by John Threlfall | Jan 4, 2023 | Alumni, Award, Faculty, indigenous, Research, Theatre, Visual Arts
Fine Arts was excited to see the continuing research and creative activity of our faculty members make it into two separate “UVic Top 10 of 2022” lists!
Compiled by UVic News out of the many stories released across campus throughout the year, we congratulate the efforts of professors Carey Newman and Kirstsen Sadeghi-Yekta for their outstanding work!
Photo: Jessica Sigurdson / Canadian Museum for Human Rights
Witness Blanket redux
Fine Arts professor Carey Newman
— UVic’s Impact Chair in Indigenous Art Practices — made the University of Victoria’s “Top 10 Newsmakers
” list for 2022 for the new interactive website for the Witness Blanket. A large-scale art installation which stands as a national monument recognizing the atrocities of the residential school era, the Witness Blanket was created by Newman and is permanently housed at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights
in Winnipeg. News about the latest thread on Newman and his collaborative project was picked up by such outlets as Global TV
, CTV News
, Capital Daily
and Saanich News
Kirsten Sadeghi-Yekta (right) with participants tsatassaya|Tracey White & suy’thlumaat|Kendra-Anne Page (One Island Media)
Language reawakening through applied theatre
The continuing efforts of Theatre professor Kirsten Sadeghi-Yekta to facilitate Indigenous language reclamation via applied theatre techniques made UVic’s “Top 10 Partnerships of the Year” list.
In collaboration with the Hul’q’umi’num’ Language and Culture Society, Hul’q’umi’num’ Language Academy and other university partners, the Phoenix Theatre’s Indigenous Theatre Festival in September 2022 brought people together for performances, discussions and workshops, using theatre as a tool for language reclamation.
Visual Arts minor now Rhodes scholar
We also salute 2022 graduate Julie Levy, who made the “Top 10 Newsmakers” list for being named the first trans woman to earn a prestigious Rhodes scholarship.
One of 11 young Canadians—and the only one from BC—to be named Rhodes scholars, Levy is a Chemistry major and Visual Arts minor who will begin a fully-funded, two-year master’s degree at England’s Oxford University in fall 2023. The Vancouver Sun published a Canadian Press story, which was picked up by 158 other outlets, while CBC News ran its own feature story.
by John Threlfall | Dec 12, 2022 | Alumni, Award, News, Research, Undergraduate, Visual Arts
There’s getting a great education, and then there’s what you do with it. Canada’s first trans woman Rhodes scholar has big plans for both.
University of Victoria graduate Julia Levy is one of 11 young Canadians—the only one in BC—chosen for the prestigious scholarship, which provides two fully funded years of post-graduate studies at England’s Oxford University. Levy, a chemistry major, will begin a master’s degree there in fall 2023.
“Being chosen for this scholarship has been so unexpected. Everyone who I was up against in BC was incredibly brilliant—it could easily have been any of us,” says Levy, 24, who got to know the other provincial candidates at a dinner with Rhodes adjudicators in the run-up to selection earlier this month.
“I feel proud as the first trans queer woman in Canada to have been selected. However, I’m at the peak of every other privilege—white, supportive parents, grew up in a good home with financial stability. Right now, you often need all those things going for you to succeed as a trans person in these types of competitions. I hope I’m the outlier of what will one day be a normal thing for trans people regardless of their backgrounds.”
— Julia Levy
The Rhodes scholarship key criteria include academic excellence, demonstrated courage and devotion to duty, and moral force of character.
“Julia has had an amazing journey at UVic and is one of the most talented chemists our department has developed. Her passion for science and her drive to make the world a better place is an inspiration to everyone who is lucky enough to know her. She has a brilliant future and I’m so excited to see all the great things she accomplishes,” says Jeremy Wulff, a UVic chemistry professor who supervised Levy.
Including Levy, 12 UVic students have been named Rhodes scholars.
At the intersection of art and chemistry
Levy’s many achievements at UVic and in her community clearly caught the eye of the Rhodes selection committee. Having graduated with a major in chemistry and a minor in visual arts, Levy actively works to bring those two disciplines together in ways that benefit people.
“Julia is a dedicated artist who is continually pushing the bounds of the discipline,” says Visual Arts professor Paul Walde. “Always questioning and probing the limits of what’s possible, her creativity and drive for excellence makes her an excellent candidate for this prestigious award.”
