Call for 2024 grad student ONC artistic residency

2021 ONC AIR Dennis Gupa

Are you a Fine Arts graduate student interested in oceans and looking for a paid artistic residency in 2024? Are you excited by the idea of exploring the potential for the arts or alternative cultural practices to highlight the visions, challenges, philosophical, aesthetic or ethical aspects of oceans and the impacts humans have on it?

If so, then the Fine Arts/Ocean Networks Canada Artist-in-Residence program may be the perfect fit for you!

Who can apply?

Open to current grad students (working in any discipline) who have completed most of their course requirements in any Fine Arts unit (including Art History & Visual Studies, Theatre, Visual Arts, Writing and the School of Music), the Artist-in-Residence program is currently seeking proposals for 2024. The application period closes on December 22, 2023.

UVic’s Faculty of Fine Arts and Ocean Networks Canada (ONC) co-lead and sponsor the Artist-in-Residence program, with additional financial support provided by the Faculty of Science and UVic’s Office of Research Services provide  to the program.

When does it run?

The residency period can start anytime between Feb 1 and August 31, 2024, and last for up to four months. A cost-of-living stipend of CAD$2,000/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 event featuring the resulting art will be presented, displayed or performed, and will be promoted by ONC and the Faculty of Fine Arts. This event will work 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.

Who else has done it?

Our 2023 AIR is Neil Griffin (Writing), who fused the creative with the scientific in a series of lyric essays titled Whale Fall, exploring the ecological stages of whale decomposition from its last breath to its incorporation into the deep-sea ecoscape.

Find out more here about our previous AIRs, including Colin Malloy (School of Music), Dennis Gupa (Theatre) and Colton Hash (Visual Arts).

What’s it about?

The ONC AIR 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.

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 ocean observing facilities and data portal. 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.

Possible themes:

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

  1. Natural hazards
  2. Ocean soundscapes
  3. Indigenous perspectives
  4. Arctic observing
  5. Community-engaged ocean monitoring
  6. Advancing deep ocean observing
  7. Hot and cold vent dynamics
  8. Coastal ocean
  9. Ocean data science 

How to apply

Proposal Submission Interested applicants are to email ONC ( 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
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.

About the program

The ONC Artist-in-Residence program is established to:
  • 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;
  • add a complementary artistic and creative perspective to ocean science, the societal ramifications of its exploitation, and its cultural aspects;
  • create opportunities for potential new research questions, experimental approaches and knowledge synthesis resulting from interaction between the arts and science; and
  • help envision and communicate the potential long-term impact of ocean changes on humanity.

Legacy gift highlights Steinway anniversary

Arthur Rowe performing on one of UVic’s Steinway pianos (photo: Leon Fei)

Fifteen years ago, UVic’s School of Music was named Canada’s first All-Steinway School and, while there are now over 200 All-Steinway schools globally, UVic is still the only one in Canada — a significant designation currently being celebrated with both a new $300,000 estate gift and a signature concert.

“Steinways are recognized worldwide for their excellence and are by far the most preferred concert piano in the world,” says School of Music piano professor Arthur Rowe.

But keeping 63 pianos ready for daily student use also requires constant tuning and repairs, which makes the new $300,000 Martha Cooke Fund so important. Named for the late Public Archives Canada curator, Cooke’s legacy earmarks $200,000 for essential piano maintenance.

 “These pianos are now 15 years old, so this gift comes to us at a critical time,” says Rowe. “Maintaining our excellent instruments is crucial, so these funds will help ensure the longevity and excellence of our Steinways.”

Internationally renowned guest pianist

The Martha Cooke Fund also sets aside a further $100,000 for three years of annual concerts and masterclasses with internationally renowned Korean-American pianist Minsoo Sohn — the first of which debuts October 3 at UVic when he presents an awe-inspiring performance of Sergei Rachmaninoff’s complete Études-Tableaux.

Sohn will also host a free public masterclass with School of Music piano students at 10:30am Wednesday, Oct 4, which all are welcome to attend.

As the winner of many prestigious competitions and a teacher of renowned pianists himself, Minsoo Sohn’s concerts and masterclasses will demonstrate his own pursuit of musical excellence for the benefit of UVic students. This promises to be an extraordinary experience that will transport audiences to a realm of emotion, virtuosity and musical brilliance.

Masterful virtuosity

Known for his musical intelligence and masterful virtuosity — qualities that have earned him acclaim throughout the United States, Canada and Korea — Sohn’s readings of the works of Bach and Beethoven in particular have placed him among the elect in this repertoire, and the inspired ingenuity of his performances of orchestral repertoire have earned him many accolades.

Sohn owes much of his success to his mentors, Russell Sherman and Wha Kyung Byun, with whom he studied at the New England Conservatory in Boston. After teaching at Michigan State University, Sohn returned to South Korea where he instantly became a much sought after performer and pedagogue, as he joined the faculty at Korean National University of Arts. He has also served on the jury at prominent international piano competitions including Honens, Top of the World and Busoni Competition.

