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!

Theatre researcher named top SSHRC Storyteller

Department of Theatre PhD candidate Lara Aysal has been named one of the top 25 “Storytellers” in an annual competition announced on May 5 by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council. SSHRC’s 2020 Storytellers competition celebrates the best in research communication by post-secondary students.

Applied Theatre PhD candidate Lara Aysal

Aysal is one of two UVic researchers named as a finalist, alongside Erynne Gilpin of UVic’s Indigenous Governance program. Each receives $3,000 and the opportunity to compete in the Storytellers Showcase in 2021.

The Storytellers challenge strives to show Canadians—in up to three minutes or 300 words—how social sciences and humanities research is affecting our lives, our world and our future for the better. The 2020 Top 25 Storytellers represent 19 postsecondary institutions across Canada. Their research stories include topics that are a priority for Canadians and have wide-reaching implications: climate change, the situation for refugees, the stigma of mental illness and Indigenous communities.

“This year’s 25 Storytellers competition finalists show exceptional creativity in communicating the relevance of social sciences and humanities research to the daily lives of Canadians,” says SSHRC President Ted Hewitt. “I commend each of them for their outstanding talent and ability to convey concisely and with great impact, why such research matters. Congratulations to the finalists!”

Community collaboration supports Hul’q’umi’num’ language and culture

Applied Theatre professor Kirsten Sadeghi-Yekta and her students are collaborating with the Hul’q’umi’num’ Language and Culture Society to use tools from theatre to reclaim an endangered Coast Salish language. For the last four summers, the group has met to improvise theatre games to improve fluency and to develop plays performed for the Hul’q’umi’num’ community.

“Working together on plays reinforces traditional values, such as building consensus, overcoming fear, and sharing knowledge with others,” says interdisciplinary PhD student, actor and voice coach, Thomas Jones, Kweyulutstun (theatre and linguistics). “Performing the stories brings out messages and meanings that are not understood when reading from a page.”

Last summer’s performance, “hw’i’ttsus lhqel’ts’Jealous Moon”, was directed by Applied Theatre PhD candidate Lara Aysal. A video documenting the project, Indigenous Performance and Language Revitalization, produced by One Island Media, was entered into the SSHRC Storytellers competition (below).

“Stories have been the guiding principle to take language learning out of the conventional classroom environment and into a theatrical space where it can be practiced in an everyday life setting,” says Aysal, who has worked on applied theatre projects around the world.


Voices of Indigenous women form narrative of self-determination

Erynne Gilpin is a mixed Cree-Metis, Filipina and Celtic educator, researcher. She is also a PhD graduate of UVic’s Indigenous Governance program. Her winning submission was based on her doctoral thesis—Land as Body: Indigenous Womxn’s Leadership, Land-based Wellness and Embodied Governance.

Erynne Gilpin (Photo: Kl. Peruzzo,

Guiding conversations with 17 Indigenous women, 21-to-60 years of age from 10 different nations, Gilpin explored definitions of leadership in their everyday lives, their wellness, community well-being and their relationships with land and water.

Gilpin explains, “my research defines wellness within a Cree-Metis framework. These concepts inform what I define as an embodied governance framework of self-determination.” Determined to interrupt the Indigenous story as one of constant crisis, Gilpin proposes new thinking, “which begins with the body as a site of regeneration, resurgence and renewal.”

Gilpin is an Indigenous Learning Specialist with UVic’s learning and teaching unit, and is an instructor with the Indigenous Studies program.

The 2020 Storytellers finalists are invited to participate in the Storytellers Showcase at the 2021 Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences, which will take place in May 2021 at the University of Alberta. Given the exceptional circumstances caused by the global COVID-19 pandemic, and the nature of the Storytellers competition, where the finalists must learn to effectively communicate their research in front of a live audience, SSHRC decided to postpone the Storytellers Showcase that was to have taken place at the 2020 Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences at Western University in London, Ontario, which was cancelled.

The Final Five winners chosen at that event will be featured at SSHRC’s Impact Awards ceremony, to be held in fall 2021. See SSHRC’s Storytellers website for more details.

This story originally appeared on the UVic News page

Grad student call for Ocean Networks Canada Artist-in-Residence program

The Faculty of Fine Arts and Ocean Networks Canada (ONC) at the University of Victoria are sponsoring an Artist-in-Residence program.

The concept strengthens connections between art and science to broaden and cross-fertilize perspectives and critical discourse on today’s major issues such as the environment, technology, oceans, culture, biodiversity and healthy communities.

