2019 in review: part two

From our amazing alumni and stellar students to new creative spaces, a $1 million-plus donation and the passing of a literary legend, here are the final five top Fine Arts stories of 2019.

Active alumni

It was a good year for Fine Arts alumni, with School of Music alumni composers Linda Catlin Smith and Cassandra Miller both making venerable UK newspaper The Guardian’s “Best Classical Music of the 21st Century” list .

In Writing, alumni Eve Joseph won the Griffin Poetry Prize, Jenny Boychuk won the CBC CNF Prize, Steven Price was shortlisted for the Giller Prize, and Jenny Manzer and Esi Edugyan were nominated for the City of Victoria Book Prize. Recent Art History & Visual Studies PhD alumna Atri Hatef was awarded a postdoc at MIT’s Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture.

Theatre alumni and noted CBC comedy writer Sam Mullins brought his Weaksauce & Other Stories to the annual Spotlight on Alumni, the Banff Centre’s new managing director of performing arts, Nathan Medd, was named the recipient of the 2019 Distinguished Alumni Award for Fine Arts, and puppeteer Ingrid Hansen appeared as a lead character on Helpsters, Apple TV’s new Sesame Workshop production.

That’s Theatre alum Ingrid Hansen as the big orange creature, Heart

And three Fine Arts alumni received all the ProArt awards in 2019, including two from Visual Arts—MFA Lindsay Delaronde received the inaugural Early-Career Artist Award, and Colton Hash was honoured with the new Witness Legacy Award for Social Purpose and Responsibility Through Art—while Theatre alum and Theatre SKAM artistic producer Matthew Payne picked up the Mid-Career Artist Award.

Student successes

Of course, no one in Fine Arts has to wait to graduate to start succeeding: current Visual Arts undergrad Austin Willis was named the only Canadian winner of the US-based International Sculpture Centre’s 2019 student achievement awards for his piece, “Framed Landscape”. With 325 nominations from 139 institutions in 4 countries, Willis— a painter and sculptor due to graduate in spring 2020—was one of the 11 overall winners. Current Visual Arts MFA candidate Danielle Proteau was named one of five recipients of the inaugural Audain Foundation $7,500  travel awards in September.

Austin Willis with his “Framed Landscape” at the ISC conference in Portland

It was exciting to see current Writing undergrad Kai Conradi make the top-three finalists in the annual Writers Trust Journey Prize, while current Writing MFA candidate Troy Sebastien received the inaugural Roger J. Bishop Writing Prize and fellow MFA candidate Ellery Lamm picked up a pair of Pick of the Fringe Awards at the Victoria Fringe Festival for the debut run of her new play, Summer Bucket List. And a passion for Indigenous arts and activism led Art History & Visual Studies undergrad Melissa Granley to a seven-month position at downtown’s Legacy Art Gallery; she will also be curating two exhibits for First Peoples House in 2020.

Current Theatre undergrad Tallas Munro had the honour of taking the lead role in the historic Phoenix Theatre production of Shakespeare’s Othello—performed for the first time in the Theatre department’s 53 year history. A number of Theatre students also mounted productions during the Victoria Fringe Festival, including the new play Summer Bucket List which won Favourite New Work and Favourite Drama for not only student playwright Ellery Lamm and alumni director Anna Marie Anderson, but also the talents of current Theatre students Aaron Smail, Hina Nishioka, Devon Vecchio, Arielle Parsons, Emily Hay, Willa Hladun and Isaiah Adachi. 

Theatre student Tallas Munro in the lead role of Othello (photo: Dean Kalyan)

Three School of Music undergraduates were named winners of the annual UVic Concerto Competition: Anna Betuzzi (oboe), Jeanel Liang (violin) and Xheni Sinaj (piano). Liang performed Brahms’ Violin Concerto in D Majorwith the UVic Orchestra in November, while Betuzzi was a featured performer at the December Orchestra concert, performing the Oboe Concerto by Richard Strauss, and Sinaj will be performing Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 2 in B-flat Major with the Orchestra on January 21, 2020.

