Snapshot of a year

We’re excited to share with you the latest edition of the Faculty of Fine Arts Annual Review. While it’s always difficult to encapsulate an entire year’s worth of activity into a single 36-page magazine, we do enjoy the creative challenge of sharing our top stories with you!

“This past year, colleagues continued to reconceptualize the contours of arts education, creative expression and scholarly knowledge,” writes Dr. Allana Lindgren in her introduction. “The arts continue to be essential for cultivating dexterity through creative thinking and fostering the empathy needed to navigate our increasingly complex world.”

Dean Lindgren also notes the ongoing inspiration Fine Arts students provide. “Their commitment to creativity continues to inspire me and gives me confidence that the next generation of arts leaders has the temerity to transform life’s challenges into opportunities for intellectual reflection and artistic innovation.”

Inside, you’ll find a variety of stories about the recent activity of our faculty, students, staff, donors and community partners.

Education equates with action here in Fine Arts: we are committed to helping our students cultivate the skills needed to become innovative artists and engaged leaders.

Our curriculum, artistic practices, research and creative activities are rooted in our belief in the power of creativity, experimentation and the efficacy of the arts to help us to understand and address today’s most urgent and vexing issues.

If you missed a previous Annual Review, issues dating back to 2017 are archived here.

Feeling of solstalgia inspires Ocean Networks Canada residency

How do we feel when the ecosystems we know and love start to vanish? What happens when our memories no longer match our physical surroundings? And what about the ecosystems we don’t see? These are the kind of questions inspiring the work of Megan Harton, the latest Ocean Networks Canada Artist-in-Residence.

A passionate composer, audio engineer and sound artist currently pursuing a Master’s in Music Technology at UVic’s School of Music, Harton is the fifth artist-in-residence in this continuing partnership between ONC and the Faculty of Fine Arts. Their proposed project, solastalgia [soon to be what once was] is envisioned as an immersive intermedia art installation employing nostalgic retro iconography to create a multisensory experience delving into the emotional and psychological effects of environmental change.

“My artistic practice is primarily about using sound technologies in artistic ways,” Harton explains. “I found that Ocean Networks Canada had all these hydrophones in the Pacific Ocean and there are new recordings every hour on the hour, both visual and audio. My main impetus was to see if there was a way to juxtapose the same recordings over a period of time, and the idea just grew from there to incorporate ideas of ecological loss and grief.”

A graduate student partnership between Fine Arts and ONC, previous artists-in-residence include Neil Griffin (Writing, 2023), Colin Malloy (School of Music, 2022), Dennis Gupa (Theatre, 2020) and Colton Hash (Visual Arts, 2018).

Exploring solastalgia

Set for a Sept 1-6 exhibition at the Audain Gallery in our Visual Arts building — including a special presentation featuring both Harton and 2023 ONC AIR Neil Griffin (7pm Friday, Sept 6, in Fine Arts 103) —solastalgia [soon to be what once was] will explore themes of grief and nostalgia, emphasizing the delicate state—and impending loss—of our ecosystems.

As well as creating a crafted sonic composition based on natural sounds, oral histories and contemporary environmental data, Harton is also interested in incorporating visual elements by presenting the materials with iconic vintage and somewhat antiquated apparatuses like a Viewmaster, film photography, a Speak & Spell and VHS tapes to create an engaging narrative highlighting the tension between past and present.

“The installation will foster a deeper connection between individuals and their evolving surroundings, while also raising awareness of environmental issues and bridging the gap between art, science and the community,” Harton explains.

Inspired by the book Mourning Nature: Hope at the Heart of Ecological Loss and Grief—a call to eulogize ecological loss in creative worksand drawing on environmental philosopher Glenn Albrecht’s concept of “solastalgia” (“the distress caused by environmental change”), Harton intends their installation will evoke a sense of connection, reflection and empathy in the audience by blending elements of nostalgia with the stark reality of environmental change.

“That idea really interests me,” they explain. “Yes, it’s a little bit existential and sad, but it hits home in a different way than just statistics or charts and graphs.”

Connecting with the coast

Growing up in Oakville, Ontario (midway between Toronto and Hamilton), Harton has limited experience with the West Coast, or oceans in general. “My grandmother lives in Tsawwassen, but I’d only been out here a couple of times before coming to UVic, and my only other ocean experience was going to the Atlantic Ocean on the East Coast. The largest body of water for me for a long time was Lake Ontario.”

