Final novel by celebrated Indigenous author Richard Wagamese launched at UVic

From telling stories that helped us understand what it meant to be Canadian to inspiring future generations of writers, Richard Wagamase was one of Canada’s most beloved authors. His death in 2017 at just 61 was a profound loss for our country’s literary culture, and now his final novel, Starlight, is being launched locally at a special event hosted by UVic Chancellor Shelagh Rogers who is also host of CBC Radio’s The Next Chapter and a longtime friend of Wagamese.

The Starlight book launch runs from 7-8:30pm Tuesday, Dec 4, at UVic’s First Peoples House. Admission is free, and all are welcome.

Starlight tells the story of an abused woman who discovers sanctuary on the farm of an Indigenous man, and is an apt conclusion to his literary legacy.

“This book is not only a last gift to his readers, it is a masterpiece,” says Rogers. “It will be wonderful to be among friends to pay tribute to his life and his writing, and it’s wonderful that this event takes place at UVic, as Richard loved the university and his time here.”

Joining Rogers will be 2018 Governor General’s Award winner Darrel J. McLeod (Mamaskatch), 2018 Bolen Book Prize winner Monique Gray Smith (Speaking Our Truth: A Journey of Reconciliation), current Writing MFA candidate Troy Sebastian and Writing professor emerita Lorna Crozier.

Richard Wagamese (photo: John Threlfall)

As one of the Harvey Southam Guest Lecturers in the Department of Writing, Wagamase had a lasting influence on UVic students and the local community by mentoring young writers and sharing his vision of the power of Indigenous storytelling.

“Richard Wagamase had a profound impact on our national culture through his novels, his essays, his memoirs and his memorable readings and talks,” says Writing chair David Leach, moderator of this event.

“As our Southam Lecturer in 2011, he inspired and challenged our students to move out of their comfort zones as writers and explore the power of oral storytelling. It was such a great pleasure to hear Richard’s big-hearted laugh in our hallways and talk with him about books or baseball or the blues. It’s still a shock to realize we will never get another chance to hear him read aloud from his richly detailed and deeply humane novels and essays.”

By drawing upon his work as a journalist and his experiences as a residential school survivor, Wagamese created memorable and award-winning novels such as Indian Horse and Medicine Walk, as well as compelling works of nonfiction, including as One Native Life and Embers.

Copies of Starlight will be available for sale at the event.

UVic is accessible by sustainable travel options including transit and cycling. For those arriving by car, pay parking is in effect. Evening parking is $3.

UVic hosts 2018 Building Reconciliation Forum

UVic is this year’s host for the fourth annual Building Reconciliation Forum, in partnership with Universities Canada, the national organization for Canadian universities. The forum (Nov. 15–16) brings together close to 250 thought leaders from universities, Indigenous governing bodies and communities, and federal and regional government officials to consider how universities are answering the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action.

This year’s theme is Ts’its’u’ watul tseep, meaning to help one another. The teachings of Coast Salish First Nations guide us to “work together in a good way” and “to be prepared for all work to come” so that universities across Canada make a difference in the lives of Indigenous students and their communities.

Panels over two days are addressing TRC topics such as child welfare, language and culture, education, health and justice. Participants will be discussing how universities and their partner institutions can work with Indigenous communities to answer the Calls to Action, obstacles to answering these Calls, and how universities can make a positive difference for Indigenous students and communities. Forum discussions will be compiled into an open-access report. See the schedule of events.

Dean Susan Lewis

As part of the Forum, Fine Arts Dean Dr. Susan Lewis will be hosting a panel discussion on First Nations Art Practice & Reconciliation. Local artists, administrators and activists will discuss how Victoria’s arts community can advance decolonization and reconciliation. The moderator for the panel is local Cree/Metis TV producer and writer Barbara Hager, and panelists include:

  • The Belfry Theatre’s Indigenous cultural advisor Kristy Charlie, from W̱SÁNEĆ territory on the Saanich Peninsula
  • Pacific Opera’s director of community engagement, Metis singer Rebecca Hass
  • Visual Arts MFA alumna and Iroquois Mohawk artist Lindsay Delaronde is, who was recently Open Space’s Acting Aboriginal Curator and the City of Victoria’s inaugural Indigenous Artist in Residence. Delaronde has also shown work at UVic’s Legacy Gallery, the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, and was artist-in-residence with the Royal BC Museum
  • Belfry Theatre executive director Ivan Habel
  • Open Space board member and Visual Arts sessional instructor Charles Campbell
  • Legacy Gallery director Mary Jo Hughes
  • Art Gallery of Greater Victoria curator of engagement Nicole Stanbridge.