Climate Disaster Project a finalist in global journalism awards

CDP founder Sean Holman with student Sandra Ibrahim (UVic Photo Services)

We’re thrilled that the Climate Disaster Project (CDP) has been announced as a finalist in the global Covering Climate Now 2023 Journalism Awards, which honour the best coverage of the climate emergency and its solutions.

The CDP has been selected for bringing “the compelling and authentic stories of people in climate disaster–affected communities to the foreground.”

As one of four finalists in the “engagement journalism” category, the CDP’s trauma-informed work with climate disaster-affected communities has been recognized for their recent media partnerships with APTN Investigates, Megaphone and Asparagus magazines, and the Fraser Valley Current newspaper, which include climate survivor stories taken by UVic students Tosh Sherkat, Aldyn Chwelos, Paul Voll and Gage Smith.

Tosh and Aldyn were recently profiled in this article following their appearance on CBC Radio’s What On Earth.

“There are so many people that contributed to this honour,” says Sean Holman, CDP creator and the Wayne Crookes Professor of Environmental and Climate Journalism with the Department of Writing. “Our newsroom is supported by leading journalists, psychologists, social workers, climate scientists and public policy scholars who are working humanize climate coverage . . . . But none of this be possible without the hundreds of students and climate disaster survivors we collaborate with to share and investigate stories of climate disaster. More than anything, this honour from belongs to them.”

Even being named a finalist is a significant honour for the CDP, as other 2023 CCNJA nominees include the likes of the BBC, the Guardian, PBS, Le Monde, Al Jazeera, the Narwhal, CBS, ABC, AP, NY Times Magazine (etc).

Winners will be announced in September at Climate Week NYC (Sept 17-24).

An international teaching newsroom

Working with partner institutions across Canada and around the world, the Climate Disaster Project (CDP) uses the model of an international teaching newsroom in order to train students in trauma-informed journalism techniques to collect, compile and share survivor stories.

The CDP has already had a significant impact since launching in September 2021. To date, Holman and his CDP team of students and recent grads have produced more than 120 stories in collaboration with disaster survivors worldwide.

In the past academic year alone, 136 students were enrolled in CDP-related classes in nine different institutions (including UVic, First Nations University, Mount Royal University and Toronto Metropolitan University), learning about the human impacts of climate change, working to share those experiences with the news media, and investigating common problems and solutions identified by climate disaster survivors.

New partnerships have recently been secured that will soon see the project expanded to Brazil, Hong Kong, Norway, Nepal, Pakistan, and South Africa and the United States.

High-achieving twins both earn the Victoria Medal for their love of writing

Rachel (left) and Sarah Lachmansignh

When it comes to the academic arts experience, it’s easy for undergraduates to lose track of their initial passion as they get caught up in the drive for grades and goals. Yet despite Rachel and Sarah Lachmansingh’s many laudable achievements—including both being named winners of the Victoria Medal, the first time this annual award for the highest GPA in the Faculty of Fine Arts has been presented to two people—these graduating Department of Writing students have never lost sight of the reason why they started writing in the first place.

“At the core of it, writing is love,” says Rachel. “Whether people want to do it as a profession or a hobby, the centre of that creativity is the heart.” Sarah agrees: “Whatever I’m working on, it’s got to be something that I love.”

More than just courses

It’s perhaps not surprising that the Lachmansingh sisters would agree: as identical Guyanese-Canadian twins from Toronto, both decided to move to Victoria together specifically to enroll in UVic’s acclaimed Writing program. Both were double-scholarship winners (Rachel for the Lorna Crozier Scholarship and the WP Kinsella Award in Fiction, Sarah for the Rosalind Hulet Petch Memorial Scholarship in Writing and the Millen Undergraduate Scholarship), both saw their work published off-campus, both were editorially involved with UVic’s long-running undergraduate literary journal This Side of West (TSOW) and both were mentees for the Writers Union of Canada BIPOC Writers Connect program. Ironically, both also won first prize in different categories with the annual UVic Libraries/EQHR on the Verge writing contest during their first year on campus.

“We were walking to a class together when Sarah got an email saying, ‘Congratulations! You won!’ and I thought, ‘Hmm, I wonder if I won too?’ . . . then five seconds later I got an email saying I had won,” laughs Rachel. “That was a fun twin thing for people, because it was a real coincidence we had both won for the same contest.”

A very storied academic journey

In addition to on the Verge, the Lachmansinghs kept more than busy during their studies. Sarah saw her work published in both EVENT and other literary magazines, worked as the fiction intern for The Malahat Review and served as both fiction editor and social media director for TSOW. As well as serving as editor-in-chief and reviews editor for TSOW, Rachel earned national attention as a finalist for the 2022 CBC Poetry Prize, was longlisted for the 2022 CBC Short Story Prize and has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, Best of the Net and the National Magazine Awards; her writing has been similarly published in the literary likes of Grain, The Malahat Review, The Fiddlehead and others.

