Graduation celebration

Graduation celebration

Welcome to issue 11 of the Fine Arts Connector, your regular listing of news, resources, activities and other shareable content from UVic’s Faculty of Fine Arts. It’s a handy way of keeping up with student, faculty and alumni activity while we’ve shifted gears to working, creating and teaching off-campus.

This month, we congratulate our latest group of graduating students, who now become part of the more than 8,800 Fine Arts alumni worldwide who have studied at UVic. “As part of an esteemed group of artists and creative thinkers, you are poised to embrace the adventures that lie ahead,” says acting dean Allana Lindgren in a message to the new alumni. “Believe in yourself. You are ready . . . . Use the knowledge and skills you learned during your degree to make a difference for your family, your community, the planet.”

Since there can’t be an in-person convocation ceremony this year, we’ve put together this Grad 2020  website for our students, filled with congratulatory videos from UVic President Jamie Cassels, Chancellor Shelagh Rogers, Acting Dean Allana Lindgren, Acting Associate Dean Adam Con, Songhees Elder Skip Dick plus messages from each of our departments and schools, as well as our certificate and diploma partners.

It’s our own compliment to UVic’s central graduation site, which features additional content like messages from the Governor General of Canada, Julie Payette, BC Premiere John Horgan and others. “You and your fellow students have faced a very challenging spring term, but you’ve endured and you’ve supported one another . . . your success today after those challenges bodes very well for your future,” says President Cassels. “This is an important transition for you, and your university wishes you all the best.”

Once again, congratulations to our 2020 graduates! 

As always, please enjoy—and circulate—this collection of material featuring our faculty, students, alumni, staff and guests as a way of both sharing what our creative community is up to and keeping us all connected. You can also help by keeping us in the loop if you’re working on a live-streaming project, have online material to share or are involved in something you’d like people to know about: just email either or

Finally, you can sign up here to receive automatic notice of The Connector each issue.

Graduating Theatre student Olivia Wheeler (photo: John Threlfall)


We will need fine arts grads 

As Prime Minister Justin Trudeau noted in one of his pandemic briefings, “Since the beginning of the current crisis, artists have been bringing comfort, laughs and happiness into our lives.” He’s right: the arts are important, particularly during a pandemic. In fact, COVID-19 has proven the arts are a social necessity. Creativity is always an assertion of hope​.

So says Acting Dean Allana Lindgren in her opinion piece “We Will Need Fine Arts Graduates” in a Post COVID-19 World, which ran on July 9 in the online University Affairs magazine.

“A fine arts education—be it in music, theatre, dance, creative writing, visual arts or art history and visual studies—is not always an easy sell. The social utility and financial feasibility of the arts are often underrated. This is an erroneous view at best, given the more than 700,000 jobs and nearly $60-billion direct economic impact the cultural industries have in Canada,” writes Lindgren.

“As they write novels, sculpt, create digital art or compose music, our students are also learning transferrable skills that are essential for countering situations defined by uncertainty. Innovation and adaptability are an essential component of any fine arts education. The arts community was one of the first to pivot online after the sweeping cancellations of performances, concerts, readings, exhibits and arts-related events and conferences.”

Read the full piece here.


University Affairs illustration by Pablo Stanley

More Good Company

Fine Arts has been well-represented in the “Good Company” interview series. So far, UVic Chancellor Shelagh Rogers has interviewed a number of our people, including:  

The latest in the series is her conversation with Writing professor and Cree Metis poet Gregory Scofield, who explores the connection between language, storytelling and beadwork. 

 Just click on the links to watch their interviews with Shelagh.

Theatre’s Adrienne Holierhoek & her communications class visit Stacy Ross at CHEK in 2018

Sing out loud (but at home) 

Choirs have been in the news a lot lately since provincial health officer Bonnie Henry announced in June that choral singing would likely be one of the last activities to resume normal practice. With well over 50 choirs, Victoria is a big choir town—so what does COVID-19 mean for the future of choir singing locally?

Hear Acting Associate Dean and School of Music choral professor Adam Con talk about the present and future of choir singing in this recent interview with CBC Radio’s All Points West

“There are thousands of people in Victoria missing the experience of singing right now,” says Con, who leads the UVic Chorus. “Making plans is probably the most important thing, as we don’t know when we’re going to be able to come together again.”   


Adam Con leads a children’s choir at the Legislature in 2019

Coming up this month

The latest in Pacific Opera’s ongoing Lunchbox Opera Online series features School of Music professors Benjamin Butterfield and pianist Kinza Tyrrell as they perform some of their favourite selections on July 24. The performance by our own acclaimed tenor and his accompanist was filmed live in the Wingate Studio of Pacific Opera Victoria’s Baumann Centre.


When it comes to object affection, there’s more to Theatre’s interim properties instructor Karina Kalvaitis than just props. She’s having her own sculpture show this month: The Residents features a series of felt and mixed media sculptures describe a world of mysterious creatures and half-familiar places. Through explorations of posture, gesture and facial expressions, the resident animals wordlessly express states of mind and emotion. The Residents runs 12-5pm weekends (or by appointment) through to July 26 at arc.hive artist run centre, 2516 Bridge Street. 

Current Writing student and emerging filmmaker Elvie Simons has been shortlisted for CineVic’s CineSpark contest for her short film Bequest. Blending Super-8 footage with a present-day voiceover in a  mother-daughter storyline, Simons stands the chance of winning a production package worth over $17,500 to complete her film for 2021’s Short Circuit Film Festival. Watch her Zoom pitch at 7pm Tuesday, July 28.

“The Residents” by Karina Kalvaitis 


Anti-racism training available 

Back in early June, UVic president Jamie Cassels released a statement about the need for us—as a university and as individuals—to continue to confront racism. “Racism and discrimination have no place at UVic, and we stand in solidarity with students, faculty and staff against racism, intolerance and violence,” he wrote.  

As such, a number of initiatives are underway to combat racism at UVic, including: a new program of anti-racism training through the office of Equity and Human Rights; an institutional project to establish a comprehensive strategy for considering equity, diversity and inclusion in all faculty hiring, promotion and tenure committees; an upcoming symposium on anti-racism; and planned reviews of our discrimination and harassment, human rights and sexualized violence policies. “Although we have many initiatives underway, we acknowledge that there is still much more to be done,” says Cassels.

UVic recently participated in a Victoria Forum webinar on “Systemic Racism & Inequality in the Middle of a Global Pandemic”—if you missed it, you can see a recap of the 80-minute session here.

And, as part of that ongoing discussion, Fine Arts hosted Writing chair Maureen Bradley, Theatre professor Yasmine Kandil and associate dean Adam Con to lead a discussion on systemic racism at our  June 25 faculty meeting. Part of what came out of that discussion is the new White Fragility Discussion & Resource Group, which has been set up to discuss and share resources that will help us dismantle white fragility—which present a serious barrier to combatting racism and systemic discrimination.

If you’re not familiar with the term, “white fragility” was coined by academic Dr. Robin DiAngelo in 2011. Her eponymous book is back at the top of the New York Times bestseller list (just below Ibram X. Kendi’s How to Be an Anti-Racist). As the NYT describes it“white fragility” is the historical and cultural analyses on what causes defensive moves by white people, and how this inhibits cross-racial dialogue. DiAngelo suggests that it often derails the serious work of addressing systemic discrimination. 

Share your ideas with the Canada Council for the Arts

The Canada Council for the Arts invites you to help shape the Council’s next five-year strategic plan. 

This is a disruptive period for the whole arts community—one which brings challenges, but also one which is prompting reflection and dialogue, and which offers the opportunity to take meaningful action. The Canada Council wants to hear from diverse stakeholder groups and the public to shape a plan that reflects the arts sector’s current reality and looks ahead to how the Council can help restart, reinvigorate and reimagine the arts for the benefit of all Canadians. 

As Canada’s public arts funder, the Council supports the creation and enjoyment of the arts through investments in Canadian artists and arts organizations. To give you a platform for sharing your ideas for the next strategic plan, the Council has engaged Hill+Knowlton Strategies to conduct a survey and provide other engagement opportunities.

Complete their online survey at and use #ReimagineTheArts on your social media accounts. This survey should only take 15-25 minutes to complete and will provide the Council with valuable input to shape our future priorities, plans and actions to support the arts in Canada.

The deadline to complete the survey is August 21, 2020. 

If you have questions about this initiative, please do not hesitate to contact  

Regional arts COVID-19 survey results

The CRD Arts & Culture Support Service has collected preliminary data on the impact of COVID-19 on funded organizations in the areas of staffing, programming and finances. The survey shows a significant change in the arts sector since March in comparison to 2019 progress report data.

Key survey findings from arts organizations receiving CRD Project and Operating funding:

  • 82% anticipate financial losses in the year ending 2020
  • 28% of organizations report that they will lay off staff
  • 46% of organizations have had to cancel programming in the year ending 2021
  • 78% of organizations have developed alternative formats to replace cancelled events. 

Arts organizations funded by the CRD typically provide 3,564 jobs and generate over $27.5 million in revenues annually of which the Arts Commission provides an investment of 8%. In 2019 CRD funding helped produce 3,357 arts events for the benefit of the community.

”The Arts Commission is seeing incredible efforts by the sector to sustain arts programming for citizens,” says CRD Arts Commission chair Jeremy Loveday. “The investments we make in these organizations are helping connect residents and bring comfort during an uncertain time.”

For more information, these PDF reports are available now: 

A gifted artist and inspiring mentor

While the prestigious $50,000 Molson Prize may not ring any immediate bells, a quick glance through the list of previous winners reveals a who’s-who of Canadian culture: Margaret Atwood, Glenn Gould, Richard Wagamese, Alice Munro, Robertson Davies, Bill Reid, Mary Pratt, Jack Shadbolt, MG Vassanji, Margaret Laurence, Denys Arcand, Arthur Erickson . . . with over 100 luminaries representing Canada’s intellectual and cultural heritage, it’s like the ultimate CBC guest list.

One category missing from this list of prestigious artists, writers, composers, architects, choreographers and academics, however, is theatrical designers.

But that has now changed forever, as theatre professor and legendary production designer Mary Kerr becomes the first designer to be named a Molson Prize Laureate in the prize’s 56-year history. 

“Einstein said, ‘creativity is intelligence having fun’—that captures my life practice,” says Kerr. “I’m not that interested in realism; I’m interested in exploration, illusion, what’s going on in someone’s mind . . . that’s what I love about theatre, the ability to bring some kind of transformation and healing to the audience.”

From the iconic likes of Expo 67, Expo 86 and the 1994 Commonwealth Games to nearly every professional stage in the country—including the National Arts Centre production of Copper Thunderbird (above)—Mary Kerr’s visionary theatrical designs have transformed Canadian culture over the past five decades.