Given their Ontario roots, Harton’s own experience with solstagia is rooted in Toronto’s 21st-century urban sprawl. “When I was a kid, sections of my town were mostly farmland, with fruit stands and horse stables, but are now townhouse subdivisions with schools due to a huge development and urbanization plan,” they recall. “Now this commuter suburb has more than twice the population of Victoria.”

Well-aware of their lack of personal connection with the Pacific Ocean, Harton sees themself as more a third-party information collector who can then respond  artistically. “I’m hoping to connect with  ONC’s scientists and community partners to incorporate Indigenous oral histories of the waters around here and contemporary scientific knowledge. This is some of the data and memories that I would like to draw from.”

Community connections

Indeed, collaboration is a key component to this project. While Harton’s primary graduate research is focused on gender bias in music production, they are eager to work with ONC’s team to ensure the installation is informed by current environmental knowledge.

A project as fascinating as the sounds it will harness, Harton’s immersive intermedia project aspires to be a transformative exploration, marrying art and science to provoke reflection, connection and empathy. solastalgia [soon to be what once was] promises to be a poignant testament to the intricate relationship between humanity and the changing environment, urging us to consider our role in preserving the delicate balance of the ecosystems we inhabit.

Climate Disaster Project wins national award

UVic’s Climate Disaster Project has been named the winner of a Special Recognition Citation at the National Newspaper Awards—Canada’s top journalism awards.

Announced at a gala event in Toronto on April 26, the award is designed to recognize exceptional journalism that doesn’t fit into existing categories and to open the door to experimentation in journalism. This is only the second time the National Newspaper Awards have bestowed the honour.

“We are entering a new era of disaster, where our seasons will become increasingly defined by the traumatic events they bring, and we need to learn how journalism can help us survive those traumas together,” says Sean Holman, UVic’s Wayne Crookes Professor of Environmental and Climate Journalism, who founded the project in 2021. “We are so honoured the National Newspaper Awards have recognized our efforts to empower disaster-affected communities inside and outside Canada.”

About the Climate Disaster Project

The Climate Disaster Project is an international teaching newsroom whichtrains students to work on the frontlines of humanitarian crises and create an extensive archive of eyewitness accounts. To date, 219 students in 13 post-secondary institutions have been trained in trauma-informed interviewing skills and co-created 288 disaster-survivor testimonies, many of which have appeared in local, national and international publications.

Their work has also been featured in national radio and television broadcasts, and at the Royal BC Museum. “Each semester, educators at post-secondary institutions across Canada and around the world spend hundreds of hours teaching students how to compassionately help survivors share their stories,” says Holman. “Our students then take that knowledge into the community to co-create a people’s history of climate change that honours the human dignity of their experiences.

Our partners 

Institutional partners for this award include Carleton University, the Campus Journalism Lab (Philippines), First Nations University of Canada, Humber College, Kwantlen Polytechnic University, Langara College, MacEwan University, Mount Royal University, Simon Fraser University, Toronto Metropolitan University, and the University of British Columbia, the University of the Fraser Valley and the University of Stirling.

Media partners include the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network, Asparagus magazine, Canada’s National Observer, The Fraser Valley Current, Megaphone street news and The Tyee, plus Neworld Theatre, the Reach Gallery and Royal BC Museum.

The Climate Disaster Project aligns with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals of good health and wellbeing, quality education, sustainable cities and communities, climate action and life on land, and demonstrates how UVic is powered by climate traction.

More for the CDP

The Climate Disaster Project, in partnership with The Tyee, is also currently nominated for awards with the Canadian Association of Journalists and the Canadian Journalism Foundation.

Brazil’s largest newspaper will soon publish testimonies co-created by students at the Federal University of São Paulo. A live theatre project from Neworld Theatre featuring verbatim testimonials will be making its debut at UVic in fall 2024, and an anthology of survivor testimonies from Purich Books is forthcoming in 2025.

Coming up next, the Climate Disaster Project will be hosting the two-day workshop Stories on Fire: Sharing Lived Experiences with Climate Change as part of the Legacy Gallery’s new exhibit, Fire Season.

In this two-day workshop (running 9am-5pm Sat-Sun May 11-12), CDP editors will teach you the trauma-informed process to create powerful first-person testimonies from fellow participants’ experiences of climate change. Past testimonies have been published by Reader’s Digest, the Royal BC Museum and The Tyee, and interviews from this workshop may be shared by similar publications and organizations. Register online for this free event.

