AGGV grad student showcase

Music MFA Jose Enrico Tuazon plays for a full house at the AGGV

Fine Arts has a long history with the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria: from faculty exhibits to alumni on staff, from offering the annual undergraduate Fine Arts Student Pass to having current Curator of Asian Art, Dr. Heng Wu, serve as an adjunct professor with our Art History & Visual Studies department, we’re justifiably proud of our 50-plus year history together.

As such, the AGGV was a natural and logical community partner to present the inaugural Arts Alive Graduate Showcase in April. Led by supervising faculty members Catherine Harding (AHVS), Megan Dickie (Visual Arts) and Benjamin Butterfield (Music), two evenings of graduate and PhD student public presentations featured creative work and scholarship by 15 students from all of our units. 

“The evenings were simply stunning,” says Harding. “I want to thank everyone for their courage, excellence, presence, amazing talent and dedicated professionalism. The world seems very dark these days, but our students all shone a huge great light into that darkness with this event.”

Each night of presentations followed a loose theme (“History & Place” and “Expressions Through Time”), with the additional MFA art exhibit In & Out of Context running April 15-29 in the AGGV’s Spencer Mansion. 

Writing MFA Letay Williams

Participating students included Francoise Keating and Hamed Yeganeh (AHVS); Ada Qian, Grisha Krivchenia, Timothy Carter, Marco Neri and Jose Enrico Tuazon (Music); Melissa Wotkyns and Lauren Jerke (Theatre); Letay Williams (Writing); and Carly Greene, Colton Hash, Robyn Miller, Karver Everson and Connor MacKinnon (Visual Arts).

With the hopes of making this an annual event, the Arts Alive showcase provided our students with a unique professional and social opportunity to showcase interdisciplinary graduate-level arts scholarship and creative practice in a vibrant community environment.   

Work by Visual Arts MFA Robyn Miller

Art gallery a fertile ground for magic of forests

A screenshot from “The Ground That Mends,” the stop motion video by UVic fine arts PhD alumna Connie Michele Morey

Groundbreaking research in the 1990s by forest ecologist Suzanne Simard revealed that trees “talk” to each other through an underground network of fungi. Until September 17, anyone who visits UVic’s downtown public art gallery will be able to easily imagine this network underfoot and a thick green canopy overhead while standing among the paintings and other artworks of a new exhibition. But imagining the tang of cedar and pine or experiencing art and virtual reality cannot fully recreate the tangible splendour and ecological diversity of old growth forests.

That tension, between living forest and framed likeness, defines the Still Standing: Ancient Forest Futures exhibition at Legacy Art Galleries Downtown. It is guest curated by Jessie Demers, who was at the War in the Woods protest at Vancouver Island’s Clayoquot Sound in 1993.

“Please, John, Don’t Screw This Up For The Rest of Us / Staircase,” by Mike Andrew McLean, plexi-transmounted digichromatograph, metallic paper/plywood backing

Art, ecology and activism

Still Standing brings together Indigenous and non-Indigenous artists in a dynamic dialogue involving diverse perspectives on art, ecology and activism. It will feature oil paintings, colour-pencil and pastel drawings, and wood and metal sculptures, as well as photography, video, animation and installations—including by seven artists affiliated with the Faculty of Fine Arts.

Demers believes that art “can create common ground while challenging the paradigms that keep us separate from one another and the earth.” As curator of the spring 2021 Eden Grove Artist-in-Residence Program (edengroveair.com)—created to bear witness to both the forest and the Ada’itsx (Fairy Creek) Blockades on Pacheedhat territory—Demers then worked with most of the 12 invited resident artists to develop this new exhibition in Victoria.

Her hope is that it will allow viewers to come away with a greater understanding of the urgency to protect these last stands of ancient forests.

On a snowy day in March 2020, I set up a donated canvas tent, which became the home and studio for the Eden Grove Artist-in-Residence Program. It had last been used by blockaders at Clayoquot Sound 30 years earlier, where I was arrested as a teenager. From March to May, 12 artists were invited to witness the magic of the forest, the strength of the community of forest protectors and the complexities inherent in colonial resource extraction on unceded lands.