“We are so fortunate to have Mary’s talents here at the University of Victoria,” says Vice-President Academic and Provost Valerie Kuehne. “Not only is she an exceptionally gifted artist, she’s also an inspired teacher and mentor. Her work elevates UVic’s position as a national leader in fine arts and brings positive attention to the cultural strengths of Canadian art and production design on the global stage.”

 Read the full story here

Mary Kerr in her office at UVic’s Department of Theatre, surrounded by her various designs, 2016 (UVic Photo Services)

Pausing for the music


School of Music alum and baroque violinist Chloe Kim is organizing a new series, Music for the Pause, in solidarity with, and in support of, Victoria-based classical musicians negatively impacted by COVID-19. The series—which runs through to September 11—will also include performances by fellow Music alumni Tyson Doknjas and Mieka Michaux.

Normally busy with concerts and performances, the 23-year-old Kim created the new series as a way to reinvigorate the classical music community. Music for the Pause offers an 11-week concert series, featuring mostly Victoria-based musicians performing baroque chamber works on period instruments.

“Music for the Pause is a way of keeping myself and my colleagues, who are like family to me, creatively engaged as well as for staying connected to audiences during a very difficult and strange time,” explains Kim in this CBC interview.

“As someone who thrives on the intensity of a full performing schedule and the togetherness and sharing that comes with that, the concept of a summer without music was inconceivable to me. I like the challenge of having to work within certain parameters, whether it be social distancing regulations or personnel limitations, and I choose to see this period of time as an opportunity to be creative, rather than one of waiting or inactivity.” 

Kim’s series was also covered by both the Times Colonist and CHEK News. “It’s become about what attracted us to it in the first place, which was really the pleasure and the joy that we get out of it from just playing together in a room,” she told CHEK TV.

Chloe Kim (Photo: Kelsey Goodwin)

Click on the photo for a teaser of Kim’s performance 

A round-up of writers

Current Department of Writing professor Danielle Geller has a new piece in the prestigious Paris Review. “The Origin of My Laugh” offers a reflection on her life, her late mother and her relationship with laughter . . . which is not always a laughing matter. 

In other Writing news, current undergraduate, UVic varsity athlete and senior staff writer for The Martlet Josh Kozelj has won the U SPORTS Correspondent of the Year award. Kozelj, who has had a number of pieces published in the likes of the Globe and Mail and Tyeewas chosen based on the overall quantity and quality of his work, the diversity of his written portfolio, his punctuality, ability to find and pitch interesting stories, and regular involvement in contributing to U SPORTS Weekend Watch, a weekly Friday column previewing key games and events taking place each week of the season. 

Kozelj’s piece on Calgary Dinos cross country runner Eric Lutz, and his battle to return from a devastating back injury was one of the highlights of his written portfolio during the 2019-20 campaign and a finalist for the Story of the Year.


Finally, while the second-annual reading Pride Week poetry celebration “Wilde About Sappho”, originally scheduled for July 7, was cancelled due to you-know-what, current City of Victoria Poet Laureate John Barton instead invited the five 2SLGBTQIA+ readers to share their work online.

Wilde About Sappho: A Pride Reading of Local Queer Writers offers 30 minutes of readings by Writing alumni John Barton plus Kai Conradi, Serena Lukas Bhandar and current professor Gregory Scofield, as well as other readings by Robin Stevenson and Wendy Donawa.

Josh Kozelj

Two awards for AHVS graduates

Congratulations go out this month to two Art History & Visual Studies graduate students. Holly Cecil has been named the recipient of UVic’s 2019 Lieutenant Governor’s Silver Medal, while recent alum Atri Hatef has been awarded the 2020 Leonard Boyle dissertation prize from the Canadian Society of Medievalists.

 Awarded annually to a student with an outstanding graduate project or research paper other than thesis, Cecil received the Lieutenant Governor’s Silver Medal for her work on “The Role of Filmmaking in Communicating Research”.

“It’s a privilege to be recognized with this award for my research, and I want to share appreciation with my supervisor and committee, AHVS professors Lianne McLarty and Victoria Wyatt,” says Cecil. “In my research I investigate the ways that the documentary genre presents global issues to local audiences, specifically around themes of human-animal relationships.”

Recent PhD alum Atri Hatef, who received a prestigious postdoc at MIT’s Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture, has now earned the Leonard Boyle prize for her thesis, “A Dialogue between Friends and Foes: Transcultural Interactions in Ilkhanid Capital Cities (1256-1335 AD)” — which is described as “an outstanding thesis that broadens notions of what the discipline of medieval studies can be.”

“This work is truly interdisciplinary, combining fields as diverse as history, art history, archaeology, religious studies and comparative literature,” notes the prize committee.  

“Congratulations to both on their achievements,” says AHVS chair Marcus Milwright.

Holly Cecil (right) with the Legacy Gallery’s Caroline Riedel (left) & AHVS professor Erin Campbell

Atri Hatef curating an exhibit at UVic’s Legacy Maltwood Gallery in 2017

Artistic voices

For most people, a visit to the yoga studio simply adds a bit of metaphysicality to their workout: a chance to breathe, stretch and realign their chakras with a few oms and namastes. But for graduating Visual Arts Honours BFA Rudra Manani, it’s an example of the widespread spiritual whitewashing that not only drives her art practice but also her identity as a first-generation Indo-Canadian.

“There’s a fascination with Hindu practices, but it’s gotten so disconnected that people don’t often realize where it all began,” says Manani, who was born in India but raised in Calgary before coming to UVic to train as an artist. “Think about yoga and how commercialized it’s become: not just Lululemon but all the retreats and studios with statues of deities . . . it’s more associated with hippie culture than Hindu culture, especially on the Island.”

Read more about Manani’s practice and future plans in this feature story on the UVic News site

And if you missed the recent Zoom artist talk with Visual Arts instructor and MFA alum Todd Lambeth around his exhibit at Winchester Galleries, you’re in luck: the talk has now been archived, so you can hear Lambeth discuss both his body of work and his process of art-making, as well as respond to a Q&A session with viewers.  

Watch his artist talk here

Rudra Manani’s “Get Your Om On” (digital photograph, 2020)

Todd Lambeth discusses his art practice

More to come 

We’ll be posting more content from our faculty, students and alumni next month—be sure to check back!

Physically distanced, culturally connected

Physically distanced, culturally connected

Welcome to issue 10 of the Fine Arts Connector, your regular listing of news, resources, activities and other shareable content from UVic’s Faculty of Fine Arts. It’s a handy way of keeping up with student, faculty and alumni activity while we’ve shifted gears to working, creating and teaching off-campus.

In accordance with BC’s careful, step-by-step approach to increasing social and economic activity during the COVID-19 pandemic, the university is moving into the next phase of resuming on-campus activities.

Our approach continues to be careful and gradual, while maintaining our focus on the health and workplace safety of our campus community. Units will continue to modify their operational plans to ensure they have the people, whether working on or off campus, and services in place to support our commitment to high-quality academic programming and services. 

This managed, gradual return to campus is one way we can do our part to minimize the potential risk of an increased spread of the virus in our community. The fewer people we have on campus, the easier it is for those who are on site to maintain effective protective measures.

You can stay up to date with the resumption of campus activities through UVic’s dedicated COVID-19 site.

Similarly, Victoria’s arts scene is cautiously beginning to reemerge. As noted in the news roundup below, we’re starting to see innovative ways of delivering live theatre, art and music to audiences once more—with a number of our alumni, students and faculty at the forefront locally.

As always, please enjoy—and circulate—this collection of material featuring our faculty, students, alumni, staff and guests as a way of both sharing what our creative community is up to and keeping us all connected. You can also help by keeping us in the loop if you’re working on a live-streaming project, have online material to share or are involved in something you’d like people to know about: just email either or

Finally, you can sign up here to receive automatic notice of The Connector each issue.

Photo: Leon Fei


Pandemic funding

Double Fine Arts alum (BFA Theatre/MFA Writing) and current Department of Writing playwriting instructor Janet Munsil has been announced as one of the recipients of the CBC Creative Relief Fund projects in the “Playwright Pilot Stream” for her new play, Attaboy!—which had a live reading at the Belfry Theatre back in 2019. Selected from nearly 9000 submitted projects, Munsil’s play is one of 119 original Canadian projects to receive funding for development and production, including 51 projects from BIPOC creators.

The fund was launched in April in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and provided $2 million in urgently needed development and production funding to a diverse range of original projects, including scripted comedies and dramas, unscripted entertainment, kids and young adult programming, podcasts, play adaptations and short documentaries.

Janet Munsil 

Creativity exhibit

Current Art History & Visual Studies graduate student Ashley Riddett appeared in this June 23 Times Colonist story about her work on the physically-distanced exhibit, Challenge Crisis with Creativity: Our Community Coping with COVID Through Art, running June 23-27 at Oak Bay’s Gage Gallery.

The exhibit was curated by Riddett and fellow grad students Maria Buhne, Anahita Ranjbar and Amena Sharmin, as well as Gage’s Gabriela Hirt and Tanya Bub. Also appearing in the exhibit is work by Visual Arts alum Francine Klysen, who notes in the TC article that her husband is in long-term care at Oak Bay Kiwanis Pavilion for Alzheimer’s; she hasn’t been able to see her husband for 13 weeks, but she has sold eight paintings inspired by the Gage Gallery project, profits from which are being donated back to Kiwanis Pavilion. “I’ve never sold a single painting before,” Klysen told the TC. “But it was my husband who said I should do this. Now, I’m painting every day.” 

Ashley Riddett (Photo: John Threlfall)

Theatre to go

It’s been a busy week since alumni company Theatre SKAM launched their new, free traveling Home Delivery service—offering live theatre directly to their audience’s doors—with a number of local shows being booked and a good deal of media coverage.

Current University of Victoria Phoenix Theatre student actors Sarah Hunsberger and Hannah Allin were interviewed for this June 17 piece on CTV Vancouver Island, while alumni actor Lynnéa Chan was featured in this June 18 CHEK News story and SKAM’s artistic producer Matthew Payne appeared on CBC Radio’s On The Island on June 22.

An alumni company with a long history of employing Theatre students and graduates, SKAM’s current team includes eight students & recent theatre alumni, including Hannah Mariko Bell, Vanessa Wood, Lynnea Chan, Astra Lund-Phillips, Olivia Wheeler, Sarah Hunsbergeer, Hannah Allin and Logan Swain.

Interested in booking your own free show? Click here to find out more.