Through learning how to compassionately listen to other people’s stories and telling them, you can help show the world that climate change isn’t something that’s far away. Instead, it’s something close at hand that’s affecting each of us in countless ways: from the smoke that keeps us indoors during the summer to the floods and droughts that affect so many communities in so many ways.

Distinguished Alumni Awards honour Carrie Tennant, Dennis Gupa & Ivy Martin

UVic announced the recipients of the 2024 Distinguished Alumni Awards on March 4 and Fine Arts was once again proud to see three of our outstanding graduates included among the 18 recipients being recognized across the three categories: Presidents’ Alumni Award recipient Carrie Tennant (Music), Emerging Alumni Award recipient Dennis Gupa (Theatre) and Indigenous Community Alumni Award recipient Ivy Martin (CRM). You can view all the awardees and read about them on the alumni awards webpage.

“This diverse group of graduates contribute their skills, passions and leadership to many different fields, including the arts, education, law, science, engineering and business,” says UVic President Kevin Hall. “Advocacy, community building and climate action are common threads woven through their work. In that sense, they shine a light on the values and priorities that define and unite us at UVic.”

Once again, the awards show the calibre of UVic alumni and their impact across the world—but it’s also a great reminder of the potential future impact of the work we do every day to create positive student experiences.

Carrie Tennant, Presidents’ Alumni Award

Presented by UVic’s President and the President of the UVic Alumni Association, this award recognizes the outstanding lifetime accomplishments of alumni who have either earned national or international regard, or had a significant local impact as a result of their outstanding professional achievements and/or service to society.

For the past 20 years, the Vancouver-based Carrie Tennant has worked with young singers, developing their leadership and artistry. Holder of a Bachelor of Music in Music Education (1999) and a Teaching Certificate from Faculty of Education (2000), she is currently the founder and artistic director of the Vancouver Youth Choir.

Carrie’s choirs have won several awards and have performed at international events in Istanbul and New York City. She is also an affiliate conductor with the Vancouver Chamber Choir, and a frequent clinician, adjudicator and guest conductor across North America and around the world. She is the editor and curator for two choral series: the Vancouver Youth Choir Choral Series (Cypress Publishing), which promotes diverse Canadian voices on the international stage, and the brand new Carrie Tennant Choral Series (Hal Leonard). She received the 2023 YWCA Women of Distinction Award for Arts and Culture, and in a past life she toured, performed and recorded with her husband as a member of Vancouver-based indie-pop group the Salteens.

When asked for her favourite memory of attending UVic, Carrie points to playing in the ensembles with retired Music Ed and Wind Symphony director Gerald King and singing in UVic Chamber Singers with Bruce More. “I went to Korea and Thailand and China with him and the choir,” she recalls. “Bruce was an incredible mentor and a fantastic role model, and he let me conduct in Korea. That gave me the conducting bug. It was really a transformative experience for me.”

You can hear Carrie and the Chamber Singers in action at a special 50th Anniversary concert at Vancouver’s Pacific Spirit Church on April 21, which will also feature an alumni reception before the concert.

One aspect of her UVic training that really helped shape Carrie was what she describes as the “spirit of thinking outside the box, which I really have carried forward with me.” But she also credits our “incredible” music education program: “I walked out of that program ready to be a successful teacher in the public system, and I didn’t realize at the time that that was not the norm until I connected with other first-year teachers from other post-secondary programs who were overwhelmed and treading water and couldn’t handle it,” she says. “Even though I’m not a teacher in the traditional sense now, I think a lot of the foundational principles and methodology comes from that strong background of music ed from UVic.”

Read more of the interview with Carrie here—including her thoughts on community building, her own personal motivations, the best advice she ever received, her go-to karaoke song (spoiler: it’s Dolly Parton’s “9 to 5”) and her secret talent.

Dennis Gupa, Emerging Alumni Awards

Recognizing the outstanding professional achievements and/or contributions of recent alumni (graduated within the last 10 years) to the community, one of this year’s Emerging Alumni Awards goes to the now Philippines-born but now Winnipeg-based Dennis Gupa (Doctor of Philosophy in Applied Theatre, 2021).