In her second year at UVic, she invented a virtual reality program to help struggling chemistry students visualize molecules better, and went on to develop an augmented-reality phone app for visualizing complex shapes that is now featured in UVic chemistry workbooks.
The art of observation
Intrigued by how she could use art in ways that illuminated the experiences of being trans, Levy created a participatory art installation to evoke in viewers the same uneasy sense of being watched that trans people experience as part of their daily lives.
She invited viewers to enter what appeared to be a private space with a camera and video screen, where they saw a view of themselves from the back. Some seized the rare angle to check out how they looked from behind, or to fix their hair—only to discover upon exiting the room that their actions had been witnessed by everyone in the larger room.
Levy also served on UVic’s equity and diversity committee and was active in the ongoing campaign to retrofit university washrooms into non-gendered spaces.
“I’m a mile wide and an inch deep in terms of all the projects I was involved in at UVic,” jokes Levy. “I’m a big believer in never being just one thing. I’m a trans woman, but I’m also a scientist. I’m an artist, but I’m also an activist.”
Levy’s research focus reflects a key UVic impact area of technology and the human experience, and the university’s commitment to advancing the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
“My biggest interest in everything I do is to lift people up. As a trans queer woman, I know what it is to be at the bottom, to be ‘othered.’ I feel that this Rhodes scholarship is such an opportunity to amplify my voice on the issues that really matter to me.”
Levy’s extensive community work includes volunteering with the local Gender Generations Project for trans youth and their families. The project’s twice-yearly gatherings bring youth together with trans adult mentors—so important to young people as reminders that “things do get better,” says Levy.
Levy also worked with UVic’s Vancouver Island Drug-Checking Project, applying her chemistry skills for public good.
The project offers a drop-in service in a downtown Victoria storefront where people can bring street drugs in for chemical analysis. That’s a life-saving initiative in light of poisoned illicit drugs having killed 10,000 British Columbians in the last seven years. “It’s an excellent example of the social use of chemistry,” says Levy.
Levy says she was “very lucky to have grown up surrounded by lesbians” who gave her the confidence to set her own standards for the kind of woman she is. She cites a number of professors as integral to her academic growth—UVic chemists Peter Wan, Wulff and Scott McIndoe, Lindsay Herriot from the School of Child and Youth Care, and cross-disciplinary researcher David Glowacki from the University of Bristol, whom she worked with on virtual reality.
Some of the most influential people in her academic growth were teaching assistants, co-workers and project supervisors, she adds.
She expects to study computational chemistry at Oxford, perhaps with a focus on digital education or health. She’s also drawn to the idea of getting a medical degree that could one day put her on the front lines of helping trans youth access better health care. The Rhodes scholarship covers two years of study with the possibility of two more.
Levy was already part of the UVic community when she transitioned three years ago, which spared her the experience of “the trans foot being the first one you have to put forward” when in an unfamiliar space. That will not be the case at Oxford.
“I’m interested to see how that will go,” says Levy. “But I know from my own life that whenever I see that trans women have achieved something new, it gives me the assurance that things are moving forward. If getting the Rhodes scholarship amplifies my voice, this is going to be such an opportunity to speak truth to power.”
This story originally appeared on the UVic News site on Nov 28, 2022
by John Threlfall | Dec 6, 2022 | Art History & Visual Studies, Award, Research
Dr Marcus Milwright, chair of the Department of Art History & Visual Studies, has been named a recipient of the British Academy’s 2022 Global Professorships.
This four-year research professorship — valued at £898,000 (about $1.48 million CDN) — will begin in February 2023 and will see Milwright working at the Department of History of Art at England’s University of York through to 2027.
“It’s an honour to receive this position,” says Milwright. One of only eight professors selected for this prestigious international professorship — and the only scholar in Canada to be chosen — his research project is titled, Making Meaning: Craft Practices and the Process of Change in Islamic Art.
“It’s based on the idea that we understand objects when we understand the processes of making them, and the people responsible for doing that — how they develop their skills, the environments they work in,” he explains. “It’s not simply a question of how something gets made: it’s through the process of making we understand the meanings those objects have in their societies.”