SKAM’s Sarah Hunsberger, Kendra Bidwell, Hannah Allin & Lynnéa Chan (Photo: Samantha Duerksen)

History, through art

Visual Arts Audain Professor Carey Newman appeared on both CBC Radio’s All Points West and North By Northwest recently, both covering current political events in the context of Indigenous Peoples Day. In this June 21 NXNW interview (skip to the 2:10 mark), he discusses contemporary issues—including politics, the pandemic and anti-racism—through an art lens, and how that connects with his teaching practice. He also spoke about his recent documentary, Picking Up The Pieces: The Making of the Witness Blanket, which is currently streaming for free

“With all of the big conversations going on in the world right now . . . and the discussions here in Canada about systemic racism, this is a good resource to remind people what the foundations of this country are,” he told host Sheryl McKay about the  documentary. 

Carey Newman

A decade of fine art

As local art galleries begin to open up again, Art History & Visual Studies alum Michael Warren made the news recently by combining the re-opening of his downtown Madrona Gallery with its 10th anniversary. “The exhibit will touch on major moments at the gallery through the decade,” said Warren in this June 15 Times Colonist interview. “We will showcase significant Inuit carvings, drawings and prints as well as historic Canadian and post-war pieces.”

“In a lot of ways it feels like just yesterday we were opening the gallery and learning how to swim,” Warren told the Victoria News in this June 14 interview. “But we’ve done a lot. The business has grown, going from a local focus with a local footprint to sourcing work nationally and internationally.”

Michael Warren (Darren Stone, Times Colonist)

In the swim

The premiere exhibition of the Tom Thomson Centennial Swim by Visual Arts professor Paul Walde is back open to the public again at Nelson’s Touchstones Gallery: the exhibition closed shortly after it originally opened in March, but has now been extended to September 20. 

On July 8 2017, Walde swam the length of Canoe Lake in Algonquin Park on the 100th anniversary of Canadian painter Tom Thomson’s death. The swim—a site- and temporally-specific event—was used as an opportunity for exploring and understanding this landscape and history through performative experience. The swim was accompanied by a series of interconnected events: a brass band with a mandolin soloist performing a new long form music composition by Walde, three synchronized swimming routines a various points along the route, and a flotilla of canoes carrying the band.

The work primarily exists in two forms: the event itself and the resulting audio/video work based on the footage of the event. Touchstones is the first gallery to premiere the video and score as an installation.


Paul Walde (Photo: Andrew Wright)


SSHRC Insight summer school

While most think of summer school as a bit of an inconvenience, it can be an ideal time for professional development. Consider UVic’s upcoming SSHRC Insight Summer School, which is designed to support faculty members, librarians and postdoctoral fellows from across campus as they prepare applications for SSHRC Insight or Insight Development Grants.

Participants are invited to access any or all of the summer school offerings, including interactive sessions, customized online resources, a discussion forum and opportunities for peer review. Facilitated by UVic’s faculty grants officers, the series will provide a supportive and collegial atmosphere to learn more about the application process and make significant headway on a draft application.

The training will be hosted via CourseSpaces, with optional Zoom live sessions taking place from 2-3:30pm Wednesdays (PDT) on July 8, 15, 22 & 29.

Popular podcasts

If you haven’t caught the podcast revolution yet, now’s definitely the time. While the online airwaves are filled with options, here are two well worth checking out.

The first is UVic’s Scales of Change: A field guide to the Dragons of Climate Inaction, an eight-part weekly series launched on May 13. Produced by Future Ecologies, with support from UVic, the foundation of the series is The Dragons of Inaction, the magnum opus of UVic environmental psychologist Robert Gifford. With the help of Gifford himself, co-hosts Adam Huggins (Environmental Studies alum) and Mendel Skulski take a deep dive into the psychological barriers (the “dragons”) that prevent us from addressing the urgency of the climate crisis. Each episode, Skulski and Huggins talk with guests including filmmakers, activists, scientists, Indigenous land defenders, journalists, scholars and artists to deepen the conversation around making meaningful change—all woven together by a powerful immersive soundscape. You can listen online or subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts or your favourite podcast app.


But if you’re looking for something more literally fantastic, check out the science-fiction podcast ARCA-45672 by Visual Arts MFA alum Claire Scherzinger. Inspired by some of her paintings that she wanted to bring to life, Scherzinger wrote and sound-designed this eight-part sci-fi drama that was directed and produced by Theatre alum Kirsten Sharun, and acted and recorded by UVic students and alumni (with an assist from faculty members Kirk McNally and Cliff Haman). When first released in 2019, ARCA received good coverage from CBC and was a top performer on the iTunes charts in Canada for the Apple Podcast.

ARCA-45672 in a nutshell: in 2172, the world is dying. Only a fraction of the Earth’s former biosphere remains, the world is running out of food and part of the human population has gone sterile, resulting in massive inbreeding and genetic distortions. Teams of scientists and military personnel tasked with finding a way to save humanity from extinction are confronted with a possible opportunity: an exoplanet near the Proxima Centauri system is discovered.

Over the course of 73 years, this discovery of the exoplanet sparks a series of probe and AI missions—all leading to the realization that a new branch of humanity has arisen on Arca-45672. Now, as the Earth’s biosphere collapses, governments and military organizations scramble as they see potential salvation for their dying species in this exoplanet. But should humanity be content to merely survive?

Listen to it here.



“The Death of the Great Giant Tor Ragnar” (Claire Scherzinger, 2018)

Four of a kind

For over 30 years, the Lafayette String Quartet has been making an indelible mark on the School of Music, first as Artists-in-Residence and now as faculty members who teach violin, viola, cello and coach chamber music with some of Canada’s finest young string players.

The Lafayette String QuartetAnn Elliott Goldschmid (violin), Sharon Stanis (violin), Joanna Hood (viola) and Pamela Highbaugh-Aloni (cello)— is the only all-female ensemble in the world to comprise the four original members: a distinct rarity, regardless of gender or profession.

Not only are the LSQ active on campus with teaching, performing and organizing their annual Lafayette Health Awareness Series, but they’re also committed to Victoria’s greater music scene. You’ll frequently find them working with the Greater Victoria Youth Orchestra, connecting with the string programs in public schools, performing with Pacific Baroque, hosting Quartet Fest West . . . oh, and maintaining an active touring schedule with concerts around North American and Europe. 

Among their various quartet projects are the Complete Beethoven Cycle, the Second Viennese School, Bartók’s Legacy and the Complete Cycle of Shostakovich String Quartets.

In addition to their work with undergraduate and graduate students, the LSQ also offer a Master’s in Music Performance (MMus): Emphasis in String Quartet, a program specifically designed for a pre-existing string quartet interested in embarking on a career in chamber music. “You hone your skills to be the best you can possibly be on your instrument, then bring those skills into the ensemble, matching the timing, harmony, vibrato, bow speeds and articulation of the others,” explains Elliot-Goldschmid. “It’s a magical process but it takes an enormous amount of work.”

They also perform in the School of Music’s Faculty Concert Series, of course, which brings us to this issue’s musical break: a recording of the LSQ’s February 2020 concert, featuring Haydn’s “Quartet in C Major, Op. 54, No. 2″, Ruth Crawford Seeger’s “String Quartet 1931″ and Beethoven’s “Quartet in F Major, Op. 59, No. 1”.



The Lafayette String Quartet

Quartet in C Major, Op. 54, No. 2 by Franz Joseph Haydn

by Lafayette String Quartet

Quartet in F Major, Op. 59, No. 1 Ludwig van Beethoven

by Lafayette String Quartet

String Quartet 1931 Ruth Crawford Seeger

by Lafayette String Quartet

A desire for connection

As part of the ongoing Field Trip: Art Across Canada digital arts initiative, recent Visual Arts alum Laura Gildner was invited to offer insight into her art practice and the ways she is adapting her work to the new conditions playing out in the landscape of physical distancing.

“Since the lockdown began, I have been grappling with the potential consequences a long-term lack of human interaction might have on my well-being as well as on my work,” Gildner explains in the short video (below) that debuted in May 2020.

“My practice, for the most part, involves casting or collaborating with large groups of people to create participatory experiences in response to my research. This desire for connection will be the jumping off point for my field trip—part artist talk and part performance, I’ll be looking at how art that is rooted in human contact might be reimagined in the age of physical distancing.”

Earlier this spring, Gildner was named the winner of the 2020 Lind Prize in Photography, Film and Video Art (for which she was twice nominated), and her work Informer was a selected exhibition for this year’s Capture Photography Festival in Vancouver. Most recently, she has exhibited at the Polygon Gallery in  North Vancouver.

Field Trip: Art Across Canada delivers arts experiences with some of Canada’s most celebrated artists in a national partnership with leading arts organizations. Recently, it featured a conversation with Visual Arts professors Cedric Bomford and Rick Leong, as well as alumni Hollis Roberts and Mike McLean.

Laura Gildner

Eden Robinson inspires students

When it comes to celebrated alumni, UVic’s Writing department has an embarrassment of riches—think Esi Edugyan, WP Kinsella, Aislinn Hunter, Billeh Nickerson and Richard Van Campamong many, many others. Celebrated Haisla novelist Eden Robinson is another who is consistently burning up the bestseller charts since her debut novel Monkey Beach back in 2001.

With a fistful of awards and nominations—including winning the Writers Trust Engel/Findley Award, a Writers Trust Fellowship, the Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize in the BC Book Prizes, a Copper Cylinder Adult Award and being shortlisted for a Scotiabank Giller Prize, as well as being selected for CBC’s Canada Reads series—her new Trickster series is now being developed into a television series by Sienna Films, producers of Cardinal and New Waterford Girl.

As a recipient of one of the Faculty of Fine Arts Distinguished Alumni Awards, Robinson has been no stranger to campus since graduating in 1992; most recently, the Kitamaat-based writer offered an inspiring (and often hilarious) talk to a class of first-year Writing students in October 2018, while back in town for the Victoria Writer’s Festival.

“The writers coming up now give me a lot of hope because they’re very comfortable speaking their minds—politically, socially and personally—and a lot of the things they’re talking about are longstanding issues,” she said at the time.

Back in the fall of 2018, she had just released Trickster Drift, the second book in her planned trilogy (including 2017’s Son of a Trickster and the forthcoming Return of the Trickster). You can read more about Robinson and her accomplishments (including finding out which fabled Writing prof once gave her a “0” out of 10 on an assignment) in this 2018 interview from UVic’s Torch alumni magazine.

But for now, you can watch her in action as she talks about being an Indigenous author, life after university, writing a bestseller, Trickster Drift and much more in this Orion Lecture in Fine Arts from October 2018.

Eden Robinson

It was a packed Writing class for Eden Robinson’s talk 

Woven, embroidered and stitched

If you’re looking for cultural casualties of the spring pandemic, Fine Arts has plenty of examples: from cancelled concerts in the School of Music to the Visual Arts BFA grad exhibit and the final Phoenix Theatre production of the year, there was no shortage of on-campus disappointments.