Susan Algukark

The panel runs from 6:30–9:30pm Thursday, Nov 15 at Pacific Opera Victoria’s Baumann Centre, 925 Balmoral Road. Note: while this event is free, it is technically already sold out. Some seats may be available at the door.

Also during the Building Reconciliation Forum, Fine Arts will be hosting noted Inuk singer-songwriter and Order of Canada recipient Susan Aglukark as she presents Nomad, a musical and visual journey through Inuit history, shedding light on some of the psychological and cultural impacts of the rapid change in Canada’s North. Seating will be extremely limited for this event running from noon-1:30pm on Wednesday, Nov 14, in the Chief Dan George Theatre in the Phoenix Theatre building.

We acknowledge with respect the Lkwungen-speaking peoples on whose traditional territory the University of Victoria stands, and the Songhees, Esquimalt and WSÁNEĆ peoples whose historical relationships with the land continue to this day.

Summer is the time to register for electives

Ever taken a course where you study — and play — video games? Or watch Pixar movies? What about the acting experience, public speaking, humour writing, art forgery, or the cultural impact of film music or the history of fashion & body modification?

From the cultural impact of Star Wars to the inside track on making it as a young adult writer, it’s tough to beat Fine Arts when it comes to cool electives. With over 100 electives open to all students on campus, we’ve got something that will boost your creative and critical thinking skills regardless of your faculty or major.

Each of our five departments offers an exciting range of electives designed to broaden your creative experience. From Music and Writing to Theatre, Visual Arts and Art History & Visual Studies, most of our courses are designed as hands-on experiential learning opportunities — like Vikes Band, where you play live game-day music, Magazine Production, where you conceive of and create your own magazine, or Photography & Video Art, where you put your skills to use behind the camera.

Other courses take a broad approach to cultural studies — like the Asian Identity in Popular Culture or Indigenous Peoples & Music — and look at shifts in society and artistic practice and production over hundreds of years.

Whatever your interest or program, Fine Arts has an elective that will enhance your degree — and your life.

 

New Audain professor examines art as act of reconciliation

When Kwagiulth and Coast Salish artist Carey Newman’s Witness Blanket was unveiled at the University of Victoria in 2014, it was clear the large-scale installation would quickly become a national monument and spark reflection and conversation about residential schools, settler-Indigenous relations and reconciliation. Now, Newman will continue the conversation as the sixth Audain Professor of Contemporary Art Practice of the Pacific Northwest with UVic’s Department of Visual Arts.

Kwagiulth and Coast Salish artist Carey Newman installs the Witness Blanket at UVic ahead of its unveiling in 2014 at a global conference hosted by the university. Photo: Suzanne Ahearne

“This is breaking new ground for me,” says Newman. “I’m looking forward to having the opportunity to convert the experience of mentorship into a more formal educational setting.”

UVic promotes teaching that reflects the aspirations and calls to action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, including addressing issues most relevant to Indigenous people and working with Indigenous communities and organizations to understand, preserve and celebrate traditions, knowledge and cultures.

A former UVic School of Music student, Newman will be the first Audain professor to hold a new three-year position with the department. He will also play a role in the award-winning ACE program with UVic’s Gustavson School of Business, which supports the entrepreneurial practices of Indigenous artists.

“As a master carver, Carey Newman has extensive knowledge of traditions and teachings, as well as a keen interest in contemporary design and digital processes,” says visual arts chair Paul Walde. “Not only is he an extremely well-established artist, but he has strong connections in different mediums and disciplines, both nationally and internationally. With him in the department, we know we would all learn a lot—faculty and students alike—and we look forward to how we can be enriched by that dialogue.”

The artist in his studio in 2013/14, working on one of the cedar panels for the Witness Blanket. Photo: Media One.

The master carver for the Cowichan 2008 Spirit Pole, Newman had another piece, “Dancing Wind,” featured at the 2010 Olympic Games. For over 20 years, he owned Sooke’s recently closed Blue Raven Gallery. He is also an accomplished pianist and singer who has performed at the National Aboriginal Achievement Awards and with Pacific Opera Victoria, where he is currently a board member.

Best known for his 12-metre-long Witness Blanket—created and assembled from 600 objects and artifacts including pieces of residential schools, an old drum and a shoe—Newman spent four years travelling across Canada with the installation that evokes the atrocities of Indian residential schools and a national journey toward reconciliation. Newman is excited to bring ideas of reconciliation into his classes at UVic.