Studying Islamic art and archaeology
Milwright has already spent more than 20 years studying Islamic art and archaeology, and traditional craft practices in the Middle East. The author of seven books on the subject, his most recent publication is Made for the Eye of One Who Sees: Canadian Contributions to the Study of Islamic Art and Archaeology (McGill/Queens University Press & Royal Ontario Museum), co-edited with fellow AHVS professor Eva Baboula.
You can find out more about his work on the AHVS Gateway to Art website, as well as his own Crafts of Syria and Crafts of Iraq research websites.
For Making Meaning, he’ll still be working with archaeology, excavated artifacts and museum objects but he will also broaden the focus to include textual and photographic sources.
“It’s about how we can extract aspects of the lives of people who are often not well documented,” he says. “It’s the elites of society who tend to write — and be written about — so this is a way of finding out more about the lives of people who actually created the objects and made those societies work.”
More than just producing research, however, Milwright sees this Global Professorship as an opportunity to share his findings in different ways through articles, books, websites, podcasts and public engagement — as well as more open-source methods of information dissemination.
“There’s an urgent need to try and record craft practices across the Islamic world — as well as across the world itself,” he says. “As we see crafts dying out, we see how war, instability and displacement often lead to a severing of craft traditions that have been handed down over generations in families. I want to collect as much of that information as possible and then share it so other people can use it.”
Connection with the past
Originally trained as a painter, Milwright has always been interested in the relationship between an object and its making. But it was on an early archaeological excavation in Jordan that his relationship with the past first came alive.
“I remember one of the objects we found was a little cup used for drinking tea or coffee,” he recalls. “It was just a disc of clay which had been turned up at the edges then fired in an open bonfire, but you could see the finger marks in it. That was my first connection with someone I’d never know anything else about . . . a human being making decisions, using their expertise to make a cup. Even if we can never give people their names, we can still start to reconstruct their lives by knowing how they made things.”
All too often, our knowledge of the past is based on objects and structures — coins, ceramics, mosaics, temples — celebrating the rich and powerful. But, as Milwright reminds us, “even the great objects made for kings, sultans and emperors were dependent on the craft sector to make things.”
“Even when these people seem infinitely powerful, there are logistical concerns which come down to the aspect of crafts and resources,” he says. “It’s these things I keep coming back to, because they have an impact on meaning: if you don’t take practical concerns into consideration, you can be persuaded by the rhetoric of rulers that they have infinite power — but they really don’t.”
Milwright’s four-year research focus is best explained through an excerpt from his Global Professorship proposal:
“Despite growing attention to the contexts of Islamic art, the intentions of patrons and the reception of artworks have dominated the interpretation of change from the seventh to the early twentieth centuries. This model has underestimated the role of materiality in production networks and individual products,” he writes.
Making Meaning: Craft Practices and the Process of Change in Islamic Art “acknowledges that meaning was shaped in decisive ways through the action of external political, economic and cultural challenges on groups of craftspeople, their knowledge and practices. The guiding hypothesis will be that the choices made through manufacturing processes are crucial to the generation of style (technical and visual) and meaning.”
Milwright will concentrate on the “context of making” through four thematic case studies, which will “address the diversity of media covered under the label of Islamic art and examine meaningfully the connections across craft traditions, craftspeople and materials while re-considering where the art stands between its patrons, makers and consumers.”
Milwright with some of the important Middle Eastern artifacts held in UVic’s Special Collections
by John Threlfall | Nov 28, 2022 | Alumni, Award, Events
Tuesday, November 29 is Giving Tuesday—the world’s largest generosity movement! Today, Fine Arts is asking our creative community to help us raise funds for the Fine Arts Community Impact Award—and we’re fortunate enough to have a generous donor offering to match all donations up to $1,000!
“In the arts, we put a lot of ourselves into our work because we love it,” says 2022 recipient & current Music student Isolde Roberts-Welby (seen here with additional 2022 recipient Tori Jones and Dean Allana Lindgren). “This award means that I can spend less time at work and more time pursuing opportunities and projects that are deeply fulfilling.”
Donate here to our Student Community Impact Award!
Thanks to our Fine Arts Community Impact Award, over the past two years we have given out 5 awards of $1,000 each to 5 different Fine Arts undergraduate students honouring their contributions to community organizations like Open Space, Pacific Opera Victoria, VOS Musical Theatre, Victoria Children’s Choir and Sidney’s ArtSea Community Arts Council.