Creating the new CREATE Lab

Whether it’s Queen recording their iconic title track in Bohemian Rhapsody or Will Ferrell’s hilarious “More Cowbell” sketch on Saturday Night Live, what happens in the recording studio has long been mythologized in popular culture. Now, students and faculty are able to activate that knowledge first-hand in the School of Music’s new Create Lab: a dedicated, state-of-the-art recording studio where music technology professor Kirk McNally and his students explore the role of sound recording engineers and music producers.

Kirk McNally in the School of Music’s Create Lab, with music student Ayari Kasukawa (UVIC Photo Services)

Completed in early 2019, the half-million-dollar Create Lab is already being booked 15 hours a day by student composers, musicians, engineers and sound artists in the undergraduate Music and Computer Science program—unique in Canada—and with Master of Music Technology students.

“It all comes down to listening,” says McNally. “Our job as engineers is to communicate something—either through technical or verbal means—in a way that’s understood by the person on the other side of the glass. That’s the importance of having a space where you can understand exactly what the sound is.”

Roger Bishop’s $1.6 million donation

If the name Roger J. Bishop rings a bell, it’s likely from his namesake theatre space in the Theatre building. But future students will also know the late local scholar, avid book collector and lifetime supporter of the arts at UVic better as the creator of a series of new student scholarships and prizes—thanks to a $1.6-million donation from Bishop’s estate to UVic in September.

“Roger Bishop’s generosity, as represented by this gift, will directly and positively contribute to the success of our students and continue the great legacy of excellence in the Theatre department which he helped to found,” says Theatre chair Anthony Vickery.

UVic alumnus Brian D. Young, estate executor and close family friend of the Bishops, with UVic Music student Emily Markwart, one of the first recipients of the new Roger and Ailsa Bishop Travel Award in Music, outside the Bishop Theatre (UVic Photo Services)

Over $300,000 of the estate gift goes specifically to Fine Arts for the creation of three new endowments: the Ailsa and Roger Bishop Entrance Scholarship in Theatre, the Roger J. Bishop Writing Prize, and the Ailsa and Roger Bishop Travel Award in Music.

Remembering Patrick Lane

When award-winning poet, novelist and former Writing instructor Patrick Lane passed away in March, he was described as “one of Canada’s most renowned writers” — a claim few would argue.

“BC’s poetry power couple”: Lane & his wife, Lorna Crozier

His distinguished career spanned 50 years and 25 volumes of poetry, as well as award-winning books of fiction and non-fiction, published in over a dozen countries. The winner of numerous accolades — including the Governor General’s Award for Poetry, the Lieutenant Governor’s Award for Literary Excellence, the Canadian Authors Association Award and three National Magazine Awards — Lane was named an officer of the Order of Canada in 2014.

Husband to beloved Writing professor emeritus Lorna Crozier, Patrick’s passing made headlines in every major media outlet nation-wide, with a number of his former students and Writing colleagues quoted in the memorials.

Be sure to read part one of our 2019 top-10 roundup here. 

2019 in review: part one

2019 was another exciting year in Fine Arts, with the spotlight turned on our faculty, students and alumni locally, provincially, nationally and internationally. Here are just a few of the top stories from the year that’s gone by.

Orontes Quartet completes their fellowship

At the time of their arrival on campus as Artist Protection Fund fellows in November 2018, the Orontes Guitar Quartet—Gaby Albotros, Orwa Alsharaa, Nazir Salameh and Mohammed Mir Mahmoud—offered a remarkable message about the power of music, hope and determination in the face of the ongoing violence of the Syrian civil war. And while their time at UVic is now complete, in the year since their arrival as School of Music visiting artists, they continued to spread that message with appearances on campus and performances across Canada.