Two more would include both Gendered Threads of Globalization: 20th Century Textile Crossings in Asia Pacific, an international symposium organized by Art History & Visual Studies professor Melia Belli Bose, and the accompanying Legacy Maltwood exhibit, Woven, Embroidered and Stitched in Tradition: Women’s Textile Labour in 20th Century Asia, curated by graduating AHVS undergraduate Claire Aitken.

“Claire did a phenomenal job,” says Belli Bose, who supervised the project. “This was a beautifully curated exhibition that struck the perfect balance between showcasing the sumptuous garments and providing the right amount of information.”

Carefully selected from UVic’s art collection and pieces loaned from private collections, Woven, Embroidered and Stitched featured a dazzling array of luxury textiles from China, Japan, Indonesia, Malaysia, India and Bangladesh. But the exhibit also shed light on women’s roles as makers, consumers and connoisseurs between the late 19th and early 21st centuries.

“It was a very valuable experience for me,” says Aitken. “This was more about public engagement from an educational perspective, which is where I see myself going in the future. I’ve always had an interest in fashion in general . . . but my focus has shifted to textiles and the women’s realm of art, how textiles can basically be moving symbols of culture, status and class.”

Aitken—who also has a BFA from UVic’s Visual Arts department, a diploma from UVic’s Cultural Resources Management Program plus curatorial experience from both the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria (where she ran their Art Rental & Sales program) and The Avenue Gallery in Oak Bay—is already focused on entering the AHVS Master’s program this fall.

“I have a plan to get a very well-rounded arts education,” she says with a laugh. “Much of the Visual Arts program is creation-based, so I wanted to come back and strengthen my academic writing. That built a passion for museum studies, curatorial experience and more academic-based art work than my creation-based work as a photographer.”

While Woven, Embroidered and Stitched is still in place behind the Library’s closed doors, Aitken says they’re currently discussing what will happen with it.

“Some of the hanging pieces will have to come down, because they’re quite fragile,” she says. “One of my assignments actually talked about having an online platform for the exhibition—which would have been excellent going into this COVID situation, as it would have still been accessible. That’s something I’ll consider in the future for any curatorial work: not only in case of a global pandemic, but simply to make the space open to people who physically can’t be there.”

And while Belli Bose’s Global Threads symposium is being rescheduled, she’s also holding out hope that the exhibition can be seen in the fall—if physical distancing restrictions relax enough. Whatever happens, however, she singles out Aitken’s efforts as being responsible for the exhibition’s success.

“Claire is a natural curator and I can absolutely see her joining the field after she completes her MA with us,” she says. “We are lucky to have her!”

Photos by Fine Arts student photographer Leon Fei

Claire Aitken

Rapping about curry

When last we spoke to Theatre alum Jasleen Powar back in 2016, she was just about to graduate and was already making a name for herself as Vancouver-based rapper Horsepowar. Four years later, Powar is now based in New York City and breaking new waves as the spicy host of the online food show Curry Shop.

But more than just another food show, Curry Shop offers one woman’s journey to better understand her own culture through the lens of food. And, with over 128,000 views, it seems to have caught on.

Part of the First We Feast food TV network on YouTube, Horsepowar’s Curry Shop dropped in 2018 and offers an insider’s look at one of the world’s most ubiquitous—if misunderstood—comfort foods. With six episodes already wrapped and a second season in the works, Curry Shop examines how South Asia’s most famous culinary export changes shape from Japan to Jamaica to Thailand to the Philippines.

Horsepowar is joined on each episode by celebrity guests like Aasif Mandvi, Sean Paul, Chi Ching Ching and Rina Sawayama, who explore the connections between hip-hop, spice and global cuisine while sampling some of NYC’s finest bowls of curry.

It’s a nice match for Powar. Her  unflinching rhymes and powerhouse Sikh-Canadian “Desi girl” persona (a term for girls born outside of South Asia but still upholding traditional values) had already earned the attention of the likes of CBC, Nylon, Vice, Rolling Stone India, GQ India and Canadian newspapers from Vancouver to Montreal . . . all before she even graduated. (You can read more in this 2016 graduation interview with Powar on the Fine Arts blog.)

Grab a cool drink and prepare for things to get hot as you watch Horsepowar in action in the Curry Shop.

Distinguished Alumni Award recipient Nathan Medd

More to come 

We’ll be posting more content from our faculty, students and alumni each week—be sure to check back!

The newest phase

The newest phase

Welcome to issue nine of The Fine Arts Connector, your biweekly listing of news, resources, activities and other shareable content from the Faculty of Fine Arts, specifically compiled for distribution during the current health crisis.

If you missed some of the recent UVic updates, President Cassels has now outlined the fall academic programming and the supports that will be available to faculty, staff and students, as well as the planned safe, phased-in approach to resuming university services and operations. Other updates also cover spring Convocation, the 20/21 timetable and the transition from the emergency response management structure to a more normal operating scenario.

As always, please enjoy—and circulate—this collection of material featuring our faculty, students, alumni, staff and guests as a way of both sharing what our creative community is up to and keeping us connected in this difficult moment in history. You can also help by keeping us in the loop if you’re working on a live-streaming project, have online material to share or are involved in something you’d like people to know about: just email either or

Finally, you can sign up here to receive automatic notice of The Connector each week.


Legacy re-opening

Now that art galleries and museums are able to open as part of BC’s Restart Plan, our colleagues at Legacy Gallery have announced they will be re-opening their doors on June 17 with two new exhibits.

To Fish As Formerly: A Story of Straits Salish Resurgence is curated by AHVS alum Katie Hughes and XEMŦOLTW Dr. Nicholas Claxton (UVic’s School of Child & Youth Care) and tells the story of the SXOLE (the reef net fishery) through contemporary art, traditional knowledge and historical documentation. This exhibit features the work of seven artists: TEMOSEN Charles Elliott, John Elliott, Chris Paul, Dylan Thomas, Temoseng (aka Chasz Elliott) and Visual Arts alumni Sarah Jim and Colton Hash.

Also opening is TUKTUUYAQTUUQ (Caribou Crossing), by Visual Arts alum Maureen Gruben.  “Tuktuuyaqtuuq” is the Inuvialuktun name of Gruben’s home on the Arctic coast (known in English as “Tuktoyaktuk”), which means, “Looks Like a Caribou”.  In this exhibit, Gruben works with multiple facets of the animal to trace the caribou’s vast immaterial presence in her culture.

Both exhibits continue to November at Legacy Downtown, 630 Yates. Their new hours are 10am-4pm Wednesday, Friday & Saturday, plus noon-7pm Thursdays, with a maximum of 10 visitors to the gallery at a time. Please see the visitor safety statement on the Legacy website for more information.


A detail from Maureen Gruben’s TUKTUUYAQTUUQ

“The weight of change should not rest on the shoulders of Black people”

In the wake of the killing of George Floyd by police in the US, Maclean’s magazine recently asked Black Canadian writers to pen open letters to America addressing the recent upheaval and the task of confronting racism in Canada. One of the authors selected for this series is celebrated author, Writing alum and Fine Arts Distinguished Alumni Award recipient Esi Edugyan.

“The weight of change shouldn’t rest on the shoulders of Black people—and indeed, it doesn’t. For true systemic shifts to occur, everyone has to recognize that the whole underlying structure is so irreparably broken that no one can afford to live like this anymore,” she writes.

“Idealism is not only for the young. Nor should it be left only to those who bear the greatest brunt of systemic inequities. Everyone must do the work. The pattern of outrage and forgetting cannot be sustained. This changes nothing in the long run. The work is never finished, in the way that the work of a modern marriage is never finished—it requires constant recommitment and vigilance, and a dismantling of archaic roles to avoid total collapse.”

Read her full essay here.

Edugyan was also one of three prominent Black Canadians—alongside poet El Jones and racial justice lawyer Anthony Morgan—featured on the June 10 episode of CBC Radio’s The Current.

“It seems like people are really waking up to the fact that this isn’t just a Black issue or an Indigenous issue, but that this is something that affects everyone and that we all should be outraged about,” Edugyan said in the interview.

You can listen to the full 30-minute discussion here.


Esi Edugyan


How can we save our theatres?

Faced with a protracted period of time before theatres can be opened again—and then possibly only in a physically distanced manner, both on- and off-stage—every arts group is currently grappling with the reality of staying dark for an extended period of time . . . and the dire impact that will have on both arts groups and local economies.

Britain’s powerhouse cultural sector needs investment, not charity, writes celebrated director of stage and screen Sir Sam Mendes in the June 4 issue of The Financial Times. But while he may be writing specifically about the situation in Britain, his ideas carry weight across the water as well.

“The entire performing arts sector has mobilised to make a game-changing proposal: the Cultural Investment Participation Scheme,” he writes. “It combines the joint potential of commercial and subsidised ecologies to offer the government the genuine prospect of substantial financial return. In short, our offer is to treat the government as an ‘Angel’, using the same formula to return investment and share in the profit of successful shows, once those shows have earned back their initial costs.”

Could these ideas be applied here? Discuss!

Sam Mendes

Stream this book

Feeling the need for a bit of escapism right now? Check out Theatre alum Krista Wallace‘s podcast [Totally Fantastic Title], where she is currently offering a chapter-by-chapter reading of her fantasy novel Gatekeeper’s Key.  

A writer, singer, actor and now podcaster, the Vancouver-based Wallace writes both short fic­tion in a vari­ety of genres (“To Serve and Protect”, 49th Parallels) as well as long-form fic­tion. She also sings jazz in a big band called FAT Jazz, a duo called the Itty Bitty Big Band and narrates audio books for other authors.

Krista Wallace

Looking for some good company?

Don’t worry if you missed the recent conversation between UVic Chancellor Shelagh Rogers and Visual Arts Audain Professor Carey Newman: you can still watch their online talk about reconciliation and creating art that makes people consider themselves differently in the archive for Good Company, the new series of casual conversations between Rogers and members of UVic’s creative community.

Also archived on that same page is Rogers’ chat with with Department of Writing Professor Emerita Lorna Crozier about poetry and the arts in the era of COVID-19.

The end is . . . near?

Sometimes longstanding courses have an uncanny way of colliding with reality. Case in point? The current Art History & Visual Studies film studies elective “The End: Apocalyptic Themes in Film” (AHVS 392).

While longstanding AHVS instructor Mitch Parry has been teaching it each summer since 2010, this is the first time he’s taught it in such dire circumstances—or online instead of in a classroom. But even though the COVID-19 outbreak doesn’t represent “the end” per se, it has impacted society more than any other event in recent memory.

Yet despite all we’ve been collectively going through, Parry’s course still filled quickly and has a waitlist nearly as large as the maximum enrollment. Why the popularity of the apocalypse?

‘There’s kind of a satisfaction in watching the world end without having to experience it,” says Parry. “But as film is a photographic and narrative medium, audiences just love seeing something apocalyptic . . . that doesn’t actually involve anyone dying.”