“I’m interested in looking at how artists can take on the issue of reconciliation through their own relationship with Canada,” he says. “That way, it’s not limiting it to Indigenous people but is encouraging anyone, even international students, to relate to it.”

Established by a $2-million gift from philanthropist and UVic alumnus Michael Audain in 2010, the position has brought distinguished practicing artists Rande Cook, Nicholas Galanin, Michael Nicol YahgulanaasJackson 2Bears, and Governor General’s Award-winner Rebecca Belmore to teach in the visual arts department.

 

Lunchtime artist talks on contemporary Indigenous art practices

Interested in contemporary Indigenous art practices? Excited by some of the dynamic and engaging work being created and exhibited both locally and nationally? Wondering how contemporary artists respond to important issues like Truth & Reconciliation, and Murdered & Missing Indigenous Women & Girls? Join the Visual Arts department for a special illustrated lunchtime lecture series featuring three prominent local Indigenous artists.

Tlehpik Hjalmer Wenstob: Friday, March 9 • room 103 of the Fine Arts building

Lindsay Delaronde: Monday, March 12 • room A146 of the Visual Arts building

Carey Newman: Friday, March 16 • room 103 of the Fine Arts building

All talks run noon to 1pm, and all are free.

About the artists:

From Tlehpik Hjalmer Wenstob’s “Transfigurations”

Visual Arts BFA/MFA alumnus Tlehpik Hjalmer Wenstob is a multidisciplinary artist from the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation, on the West Coast of Vancouver Island. Coming from a background of carving, Wenstob’s work has transformed and reformed many times over the years, working in many different mediums, with a focus on sculpture. He has three dialects of art practices, all from the same visual language: traditional work, community/engagement, and contemporary art. While heavily involved in youth engagement and politics, as the Assembly of First Nation’s youth representative for BC and Canada, Wenstob’s work has taken on a balance of history, education, humour, question, and politics.

Coming from a background of carving masks, totem poles and working predominantly in red cedar, Wenstob’s work has transformed through materials and subject matter. With an interest in public installation, curation, mentorship, and sculpture, Wenstob has had work displayed and installed nationally across Canada. His most recent installation—created while mentoring youth—was four Bighouses on the front lawn of the BC Legislature building, which then led to a show currently on view at the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria.

Lindsay Delaronde running a corn doll workshop at Legacy Gallery in 2016 (photo: Corina Fischer)

Visual Arts MFA alumna Lindsay Delaronde is currently the City of Victoria’s Indigenous Artist in Residence and a strong advocate for Indigenous voices, stories, culture and history. Born and raised on the Kahnawake reservation, Delaronde has been living on the West Coast for the past 10 years. In addition to her Visual Arts MFA, she holds a BFA from the Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design, and a Master’s degree in Indigenous Communities Counselling Psychology, also from UVic.

A professional multi-disciplinary visual artist who works in contemporary Indigenous performance and facilitator of traditional workshops, Delaronde has been consistently active and made significant commitments at the local and national level. Her areas of research are stemmed in Contemporary and Traditional First Nations art, expressive arts therapy and working with Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples within the arts and counseling. Her research focuses on land- based, collaborative practice, cultural resurgence and social/political activism through the arts.

Carey Newman

Carey Newman or Hayalthkin’geme is a multi-disciplinary artist and master carver. Through his father he is Kwagiulth from the Kukwekum, Giiksam and WaWalaby’ie clans of Fort Rupert, and Sto:Lo from Cheam along the upper Fraser Valley; through his mother he is English, Irish, and Scottish. Through his work he strives to highlight either Indigenous, social, or environmental issues. He is also interested in engaging with community and incorporating socially innovative practice into his artistic process. Newman’s most recent major work — the Witness Blanket, made of items collected from residential schools, government buildings and churches across the Canada — deals with the subject of reconciliation. (Another prominent local public piece is the ornately carved ceiling of Pacific Opera Victoria’s Baumann Centre on Balmoral Road.)

In 2008, Newman was selected as the master carver of the Cowichan 2008 Spirit Pole, a journey that saw him travel BC sharing the experience of carving a 20-foot totem with over 11,000 people. In 2009, he was selected from a national call to artists by VANOC and won the right to create a large installation: his piece “Dancing Wind” was featured during the 2010 Olympic Games, and consisted of 4 large panels, made from stainless steel, cedar and glass. He has done work for corporations, government agencies and museums around the world and is continually thankful for the opportunity to try new ideas.