The Orontes with Dr Alexander Dunn (centre) at UVic’s Phillip T Young Recital Hall (UVic Photo Services)

While in Canada, the Orontes took their universal message of peace through music to cities large (Vancouver, Calgary, Winnipeg), small (Port Alberni, Salmon Arm, Gibsons) and in-between (Kingston, Sudbury, Red Deer). “We were surprised at how huge is Canada, and how long it takes to travel from one part to another,” says Alsharaa. “Everyone was friendly and welcoming, but the beauty of each city and its own character was the most beautiful thing.”

In addition to their travel and concerts, the Orontes also met with students, faculty and other professional musicians, and recorded some new material using the School of Music’s facilities—which, says guitar instructor and fellowship organizer Alexander Dunn, was all part of their APF experience.

“They learned that a high degree of musicianship and learning is the norm here,” he says. “They were exposed first-hand to a stream of virtuoso players that showed not only how inspiration could directly affect their craft, but that international standards and expectations—which may not have been a part of their everyday experience at home—are readily available here.”

As for the future, the guitarists are hoping for extensions to their work permits while they apply for study permits and Canadian citizenship. “The most important experience for every musician is to perform as much as possible, which is something we were able to do thanks to the APF, Alexander Dunn and, of course, UVic,” says Alsharaa. “We want to thank all the people who made our trip to Victoria possible. We are really lucky to be here in Canada, especially in Victoria—which is one of the most beautiful places on earth.”

Faculty award round-up

Speaking of Alexander Dunn, he was one of two recipients of UVic’s 2019 Advocacy & Activism Awards for his hard work and commitment in bringing the Orontes Guitar Quartet to campus. Through his efforts partnering with Remember the River.org—a non-profit organization that brings guitars to refugee camps in the Middle East and, as a Canadian associate, sees Dunn sending guitarists into First Nations and impoverished communities—and the NYC-based Institute for International Education, Dunn was able to secure the Orontes Quartet an IIE fellowship to UVic.

REACH Award winner Patrick Boyle, School of Music (UVic Photo Services)

Also honoured this year at UVic’s 2019 REACH Awards in October were Drs. Patrick Boyle (Music) and Kirsten Sadeghi-Yekta (Theatre). The third annual awards celebrate UVic scholars for their extraordinary contributions in research and teaching, showcasing how recipients lead the way in dynamic learning and make a vital impact at UVic, both in the classroom and beyond.

REACH Award winner Kirsten Sadeghi-Yekta, Theatre (UVic Photo Services)

“It is an honour for Fine Arts to be represented by colleagues whose work affects people’s lives—from students in the classroom to communities around the world,” says Acting Dean Eva Baboula.

Two of UVic’s nine 2019 Strategic Framework Impact Fund recipients were also in Fine Arts.

Theatre professor Warwick Dobson received funding for the project, “Theatre for Education: Re-examining the child welfare system with current and future gatekeepers”—a one-year initiative with PhD candidate Lauren Jerke that uses theatre to encourage decolonization and address systemic racism among law students, lawyers and judges. And Communications & Special Projects officer John Threlfall received funding to mark the upcoming Fine Arts 50th anniversary with a 30-minute documentary, Cultural Capital: 50 Years of Creating Victoria with UVic’s Faculty of Fine Arts, being created with current Writing Masters candidates Ellery Lamm and Guochen Wang.

This year’s Faculty of Fine Arts Teaching Awards went to Writing professor Kevin Kerr and Music instructor Alexander Dunn. Music professor Benjamin Butterfield was honoured this fall with one of The Rubies—the annual Opera Canada awards—for “Success in Authenticity”, and Theatre design professor Mary Kerr was honoured as a “living legend” with a showcase at the prestigious Prague  Quadrennial.

“I would like to congratulate all of our awards recipients in 2019,” says Baboula. “Our instructors continue to inspire!”