As a subject, the apocalypse actually goes back to the early days of cinema (“There’s a Danish movie called The End of the World from 1916, which has beautiful lighting and good performances,” he says), which affords him a plethora of end-of-the-world scenarios from which to choose. This year, he’s limited it to nine films ranging from horror (Zombieland), comedy (Last Night) and science fiction (I Am Legend) to bleak futurism (The Road) and personal drama (These Final Hours).

All explore different ways in which the world can end: meteor (Deep Impact), excessive consumption (Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs), nuclear war (Dr Strangelove), economic collapse (Take Shelter), or simply experience an apocalypse without knowing what’s happening or why, as in the Canadian film Last Night.

“The fun part of Last Night is that the world ends at midnight Toronto time,” he chuckles, “which seems to imply that Toronto really is the centre of the universe.”

Yet despite a decade of popularity, Parry admits he was quite reluctant to teach the course at all this summer.

“I usually start the class by asking how many people think the world is going to end in their lifetime,” he says. “Back in 2010, pretty much everybody put up their hand, but it has dropped quite significantly in the intervening years—but now, it seems like a really rude question to ask. It feels like the elephant in the room.”

Describing the popularity of the apocalypse like “the myth of Cassandra: the prophet who isn’t listened to”, Parry admits he’ll be making some changes in his approach to the course this year. “It’s much easier to talk about the end of the world as an abstract thing than when it’s hinted at by current events. I think you have to tread lightly at times like this.”

Finally, as a veteran film professor, if the world was ending and he could only watch one more apocalyptic film, what would it be?

Melancholia,” he says, citing Lars Von Trier’s 135-minute, 2011 Danish epic. “It offers no hope, which means no equivocation. The world ends at the beginning of the film, then we see how the end of the world affects these two sisters. Plus, it’s the single best representation of how I’ve experienced depression—the slow-motion opening, the dragging, monotonous endlessness of it.”

Now that sounds like an apocalypse.

2009’s Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs
Will Smith in 2007’s I Am Legend
Slim Pickens in 1964’s Dr. Strangelove
There’s no escaping 2011’s Melancholia

Blowing her own horn

Almost as busy off-campus as she is while teaching in the School of Music, trumpet professor and virtuoso Merrie Klazek always seems to hit the right note.

Just days before we all went into isolation back in mid-March, Klazek took a quick trip to Elkhart, Indiana, where the Vincent Bach trumpet factory. As a Bach Artist, she was participating in their “Artist Select” program, which supports their artists coming to personally try a lot of instruments at the factory—and to choose several to be sold in the local music store of their city, with a tag explaining that theyhave been hand selected by this artist, so that students in particular know what they are buying.

While she was there, Back produced a series of six fascinating videos, in which Klazek shares her journey as both a teacher/educator and performer, her exploration of different instruments, her musical influences and how she ended up knowing—after her first brass class—that the trumpet was her “voice”. Now having been playing professionally for over 30 years, Klazek’s journey as a professional musician and now Bach Artist is nicely encapsulated in this insightful video series.

You can also check out her first album, Songs to the Moon, which was recently added to Spotify (and YouTube as well), or watch her perform alongside her husband, fiddler Pierre Schryer, in the April 2020 COncert-VIDeo, a fun COVID project featuring a series of performances by Schryer and local musicians. (Klazek performs the Berber tune “A Ya Zain” 11:00 to 13:50). 

Finally, please enjoy this performance by Klazek and seven trumpet colleagues across Canada as they perform Morten Lauridsen’s “O Magnum Mysterium”, arranged by Matt Byrne.

The Canadian Pro Trumpet Ensemble includes Merrie Klazek (top centre)
Part 1: “The Artist Select Experience”
Part 4: “A Dedication to Bach Trumpets From Early On”
Part 2: “Staying Active in Musical Pursuits”
Part 5: “The Importance of a Professional Level Horn”
Part 3: “Choosing the Trumpet”
Part 6: “Finding Your Influences”

Two 4 One for free

Just in time for Pride month, you can now stream the award-winning feature film Two 4 One—described as the first transgender rom-com—for free through to June 15. Just use this link.

Written, directed and edited by Department of Writing chair Maureen Bradley in 2014 and produced by Writing’s digital media specialist Daniel Hogg, the locally shot Two 4 One is a bittersweet comedic drama that sees a transgender hero fall into an unimaginable predicament.

When transgendered Adam helps his baby-crazy ex-girlfriend Miriam artificially inseminate, they wind up in bed together—and they both get pregnant. Now Adam must reconcile his identity and gender with his biological reality, grapple with his feelings for Miriam and try to figure out what it means to be a man.

Watch the trailer here.

Described as a “sweet gender-bender of a light comedy . . . sensitive, subtle and truly sure-handed” (Globe and Mail) and “genuinely funny and sensitive [with] clever and hilarious twists” (Calgary Sun), it stars Gavin Crawford (This Hour Has 22 Minutes, Baroness Von Sketch Show), Naomi Snieckus (Mr. D, Carter), Andrea Menard (Moccasin Flats, Blackstone), Matt Baram (Seed, Carter), and Gabrielle Rose (The Sweet Hereafter, The Man in the High Castle).

The winner of eight international film awards—including Best Canadian Film (Victoria Film Festival), Audience Award: Best Feature Film (The Seattle Transgender Film Festival) and a Special Jury Prize (Chicago International LGBTQ+ Film Festival)—Bradley’s debut feature film was ahead of its time in its portrayal of a transgender character.

“I’ve had tons of films at film festivals but I want to reach a broader audience,” she said at the time. “Living life as a transgendered man is not something most people know anything about.”

Reaching that wider audience is why she chose to write Two 4 One as a romantic comedy. “I’m a lapsed activist, and storytelling is a way of reaching people that’s easier than activism,” she explained. “When people laugh, they’re open and might take in new ideas, and understand ‘the other’ . . . . Humour is very subversive.”

Two 4 One is normally available for rental on the NFB website ($5.99) and iTunes ($4.99), among other platforms, but this free screening is a special event only available to The Connector’s readership until June 15. Enjoy!

Reengaging with art

When last we heard from current Art History & Visual Studies graduate student Ashley Riddett in April, she was working with Oak Bay’s Gage Gallery Arts Collective to create an online art-sharing platform and blog series called Challenge Crisis with Creativity, which has continued to post art in response to weekly themes.

Now, Riddett and a team of AHVS grad students are working with Gage Gallery to mount both a physical and virtual exhibit featuring the art contributed by the community during the COVID-19 outbreak. Challenge Crisis with Creativity: Our Community Coping with COVID Through Art will run June 23-27 at the Gage Gallery, 2031 Oak Bay Avenue.

The exhibit will feature 50 pieces in a variety of disciplines selected from the 100-plus artists who contributed nearly 300 pieces to the online series, with a separate room featuring projections of the remaining work.

“The physical exhibit is not only a celebration of the leniency on social distancing, but also a celebration of how successful the project has been so far,” says Riddett. “And I’m a huge fan of inclusion and community-building, so the projector room will be a great way to include everyone.”

The pieces in the exhibit have been selected by both Riddett and fellow AHVS grad students Maria Buhne, Anahita Ranjbar and Amena Sharmin, as well as the Gage Gallery’s Gabriela Hirt and Tanya Bub. “We picked the ones we felt were really strong and resonated with the weekly themes,” she explains.

The exhibit itself will be physically distanced, given Gage Gallery’s long narrow space, with only two viewers at a time allowed into the space. “It will be challenging, but I think it’ll be worth it,” Riddett says. “And I’m sure people will appreciate feeling confident and safe within the space. We’re all coming out more but there is still that anxiety.”

For those not able—or ready—to visit the actual gallery, Riddett is drawing on her course experience to create a 3D digital exhibition for people who are unable to visit the Oak Bay gallery. “I did a lot of virtual exhibition walkthroughs as part of my AHVS undergraduate and graduate courses, so I have a lot of experience in it,” she says.

Riddett feels the Challenge Crisis with Creativity project—with its focus on artist and crafter recognition and community engagement—dovetails nicely with her own graduate research focusing on collecting oral histories of textile crafters in Nova Scotia (specifically rug hookers).

“The art we create today is going to be the art we admire and study tomorrow,” she says. “Art history is more relevant than people give it credit for . . . while this is an unfortunate time, it’s a great time to understand why visuals are so important. It’s important to look for new avenues to help and support people in the art world, and to get people reengaging again.”

AHVS grad student Ashley Riddett at her Gage Gallery exhibit

To be or not to be . . . solo

Long before there was the One-Man Star Wars, Theatre Inconnu artistic director and Department of Theatre alum and instructor Clayton Jevne created his One-Man Hamlet. Described by various reviewers over the years as “Amazing”, “Ingenious” and “Mind boggling”, Jevne performed this remarkable show for over 20 years and it truly is a wonder to behold. But this “thrift-store classic” certainly didn’t start out that way.

“In 1991, after three seasons of trying to make a go of establishing ourselves as a going concern in Victoria, Theatre Inconnu decided to close shop after a final—and, at the time, considered ‘audacious’—farewell production,” recalls Jevne. “Down to one member, the ‘company’ decided to create a one-actor production of Shakespeare’s Hamlet, furnished with props and costume bits from local thrift shops. If the company was to go under, then let it go under in a truly bizarre fashion.”

But rather than scuttle the ship, Jevne’s One-Man Hamlet actually had the complete opposite effect. “The production sold out and became the spark that ignited the company’s love affair with the Bard,” he says.

Theatre Inconnu was able to leverage the success of the show and launch the first annual mini-Shakespeare summer festival in 1991, which soon morphed into a major annual event and continues to this day as the Greater Victoria Shakespeare Festival—led by artistic director and Writing MFA alum Karen Lee Pickett—on the grounds of Camosun College. (In fact, 2020 would have been the Shakespeare Fest’s 30th anniversary, had COVID-19 not put it temporarily on hold.)

Between 1991 and 2008, Jevne’s One-Man Hamlet then went on to tour through four countries (UK, Mexico, US, Canada) and over 600 performances. Not bad for what was supposed to be the last kick at the cat!

In addition to having been the artistic director of Theatre Inconnu since 1978—where he has served as actor, director or designer on close to 100 productions—Jevne has logged close to 1,000 performances of solo shows across North America and Europe. Located right across the street from the Belfry on Fernwood Road, Theatre Inconnu is rightly described as “Victoria’s longest-running independent theatre” and has achieved legendary status locally, thanks to Jevne’s indefatigable leadership.

While his widely acclaimed One-Man Hamlet is available in book form by Ekstasis Editions, we’re presenting it here as a recording of the 20th anniversary performance back in 2011.

Even if you don’t know Rosencrantz from Guildenstern, you’re bound to enjoy it.