These talks are in addition to the Visual Arts department’s proven commitment to Indigenous artists and their practices, as evidenced by their long-running Audain Professorship of Contemporary Art Practice of the Pacific Northwest—which has afforded Visual Arts students the opportunity to work with the likes of Governor General’s Award-winner Rebecca Belmore, Michael Nicol Yahgulanaas, Rande Cook, Nicholas Galanin and Jackson 2Bears. And the Faculty of Fine Arts supports the work of Indigenous artists and creative practitioners in a variety of ways, which you can read about here

Top 10 Fine Arts stories of 2017 – part two

What else happened in Fine Arts in 2017? More than we can mention in one blog post, so here’s part two of our top-10 stories of the year.

International attention

Considering we’re based on an island at the edge of the continent, it’s surprising how much international attention UVic continues to get — and while there’s no arguing our extraordinary sense of place here in Victoria, credit must go to our exceptional faculty who always seem to be busy across the country and around the world.

Ajtony Csaba at the Hungarian Liszt Academy of Music (photo: Réka Érdi-Harmos)

School of Music professor Dániel Péter Biró and some Music students participated in UVic’s interdisciplinary field school “Narratives of Memory, Migration, and Xenophobia” this summer, which brought together scholars, students and artists from Canada and Europe to examine issues including the recent resurgence of nationalist and xenophobic movements in North America and Europe. Biró also had a number of compositions commissioned, premiered and performed in Europe this year, as well as in Brooklyn. Ajtony Csaba was honoured to perform a special Canada 150 concert for the Hungarian Ambassador in Ottawa this summer, as well as having the opportunity to lead the orchestra at the Hungarian Liszt Academy of Music this fall. Merrie Klazek presented a solo recital at the International Women’s Brass Conference in New Jersey in June, Joanna Hood was featured on German radio this fall, and Benjamin Butterfield appeared once again at the Amalfi Coast Music Arts and Music Festival, teaching and directing the opera Gianni Schicchi with some of his UVic voice students, past and present (including Kaden Forsberg, Margaret Lingas, Ai Horton and Nick Allen).

Visual Arts professor Kelly Richardson saw her art exhibited in solo and group exhibits in Scotland, England, France, China and the United States this year, while Paul Walde had two separate exhibits on view in Norway and Scotland, and Cedric Bomford had work in California, as well as an ongoing public art commission in Seattle. And sessional instructor Charles Campbell had work exhibited at both the Los Angeles’ Museum of Latin American Art and San Francisco’s Museum of the African Diaspora this year.

Finally, Theatre professor Patrick Du Wors was the only Canadian selected for the prestigious 2017 World Stage Design exhibition in Taiwan, and Art History & Visual Studies professor Marcus Milwright published a new book, Islamic Arts and Crafts: An Anthology  with Edinburgh University Press.

Indigenous action

Lindsay Delaronde supported by dancers during ACHoRd (Photo: Peruzzo)

Considering the City of Victoria declared 2017 a Year of Reconciliation, it was perhaps fitting that we saw a great deal of activity by Indigenous alumni, guest speakers and faculty — most notable of which was the announcement that Visual Arts MFA alumna Lindsay Delaronde would be Victoria’s first Indigenous Artist in Residence. “I hope to create artworks that reflect the values of this land, which are cultivated and nurtured by the Indigenous peoples of this territory,” she said at the time. “I see my role as a way to bring awareness to and acknowledge that reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples is a process, one in which I can facilitate a collaborative approach for creating strong relationships to produce co-created art projects in Victoria.”

2017 also saw the completion of Rande Cook’s two-year term as the latest Audain Professor in Visual Arts — on top of his duties as chief of Vancouver Island’s ’Namgis Nation and his commitments as an in-demand contemporary artist with an international practice. “Two years in the position allowed me to really reach students,” says Cook. “I was able to delve into the role art plays in politics, and got them to dive deep within themselves. I pushed my students a lot and they seemed to appreciate that — the feedback at the end of the year said it was one of the more profound classes they had ever taken.”

The call is currently out for the next Audain Professor, with a January 31 application deadline.

Theatre professor Kirsten Sedeghi-Yetka continues her applied theatre work in the area of Indigenous language preservation, and Theatre also hosted acclaimed Indigenous playwright Marie Clement as a guest this fall. AHVS professor Carolyn Butler-Palmer‘s 2017 Legacy Gallery exhibit on early female Indigenous carver Ellen Neel was featured in this national Globe and Mail article, Legacy Gallery also hosted an exhibit by Visual Arts MFA alumna Marianne Nicholson focusing on the impact of smallpox on local first nations, and fellow Visual Arts MFA Hjalmer Wenstob had a high-profile longhouse installation on the lawn of the BC Legislature this summer as part of the OneWave Gathering.

