media Ready?” with Cormac O’Brien

Regardless of your artistic discipline, you need to be able to tell your story through words and pictures—but are you ready to speak to the media? Is your social content appropriate and relevant to your practice? Do you have current and accurate information online? If you’re putting yourself out there, what’s the media going to find? Join a recent grad for this insider-look at best practices when it comes to working with the media, framing your story, creating a professional social media presence & more.

Currently social media manager with Toronto’s Six Shooter Records, Cormac O’Brien is a multifaceted Department of Writing grad who has held all sorts of jobs across multiple arts industries—including musician, journalist, editor, podcast host/creator, content creator, artist manager and graphic designer!

RESCHEDULED to 12-1pm Wed, April 13: register here

 

Catch up on the other sessions in this series with these recordings of our earlier presentations: 

Young Alumni Lunch & Learn Series: Are You Media Ready?

Whatever your creative practice, it’s essential that you tell the right story about yourself—and have the kind of social media profile that shows you’re serious about your craft. Join a recent grad for this insider-look at best practices when it comes to working with the media, framing your story, creating a professional social media presence & more.

Bring your questions when recent Fine Arts alumni offer the inside scoop in these moderated, informal, free lunch & learn sessions on a variety of topics.

Find out the steps these recent grads took to get where they are—and how they applied skills they already had—in this new Fine Arts Young Alumni Lunch & Learn webinar series.

Are You Media Ready?” with Cormac O’Brien

Regardless of your artistic discipline, you need to be able to tell your story through words and pictures—but are you ready to speak to the media? Is your social content appropriate and relevant to your practice? Do you have current and accurate information online? If you’re putting yourself out there, what’s the media going to find?

Currently social media manager with Toronto’s Six Shooter Records, Cormac O’Brien is a multifaceted Department of Writing grad who has held all sorts of jobs across multiple arts industries—including musician, journalist, editor, podcast host/creator, content creator, artist manager and graphic designer!

12-1pm Wednesday, April 13: register here

 

“Finding Meaningful Work in the Arts” with Caroline Riedel

Everyone wants to find a relevant job after graduation, but what are the actual steps you’ll need to take to get there? How do you make connections and learn to network? How important can volunteering be to career development? What career assistance is available to you, both before and after graduation?

An experienced arts professional, Caroline Riedel is passionate about creating job opportunities help students mobilize classroom learning into rewarding professional experiences. with UVic’s she coaches students & alumni on career development, employment prep and work search transitions.

12-1pm Friday, April 8: register here

Note: these sessions are open to all students and recent alumni.

Catch up on the other sessions in this series with these recordings of our earlier presentations: 

Distinguished Alumni

Fine Arts was thrilled to see three past graduates named among the 20 recipients of the UVic’s 2022 Distinguished Alumni Awards announced on March 10. 

Presented by UVic and the University of Victoria Alumni Association, the awards recognize graduates who, through their leadership or accomplishments, contribute significantly to communities locally, nationally or globally. New this year, there are three award categories: the Presidents’ Alumni Awards, the Indigenous Community Alumni Awards and the Emerging Alumni Awards—and Fine Arts had winners in each category. Congratulations to all!

Kim Senklip Harvey directing a staged reading of Kamloopa at UVic’s Chief Dan George Theatre in Nov 2021 (photo: Tori Jones)

Kim Senklip Harvey

Syilx and Tsilhqot’in director, writer and actor Kim Senklip Harvey (MFA Writing, ’21) was named one of the winners in the Emerging Alumni Awards category, adding to her 2021 Governor General’s Literary Award for Drama for her groundbreaking play, Kamloopa: An Indigenous Matriarch Story. 

Kim is no stranger to awards, with Kamloopa having won the 2019 Jessie Richardson Award for Significant Artistic Achievement, Best Production and the Sydney J. Risk Prize for Outstanding Original Play. Kim is currently developing three television series, working on her first book of prose and earning her PhD in Law at UVic. She believes that storytelling is the most compelling medium to move us to a place where everyone is provided the opportunity to live peacefully.

Kim feels her work is in deep service to her peoples. “I say my stories are a place of respite for their trying lives and if I make them laugh once or momentarily nourish their spirits I’ve done my job,” she says. “I hope my continued work supports the next generation in the ongoing practice of making a more equitable and peaceful future.”

Read more about Kim Senklip Harvey here.

Marion Newman

Kwagiulth and Stó:lō First Nations mezzo-soprano and CBC Saturday Afternoon at the Opera host Marion Newman (Music, ’93) is the recipient of one of UVic’s new Indigenous Community Alumni Awards. “I hope to bring about better awareness and understanding that will lead to meaningful change in who we see as our leaders and innovators,” she says.

As a singer, Marion is acclaimed for her portrayals of Dr. Wilson in Missing and title roles in Shanawdithit and Carmen, and will make her debut with the Welsh National Opera in June 2022. She is also co-founder of Amplified Opera, a group that centres artists and encourages audiences to embrace diverse and challenging cultural experiences.

She is sought after as a speaker, teacher, dramaturge, director and advisor for institutions and arts organizations across North America.

When asked about her advice to young people entering the world of professional music, who may feel lost or confused about their future, she had this to say: “Never stop learning and don’t be afraid to make mistakes: learn, apologize if needed and move forward. And remain open to other ways of engaging in your area of interest and expertise.”