This program is open to all current graduate students who have completed most of their course requirements in UVic’s Fine Arts faculty, with practice in any visual,  written, musical or performance media.

For the previous 2018-2019 residency, emerging artist Colton Hash produced a ​series of interactive art applications centred on the Salish Sea​.

Colton Hash with his “Resonant Disintegration” sculpture

About the position

The Artist-in-Residence intern will interact with Fine Arts faculty members and scientists at ONC as well as with other individuals using the world-leading ocean facilities to ignite cross-disciplinary exchanges. The artist will learn from and engage with the current  research, connecting it to their own practice, and to wider societal and cultural aspects, creating a body of work to be presented at the end of the program. Regular interaction with scientists at ONC will be arranged, and the interaction with ONC will inform their graduate work (MA, MFA or PhD program).

The selected artist will actively engage with researchers on a variety of ocean science themes that may include:

  • understanding human-induced change in the northeast Pacific Ocean​
  • life in the environments of the northeast Pacific Ocean and Salish Sea​
  • interconnections among the seafloor, ocean and atmosphere​
  • or seafloor and sediment in motion​.
The ONC Artist-in-Residence program is established to:
  • explore arts or the potential of alternative cultural practices in the area of the visions and challenges around oceans, as well as philosophical, aesthetic, and ethical aspect of the ocean and the impacts humans have on it
  • add a complementary artistic and creative perspective to ocean science, the societal ramifications of its exploitation, and its cultural aspects
  • reveal interconnections between indigenous ways of knowing, scientific research and the arts
  • and help envision the potential long-term impacts of ocean changes on humanity.

The details

The period of the residency will be from September to December 2020, or January to April 2021. A cost-of-living stipend of $2,000/month CDN ($8,000 total) is currently available to be paid to the selected artist, and can be held in conjunction with other graduate funding.

During the residency, academic supervision will continue with the regular supervisor(s) in the Faculty of Fine Arts. Following the residency, a public exhibit or performance of the resulting art will be displayed or performed in summer / fall 2021. This showing/performance will be promoted by ONC, UVic and the faculties of Fine Arts and Science.

Please send applications to ONC’s Dwight Owens at (​) with the subject line “Ocean Networks Canada Artist in Residence Program.”

The application should include your CV, a concise portfolio of previous relevant artistic work, a letter of motivation for the residency and a 500-word project proposal with a separate project-costs budget (up to $2,000 currently available). The application period closes on February 28, 2020.

Applications will be reviewed by representatives of UVic’s Faculty of Fine Arts and Ocean Networks Canada, and students may be contacted for an interview or to supply further information.

About the residency partners

About ONC: Established in 2007 as a major initiative of the University of Victoria, Ocean Networks Canada operates world-leading ocean observatories for the advancement of science  and the benefit of Canada. The observatories collect data on physical, chemical, biological, and geological aspects of the ocean over long time periods, supporting research on complex Earth processes in ways not previously possible. The observatories provide unique scientific and technical  capabilities that permit researchers to operate instruments remotely and receive data at their home  laboratories anywhere on the globe in real time. These facilities extend and complement other research platforms and programs, whether currently operating or planned for future deployment.

About the Faculty of Fine Arts: With experiential learning at its core, Fine Arts provides the finest  training and learning environment for artists, professionals, and students. Through our departments of  Art History and Visual Studies, Theatre, Visual Arts, Writing and School of Music, we aspire to lead in  arts-based research and creative activity and education in local, national, and global contexts. We  integrate and advance creation and scholarship in the arts in a dynamic learning environment. As  British Columbia’s only Faculty exclusively dedicated to the arts, Fine Arts is an extraordinary setting  that supports new discoveries, interdisciplinary and diverse contributions to creativity, and the cultural  experiences of the students and communities we serve.

New agreement with Italy’s Morra Foundation

As a celebration of global contemporary art, the opening of the Venice Biennale in May 2019 provided the ideal backdrop for the formal signing of a three-year research agreement between UVic’s Faculty of Fine Arts and La Fondazione Morra, a major art centre in Naples. The first formal agreement between the Faculty and an Italian cultural institution, it also paves the way for further engagement, collaboration and exchange between institutions.

“Our association with Fondazione Morra creates new opportunities for UVic scholars and artists to explore contemporary art from a multidisciplinary and global perspective,” says Susan Lewis, Dean of Fine Arts and current Acting Associate Vice-President Academic Planning. “The partnership will inform our faculty’s research and creative practice, and enhance the impact of our work abroad.”