“My goal as an artist has always been to use my passion for creativity to enhance the community, and being recognized for my efforts felt incredible,” says 2021 recipient Alison Roberts. “As a student, it ensured that I could continue volunteering my time for projects and productions that brought me joy and fulfillment instead of worrying about finances. I am very grateful to everyone who made this award possible!”
With your support, we can continue to financially assist the community efforts of our students: in 2021, Giving Tuesday saw Fine Arts raise $5,167 in support of Faculty of Fine Arts Indigenous Student Award.
In addition to donating, here are three other ways to support our students on Giving Tuesday:
To celebrate Giving Tuesday, the UVic Alumni Association is inviting UVic alumni and friends to play an online game of Philanthropoly, like monopoly but with a giving twist. Each player will unlock $10 to the Giving Tuesday fund of your choice and have the chance to win in 1 of 5 UVic prize packages!
Purchase a coffee
Between 8am & Noon at participating UVic Food Services outlets, proceeds ($1 from drip and $2 from specialty) will support our Giving Tuesday priority fund.
Hot chocolate by donation
Find the Bubble Bus on campus from Noon-4pm and get an afternoon treat by donation!
by John Threlfall | Nov 18, 2022 | Art History & Visual Studies, Award, Graduate, Research, School of Music, Theatre, Visual Arts, Writing
2021 ONC Artist in Residence Dennis Gupa
UVic’s Faculty of Fine Arts and Ocean Networks Canada (ONC) are calling for graduate student applications for the 2023 ONC Artist-in-Residence program.
Note: the application period closes on December 17, 2022.
The Artist-in-Residence program strengthens connections between art and science that broaden and cross-fertilize perspectives and critical discourse on today’s major issues, such as environment, technology, oceans, cultural and biodiversity, and healthy communities. This program is open to all current Fine Arts graduate students who have completed most of their course requirements with practice in any visual, written, musical or performance media. Co-led and sponsored by Fine Arts and ONC, the Artist-in-Residence program receives additional financial support from UVic’s Faculty of Science and Office of Research Services.
About the residency
The Artist-in-Residence will ignite cross-disciplinary exchanges, interacting with Fine Arts faculty members and scientists & staff at ONC, as well as with other individuals using ONC’s world-leading ocean facilities. The Artist will learn from and engage with the current research, connecting it to the Artist’s own practice, and to wider societal and cultural aspects, creating work for public presentation at the end of the residency. The Artist will also be invited to contribute as a lead or co-author in scientific conference proceedings and/or journal articles.
The selected Artist will actively engage with researchers on a variety of ocean science themes that may include:
- Deep Sea Ecology
- Seabed-Ocean Exchanges
- Coastal Ocean Processes
- Marine Natural Hazards
- The Ocean Soundscape
- Arctic Ocean Observing
- Ocean Big Data
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.
Learn more about previous Artists in Residence
Previous ONC Artists in Residence include Colton Hash (Visual Arts, 2019), Dennis Gupa (Theatre, 2021) and Colin Malloy (School of Music, 2022). Watch for a special performance event in late January 2023, when Colin will be debuting his project created as part of the residency.
But you can get a sneak peek of Colin’s work by listening to these two compositions which he created during his time with ONC:
2022 ONC Artist-in-Residence Colin Malloy
Financial provision for the Artist
The residency period can start anytime between 1 Feb 2023 and 31 May 2023 and last for up to four months. A cost-of-living stipend of CAD$2000/month will be paid to the selected Artist, with limited additional funds to support production or materials.
At the conclusion of the residency, a public exhibit of the resulting art will be displayed or performed, and will be promoted by ONC and the Faculty of Fine Arts.
Interested applicants are to email ONC at email@example.com with the subject line “Ocean Artist-in-Residence Program,” and attach:
- the artist’s CV
- a concise portfolio of previous relevant artistic work;
- a letter of motivation outlining the artist’s project proposal for the residency, and
- a 500-word project proposal with a separate project-costs budget.
The application period closes on 17 December 2022. Applications will be reviewed by representatives of Fine Arts and Ocean Networks Canada. Artists may be contacted for an interview or to supply further information before a decision is made.
Public Exhibit or Event
At the conclusion of the residency, the artist will host a public exhibit or event within a specified budget agreed to during the residency and depending on the type of project to be exhibited. Assistance for marketing and/or ticketing could be made available from other UVic departments (Visual Arts, Theatre, etc.).
