Congratulations to spring 2021 grads!

Congratulations, Class of 2021—you made it!

You are now one of over 9000 Fine Arts alumni worldwide who studied at UVic—and have the distinction of graduating during the most difficult year in our history.

“As part of an esteemed group of artists and creative thinkers, you are poised to embrace the adventures that lie ahead,” says Dr. Allana Lindgren, Acting Dean of Fine Arts in her message to new alumni. “Believe in yourself. You are ready.”

Virtual grad experience

While we are still unable to gather in person for convocation, UVic and Fine Arts remain proud of the resilience you have shown in these ever-changing times. To mark the occasion, UVic has created a virtual graduation experience, where the university community can join in the celebration of your great achievement.

This video includes messages from your fellow graduates, including Art History & Visual Studies student Saad Salman. “We have learned so much and really gone through so much upheaval and stress with the global pandemic,” he says, “but it means we’re really ready to take on the world and whatever it throws at us.”

And remember, even though you may be experiencing this virtual version of graduation now, you’re invited to return to any UVic convocation in the next three years so that you can cross the stage in style.

Fine Arts grad site

Fine Arts has also created our own convocation page, filled with video messages from the Acting Dean, faculty members from each department, the announcement of the annual Victoria Medal winner for the highest GPA in Fine Arts . . . and a few fun extras.

“As you pursue new opportunities, remember that you will always be a valued member of the Faculty of Fine Arts,” says Dr. Lindren. “Please know that we are all very proud to call you a UVic Fine Arts grad!”

Congratulations once again!

 

New $1000 student award launched

New community impact award

Are you a current or graduating UVic Fine Arts undergraduate who’s been involved with some community-engaged creative activity in Greater Victoria between Jan 1/20 & May 31/21? If so, you could qualify for $1,000 via our new Community Impact Award!

The first annual Fine Arts Student Community Impact Award will be awarded in Fall 2021 to undergraduate students who have demonstrated an outstanding effort in a community-engaged creative activity in Greater Victoria. Student recipients are eligible to receive funding of $1,000 or more.

“This award is particularly exciting because, for over 50 years, the Faculty of Fine Arts has been an incubator for young artists, arts administrators, volunteers and audience members,” says Acting Dean of Fine Arts, Dr. Allana Lindgren. “We felt it was time we recognize the work and contributions that our students make in the local community—and to thank the local arts community for helping to foster and mentor our students over the years.”

Eligibility criteria

Entering, graduating, transferring, or continuing undergraduate students of UVic’s Faculty of Fine Arts are eligible for the award at this time. Activity must have occurred between January 1, 2020, and May 31, 2021.

For the purpose of this award, “community-engaged creative activity” may include (but is not limited to) any exhibit, performance, workshop, literary, curatorial, educational, digital, production and/or administrative role within the regional boundaries of Greater Victoria (Sidney to Sooke).

Submission deadline

A completed submission package—including the submission form and all supporting materials—must be received by 5:00pm Monday, May 31, 2021. 

Submissions and relevant support material must be uploaded here.

Requirements

The following elements will be required in order to submit your award application.

  1. A description of the community-engaged creative activity (maximum 500 words), including a title page with applicants contact information.
  2. A letter from an individual or organization demonstrating how the student was involved in the community-engaged creative activity (maximum 300 words).
  3. Two letters of endorsement of the project (maximum two pages and from different people than #1. The letters must be written by people who are not related to the nominee).
  4. A resume, CV or portfolio encapsulating the student’s work.

Selection criteria

Nominations will be evaluated on the quality of experience, recognition and dedication to creative practice including contributions to, engagement with, and impact on the local arts community.

  • Nominations can be made by any individual or organization in Greater Victoria.
  • Students can nominate themselves for the award.
  • Neither the nominator nor the letters of endorsement can be from a relative of the nominee.
  • Students are only able to receive the award once, but can submit multiple nominations.
  • All nominations will be screened for basic eligibility. If a nomination is incomplete or deemed ineligible, it will not be advanced to the jury.

Selection process

The Fine Arts Student Community Impact Award recipients will be chosen by a jury representing the five disciplines of Fine Arts convened annually by the Dean of the UVic Faculty of Fine Arts, based on the criteria for the award.