Dennis is a theatre director, performance maker/researcher, applied-theatre practitioner and an assistant professor at the Department of Theatre and Film at the University of Winnipeg. He has an MFA in Theatre (Directing) from UBC, an MA in Theatre Arts from the University of the Philippines and completed his PhD in Applied Theatre at the University of Victoria as a Vanier Scholar; his dissertation centred on climate change and Indigenous ecological knowledge, which was amplified with his role as UVic’s Ocean Networks Canada Artist in Residence during the pandemic.

Dennis has directed and devised performances in Southeast Asia and North America. He received the 2023 inaugural Green Award (Individual Artist Runner-Up) from the Professional Association of Canadian Theatres (PACT) and Boca del Lupo and RBC Foundation’s 2023 SLaM (Successor, Leadership and Mentorship) Program. He is a Dwight Conquergood Laureate of the Performance Studies International (PSi) and The Ada Slaight Drama in Education Awardee of Toronto’s Young People’s Theatre. Dennis is mentioned in the Cultural Centre of the Philippines’ Encyclopedia of Philippine Arts for his contribution to the contemporary theatrical heritage of the Philippines.

He describes his experiences at UVic as “life transforming,” noting that he’s the only person in his family who received both an international education and a PhD.

“But having such an achievement is empty when you are not connected to the purpose of the work that you’re doing,” he says. “UVic taught me to have an attentiveness to one’s purpose—a kind of an attention to the things that I wish to contribute to the world. It made me reflexive, value collaboration and to have the courage to constantly interrogate and question the work I create, communicate and circulate. My academic and artistic experiences at UVic made me realize that I have to constantly evolve with my own craft as a scholar, teacher and artist to become a better human being.”

Read more about Dennis here—including the one essential trait for his continuing work (humility), a good piece of advice, his favourite way of relaxing, one food he can’t resist (Filipino adobo) and who (or what) he’d like to play him in the movie of his life.

Ivy Martin, Indigenous Community Alumni Award

Long before obtaining her Diploma in Cultural Resource Management in 2023, Tofino-based (but Port Alberni-born) Ivy Martin played a key role in caretaking, documenting and promoting the traditional knowledge and cultural treasures of the Tlaoquiaht First Nation.

She has successfully repatriated several ancestral treasures to the community and helped build a custom space with temperature and humidity control to secure their long time use and preservation. Ivy works with Tlaoquiaht’s Tribal Parks department and archaeologists on cultural surveys to ensure cultural sites and treasures are handled with the proper traditional protocols of the Tlaoquiaht First Nation, and to establish a repository for artifacts found within the traditional territory. She records, documents and shares cultural knowledge, and is currently building an online database and learning resources as part of the nation’s efforts to revitalize the endangered Tlaoquiaht language.

When asked for a favourite memory of her time at UVic, Ivy recalled the cultural regalia that went missing from her family years before. “My mother’s the eldest daughter of my grandfather, who was chief,” she explains. “I was in my 20s when I started collecting, documenting culture and our history, because it was intriguing to me . . . and [my grandfather] shared his wish for me to find this regalia and to bring the regalia home.”

So when one of her CRM assignments was to do a repatriation request, Ivy  already knew what her family wanted. “Now we have a room that is a designated chief’s regalia space. That’s come from part of my course work with UVic. It’s helped me to see how it can be a reality for my community. It’s been an awesome journey, very culturally healing. My experience has made it such a personal thing, connected to that identity in my family, of having that regalia coming home.”

Read more about Ivy here, including key skills, underappreciated characteristics (“We don’t shine enough light on our abilities to push forward each day”), valuable advice, what she does to relax, and what brings her joy (“seeing my kids enjoy life”).  

“My education with UVic has helped me to create opportunities for my family to learn and experience things that are meaningful,” she concludes.

Nominate a Distinguished Alumni

You can read more about previous Fine Arts Distinguished Alumni Award winners.

Nominations for the 2025 Distinguished Alumni Awards are now open through October 18, 2024.

Fine Arts in the news: media roundup

When it comes to announcements, publications and media appearances, there’s never really a slow time for Fine Arts faculty, alumni and students — and the past couple of months have been no exception. Here’s a quick roundup of who’s been speaking with the media lately.

 

Art History & Visual Studies

In this December article for Forbes magazine, professor Catherine Harding comments on the use of AI in identifying another artist involved in a 16th century painting by Raphael. “It is wonderful if we can use AI in this way,” Harding said. “It won’t be irrefutable. It will depend entirely on the expertise of the people doing the programming, but if they can write the right kind of algorithm, it will be very useful.”