Clayton Jevne performing his “thrift store classic” One-Man Hamlet

More to come weekly

We’ll be posting more content from our faculty, students and alumni each week—be sure to check back!

Moving Ahead

Moving ahead

Welcome to issue eight of The Fine Arts Connector, your biweekly listing of news, resources, activities and other shareable content from the Faculty of Fine Arts, specifically compiled for distribution during the current health crisis.

While the cultural world continues to grapple with the ongoing impact of COVID-19, three of Victoria’s leading performing arts organizations recently announced that they were suspending their upcoming seasons: Victoria Symphony, Pacific Opera Victoria and Dance Victoria have all cancelled their planned programming for 20/21, citing the safety measures prohibiting large public performances. It’s a blow for Victoria’s arts scene, no question, but one that will also impact the Fine Arts community as well.

On the plus side, the majority of cultural organizations—including those three—are currently exploring new ways to bring culture to the public, while our colleagues at the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria have reopened their doors (albeit with limited hours and social distancing in effect), and are offering free admission until July 5. And the CRD has now published a list of other arts and cultural activities to enjoy at a physical distance.

And there was an interesting essay in the Globe and Mail on May 25 by the University of Toronto’s Daniel Silver and Mark S Fox, with Gail Lord, calling for a 21st century version of US President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Depression-era Works Progress Administration. “The original WPA pushed the boundaries of what counts as infrastructure . . . [and] sparked one of the most dramatic expansions and diversifications of culture the world has ever seen, through subsidizing the production of visual art, music, theatre, literature, film, crafts, folklore documentation and arts education programs.” The authors of this essay argue that “the devastating effects of COVID-19 . . . demand nothing short of a similar investment today”. It’s a great idea, and their piece is well worth a read.

As always, please enjoy—and circulate—this collection of material featuring our faculty, students, alumni, staff and guests as a way of both sharing what our creative community is up to and keeping us connected in this difficult moment in history. You can also help by keeping us in the loop if you’re working on a live-streaming project, have online material to share or are involved in something you’d like people to know about: just email either or

Finally, you can sign up here to receive automatic notice of The Connector each week.

Victoria’s major performance spaces to remain closed for the forseeable future


Keeping good company

Good Company is the new series of casual conversations between UVic Chancellor Shelagh Rogers and members of the UVic community. The latest in the series is a live discussion with Visual Arts Audain Professor Carey Newman about reconciliation and creating art that makes people consider themselves differently. You can watch it live at noon on Thursday, May 28, on UVic’s Facebook page. (Previously, Rogers spoke with Department of Writing Professor Emerita Lorna Crozier about poetry and the arts in the era of COVID-19, and you can still watch their 25-minute chat here.)

In other Writing news, instructor Diane Dakers was interviewed for the Langara Journalism Review this spring. Dakers, a veteran journalist and the author of CHEK Republic: A Revolution in Local Television, was interviewed about CHEK TV and the importance of local media. You can read the story here.

Writing MFA alum Stephanie Harrington was recently interviewed by The Malahat Review. In it, she discusses balancing structure with emotional stakes, being swept up in a story and the journalism skills she brings to her creative nonfiction work. Harrington’s creative nonfiction piece “Fighter” appears in the Malahat‘sspring 2020 issue #210;  in 2018 she was selected for the RBC Taylor Prize Emerging Writers Mentorship Program, an honour which was awarded in 2020 to current MFA candidate Martin Baumann.

Finally, current Writing undergrad April Glowicki, who writes as April Buchanan, has penned a touching tribute to her mother: “No Mother Like Frances” ran in The Tyee in time for Mother’s Day.

Carey Newman at the opening of his “Earth Drums” installation at the Saanich Arts Centre in 2019 (photo: District of Saanich)


Microgrant Pilot Program

A new pilot program has been launched by the BC Arts Council to assist professional artists and cultural practitioners at this time. The Microgrant Pilot Program offers awards of up to $1,500 for artists to adapt either an existing work or their professional practice in response to emergent needs or changes in the arts and culture sector. This can include:

  • the use of new technologies or digital opportunities
  • the development of new skills or new relationships relevant to your project/practice, or
  • the exploration of alternate production / presentation / distribution strategies.

Made possible by a generous donation from the Yosef Wosk Family Foundation, applications to the Microgrant Pilot Program must be submitted by June 30. Full details can be found here. 

IBPOC artists & cultural administrators

If you’re a local artist or a cultural administrator who identifies as a member of the Indigenous, Black and People of Colour (IBPOC) community, don’t miss the upcoming virtual meeting on Thursday, June 11. Hosted by the Belfry Theatre alongside partners at the Inter-Cultural Association of Greater Victoria, Here Magazine, First Peoples’ Cultural Council and Primary Colours, this Zoom meeting is for practitioners of all disciplines—theatre, dance, music, opera, visual art and literary arts—who are currently living on the south end of Vancouver Island.  Connect with other IBPOC cultural administrators and artists, and to share the challenges you face and identify your needs. Full details here.   


Impact survey

If you’re not tired of surveys exploring the impact of COVID-19 yet, don’t forget to fill out this expanded impact survey from the Greater Vancouver Professional Theatre Alliance about how BC arts communities and cultural organizations have been affected by the pandemic. Please note: this survey is for all arts disciplines, artists, arts workers, cultural organizations and museums across the province.

Even if you’ve already done the survey, this is an expanded version asking additional questions on potential impact specific to the full calendar year. The aggregate data will be shared with funders and arts service organizations for regional, provincial and national reporting.

Applied Theatre PhD alum Taiwo Afolabi is now the Belfry’s Artistic and Community Liaison

Beadwork as resistance

When it came to designing a course exploring the cultural and spiritual survival, colonization and resistance of Indigenous women, Department of Writing professor Gregory Scofield naturally gravitated to beadwork—an art form he has been practicing since he was 8, when he first learned to do beadwork from his late aunt. But more than just learning a traditional art form, Scofield was also being enriched by his own Cree-Metis language and culture.

“Everything happened at that kitchen table: beadwork, storytelling, teaching me Cree . . . it all happened at the same time,” he recalls. “I wanted to be able to bring that mental, emotional and tactile experience to students who really had very little understanding or knowledge of Indigenous history or the impacts of colonial violence toward Indigenous women.”

The result is the new Writing course “Indigenous Women’s Resistance Writing and Material Art”.

Originally developed while he was teaching in the English department at Laurentian University, this past semester marked the first time Scofield taught this course at UVic. Combining hands-on learning of the traditional form and practice of Indigenous floral beadwork with films and writing focused on resurgence and resistance, for the most part Scofield’s class of 12 had no experience with beadwork and little knowledge of the issues facing Indigenous women.

“It’s a very tough course, content-wise, as it’s focusing on colonial violence towards and against Indigenous women—we had lengthy conversations and discussions around issues facing Indigenous women, including the missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls,” he explains about the tactile-learning process.

“But it’s all framed by beadwork: students are being asked to think about their own personal resistances or problems they’d like to solve while they’re sewing, so the idea of beadwork as resistance is explained through the history of women who were literally sewing to support their families since the late 19th century. A lot of these are pieces were made for the tourist trade that ended up all over the world at a time when Indigenous people were facing incredible racism and no opportunities.”

As seen in these examples, students were free to design their own composition, as long as it incorporated a floral design. “They could incorporate other significant elements meaningful to them or their families, but it has to include the floral beadwork,” says Scofield. “A lot of the time, students would be talking about how certain flowers represent female members of their family—their grandmother, say, or a flower that was significant to them as a child.”

The final assignments had to reflect on the process of their pieces: why those particular colours and design were chosen, what it represents overall and what they gleaned in the process. “This kind of course is really important for Writing students because it gives them a different way to conceptualize and tell stories, a different way of holding and carrying for those stories.”

Scofield, who joined the Writing department in 2019, also teaches an Indigenous oral storytelling course based on a Plains-Cree model of storytelling. “As a faculty member, this is all a part of bringing Indigenous methodologies and pedagogical approaches into spaces that normally haven’t had courses or ways of learning set up like this,” he explains. “For me, this is what Indigenizing the academy is all about; this is what Indigenization is.”

Having grown up doing traditional Cree-Metis floral beadwork, and with a memoir on that same topic currently in process, Scofield’s own writing practice is intimately connected to beading.

“When I’m not writing, I’m doing beadwork—and when I’m doing beadwork, I’m composing in my head,” he says with a chuckle.


Art by Amber Marie Dyck

New student work

Because there’s no time like a pandemic to indulge in a little dystopian escapism, take a few minutes to explore the worlds of current Visual Arts undergraduate Nick Patterson. Just entering his fourth year, Patterson’s creative talent has progressed from illustration and sculpture to video installations and performance art.

“[Visual Arts professor] Kelly Richardson introduced me to the discipline of video art,” says Patterson. “From my first project I established an aesthetic and motivation that runs through my video work to this day. The faculty and my peers have inspired me to push my art in very unexpected directions.”

His YouTube channel currently offers 16 pieces of short video art, ranging from one to 20 minutes in length, most featuring bleak, dystopian and possibly post-apocalyptic settings. “I’m exploring systems of survival in a future space and what bizarre rituals may develop around them,” he explains. “With each project, the viewer immersion has been more successful; this rapid progress from one medium to another has excited me to pursue new ways of working as well as collaboration with performers.”

Some of his recent projects—such as New Life (seen below), New Normal and Terminal—feature the camera in motion and are intended for viewing on a small screen; others are intended to be seen more as sculpture or performance pieces.

“I use the words bleak and dystopian to describe my work, but I craft these spaces with a kind of reverence and nostalgia,” Patterson says. “These are places I long to explore and I find them comforting on some level.”

Cooking up trouble

Theatre alum Mike Rinaldi is hosting a new YouTube series titled Cooped Up Cooking For COVID. Not many chefs can turn packaging from a Hello Fresh box into a rain hat for a Star Wars character, or start a pizza dough tutorial and end with a plate of tacos!

As quirky and charming as Rinaldi himself, Cooped up Cooking offers weekly episodes (four so far) that are equal parts good-natured cooking-show parodies and actual recipe preparation. (Watch for guest appearances by the likes of a singing sourdough and One-Man Star Wars legend and fellow Theatre alum Charlie Ross.)

A playwright and actor, Rinaldi has appeared on the likes of Murdoch Mysteries, Fringe and Odd Squad but achieved a measure of six-degree fame by co-writing the short play Toothpaste and Cigars with fellow alum TJ Dawe, which was adapted for the screen as The F Word (or What If, depending on country) starring the A-list likes of Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter), Adam Driver (Star Wars), Zoe Kazan (The Big Sick) and Rafe Spall (The Big Short).