Fine Arts expands international agreements

As a celebration of global contemporary art, the opening of the Venice Biennale provided the ideal backdrop for the signing of a three-year research agreement between Fine Arts and La Fondazione Morra, a major art centre in Naples. The first formal agreement between the Faculty and an Italian cultural institution, it also paved the way for further engagement, collaboration and exchange between institutions.

Visual Arts chair Paul Walde with Fondazione Morra founder Giuseppe Morra in Venice’s Piazza San Marco

“This moment creates an unprecedented joint venture that allows us to focus the attention of the Foundation on students by offering them a unique and intense experience made of crossings, connections, journeys and intersections,” said Morra director Teresa Carnevaleas, as the agreement was signed in Venice’s Piazza San Marco with Visual Arts chair Paul Walde, La Fondazione Morra founder Guiseppe Morra (above) and Dean Susan Lewis in May 2019.

This new agreement is a vivid example of the Faculty’s efforts to engage globally, promote student mobility and exchange, and share the impact of its research and creative practice on a world scale. Part of this involves visits to UVic by international partners like China’s Yunnan University (above), while Fine Arts is also being added to the more than 200 active international agreements with UVic’s Office of Global Engagement that support faculty and student exchanges.

“We have established and developed new student-focused partnerships with universities in Europe and Asia, such as the University of East Anglia and the East China Normal University,” says Acting Dean Eva Baboula. “The new Fine Arts Student Travel Fund is one example of how the great fundraising success we had will help enhance student excellence.”

This international focus also provides opportunities for more colleagues to further their research and creative goals, and deepen the impact of our activities on a global scale.

Fine Arts is in an ideal position to pursue these endeavours thanks to our Orion Endowment, which both funds faculty travel outside of BC and assists in bringing a number of guests to campus from across Canada and around the world each year.

The year of Newman

Would it have been possible for Audain Professor Carey Newman to have had a busier year in 2019? In addition to his Audain professorship teaching duties in Visual Arts, Newman’s big news was that his Witness Blanket installation would not only be part of the permanent collection at Winnipeg’s Canadian Museum of Human Rights but also mark the first time in Canadian history that a federal Crown Corporation has ratified a legally binding contract through Indigenous traditions, specifically October’s traditional ceremony at Kumugwe, the K’ómoks First Nation Bighouse on Vancouver Island.

CMHR CEO & President John Young (left) with Carey Newman (centre) & CMHR Head of Collections Heather Bidzinski (Photo: Media One)

But this year also saw Newman launch his new book Picking Up the Pieces: Residential School Memories and the Making of the Witness Blanket, written with former Writing instructor Kirstie Hudson, and present multiple screenings of his Witness Blanket documentary.

Newman was also commissioned to create three ceremonial paddles that were presented to the hosts of the fifth annual Building Reconciliation Forum, held at Algoma University in Sault Ste Marie in October. The paddles symbolize our connections to the past, present and future, and represent Coast Salish canoe teachings of everyone paddling together and encourage post-secondary institutions to work together to honour truth and reconciliation.

As if that’s not enough, he also received $50,000 in Storyhive funding to create a short documentary about carving a totem pole at Oaklands elementary school; unveiled his Saanich 150 commissioned installation, “Earth Drums”, at the Cedar Hill Park; hosted a Visual Arts student exhibit at Saanich Arts Centre; established the new Witness Legacy Award for Social Purpose and Responsibility Through Art with the Professional Arts Alliance of Greater Victoria; designed a new T-shirt image for UVic’s Orange Shirt Day (and fought off copyright infringement and illegal internet sales of the knock-off shirt); and was interviewed by CBC Radio’s Unreserved in October, as well as by Shelagh Rogers for a future episode of The Next Chapter.

Newman is also working on various projects for 2020, so stayed tuned for news about those!

Susan Lewis steps down as Dean

The end of 2019 brings a change in leadership for Fine Arts, as Dean Susan Lewis steps up to a new position as UVic’s new Associate Vice-President Academic Planning—a position she has been on secondment with since July 2019.