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

Preeminent archives and collections

Founded in 1969, the Foundation—along with its 2016 addition of the purpose-built museum, Casa Morra—is one of the most important archives of contemporary artistic and cultural production in the region and beyond. The Morra Foundation houses preeminent archives and collections documenting post-1945 theatre, painting, photography, sculpture, music, sound and concrete poetry, and conceptual and performance art.

Fine Arts will support faculty travel to Naples—including through the Orion Endowment in Fine Arts—where the Fondazione Morra will provide apartments and access to its rich archives and collections. A related agreement to support student activities was signed earlier this year. The agreement builds on collaborations initiated by Dr. Allan Antliff of UVic’s Art History & Visual Studies department, and includes plans to establish a field school and symposia. Fine Arts also plans to host a visit by Fondazione Morra director Teresa Carnevale and founder Giuseppe Morra over the next year.

“This moment creates an unprecedented joint venture that allows us to focus the attention of the Foundation on students by offering them a unique and intense experience made of crossings, connections, journeys and intersections . . . with a perspective on the future,” noted Morra director Teresa Carnevaleas the agreement was signed in Venice’s famed Piazza San Marco.

A transformational partnership

Fondazione Morra founder Giuseppe Morra and director Teresa Carnevale with UVic’s Susan Lewis in Venice’s Piazza San Marco

These agreements are a key example of the Faculty’s efforts to engage globally, promote student mobility and exchange, and share the impact of its research and creative practice on a world scale. Dean Susan Lewis first visited the Fondazione Morra in June 2018 to explore a potentially transformative faculty-wide partnership, and Visual Arts chair Paul Walde will be the first faculty member to visit the Fondazione Morra under the new agreement.

“Giuseppe Morra is a key figure in the presentation, promotion and development of international contemporary art in Italy,” says Walde. “The Morra collection and archive is world-class and this ground-breaking agreement provides our faculty and students unprecedented access to these extraordinary materials.”

Describing the new partnership as of “great cultural value,” director Carnevale says she sees the Fondazione Morra as “a driving and support element for students from all over the world,” and is excited to make the archives and collections of Casa Morra available to UVic’s faculty and students.

UVic surpasses fundraising goal by $3 million

As the last act wrapped, Department of Theatre undergraduate student Fiona Donnelly-Rheaume looked around the great hall of UVic’s First Peoples House with tears in her eyes. “I still get choked up thinking about it,” she says. “Elder Vic Underwood, a residential school survivor, addressed the settler children as if no one was in the room and thanked them for caring.”

Fiona Donnelly-Rheaume

As the final project in her theatre degree with an applied theatre focus, Fiona—under the mentorship of Education’s Phil Duchene—worked with Royal Oak Middle School students to perform the play No Stepping Back during UVic’s 2018 IdeaFest.

Written by Duchene and Theatre professor Warwick Dobson, No Stepping Back addresses the complex history of residential schools and their catastrophic effects on Indigenous communities, families and individuals. “Theatre is a powerful tool that can bring about social change and help to build a stronger community,” says Fiona.

Not your typical student

As a young military wife and mother, Fiona joined theatre groups in every town where her family was transferred. “It helped me learn to adapt to change and express my feelings,” she explains. ”And the people I worked with became like my extended family—people I could lean on.”

It was that experience that led Fiona to UVic to study theatre at the age of 48. “Despite being older than my peers, I immediately found my place in the theatre department. It seemed everyone shared my belief that theatre could help heal people and communities.”

Her passion and hard work on projects like No Stepping Back didn’t go unnoticed; her professors nominated her for the Muriel Conway Memorial Scholarship. “I was sitting in a coffee shop when I received the email,” Fiona recalls. “It was like a scene in a television show: my knees buckled, and I was overcome with shock and happiness.”

Fiona in an applied theatre play during 2015’s Diversity Forum

Fiona’s decision to pursue her degree meant she would have to live separately from her daughter and husband, who was still in the military and stationed in Yellowknife. “Receiving donor support not only took some pressure off my family financially, but it meant someone saw promise in me and I can only hope to live up to that promise.”

One of many to receive support

Fiona is one of 3,052 UVic students who received a donor-funded scholarship or bursary in 2018/2019. UVic surpassed its fundraising goal by $3 million this year, raising $18.9 million from 4,795 donors. The funds increased the number of students supported by donor-funding by 2 percent with 89 new awards.