Flute loop

Back in March, third-year School of Music student Keren Xu participated in JCURA, under the supervision of flute professor Suzanne Snizek, with a project involving two solo flute works by leading American composer Katherine Hoover as the basis of her Women’s Composer term project. The project focused on the inspiration and method of the repertoire, the reception of Katherine Hoover through composing, and how gender impacts the reception of her work.

Enjoy two recordings here by Xu performing two of Hoover’s works: “Kokopeli” and “Winter Spirits”.

Othello at the Globe

Back in November 2019, the Phoenix presented Shakespeare’s Othello for the first time in their 50-plus year history. A grand production on every level, it seemed only appropriate for the Theatre department to welcome a Shakespearean scholar for the pre-show lecture; we were fortunate that Theatre professor Michael Elliot—the only North American to serve as resident voice and text coach with the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford-upon-Avon, England—was able to coax one of his colleagues over from England for the event

Dr. Will Tosh is a Research Fellow from Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre. His lecture, “Othello at the Globe”takes us back to 1600s London to discussion Shakespeare’s diverse first audiences might have responded to Othello.  Dr. Tosh led the Indoor Performance Practice Project (2014-16), which examined playing in the candle-lit Sam Wanamaker Playhouse at the Globe

"Othello at the Globe"

by Dr Will Tosh, Research Fellow, Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre

 Virtually active

If you’re not feeling quite ready to get out and cycle around the region, or if you like the idea of bicycle riding more than the actual practice of it, then Theatre alumnus, Saanich Councillor and CRD Board Chair Colin Plant has a solution: he’ll do it for you, courtesy of his video adventures cycling around the region.

But don’t expect any kind of leisurely narrative: these are high-speed, cycling-only POV videos that put you in the rider’s seat as you whip around Greater Victoria. From Saanich backroads and downtown’s protected bike lanes to desitnations like the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory and Lochside Trail, there are 11 cycling adventures in all. Go Colin go!

More to come weekly

We’ll be posting more content from our faculty, students and alumni each week—be sure to check back!

Restart me up

Restart me up

Welcome to issue seven of the Fine Arts Connector, your biweekly listing of news, resources, activities and other shareable content from the Faculty of Fine Arts, specifically compiled for distribution during the current health crisis.

As Premier John Horgan announced on May 6, we’re now looking at a phased-in “restart plan” over the next few weeks in BC, which will ease some of the current restrictions on our lives. But while some sectors will be opening later this month, the ban on gatherings of more than 50 people is expected to remain in place throughout the summer, which will present some creative challenges for the arts sector. 

If you haven’t seen it yet, take a look at BC’s Restart Plan here.  

President Jamie Cassels also released his latest campus update on May 11, which notes UVic will be offering programming predominantly online for the fall term. “Where health and safety permits, we are also exploring opportunities for in-person instruction to support essential experiential learning, graduate education and work-integrated learning; the fall timetable will be available later this month.” Watch for more details pending, and how that will affect us in Fine Arts.

As always, please enjoy—and circulate—this collection of material featuring our faculty, students, alumni, staff and guests as a way of both sharing what our creative community is up to and keeping us connected in this difficult moment in history.

You can also help by keeping us in the loop if you’re working on a live-streaming project, have online material to share or are involved in something you’d like people to know about: just email either or

Finally, you can sign up here to receive automatic notice of each issue of The Connector



A sense of belonging & community

The first Monday of May is always a celebration of Music Education in Canada. Last year saw a few hundred people singing and playing at the BC Legislature, but this year everything went online instead with a series of live coast-to-coast performances.

As the principal researcher on a 2020 national study on the state of music education in Canada, School of Music professor and Acting Associate Dean Adam Con appeared throughout the entire 12-hour stream promoting the importance of music education.

“Have you noticed the news on TV and in social media constantly sharing how music plays an important role in how we express our feelings and how music creates a sense of belonging and community?” says Con in this YouTube message that ran throughout the entire broadcast. “The skills that allow us to share these musical moments are directly linked to the strength of our Canadian music education programs.” 

School of Music professor and Acting Associate Dean Adam Con in his Music Monday message 

Create Victoria 

The City of Victoria is proposing a restart of their Create Victoria initiative—including the hiring of a new staff position, a new Cultural Infrastructure Grant fund and a $5,000 grant to the ProArt Alliance of Greater Victoria for the creation of a City of Victoria sponsored award at the annual ProArt Regional Arts Awards in the fall. 

Acknowledging that the COVID-19 pandemic and the associated economic crisis has had a profoundly negative impact on the arts and cultural sector in Victoria, city councillor and poet Jeremy Loveday is bringing this forward to City Council meeting on May 14, with an eye to how the arts & culture sector can help fuel regional recovery and supporting the mental health and well-being of area residents . . . following provincial guidelines, of course.

“Investment in arts and culture and support to the struggling sector should be a key recovery priority for the City,” says Loveday. “This will help to drive the recovery of our local economy. It will also provide much-needed opportunities for residents to experience the benefits of engaging with arts and culture opportunities—albeit in new and creative ways—after being cooped up at home during the pandemic. In addition to economic stimulus, investing in arts and culture as part of the City’s recovery strategy is also good for the mental health and well-being of our residents.”

Livestreaming this week

Fine Arts alumni continue to be active in National Arts Centre’s ongoing #CanadaPerforms series: appearing this week are Theatre alumni Laura Anne Harris, Kathleen Greenfield and Ingrid Hansen. 

Destiny USA: Seen briefly at the Belfry’s SPARK Festival in March before its run was shut down, Laura Anne Harris‘s solo production captures the true daily drama of her job as a relay operator for the deaf and hard of hearing—but when Laura moves from Toronto to Syracuse, New York, she certainly wasn’t expecting to be living in Trump’s America. Can she discover the hidden humanity of the American people? Find out at 5:30pm PST on Wednesday, May 13.   

SNAFU in Epidermis Circus: This is a collection of new and experimental works by the legendary SNAFU artists, who create live theatre, puppet theatre and dance theatre here in Victoria, while also touring across Canada to theatres and festivals. Led by artists Kathleen Greenfield and Ingrid Hansen, get ready for anything when Epidermis Circus debuts at 7pm PST Thursday, May 14. Note: all tips and donations will go to Victoria’s Our Place Society, who help people who are homeless.

Laura Anne Harris in Destiny USA

Shelagh Rogers keeps good company

As if her long-running CBC Radio show The Next Chapter and her duties as UVic Chancellor weren’t enough, Shelagh Rogers is now launching a new online show: Good Company with Shelagh Rogers debuts at noon Thursday, May 14, on UVic’s Facebook page

The first episode features Department of Writing professor emeritus and iconic Canadian poet Lorna Crozier, who will talk about poetry and art in the age of COVID. 


DIY cycling adventure

While it’s not part of the #CanadaPerforms series, Theatre alum Keshia Palm has received financial support from the National Theatre School of Canada’s Art Apart program, an emergency fund for emerging artists who are affected by physical distancing, to create Make Me An Alleycat a step-by-step guide to making your own adventure.

Now Toronto-based, Palm has created this interactive digital community arts project where individuals are invited to share stories and locations with their community during this time of social distancing as a way to be together while apart. It’s a collection of little journeys, and a window into secret worlds, where you go for a bike ride with your friends!

Using the Make Me an Alleycat email template, you create a one-of-a-kind bike route generated by 10 of your friends. They pick the location, you go for the ride. Each stop has a story behind it, and on this alleycat, you get to listen in. Find out more here

Keshia Palm’s Make Me An Alleycat 


Theatre in the dark

Theatre alum Mackenzie Gordon is mounting Three Stories Up—a murder mystery staged entirely in a pitch black room—for two weekends only, May 14-16 and May 21-23. Gordon originally wrote the play in 2014, and it’s been mounted twice since, including a production with Chicago’s aptly-named Theatre in the Dark. With just two actors playing dozens of characters, plus strong foley work and an original score, Gordon felt it would be ideal for a live digital delivery.

“We thought it was perfect, in these times, to stage again as a live audio performance,” he says. “We’ve IT’d the hell out of Zoom and gotten professional microphones to make sure the production is so much more than just filmed theatre.”

Mackenzie Gordon (left)

Inspiring change

Each year, Leadership Victoria celebrates community leadership and recognizes people who have made a lasting contribution to the communities that make up Greater Victoria.

Among this year’s recipients of the Victoria Community Leadership Awards is Department of Visual Arts Audain Professor Carey Newman, who was named one of 2020’s “Inspiring Changemakers” and honoured with the Extending Reconciliation Award.

Newman, whose traditional name is Hayalthkin’geme, is a multidisciplinary Indigenous artist, master carver, filmmaker, author and public speaker. “As a leader he demonstrates his ability to bring together community members from different backgrounds through specific activities,” notes the award citation. “Carey believes in collective responsibility, learning from the past and creating art based on accumulated knowledge, experiences and traditions . . . He also works with young and at-risk populations, where carving is central for Indigenous people and for whom this kind of activity is considered a responsibility. Throughout his work, Carey believes the process has to model the goal.”

Watch his interview with Leadership Victoria’s Mark Crocker here.   


Carey Newman speaking with Leadership Victoria

Rising stars

In other news, two Fine Arts alumni have been selected for the prestigious Writers’ Trust of Canada Rising Stars program: recent Writing MFA graduate Troy Sebastian/Nupqu ʔa·kǂ am̓ and Theatre grad Carleigh Baker.  

Sebastian, a Ktunaxa writer who has also just been nominated for a pair of National Magazine Awards, and was selected by acclaimed novelist Lynn Coady. “Everything about the work of Troy Sebastian feels original,” says Coady. “His unpredictable structure, his extraordinary characters, his way with a completely unanticipated metaphor. You get the sense of a writer burrowing deep inside his own experience, history, and culture, fitting together the discarded fragments and treasures he finds along the way, until he emerges with something familiar yet utterly fresh—utterly dazzling.”

Baker, a nêhiyaw âpihtawikosisân/Icelandic writer, was a finalist for the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize, the Emerging Indigenous Voices Award for fiction and won the City of Vancouver Book Award in 2017 for her debut short story collection Bad Endings. She was selected by noted writer Thomas King. “Carleigh Baker is one of those writers who can look at humanity and tell you where the bodies are buried,” King says. “And she’s happy to dig a few up, dust them off, and send them on their way to find a story . . . . [she is] a rare talent who can make you smile and cringe and think in the same sentence.”

The Writers’ Trust Rising Stars program is a multi-faceted career development program that recognizes talented authors in the early stages of their careers with $5,000 and highlights their work with an endorsement from a proven, influential author. The Rising Stars will attend a two-week, self-directed writing residency at the Banff Centre in Alberta.

Troy Sebastian, Carleigh Baker



Call for local poster art

What does the city’s leading concert poster creator and distributor do when there are no events to promote? If you’re Metropol—the good folks who have been postering daily on the downtown cylinders for nearly two decades—you decide to change those poles into instant art galleries.