“Susan has a distinguished record of fostering innovative teaching and research, with a strong record in course design and delivery, experiential and work-integrated learning,” says Vice-President Academic and Provost, Valerie Kuehne.

“It has been an honour serving as Dean and a privilege to work with such a talented and dedicated group of instructors, faculty, and staff,” says Lewis, the ninth Dean since Fine Arts became a faculty in 1969 and  former School of Music Director.

“Fine Arts students and alumni are an inspiration to us all, and we’re so proud of them. I look forward to supporting creative activity, research, teaching and community engagement in my new role.”

Dean Susan Lewis (left) with Fine Arts alumna Anna Lowe, and donor & dedicated Fine Arts supporter, Eunice Lowe

Watch for part two of our 2019 roundup!

Visual Arts undergrad Austin Willis the only Canadian winner of US student sculpture award

There may have been 325 nominations from 139 institutions in 4 countries — but, out of the 11 overall winners, there was ultimately only 1 Canadian recipient of the US-based International Sculpture Center‘s 2019 Outstanding Student Achievement in Contemporary Sculpture Award: current Visual Arts undergraduate Austin Willis.

Willis, a painter and sculptor due to graduate in spring 2020, has been awarded the prestigious award for his piece, “Framed Landscape”. He says it feels “A-okay!” to be named the only Canadian winner for his sculpture.

Framing a landscape

“I wanted this piece to reference painting while pushing into the realm of sculpture,” he explains. “In pursuit of this goal, I ‘framed’ the image of a landscape, using the sensibility of abstract painting but constructing the object out of a wooden assemblage. I like how the framing device and aesthetics of the assemblage indicate painting, while the sculpture itself asserts its own three-dimensionality, undermining any painterly illusions.”

While he was allowed to enter images of three different pieces, Willis says he was “trying to have fun” with the dynamic composition of “Framed Landscape” by bringing together solid geometric shapes with the hectic assemblage of wood. “Look at those shapes and colours!”

“Framed Landscape” by Austin Willis

About the prize

The International Sculpture Center (ISC) established the annual outstanding student award program in 1994 to recognize young sculptors and to encourage their continued commitment to the field. It was also designed to draw attention to sculpture programs of participating universities, colleges and art schools.

Austin Willis with his “Framed Landscape” at the ISC conference in Portland

Willis was nominated by the Visual Arts department, with Megan Dickie as faculty sponsor.

The judging panel included Michigan ceramicist, sculptor and designer Ebitenyefa Baralaye; Kentucky’s Josephine Sculpture Park artistic director and founder Melanie Van Houten; and Michigan artist, curator and educator Alison Wong. In addition to the 11 recipients, 18 honorable mentions were also named.

The 11 award recipients will participate in a future exhibition, and will see their work featured in the September/October 2019 issue of the International Sculpture Center’s award-winning Sculpture magazine, as well as on the ISC’s website. Willis’ piece will also be featured in a congratulatory ad by the Visual Arts department in the winter 2019 issue of Canadian Art magazine.

A year of achievement

In October, Willis also had the pleasure of attending the ISC conference in Portland, Oregon, where his winning sculpture was on display with the other winning pieces.

“I had seen snippets of the show online and through social media, but seeing everything installed in person was truly something special,” he says. “The other students involved produced some exceptional work and it was a phenomenal show. I feel honoured and grateful to have been a part of it.”

Willis was one of the more active student artists off-campus during his time in the department. In addition to organizing a pop-up exhibition at Intrepid Theatre plus having work featured in the Ministry of Casual Living Window Gallery, he also mounted solo exhibits at the Arts Centre at Cedar Hill, arc.hive artist run centre and Xchanges Gallery and did a co-op term working with the Victoria Jazz Society, where he will also return next summer.