—Jessie Demers, guest curator of Still Standing: Ancient Forest Futures at Legacy Downtown

The exhibition features eight of the artists from the Eden Grove program: Fine Arts alumna Connie Michele Morey; Heather Kai Smith; Jeremy Herndl; Kyle Scheurmann; Fine Arts alumnus and sessional instructor Mike Andrew McLean; Visual Arts professor Paul Walde; Chief Rande Cook (Kwakwaka’wakw), a Fine Arts alumnus and former Audain Professor of Contemporary Art Practice of the Pacific Northwest at UVic; and Valerie Salez.

They are joined by five other artists: Carey Newman (Kwakwaka’wakw, Coast Salish and settler), inaugural Impact Chair in Indigenous Art Practices with the Faculty of Fine Arts; Gord Hill (Kwakwaka’wakw); Fine Arts alumnus Jordan Hill (T’Souke); and Visual Arts professor Kelly Richardson.

We are grateful for the opportunity to hold space for this exhibition and the many ways that visitors can experience these works. Still Standing brings together artists’ responses to the magic and power of Eden Grove. It allows for reflection and invites action on how we individually and collectively value the old growth forests that are special to this place.

—Caroline Riedel, Acting Director, Legacy Art Galleries

“The Black Cedar” by Jeremy Herndl, oil on canvas

Scene from “Talisman (III)” by Kelly Richardson, 4K video on silent seamless loop

Evoking a sense of awe

The exhibition is meant to evoke the feeling of BC’s temperate rainforests and a sense of awe in looking up at ancient arboreal wonder. The essence of these big trees, centuries old, is reflected in the work of the dozen artists. The exhibition also captures their interpretations of how people can work toward uprooting the damaging effects of colonialism and consumer culture in the context of old growth.

The pieces will range from Walde’s large-scale photograph of the circumference of one of Eden Grove’s immense and ancient cedars, to a sculptural floor piece by Cook and a silent video by Richardson.

Newman, working together with Camosun Innovates and a team of its mechanical engineering students, has also designed an innovative tool to apply sustainable practices—rather than using old-growth wood—for the same cultural purposes of carving his artworks. At the exhibition, he’ll be presenting a cedar maquette of the second-growth totem he’s currently working on.

Art as instigator of change

Demers adds, “In this time of climate crisis, we need collective action and I see art as a powerful instigator of change. By sharing new perspectives and embodied experiences, art can move us past paralysis and into action.” With that in mind, the exhibition will also include an area where viewers can explore further research online and write postcards to government.

Still Standing runs at Legacy Downtown through to Sept. 17.

—Tara Sharpe

This story original ran on the UVic News site

Latest ONC collaboration focuses on data sonification

How do you use music to address the climate crisis? If you’re Colin Malloy, you fuse your current status as a PhD candidate with both the School of Music and UVic’s Computer Science with your background as a percussionist and apply to become the latest Artist-in-Residence with Ocean Networks Canada.

An award-winning percussionist, composer and audio programmer specializing in contemporary solo and chamber percussion and music technology, Malloy is also a multi-instrumentalist who performs on steelpan, guitar, bass and the Japanese koto.

Hear more about Colin’s work when he appears as part of the Art and Science” webinar with Science and Society Dialogues, starting at 5pm (PT) / 2pm (ET) on July 26. In this first event of the Science and Society Dialogues Series, you’ll hear from both Colin and Sara Black (School of the Art Institute of Chicago) as they discuss their work at the intersection of art and science, followed by a facilitated discussion. 

Data sonification

As the third Artist-in-Residence with Ocean Networks Canada, part of a continuing partnership with Fine Arts, Malloy frequently incorporates nature sounds into his practice as a composer, so it’s a natural step for him to tap into ONC’s vast hydrophone arrays of underwater microphones to create “data sonification” during his residency.

“We’re all familiar with data visualizationwhere you take data and turn it into a visual image that can be interpreted,” says Malloy. “Data sonification is when you take data and turn it into a musical aspect.”