“While COVID-19 has shuttered cultural, athletic and social gatherings in communities worldwide, it does not hold back creative spirit and outreach,” Metropol announced. “We are calling on local artists and image-makers to submit colourful works that we can print and post around town once a week—free of charge.”

Yep, all you have to do is email to submit your digital files (artwork sized to 11″x17″, high-quality-print PDF 300dpi or Vector), plus your name and/or Instagram handle, and you’ll see your work on poster poles around the city.

“Art is a calming and inspiring force,” says Metropol. “Let’s keep our community vivid, bright and alive.”

Movies, books & cats—oh my! 

While UVic’s legendary movie theatre Cinecenta is closed, they’ve decided to take a step into the streaming universe by partnering with indie film distributor Kinosmith to offer a pair of documentaries to enjoy from the comfort of your home. 

DW Young’s The Booksellers was an audience favourite at festivals this year, and sure to excite bibliophiles and history buffs alike. This 99-minute feature documentary takes viewers inside the small but fascinating world of antiquarian booksellers, whose owners are part scholar, part detective and part businessperson . . . and whose clients offer an assortment of obsessives, intellects, eccentrics and dreamers. Watch The Booksellers here.

Cinecenta is also offering the very popular Kedi, a brilliantly shot, charming and family-friendly documentary that will delight anyone who enjoys all things feline. Shot throughout the streets of Istanbul, Kedi takes the inherent appeal of its subject and goes beyond the call of duty, isolating the profound relationship between people and cats by exploring it across several adorable cases in a city dense with examples. Watch Kedi here.

Your ticket for these films ($9.99 for The Booksellers, $6.99 for Kedi) will help support Cinecenta during these strange times.

Walk on 

If you’re yearning to get out of the house and a short turn around the block just isn’t working anymore, why not go on some virtual walking tours around the globe instead?

The Open Culture website is offering a free collection of point-of-view walks through a variety of locations (the streets of Tuscany), weather (rain or shine), times of day (an afternoon in Venice, a night in Tokyo’s Shinjuku) and density (crowds in Bangkok and NYC, empty forest paths).

Some of the walks are as short as 20 minutes, while others are over an hour—more than enough time to fill your need for travel distancing.

Pocket-sized concerts

This week, we offer you a pair of shot-at-home performance videos featuring School of Music graduate student Lea Fetterman accompanying herself in a violin trio. In the first video, she’s performing Edward Elgar’s “Salut d’Amour, Op. 12”.

Given that she is now working without a pianist, Fetterman decided to act as her own accompanist in this video—which marks the first time she has ever created something like this.  

“I arranged the piano accompaniment into two violin parts and a bass line,” she explains. “I left the third violin part out because it muddled the melody too much. Due to all the rubato in this piece, I could not use a click track, so I first recorded the solo violin part, and then played the other parts along with that video.”

These videos were created using her MacBook Air and iPad, plus a Zoom Q4n microphone, the Symphony Pro 5 app and her Skullcandy Crusher wireless headphones.

“I hope this piece brings you some joy during these difficult and uncertain times.”



Then, buoyed by her success with the first video, Fetterman then created three violin duets from Bartók’s “44 Duos for Two Violins” — fusing “Tót Nóta (Slovakian Song [1])” with “Magyar Nóta (Hungarian Song [1])” and “Oláh Nóta (Wallachian Song)”.

“I hope you enjoy this pocket-sized concert. Be well!”

Look and see 

Unless you live in or near a high-rise, one of the casualties of living in a lockdown situation is the ability to easily watch other people—a popular human pastime, whether one admits to it or not.

Department of Visual Arts MFA alum and sessional instructor Laura Dutton explores themes of looking and watching in her works. To better explain her practice, she has created this new video for The Connector, which offers her thoughts on two of her recent works: the multi-channel video installation Night Comes On (2016) and the photography exhibit Nearness To or Distance From (2018).  

Described as a “meditation on the process of looking, and being looked at”, Night Comes On “allows the viewer to become a voyeur, peering into private space while navigating around imposing structures of flickering, hypnotic light”.

In contrast, Nearness To or Distance From offers a series of abstracted, candid portraits of tourists visiting the Grand Canyon—photographed from about a kilometre away and then further zoomed in during post-production. “It’s as if these people could have been stolen from the background of a Seurat painting, where they had been forgotten,” says Dutton.

Dutton’s work has been exhibited across Canada at the likes of the Esker Foundation Project Space (Calgary), Legacy Gallery and Deluge Contemporary (Victoria), PAVED Arts (Saskatoon), VU Photo (Quebec City), and as part of the Capture Photography Festival (Vancouver).


Laura Dutton’s “Night Comes On” (2016)

Laura Dutton’s “Nearness To or Distance From” (2018)

An offbeat comedy about human isolation

This week, we bring you the Department of Writing student-made short film Godhead. Written and directed as an MFA project by now-sessional instructor Connor Gaston, Godhead tells the story of Gary, who, rendered mute by his autism, spends his days racing remote-control boats with his little brother—which creates stress for the boy’s father, a single parent who just wants his eldest son to get a job. However, Gary’s condition conceals a powerful gift that goes beyond words.

“To me, Godhead is an offbeat comedy about human isolation, particularly passing judgment on each other, especially people who are different. Intelligence can take many forms, which is something people too often forget,” says Gaston. “Gary, our mute autistic protagonist, embodies this notion and reminds us that a person can be more than what meets the eye. The film also mixes the micro with the macro, contrasting a dysfunctional family unit with the unknowable cosmos.”

An official selection in 2014’s Toronto International Film Festival, Vancouver International Film Festival, Calgary International Film Festival, Whistler Film Festival and Rimouski Festival de Film, plus 2015’s Victoria Film Festival, Godhead was nominated for a Leo Award (Student Production) and won the Student Short Work award at the Whistler Film Festival.

In addition to his teaching duties, Gaston has since gone on to complete his first feature film, The Devoutwhich premiered at the Busan International Film Festival—one of Asia’s premiere film festivals. The Devout also earned Gaston the BC Emerging Filmmaker Award at the Vancouver International Film Festival in 2015 and won Best Motion Picture and Best Screenwriting at the 2016 Leo Awards.

Stay home, get quizzy

Had your fill of jigsaw puzzles? Tired of doing crosswords? If you’re ready for a serious visual challenge, why not tackle the new Stay-at-Home Art History Quiz?

Brought to you by Art History & Visual Studies department chair Marcus Milwright, and based on the same concept he’s been doing for his semi-annual Christmas quizzes, the Stay-at-Home quiz offers 10 composite visual images sourced from throughout art history.

“Our family was always keen on quizzes, from crosswords to tests of general knowledge,” says Milwright. “There used to be a quiz in a newspaper that asked readers to identify a painting from a little section. This provided the inspiration for the original AHVS Christmas Quiz, although I wanted to add some new elements.”

Your job, should you choose to accept the challenge, is to not only identify the art or artist (depending on question) but also solve the cryptic puzzle buried within. Complete instructions can be found on the quiz page

Answers will be posted on the new Gateway to Art site on July 1. Good Luck!

Reclaming First Nations culture & history

What does it mean to dedicate your life to honouring the dead? Harold Joe has spent his adult life following a tradition that has been handed down in his family for generations: the discovery, preservation and rededication of human remains and artifacts, and with them, a reclamation of First Nations culture and history.

As chronicled in the alumni-created documentary Dust n’ Bones, Joe is a revered archaeological consultant, filmmaker and former gravedigger, who has been challenging cultural and spiritual appropriation by museums, universities and private collectors for over 40 years. 

Dust ‘N Bones is a 2018 documentary that brings to light the legal, political, historical and spiritual challenges faced by First Nations leaders and archaeologists as they fight to give disinterred ancestors their proper reverence.

Framed around the pending transfer of artifacts from the Royal British Columbia Museum to traditional Cowichan territory, Dust n’ Bones takes us through the discovery, preservation and rededication of human remains and artifacts—and, with them, a reclamation of First Nations culture and history.  

Created by Less Bland Productions, Dust n’ Bones is produced, co-directed and co-written by Department of Theatre alum and sessional instructor Leslie Bland, also features the musical talents of fellow alum Alexander Brendan Ferguson (composer and arranger). 

Originally commissioned by Telus, APTN and US broadcaster FNX, Dust n’ Bones has since been acquired by NITV Australia, Télé Québec, Knowledge Network, Zoomer Media and CHEK TV. It’s now being used as a tool to help facilitate reconciliation locally between settler society and local First Nations. 

You can read more about Harold Joe in this 2018 Martlet interview.

Leslie Bland

More to come weekly

We’ll be posting more content from our faculty, students and alumni each week—be sure to check back!

Star Wars performance supports COVID-19 student fund

Department of Theatre alum Charles Ross will livestream his popular interstellar romp The One-Man Star Wars Trilogy at 5pm Monday, May 4, to help support an emergency fund for students experiencing financial hardship due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Coordinated through The Farquhar at UVic, this is a special opportunity to watch the Victoria actor and active Theatre alum condense 12 hours of cinema into a 75-minute re-enactment of the plots of three Star Wars films (Star Wars IV, V and VI) while raising money to support students.

Click here for the livestream link to this free performance.

UVic theatre alumnus Charles Ross will livestream his popular interstellar romp through Star Wars on May 4 to help support an emergency bursary fund for students affected by the coronavirus pandemic. Image: Courtesy of Charles Ross.

The UVic COVID-19 Emergency Bursary was established in April to help domestic and international students, at the graduate and undergraduate level, who are in financial need as result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Money raised will go toward students who have lost their jobs, face housing issues or have trouble paying for food, tuition or the technology needed for online or remote learning. The fund also supports mental health services, child care and transportation costs for students affected by the pandemic.

The emergency fund was established with $200,000 from the university and $140,000 from the BC government. Other contributions include $67,000 from the UVic Students’ Society, $50,000 from the UVic Alumni Association and $98,000 in individual donations from hundreds of alumni, faculty, staff and friends of the university.

So far, more than 2,000 students have applied to the emergency bursary, and UVic anticipates the demand will exceed $1 million. Fundraising is continuing and all gifts are welcome. Viewers are asked to donate to the UVic COVID-19 Emergency Bursary.

The livestream performance coincides with the popular annual “May the Fourth be with you” celebration of the Star Wars series. Ross has toured his world-famous production around the globe, entertaining more than a million fans in London’s West End, at the Sydney Opera House and off-Broadway in New York. Performed with permission of Lucasfilm Ltd, the show is fast-paced, funny and suitable for ages six to Yoda.

Most recently, Ross performed his One-Man Pride & Prejudice on April 18 as part of the ongoing #CanadaPerforms series developed by the National Arts Centre.