High-profile Indigenous Writing alumni Richard Van Camp and Eden Robinson were in the news repeatedly this year, with Robinson being shortlisted for the Giller Prize and winning a prestigious Writers’ Trust Fellowship. And everyone in Writing and Fine Arts were saddened to hear of the passing of former Southam Lecturere, Richard Wagamese.

Daniel Laskarin with his new public art sculpture, now installed in Richmond

Art with impact

Visual Arts faculty had a busy year with a number of prominent exhibitions and projects. Paul Walde’s Tom Thomson Centennial Swim project received a great deal of local, provincial and national media attention this summer — with 10 different radio interviews and day-of coverage by the Toronto Star — as well as making UVic’s list of top news stories of 2017.

The spotlight was definitely on the recently retired Sandra Meigs — now professor emeritus — who was named a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada in September, opened a solo exhibit at Winchester Galleries early in 2017 featuring work created after winning the Gershon Iskowitz Prize, and launched an impressive solo show at the Art Gallery of Ontario in October, in collaboration with Music’s Christopher Butterfield. Listen to this interview with Meigs on CBC Radio’s Q, in which Butterfield’s audio component is also discussed.

Daniel Laskarin debuted a new public art sculpture at the Cambie Fire Hall No. 3 / Richmond North Ambulance Station and had a local solo show at Deluge Gallery, while Robert Youds had no less than three solo exhibits this fall, with two in Victoria and one in Toronto. Cedric Bomford had his work on view in California, Quebec and Toronto’s Nuit Blanche this summer, and very busy new professor Kelly Richardson participated in 14 solo and group exhibitions across Canada and Europe — with more planned in 2018.

10 years of acclaimed journalists

The stage may have been crowded, but not as much as the audience!

For the past 10 years, Writing students have benefited by learning from veteran journalists and authors, thanks to the Harvey Stevenson Southam Lecturer in Journalism and Nonfiction. In November, Writing celebrated a decade of Southam Lecturers with a special “all-star” anniversary panel featuring six former Southams together for the first time, in a lively moderated discussion on “The Future of Journalism in the Age of #FakeNews”

“The idea for the panel was sparked by a perfect convergence,” says Writing chair David Leach. “A chance to mark the 10th anniversary of the Southam Lectureship, the opportunity to thank the Southam family for their generosity, and to respond to a sense of global urgency around the role of journalists as guardians of our democratic institutions — especially when the most powerful elected official on the planet keeps attacking the free press as #FakeNews.”

Leach acted as emcee and moderator for the event, which broke all previous Southam attendance records and saw close to 250 fill every seat, aisle, ledge and doorway. six returning Southams — Jody Paterson, Terry Glavin, JoAnn Roberts and Tom Hawthorn, plus departmental alumni Mark Leiren-Young and Vivian Smith — as well as recent Writing grad Quinn MacDonald, now the publisher/editor of the local urban agriculture magazine Concrete Garden.

“All were keen to talk about their experiences as guest lecturers and debate the future of journalism,” says Leach. “Taken together, it offers a broad range of ways to look at contemporary journalism.”

A strong year for new donors

Samantha Krzywonos (far right) marks the
98th birthday of longtime donor Tommy Mayne, with three Theatre student recipients of his scholarship, in 2016

Another way to measure a faculty’s health and success is through the strength of its donors. And while Fine Arts couldn’t boast of another monumental donation like the one we received in 2016 from Jefferey Rubinoff — who sadly passed away earlier this year — 2017 remained a healthy year for donors and donations. Fine Arts Development Officer Samantha Krzywonos reports that we attracted 103 first-gift donors this past year — as compared to 48 in 2016 — and received an overall 476 donations for a total of nearly $500,000 that will support students.

Donations of all sizes are essential not only for scholarships and awards, but also for the need for innovative technology, space modifications and equipment upgrades — all of which contribute to the success of Fine Arts students in all our departments. Donors can range from alumni and retired faculty to parents of students, corporate partners, arts patrons, current and former staff, and community members. Indeed, we currently have over 250 active donors and nearly $10 million in planned gift expectancies invested in Fine Arts students.

Krzywonos feels meeting with donors is the most rewarding aspect of her job. “It’s all about saying thank-you and sharing the impact of that support. If a student can focus on their studies and not have to take on extra work just to get by, that donor support can make a huge difference in their life.”