Willis with his Commercial Gallery pieces in 2018 (photo: Fiona Ngai)

He was also selected to participate in two City of Victoria emerging artist initiatives — the ongoing Commute: Bus Shelter Art Exhibition and the Commercial Art Gallery, where he was the sixth artist to be featured in the outdoor public art space between Yates Street and Bastion Square; he also participated in a public art talk with the City in September.

“As an emerging artist, I have a great interest in public art and creating work that beautifies spaces,” he says.

Coming up next

Upcoming for Willis is an April 2020 stint as Artist in Residence at The Ou Gallery in Duncan, as well as furthering his own practice. “I’ll be generally engaged in producing more art and getting my work out there,” he says.

The International Sculpture Center (ISC) is a member-supported, nonprofit organization founded in 1960 to champion the creation and understanding of sculpture and its unique, vital contribution to society. Members include sculptors, collectors, patrons, architects, developers, journalists, curators, historians, critics, educators, foundries, galleries, and museums-anyone with an interest in and commitment to the field of sculpture.

REACH Awards honour 2 professors

Two Fine Arts professors were honoured at UVic’s 2019 REACH Awards on October 10. The third annual awards celebrate UVic scholars for their extraordinary contributions in research and teaching, showcasing how recipients lead the way in dynamic learning and make a vital impact at UVic, both in the classroom and beyond.

“Our REACH Awards celebrate teaching and research excellence at the University of Victoria,” says UVic President Jamie Cassels. “This year’s distinguished honourees are inspiring teachers and researchers, who are contributing to a better future for people and the planet.”

With 14 awards presented in three categories, Fine Arts was well-represented by our two winners. (Read the complete list of recipients here.)

“Congratulations go out to Drs. Kirsten Sadeghi-Yekta and Patrick Boyle as two of this year’s REACH Award recipients,” says acting Dean of Fine Arts, Dr. Eva Baboula. “These are very significant areas of achievement, and it is an honour for Fine Arts to be represented by colleagues whose work affects people’s lives—from students in the classroom to communities around the world. Thank you, Kirsten and Patrick, for your passion and energy!”

Sadeghi-Yekta and Boyle join previous REACH winners Paul Walde (Visual Arts) and Suzanne Snizek (School of Music).


Excellence in Creativity and Artistic Expression: Kirsten Sadeghi-Yekta (Theatre)

Kirsten Sadeghi-Yekta, Theatre (UVic Photo Services)

“Act well your part,” poet Alexander Pope once urged, because “there all the honour lies.” Through honour—scholarly, artistic and personal integrity—Department of Theatre professor Kirsten Sadeghi-Yekta has earned the respect of communities around the world. Her applied theatre projects raise the curtain on social issues that impact people’s lives.

She customized her approach to work with children in Downtown Eastside Vancouver and disabled young women in Cambodia, with youth in Brazillian favelas torn by drugs wars and special-needs students in the Netherlands, developing a safe space for them to create artistically, build skills and confidence, and find beauty.

Most recently she has been invited to bring that experience into local focus. With the Hul’q’umi’num community on Vancouver Island, she is turning on the spotlight to help them revitalize a crucial part of their culture: their language.

You can hear Sadeghi-Yekta talk about her work in this TEDx Victoria session on “Utopia of Unwanted Spaces: Art in Conflict”.


Excellence in Teaching for Experiential Learning: Patrick Boyle (School of Music)

Patrick Boyle, School of Music (UVic Photo Services)

School of Music professor Patrick Boyle forges musical partnerships with students that embody direct, active experiential learning and scholarship. Through faculty recitals, jam sessions, public performances and impromptu in-office practice sessions, Boyle creates avenues for students of jazz to explore their growing talents, embrace their musical and artistic values, and learn about the business of music.

His pedagogical focus on the craft of improvisation, culture and composition emphasizes deepening students’ listening experience while creating something new. The vibrancy of his approach is visible in the jazz ensemble, with students sharing their music in community in formal and informal settings.

You can read more about Boyle’s teaching philosophy here.