About Ocean Networks Canada
Established in 2007 as a strategic initiative of the University of Victoria, ONC operates world-leading ocean observatories for the advancement of science and the benefit of Canada. The observatories collect data on physical, chemical, biological, and geological aspects of the ocean over long time periods, supporting research on complex Earth processes in ways not previously possible. The observatories provide unique scientific and technical capabilities that permit researchers to operate instruments remotely and receive data at their home laboratories anywhere on the globe, in real time. The facilities extend and complement other research platforms and programs, whether currently operating or planned for future deployment.
About the Faculty of Fine Arts
With experiential learning at its core, the Faculty of Fine Arts provides the finest training and learning environment for artists, professionals, and students. Through its departments of Art History and Visual Studies, Theatre, Visual Arts, Writing and School of Music, the Faculty of Fine Arts aspires to lead in arts-based research and creative activity and education in local, national, and global contexts by integrating and advancing creation and scholarship in the arts in a dynamic learning environment.
As British Columbia’s only Faculty exclusively dedicated to the arts, UVic’s Faculty of Fine Arts is an extraordinary platform that supports new discoveries, interdisciplinary and diverse contributions to creativity, and the cultural experiences of the students and communities UVic serves. With thanks also to the Vice President Research & Innovation and Faculty of Science for their support.
by John Threlfall | Oct 11, 2022 | Alumni, Award, School of Music, Undergraduate, Visual Arts
For over 50 years, Fine Arts has been an incubator for young artists, technicians, arts administrators, volunteers and audience members. And while our alumni and faculty members continue to make a vital impact on Victoria’s arts community, it’s also important to recognize the ongoing contributions made by our students.
With that in mind, Fine Arts is more than pleased to present the annual Faculty of Fine Arts Student Community Impact Award as part of the annual Greater Victoria Regional Arts Awards, presented on September 29 at a public downtown event at Club KWENCH.
Created in 2021 by the Dean’s External Advisory Committee, the $1,000 Student Community Impact Award recognizes individual achievements or outstanding efforts made by one or more full-time undergraduate students for a local arts organization. And thanks to Fine Arts donors—especially the Saanich Peninsula chapter of the Canadian Federation of University Women, who donated an additional $1,000 to this award in memory of one of their members, local artist Margaret Little—we were able to present awards to two students this year.
Our first award went to Visual Arts student Tori Jones for her work organizing (Un)Expected, an undergraduate exhibit held at Sidney’s ArtSea Community Arts Council Gallery in May 2022. With less than two-month’s notice, Tori was able to coordinate 13 Visual Arts students to curate, hang and run what was, for most of them, their first off-campus exhibit; this not only offered these students an opportunity to connect with the community at large, but also provided invaluable “real world” experience in working with a community art gallery.
Our second award went to School of Music voice student Isolde Roberts-Welby for her continued work with the Victoria Children’s Choir. Isolde began singing with the VCC when she was just 10 years old; now, a decade later, she continues to perform with them and has also taken on leadership roles by conducting, teaching and leading sectional rehearsals. Indeed, her work with the Victoria Children’s Choir has directly led to her current position as a choral scholar at Christ Church Cathedral and a soloist with the likes of CappriCCio Ensemble, Victoria Philharmonic Choir and the international Pacific Baroque Festival.
Dean Allana Lindgren with Tori Jones (left) & Isolde Roberts-Welby
In addition to these awards, three Fine Arts alumni received recognition at the GVRAAs as well: a great reminder about the role Fine Arts continues to play in Victoria’s creative community. Congratulations go out to:
- Andrew Barrett (Impulse Theatre) on winning the $3,000 City of Victoria Creative Builder Award
- Mercedes Bátiz-Benét (Puente Theatre) on winning the $2,000 PARC Retirement Living Mid-Career Artist Award
- Chelsea Kutyn (School of Music, not present) on winning the $2,000 John Mears Achievement in Music Award
Blue Bridge Repertory Theatre
—represented by Rebekah Johnson
(Theatre) & Department of Theatre professor Brian Richmond
—on winning the $15,000 JAYMAC Outstanding Production Award for their production of Betrayal
by Harold Pinter.
about our 2021 winners: Kyla Fradette
(Music), Alison Roberts
(Theatre) and Dani Neira