“The UVic community should all be extremely pleased that donors are willing to invest in our university at this level.  It is a clear indication of their confidence in the quality of research and creative pursuits of our faculty and the calibre of our students.” says Associate Vice President of Alumni and Development Tom Zsolnay.

Donor-funding not only helps students, 44 percent of the money raised this year funded programs, infrastructure and library resources.

“Donor investment in UVic is critical to the university’s ability to pursue excellence in research and teaching that has a meaningful impact on our world,” says Zsolnay.

“I can’t say thank-you enough”

For Fiona, who graduated in spring 2019, the support she received from donors is inspiring her to give back. “I can’t say thank you enough,” she says. “I hope to use theatre as a learning tool to address social issues and build stronger communities.”

Acoustic ecologist Kaitie Sly explores unheard world of ambient sound

We’ve all heard the old proverb: “What we don’t know can’t hurt us.” But, as the research of emerging acoustic ecologist Kaitie Sly shows, what we can’t hear might indeed be hurting us.

Kaitie Sly in front of her interactive map

Graduating in June with a master’s in music and a specialization in music technology, the Vancouver Island born-and-raised Sly has developed a research creation project focused on the impact of inaudible human-generated sound in Greater Victoria. By creating an interactive map of the region, she has highlighted specific areas showing the location of infrasonic and ultrasonic noise.

“The point is to communicate the significance of these frequencies in our everyday lives by allowing people to experience and hear the inaudible noise that’s around us all the time,” she explains.

The sounds of silence

Infrasonic sounds exist below the human ability to hear (20 hertz and less), while ultrasonic sounds soar above our listening range (20 kilohertz and up). And while there are naturally occurring frequencies of both infrasonic (thunder, strong winds, earthquakes) and ultrasonic (tropical rainforest, bats, mice), we’re more likely to encounter them through human-generated activities like aircraft, wind turbines and ventilation systems (infrasonic) and industrial tools, wireless chargers and vehicle parking sensors (ultrasonic).

“You may hear the audible frequencies, but there’s a lot of sound happening above or below that,” she says—and therein lies the problem. “Developments in neuroscience indicate that sonic stimuli can significantly affect the human body without our awareness, which is why I wanted to study infrasonic and ultrasound specifically. There’s this assumption that what we can’t hear can’t affect us—but my research suggests that, depending on different frequencies and pressure levels, these sounds actually produce significant effects on human well-being.”

An easy comparison, says Sly, is the carbon monoxide detector. “Carbon monoxide is odorless and tasteless but it’s very dangerous, so we’ve created carbon monoxide detectors to protect ourselves. But why haven’t we done the same thing for these types of inaudible frequencies? If you have a headache, you won’t automatically attribute it to inaudible sounds—but that’s worth questioning that if you live near a highway, wind turbine, industrial centre or anti-loitering device.”

Consider wind turbines, which are known to produce infrasonic sound. “A lot of people who live near wind turbines have experienced adverse health effects—insomnia, anxiety, hypertension, panic attacks—but the turbine industry says infrasonic sound is below the audible threshold, and therefor of no consequence,” she says. “More research is needed to explore the connection between inaudible sounds and health concerns.”

Tools of the trade

Sly in the field

Sly uses a specific high-definition omnidirectional microphone that records both the infra- and ultrasonic ranges, then runs those recordings through software that reveals a spectrogram analysis of the resulting sound.

Her map project focused on data collection and analysis over a four-month period, using field recordings of specific Greater Victoria locations: the airport, the McKenzie interchange, a construction blasting site in Colwood and an antiloitering mosquito device in Sidney. The resulting map uses an interactive ripple effect to display the type and intensity of the inaudible sounds.

“One of the scary things about infrasonic sound is that we can’t really protect ourselves from it: even if we use hearing protection, it won’t stop it from having an effect on our bodies, as the soundwaves impact the entire organism,” she explains.

As an acoustic ecologist, Sly hopes to raise awareness about the impact a soundscape can have on both humans and the wider ecosystem. “Acoustic ecologists work with urban planners or landscape architects to be more aware of both the adverse and beneficial effects sound can have on our health and well-being,” she says. “It’s a field where you’re trying to find ways to harmonize humans with their acoustic environment.”

Ultimately, says Sly, we all need to be more aware of what we hear—and don’t hear—around us. “It’s not just about the risks; sound can have a very beneficial impact on our life. Whatever your profession, think about sound in everything you do.”