Donor’s gift benefits film production classes

When it comes to hands-on learning and real-world experience, it’s hard to top the Department of Writing’s film production course, Writing 420. An integral part of UVic’s interdisciplinary Film Studies program, this popular course sees students create a short film from an original script, and involves them working on all aspects of the production: from lighting, sound and camerawork to editing, costumes and everything in-between.

Students filming 2018’s short film

Thanks to a new annual donation from the estate of Dorothy May Kelly and the Victoria Foundation, we can continue to support original filmmaking in the spirit of the public television networks that Dorothy so loved. This new fund will make a difference for years to come.

Led by award-winning filmmaker and Writing professor Maureen Bradley, Writing 420 students have made seven stand-alone short films and a 10-episode web series since 2009, which have been screened—and won awards—at a number of film festivals. Graduates have gone on to work in the film industry and develop their own independent film projects.

“We get the script in as best shape as possible before we go to camera,” says MFA alum, course instructor and professional filmmaker Connor Gaston of the process. “Then it’s about working with your key creatives to try and create a cohesive visual style and tone.”

By offering a variety of perspectives on film studies and screenplay writing, and by providing students the chance to hone their analytical skills and production techniques on an actual project, Writing 420 develops a critical appreciation of film culture in both historical and social contexts.

It also provides students with the satisfaction of seeing their finished work on the big screen at the likes of the Victoria Film Festival and UVic’s own student film festival, Sunscreen.

New scholarship honours alumna Avis Rasmussen

On her 82nd birthday, Visual Arts alumna Avis Rasmussen sits in her living room with a cup of tea, excitedly explaining her latest painting. “Playfair Park is beautiful this time of year,” she says, pointing to a canvas of bright purple and pink flowers. “I love capturing all the colours.” What Avis doesn’t know is that her family has set up a surprise for her birthday: establishing an endowed scholarship for UVic students in her name.

Avis Rasmussen

Juliana Hendriks, a leadership giving officer at UVic, is visiting Avis to deliver the news. “Avis we have a gift to share with you,” Juliana says, handing her an envelope.

Avis opens the envelope and begins to read. “It is your family’s wish that the Avis Rasmussen Award will be awarded each year to one or more mature graduate students in the Department of Visual Arts with a focus on painting, drawing or print-making.”

“I can’t believe they would do this for me!” Avis says smiling, “It means so much to be able to help UVic art students for years to come.”

Awarding drive and passion

Karin Rasmussen, Avis’s daughter, says the intention behind the gift is to provide affirmation and assistance to a student who embodies the same drive and passion her mom showed in pursuing her education. “Our family has always recognized the amazing achievement it was for her to have attained three university degrees while working and raising a family of five children,” she says. “We also wanted to honour dedication to being an educator and artist.”

Avis attended Victoria College, earning a teaching certificate in 1957.  After teaching for a few years, she decided to return to school to pursue her passion for art. “I had always loved art,” Avis explains, “As a child, I would spend hours in my father’s garden sketching and painting.”

Avis & Juliana Hendriks with her birthday surprise

Avis completed a Bachelor’s in Education in 1975 and then was accepted into the Visual Arts program, graduating with a Bachelor’s in Fine Arts in 1979. Three years later, Avis also graduated with a Master’s of Education.

While she continued teaching for many years, art became her life’s work. Avis spent time travelling through Canada, the U.S. and Europe painting plein air. “I loved to capture the colour and beauty of places,” says Avis. Her artwork received many accolades throughout the years and has been featured in exhibitions worldwide.

A legacy of giving

Through all her success, UVic has remained a priority for Avis. She served on the Alumni Board for several years and volunteered whenever she was able. “UVic will always have a special place in my heart,” Avis explains, “It is where I learned to challenge my creativity and honed my artistic style.”

It’s fitting Avis will now be able to help other students do the same through a scholarship in her name. “This award has allowed me to create a legacy of helping other artists pursue their dreams,” Avis says. “There is no better feeling than that.”

—Megan Lowry