“I’ve published a lot—it’s been really fun trying to balance it all with my studies!” Rachel says with a characteristically quick laugh. “But a bigger goal for me now is just to find a sustainable writing practice that also makes me very happy: being in a writing program, there’s a lot of emphasis on polishing work for publication, but it’s also fun to focus on yourself as a writer, try out things you haven’t done before.”

While Sarah feels her work with TSOW was foundational (“I’ve wanted to be an editor since I was a kid”), she also feels it was significant in helping to build the sense of community for which the Writing program is well known. “It was such a highlight to be able to celebrate students in the early stages of their writing,” she says. “It was a great experience and a big honour for me.” That said, she is looking forward to getting more of her own work out there. “I’m hoping to get the ball rolling a bit more when it comes to publishing . . . I’d like to see about creating a poetry practice for myself.”

An enviable skill set

Both feel their combination of academic work, peer mentorship and professional practice have helped build an enviable skill set that will serve them well going forward. “Funnily enough, one of the basic skills that will help me no matter where I end up is email writing,” laughs Rachel. “As EIC, I learned how to nail that: when you lead a team and run a magazine, there’s a certain level of organizational skills you have to develop, which I’ll carry with me as I continue on in the professional world.”

Now back in Toronto, both feel UVic’s Writing program provided an essential foundation for their future professional growth. “Having the writerly culture in the program and Victoria in general, we felt like we were part of a community, part of a place where we all celebrated reading and writing and being thoughtful,” concludes Sarah. “It was really important in validating us as writers.“

Rachel & Sarah outside UVic’s Writing department in spring 2023

Zainub Verjee awarded Honorary Doctorate

The Faculty of Fine Arts is thrilled to announce that Zainub Verjee will be awarded the Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts (DFA) at the 2023 Fine Arts convocation ceremony.

You can watch Zainub Verjee’s address to graduating Fine Arts students as part of the UVic convocation livestream starting at 2:30pm Friday, June 16.

Zainub has been a trailblazer renowned for her pursuit of art as a public good. An award-winning public intellectual and cultural diplomat, Zainub has led the way in shaping arts and culture by developing legislation and strengthening public discourse on the centrality of art in society.

Currently the Executive Director of Ontario Association of Art Galleries in Toronto and , she is an accomplished leader in the arts and culture sector and holds over four decades of experience in shaping culture policy at all levels of governments and has contributed to the building of cultural institutions and organizations in Canada and internationally.

An archival image of Verjee from her GG profile video 

A storied career

Born in Kenya, Zainub is a visual and media artist and a fixture in the Canadian contemporary art scene since moving to Canada in the 1970s. She continues to further the cause of arts practitioners, bringing attention to the needs of women artists, artists of colour and Indigenous artists, while shedding a bright light on the issues of labour in the arts, with her tenacious support for the sector during the most fraught times of the pandemic.

Zainub served as executive director of the Western Front, a Vancouver Contemporary Art Centre, co-founded the critically acclaimed In Visible Colours, and contributed to the prison theatre program at Matsqui, now shifted to William Head Penitentiary in Victoria; she was also integral to the formation of the British Columbia Arts Council.

A laureate of the 2020 Governor General’s Award in Visual and Media Arts, Zainub exhibits around the world.

“UVic and Fine Arts recognize Zainub’s outstanding achievements in scholarship, research, teaching and public service, and look forward to celebrating her as a Spring 2023 Honorary Degree Recipient,” says Dr Allana Lindgren, Dean of Fine Arts.

Call for submissions: 3rd annual Student Impact Awards!

Are you a current or graduating Fine Arts student who’s been involved with some community-engaged creative activity in Greater Victoria between January 1/22 & May 31/23? If so, you could qualify for $1,000 via our annual Community Impact Award!

The Fine Arts Student Community Impact Awards will be awarded in Fall 2023 to undergraduate students who have demonstrated an outstanding effort in a community-engaged creative activity in Greater Victoria. Qualifying students are eligible to receive $1,000 for creative projects that went over & above their academic studies.

Since 2021, we have awarded $5,000 to 5 different students! (Read about our 2022 winners here and our 2021 winners here.) “In the arts, we put a lot of ourselves into our work because we love it,” says 2022 award recipient and School of Music student Isolde Roberts-Welby. “This award means that I can spend less time at work and more time pursuing opportunities and projects that are deeply fulfilling.”

Your activity may include — but is not limited to — any exhibit, performance, workshop, publication, curatorial, educational, digital, production and/or administrative role within the regional boundaries of Greater Victoria (Sidney to Sooke).

A completed submission package — including the submission form and all supporting materials — must be received by 5pm Wednesday, May 31, 2023.

Full application details can be found here:

Questions? Contact