As part of the new Jeffrey Rubinoff Nexus for Art as a Source of Knowledge, professor Allan Antliff has been selected as the inaugural Rubinoff Legacy Professor. This named professorship is just one facet of $230,000 in new funding from the Rubinoff Foundation, which also includes 15 annual graduate student scholarships and the expansion of experiential learning initiatives at Hornby Island’s Jeffrey Rubinoff Sculpture Park. Read more in this announcement.

Professor Carolyn Butler Palmer and Visual Arts professor emeritus Lynda Gammon were interviewed on this Jan 6 segment of CBC Radio’s North By Northwest in support of Gammon’s Latent exhibit at Legacy downtown, which is curated by Butler Palmer. There is also an accompanying short visual story with pictures in this issue of the NXNW newsletter.

Adjunct professor Martin Segger recently wrote this fantastic Times Colonist piece about the history of not only Centennial Square but the overall planned design of Victoria’s downtown district.

Adjunct professor Grace Wong Sneddon co-curated the recent exhibit The Magic of Tony Eng (with local historian John Adams) for the Chinese Canadian Museum in Fan Tan Alley. A goal for this museum is to recognize Victoria’s Chinese Canadians and, as such, Eng is an ideal subject: a vibrant and active member of the city, many remember him as a charismatic stage magician, teacher and mentor to generations of local magicians. In other news, Wong Sneddon recently co-authored two chapters in a new book, Diversity Leadership in Education: Embedding Practices of Social Justice (2024, edited by UVic’s Catherine McGregor & Shailoo Bedi): “Unpacking the Equity Myth: Diversity & Leadership Deficit” (with Reeta Chowdhari Tremblay) and “Race and Gender: Chinese Canadian Women and Leadership” (with Lokpriy Shrma & Tremblay).

Alum India Young is cited in this Vancouver Sun article about a career retrospective exhibit by Nuu-chah-nulth artist George Clutes at Vancouver’s Bill Reid Gallery; the exhibit was created by Young plus UVic’s Andrea Walsh and Jennifer Robinson.

School of Music

Marking their official retirement from performing, the “trailblazing” Lafayette String Quartet were recently profiled in this feature article from Strings Magazine. “I hope we’ve instilled a deep love of chamber music in our audiences and students,” said Ann Elliott-Goldschmid. Our students benefited enormously from observing four musicians who respect each other and worked together, unified, in overseeing their studies and musical growth.”

Ahead of his final concert featuring live piano accompaniment to a silent film, professor Bruce Vogt was interviewed by CBC Radio’s All Points West (not archived) and in this Times Colonist story. “I’m certainly not retiring from playing,” said Vogt. “I just won’t be teaching any more. I’ll still be around, until I hear the chimes at midnight.”

January’s masterclass with guest mezzo-soprano Allyson McHardy got a shout-out in this Times Colonist roundup.

Professor Benjamin Butterfield plus alumni Isaiah Bell and Timothy Carter all appeared on this segment of CBC Radio’s On The Island talking about their recent concert, Banned from the Concert Hall. Butterfield was also interviewed for this Times Colonist story about the same event. “I’m not sure everyone goes around talking about their arse all day in Baroque circles,” Butterfield said with a laugh. “But this type of thing has been around a long time.”

As the new leader of the annual TubaChristmas fundraiser, instructor Scott MacInnes was featured in this December Times Colonist article. “It’s awesome that such a lowly instrument can provide so much happiness,” said MacInnes, who will be conducting the festive ensemble for the first time.

Arbutus Middle School’s music program was recently announced as the winners—again—of CBC’s annual national Music Class Challenge. While not named in the article, Arbutus’s music program is led by alumni Jennifer Hill & sessional Michael Mazza.

Theatre

As co-author, professor Yasmine Kandil was recently announced as one of the winners of 2023’s Wayman Mullins Award for Best Journal Article, as awarded by the Society for Police and Criminal Psychology Board of Directors. This award is given for the best scientific article as published in the Journal of Police and Criminal Psychology. Kandil, along with co-authors Jennifer A. A. Lavoie & Natalie Alvarez, picked up the award for their article “Developing Community Co-designed Scenario-Based Training for Police Mental Health Crisis Response: A Relational Policing Approach to De-escalation”.

Alum Jena Mailloux (MA Interdisciplinary Studies: Applied Theatre/Curriculum & Instruction) recently published the article “Elevating Critical Pedagogy Through Dramatic Principles: A Comparative Framework Analysis of Anti-Bullying Drama Education and Theatre Research Initiatives” in the Drama Australia Journal.