And while most people only hear the steelpan as part of their summer soundtrack, Malloy is looking further back to its origins from actual steel drums used by the oil industry in the early 20th century. “People think of it as a really bright happy instrument from the Caribbean, one that everyone associates with very fun, festive music,” he says. “But a lot of the music I perform on it really subverts that image.”

The arts and the climate crisis

Much like previous ONC Artists-in-Residence Dennis Gupa and Colton Hash, Malloy is passionate about using his artistic practice to make change in the world. “Hearing things that represent what’s going on in our environment can really create a different level of engagement for people, because it’s not just an abstract musical sound it,” he says.

Back in May 2022, Malloy was one of four faculty members who participated in the Fine Arts Creative Futures webinar “Documenting the Climate Crisis” (which you can watch via this YouTube link).

“It’s important to get your message out to people who need to hear it,” says Malloy. “For me, I want my music to go out to people who are either uninspired or a little skeptical . . . you want the listener to have an emotional reaction that makes them want to do something.”

Malloy actively seeks ways to incorporate environmental concerns into his creative practice.  “We can all sit around and agree that climate change is an issue but, if we’re not doing anything about it, then we’re not actually helping or making a change,” he says.  

“I’m a very action-oriented person. Small steps can really add up to a long journey, but if we’re not taking those steps, then we’re not actually helping or making a change.”

Public talk by Shahzia Sikander

Shahzia Sikander’s “The Scroll” (vegetable color, dry pigment, watercolor, and tea on hand-prepared wasli paper, 1989-1990)

The Visual Arts department invites you to a public lecture by Shahzia Sikander, a candidate for the Canada Excellence Research Chair in Decolonization and Transformational Artistic Practice.

Please join us at 7pm Tuesday, July 12, in room 103 of UVic’s Fine Arts building (masks encouraged) or via Zoom: https://uvic.zoom.us/j/96013374661

A pioneering Pakistani American artist, Shahzia Sikander is widely celebrated for expanding and subverting pre-modern and classical Central and South-Asian miniature painting traditions and launching the form known as neo-miniature. By bringing the traditional and historical into dialogue with contemporary international art practices, Sikander’s multivalent work examines colonial archives to readdress orientalist narratives in western art history. Interrogating ideas of language, trade, empire, and migration through imperial and feminist perspectives. Sikander’s paintings, video animations, mosaics and sculpture explore gender roles and sexuality, cultural identity, racial narratives, and colonial and postcolonial histories.

Recipient of the MacArthur genius grant and US Medal of Art, Sikander’s work has been exhibited and collected internationally including at MoMA NY, Whitney Museum, Guggenheim Bilbao, MAXXI Museum Rome, MOT Japan, Asia Society HK, and Jesus College, Cambridge, UK. A traveling survey of her early works opened at the Morgan Library and Museum New York in 2021 and traveled to the RISD Museum and closed in June 2022 at the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston.

If awarded, the Canada Excellence Research Chair in Decolonization and Transformational Artistic Practice will establish locally and globally impactful innovations through interconnecting artistic, Indigenous, and global perspectives across a program of transdisciplinary research and creative work.

Creative Futures: Documenting the Climate Crisis

Creative Futures:
Dean’s Speaker Series

“Documenting the
Climate Crisis”

With Sean Holman, Colin Malloy & Paul Walde

Moderated by Dennine Dudley

12:30pm (PST) Thursday, May 26, 2022

Online webinar 

Free & open to the public via Zoom

Register here

Presented by UVic’s Faculty of Fine Arts

The climate crisis is one of the most urgent problems of our time, and the arts can play a vital role in helping people better understand its impact. This moderated panel discussion will explore current work aimed at documenting the impact of the climate crisis, and how Fine Arts artists, scholars and researchers are responding with innovative and compelling ideas. Audience Q&A to follow.

This session features moderator Dennine Dudley (instructor, “Environmental Art”, Art History & Visual Studies), 2022 Ocean Networks Canada artist-in-residence Colin Malloy (PhD candidate, School of Music), Crookes Professor in Environmental & Climate Journalism Sean Holman (Writing), sound & visual artist Paul Walde (professor, Visual Arts). 