Read more about Marion Newman here.

 

Karen Clark Cole

Recipient of a prestigious President’s Alumni Awards, Karen Clark Cole (AHVS ’91) is the CEO & co-founder of the award-winning, global experience design firm Blink UX. “Our mission is to enrich people’s lives . . . so the world can have more happy people,” she says from her home in Seattle, where she loves to trail run, garden, backcountry ski, kitesurf and hang out with her amazing daughter.

Karen’s leadership philosophy is grounded in what she calls being a “Possibility Thinker.” Her optimistic, fully present approach to life enables her to turn big visionary ideas into action and plant a seed for what is possible in everyone she meets.

When asked about her time in Fine Arts, Karen recalls, “The campus, the students, and the professors were all top notch. The profs were all so accessible and engaged it created a very personal and intimate learning experience.”

Karen is also executive director for Girls Can Do, a non-profit she founded in 2014. Girls Can Do hosts an event series for girls with the mission to inspire a generation of possibility thinkers and ignite a vision for equal opportunity. In 2016, First Lady Michelle Obama gave a keynote video address, and Karen received a thank you letter from President Barack Obama for her work with girls.

Read more about Karen Clark Cole here.

Meet our newest Youth Poet Laureate

 

When the City of Victoria recently announced the news that recent Writing / English double-major Eli Mushumanski had been chosen as the 2022 Youth Poet Laureate, we here at Fine Arts were justifiably proud. Mushumanski is the third YPL to come out of UVic’s Writing program in the past 10 years (see our stories on previous youth poets Aysia Law & Ann-Bernice Thomas), so we were eager to sit down for an interview with this thoughtful, introspective non-binary poet.

How did you get your start in poetry? What difficulties have you encountered with writing poetry?

I started writing actually as a three-year-old, and I know this because we have this little cardboard book that has two pages pasted out that my mom typed up for me. It’s complete nonsensical gibberish. But I remember wanting to be a writer, and then I wrote all the way through elementary school, all the way through high school, and then I got to UVic and I ended up getting into poetry.

I used to write a lot of fiction and kind of stayed away from poetry, so I’ve really only been writing poetry for four years. I was a very self-conscious teenager . . . . I don’t like seeing my feelings in written form. It really took my being in workshop and having to write poems [before I thought], “Oh! This is really hard: I like this.” I think poetry is more abstract [than fiction]. In a sense, it’s bigger than my own personal problems.

How do you see your role as YPL? What do you want to accomplish? I understand that you want to tackle the issue of climate change with your poetry. Could you tell me a little bit more about how you want to do that?

I’ve talked in some of my other interviews about making climate change just a little bit more manageable. Obviously, it’s never going to be manageable—it’s this massive, massive problem [with] so many different components—but it’s so big that it feels unreal. Poetry is a way to sort of connect people more to the natural world and make them really love it and care about it. The only way things are going to get better is if we feel more connected to the natural world.

I don’t think poetry on its own is going to change the world or change the environment. It’s about helping fit people feel that they could turn outward, and that it would be safe to do so . . . enabling that process is potentially something poetry could do. It’s important to feel those things: avoiding [them] is obviously not helping. I think the only way out—to use a cliché, which as a poet maybe I shouldn’t—is to feel our way through it in order to make change.

I see the current poet laureate, John Barton, is also a Writing grad: how much will you be working together? What might you learn from interacting with a more experienced poet like him—especially one who foregrounds the queer experience in his poetry?


allow the slow sprawl.
the insects will help your glide,
tendrils of you that will root.
trees are all feeling.
you will not have sound or smell
to distract you.
                         —Eli Mushumanski 

He is going to provide mentorship—I can ask opinions and get a little feedback, which is really nice—and I actually worked with John last April for the City’s Resilient Muse series for National Poetry Month. But being able to read other queer poets like John is a really exciting thing that, 100 years ago, I wouldn’t have been able to do, and just having the voice of someone older in the queer community is really powerful.

I think we lost a lot of those voices between the AIDS crisis and with hate crimes happening, so I think having those other voices is really powerful to show there is a way to get older in the queer community. I know a lot of young queer people, but I don’t really know a lot of older queer people. It’s great to have the opportunity—he’s organizing some Pride readings, and he’s invited me to be part of some of those—so even just having the opportunity to stand in solidarity has been really exciting.

Where do you see yourself going after you complete your term as YPL? What are your hopes for the future?

For me, I don’t want to be a full-time writer—that may be sacrilegious to say as a poet laureate—but there are so many other parts of myself I want to bring out. I really want to go into psychology long-term: with everything that’s going on right now, people need more support in their lives.

But I am really excited to keep writing and working on longer projects . . . even just starting the position has given me the opportunity to feel this is something I can do. Ideally, I’d like to do something in psychology and then write a lot alongside that. Both of those things are very important to me.

I used to be very passionate about the idea that I was just a writer, that it was my whole identity, [but] during the pandemic, I had to let go of that. I have so many different parts of myself that I can explore, and it’s okay to explore those things; I don’t have to be tied to any one thing. I feel very lucky that I’ve had this opportunity so early on and it’s proof that, yes, [poetry] is something I can do alongside everything else.

—Story & photos by Tori Jones