Alum Alynne Sinnema (MA Applied Theatre) was recently awarded the Canadian Association for Theatre Research Robert G. Lawrence Scholarship for her for the project “Coming to her Senses: Women’s Sexual Empowerment Through Applied Theatre”, which the adjudicating committee found “inventive and insightful in the ways it aims to combine applied theatre, specifically physical theatre, and feminist theory as a way to support women’s voices, embodied and scholarly considerations of women’s pleasure and sexual agency, and mental health.”

Alum Narges Montakhabi was awarded the Canadian Association for Theatre Research (CATR) Heather McCallum Scholarship for her project “Politics and Poethics of Precarity in Contemporary Middle Eastern Canadian Theatre.” Describing her project as “ambitious”, the committee found her work “amplified the voices of less-heard and younger generations of underrepresented Middle Eastern Canadian playwrights, focusing on contemporary (mostly 21st century) plays and playwrights from Iran, Syria, Palestine, Lebanon, Afghanistan, and Iraq.”

Visual Arts

Recent MFA alum Maryam (whose last name is not being used in the media due to safety concerns) was quoted in this Times Colonist story about her work in the latest Victoria Arts Council exhibit, You Are Welcome. “I’m still very impressed,” she said of the protests in Iran, where most of her friends and family reside. “The metal [in my piece] represents the strength and power of the women in my country when they were killed and shot in the streets.”

While the late-’90s children’s TV show Nanalan is currently going viral on TikTok, none of the coverage mentions the fact that professor Kelly Richardson worked on the show in between her BFA and MFA degrees. She worked on 71 episodes, making the set & greenery but also puppeteering; this allowed her to buy her first computer which entirely changed her art practice. “I’ve never really stopped making plants and animating bugs in my work,” she says. You can see some behind-the-scene photos Kelly has posted on her Instagram feed.

UVic Impact Chair Carey Newman was involved in the first fully bilingual colloquium of the New Uses of Collections in Art Museums Partnership  at the National Gallery of Canada in December. The conference outlined some of the innovative practices changing the standards and practices of art acquisition. This colloquium was jointly produced by the National Gallery of Canada (NGC) and the Université du Québec en Outaouais (UQO) as part of the CIÉCO Research and Inquiry Group’s Partnership New Uses of Collections in Art Museums.

In other news Carey Newman news, this Vancouver Sun article notes that the traveling exhibition of his Witness Blanket will be on display in the West Vancouver public library from Jan 26-March 8. This touring version is a detailed photographic replica of the original 13-panel sculptural installation, which is now permanently housed in Winnipeg’s Canadian Museum for Human Rights. Following this stop, the current 17-city tour next comes to the Saanich School Division (March 25–May 10) before moving on to Nelson and Nova Scotia, with more dates booking into 2025.  

Work by current MFA candidate Eeman Masood was featured in Frozen Forest, the recent curated exhibition at Abu Dhabi Art, and will also be displayed at the India Art Fair exhibition in New Dehli via her gallery representative Galerie ISA, from Feb 1- 4. 

 

Writing

Recent Writing grad and Climate Disaster Project managing editor Aldyn Chwelos was recently featured on this story for CBC Radio’s All Points West, speaking about their work documenting testimonials from survivors of severe wildfires and floods—some of which are getting a reprint in the December/January issue of Readers Digest. Chwelos was also featured in a separate interview with CBC Kelowna’s Radio West (not archived).

Teaching professor Marita Dachsel’s new essay collection Sharp Notions: Essays from the Stitching Life was mentioned in the Globe and Mail’s book gift guide for “The Mindful Maven” this year. “As the editors [Marita Dachsel and Nancy Lee] point out, in the 21st century we don’t need to knit, embroider, weave, bead, make lace or spin yarn. But what these essays by crafters get at, instead, is the nourishment found in the meditative (rather than productive) solace of fibre-arts handiwork.” Dachsel was also interviewed for this Vancouver Sun article exploring two new books with Vancouver Island fibre connections. Sharp Notions was also recently positively reviewed for The British Columbia Review, and it was included inAll Lit Up’s “Refresh Your Shelf: New Non-Fiction” list, which included five notable nonfiction reads for 2024.