“The arts have a central role to play in motivating the average citizen to not only care about the climate crisis but also take action,” says Fine Arts Dean Allana Lindgren. “Sustainability and climate change touch people in an emotional way, so action in this area by us has potential to spur action that, say, scientific reports will not. We have no shortage of faculty members who are doing fascinating work when it comes to sustainability, the environment and the climate crisis.”

About Creative Futures

This continuing Dean’s Speaker Series was established in 2021 by Dean Allana Lindgren to showcase the scholarly and artistic efforts of professors, instructors and graduate students in the Faculty of Fine Arts. Each year we will present two sessions (fall & spring) exploring a central theme showing how Fine Arts has a demonstrative impact on the most pressing social issues of our time. Our Fall 2021 session on Sustainability & the Arts featured Theatre professor Conrad Alexandrowicz (author of Theatre Pedagogy in the Era of Climate Crisis), Writing professor Kathryn Mockler (Watch Your Head: Writers & Artists Respond to the Climate Crisis) and moderator & Writing professor Shane Book. Watch a recording of it here

Free and open to the public  |  Seating is limited (500 Zoom connections) |  Visit our online events calendar at www.uvic.ca/events

Visiting Artist: Jaimie Isaac

“The Eighth and Final Fire” (2021), public art installation by Jaimie Isaac (Winnipeg)

Our final Visiting Artist of the academic year is the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria’s new chief curator, Jaimie Isaac, an interdisciplinary artist and mixed-heritage member of the Sagkeeng First Nation in Treaty 1 Territory who is dedicated to decolonizing art and cultural institutions.

Join us from 7:30-9:20pm Wed, April 6 in room A162 of UVic’s Visual Arts building, or online.

Isaac is dedicated to making space for womxn, BIPOC, LGBTQ2S+ voices and decolonizing art and cultural institutions. She served as the Indigenous and Contemporary Arts at the Winnipeg Art Gallery for more than 6 years and has been in leadership positions in arts and cultural organizations as well as many independent projects. Isaac holds a degree in Art History From University of Winnipeg and a Masters of Arts from the University of British Columbia, with the thesis focus on Decolonizing Curatorial Practice.

Exhibitions curated at the Winnipeg Art Gallery include the likes of “Nahdohbii: To Draw Water” (an international curatorial collaboration triennial and symposium), “Born In Power”, “Behind Closed Doors”, “Insurgence Resurgence” (co-curated), “Vernon Ah Kee: cantchant”, “Boarder X”(national tour), “We Are On Treaty Land” and “Quiyuktchigaewin; Making Good”. During her tenure, Isaac managed touring shows and initiated many dynamic and sustained partnerships and programming.

Artistically, Isaac co-founded The Ephemerals Collective, which was long-listed for the 2017 and 2019 Sobey Art Award. Collectively and independently, she has exhibited and presented work internationally. Jaimie collaborated with an artistic team on a public sculpture at the Forks called “Nimama at South Point Path: Niizhoziibean” and collaborated on a public art project, “Cyclical Motion: Indigenous Art & Placemaking” and a solo public art work, “8th and Final Fire at the Forks” (Winnipeg, 2021).

With published work, Jaimie has contributed articles and features for Art + Wonder, C Magazine, Bordercrossings and essays for exhibition catalogues; Nahdohbii; To Draw Water, Insurgence Resurgence, Boarder X, Close Encounters: The Next 500 Years, and unsacred. Isaac has contributed in collections of writing within The Land We Are Now: Writers and Artists Unsettle the Politics of Reconciliation, West Coast Line 74 and Public 54: Indigenous Art: New Media and the Digital Journal and contributed in forthcoming publications.

In community, Jaimie was co-faculty for the Wood Land School at Plug In Summer Institute in 2016.  She is the Advisory Committee for the Manitoba Museum and is on the board of directors for Bordercrossings Magazine and Trustee for the Sobey Art Foundation. Jaimie is an honouree for Leaders of Tomorrow from the Manitoba Museum 50th Tribute Awards 2020, CBC Future 40 Finalist and the Canadian Museums Association recipient for an outstanding achievement award in exhibitions category with the Boarder X exhibition, 2021