Professor David Leach spoke with residents at two Isralei kibbutzim for this story for Jewish Renaissance Magazine. “In 2010, I completed a circuit around Israel to research a book about the founding ideals, hundred-year history and slow decline of the kibbutz movement,” writes Leach. “These 270 or so rural communes, dreamed into reality by young Jewish pioneers as a fusion of socialism and Zionism, had marked the borders of the future state and shaped many of its leaders and artists.”

Crookes Professor Sean Holman announced in December that Rappler — the Philippines’ leading digital media company — has published five students stories as part of the Climate Disaster Project Philippines, appearing just in time for COP28. As part of the CDP’s international outreach, UVic’s Division of Continuing Studies provides certificates to the Philippines students for their work in trauma-informed environmental journalism. All five harrowing stories can be read here, here, here, here and here.

MFA Sam Shelstad’s novel The Cobra and The Key was recently included on CBC Book’s list of “30 books to read this winter”. Things are getting meta with this new satirical novel, which is centred on the life of a writer (also named Sam Shelstad) who is busy working on a book about his failed relationship, while he awaits word from a publisher about the manuscript he’s sure will make him a star—a how-to book for aspiring fiction writers detailing the finer points of the craft.

MFA alum Kyeren Regehr has been named the new director of Victoria’s venerable Planet Earth Poetry Reading Series—which, at 28 years, is surely the city’s longest-running continuous literary series. PEP runs weekly, 7-9pm Fridays at Russell Books on Fort Street.

Fine Arts

UVic’s Fine Arts + Grants & Awards Librarian Christine Walde recently presented her book-themed art exhibit Salvage at the Bruce Hutchinson public library branch, in conjunction withthe Victoria Arts Council. Salvage is a collection of driftwood books salvaged from the beaches of Vancouver Island and the Cascadia bioregion of the Pacific Northwest over a ten-year period.

Did you know Fine Arts Dean Allana Lindgren hosts the pre-show talks for the DanceVictoria series? A dance historian herself, Lindgren speaks ahead of each show in the performance series.

Finally, the winners of our 2023 Student Community Impact Awards were mentioned in Monday Magazine’s coverage of the Greater Victoria Regional Arts Awards.

Giving Tuesday in Fine Arts: Climate Disaster Project

November 28 is Giving Tuesday, a day when the entire UVic community will unite around a common cause — supporting the students and programs that make this university the very special place it is.

This year, UVic’s Faculty of Fine Arts is raising funds to help create the world’s largest living library of climate disaster experiences, which will help connect climate disaster survivors around the word, and spark urgent action on climate change.

We hope you’ll join together with our entire Fine Arts community and make a donation to the Climate Disaster Project. Your gift will support UVic journalism students in their field work and interviews as they collect these climate disaster stories for an anthology that will be published in Fall 2025 by Purich Books (UBC Press). 

Climate disaster survivors Patsy Gessey & Owen Collins look towards Lytton, where they lost their home
during the 2021 Lytton Creek Fire. The next year, they faced fires again. (CDP/Jen Osborne)

 

Hope through community

Climate disasters — like forest fires, floods and extreme drought — are becoming more and more common. In the coming decades, these disasters could divide us, as walls are built around the world to protect those with the most and keep out those with the least.

But these disasters could also unite us if we see the commonalities in one another’s experiences.

With your support, the Climate Disaster Project, which is based in UVic’s Department of Writing, is creating a massive archive of eyewitness climate disaster accounts. The Climate Disaster Project trains students to work on the frontlines of climate change — a skill that will only become more necessary as time goes on.

To date, 194 students have been trained in trauma-informed interviewing skills, and students have interviewed 128 survivors of climate disasters about their experience. The Climate Disaster Project has already published 44 testimonies in The Tyee, the Fraser Valley Current, Asparagus and Megaphone magazines, partnered with APTN Investigates and the Royal BC Museum’s Community Gallery, had two students interviewed on CBC Radio’s national climate-change show What On Earth, and is about to be featured in the December/January issue of Reader’s Digest — Canada’s most-read magazine.

Donor created, donor supported

The Climate Disaster Project’s work covering the humanitarian crisis of climate change was founded in 2021 thanks to a generous donation from philanthropist and businessman Wayne Crookes. Our work is inspired by his deep concern for preserving our planet.

Your gift today will help create the world’s largest living library of climate disaster experiences, and will support UVic journalism students in their field work and interviews.

We hope you’ll consider joining the Giving Tuesday movement with a gift to the Climate Disaster Project.