The fine print

Approval of the recipient will be made by the Senate Committee on Awards upon the recommendation of the Dean of the Faculty of Fine Arts. The Award will be presented annually as part of the annual Greater Victoria Regional Arts Awards (or another suitable event) as determined by the Dean of the Faculty of Fine Arts and the Dean’s External Advisory Committee.

Questions?

Contact us at fineartsawards@uvic.ca.

Dennis Gupa: from sea rituals to applied theatre and science

Dennis Gupa in February 2021. (Photo: John Threlfall)

The idea of artists working with scientists is nothing new to Dennis Gupa.

A PhD candidate in UVic’s theatre department, Gupa is also the current artist-in-residence with Ocean Networks Canada (ONC), a UVic initiative. He sees the artistic residency, launched by the Faculty of Fine Arts and ONC two years ago, as a natural fit with his doctoral focus on Indigenous sea rituals, climate change and sustainable ecology.

While Gupa’s term at ONC will wrap up this spring, he’s also finishing his doctoral work in applied theatre under the supervision of theatre professor Kirsten Sadeghi-Yetka, whose experience in community-engaged research includes projects in Indigenous language revitalization through theatre with children in the Downtown Eastside in Vancouver, young people in Brazilian favelas, young women in rural areas of Cambodia and students with special needs in schools in The Netherlands.

As with any applied theatre practitioner, Gupa also wants to use the tools of theatre and drama to help bring about social change and build a sense of community—and, in his case, to attempt to grapple with the gravity of global warming especially in the island nations of the world.

Strengthening connections between art and science

Sharing stories is exactly what Gupa has in mind with the ONC initiative: recently repositioned as an opportunity for Fine Arts graduate students, the ONC artist-in-residence program exists to strengthen connections between art and science, and ignite cross-disciplinary exchanges around the major issues facing oceans today.

“This residency program comes at a time of crisis in ocean sustainability,” ONC chief scientist Kim Juniper. “Science-art collaborations such as this one bring together the insight and power of two ways of looking at the world, and will hopefully lead to new understanding and greater benefits for our ocean and our future.”

While the pandemic is complicating Gupa’s original idea to create an immersive, ONC data-fueled performance experience involving the Filipino diaspora community—including playwright Karla Comanda, classical singer Jeremiah Carag, Philippine-based composer Darren Vega and Vietnamese-Canadian actor Thai-Hoa Le—Gupa is still hopeful about uniting these two worlds during his spring 2021 residency.

“How can we share our stories with the scientists, and what does that mean to them to listen to immigrants?” Gupa ponders. “How does our history of exile connect with the history of climate disaster? We’ve never really tapped into that or discussed it in a scientific space.”

For Gupa, the ONC residency is less a challenge and more a cumulative opportunity between his artistic and academic pursuits.

“There’s a lesson in fluidity that this water is teaching me and I’d like to bring that to the fore in my work … it’s not just a fascination, but water is so embodied in my work as an artist. It’s beautiful but it’s also dangerous. We cannot wait any longer for inclusive and deeper collaborations to make things better for all living things in this earth—both seen and unseen.”

Ces Bersez, Dennis Gupa, & Francis Matheu in “Murupuro/Island of Constellations” at Prairie Theatre Exchange in 2018. (Photo: Migrante Manitoba FB web page)

Social justice for the seas

“When we think of the water, I think of social justice,” Gupa adds. “As an archipelagic country surrounded by water, the Philippines have been suffering from ocean disasters due to climate change: resources are depleting, coral are bleaching, fish are dying and the waters are warming so the fish don’t have food. So what do they do? They migrate, just like Filipinos—fish are the first climate refugees.”

Gupa has also been looking at how climate change has impacted Canadian Filipino diaspora communities, with whom he created and then toured a highly collaborative theatrical production in 2018 (Victoria, Vancouver, Winnipeg).

Gupa performing the mask of Imelda Marcos during his production of “Murupuro”. (Photo: Fiona Ngai)

Applied theatre, traditional knowledge and climate crisis

Having grown up in the Philippines, Gupa has witnessed firsthand the threat of extreme weather events. With his country being a former colony—extending across 7,600 islands and known for its maritime history, marine diversity and Indigenous population—the parallels between the Philippines and Vancouver Island are clear to Gupa. He says this is probably the reason he decided to do his grad studies at UVic.

“By looking at the experience and knowledge of local people—who have been experiencing these climatic events for so many years, but are not really given a lot of opportunities to tell their stories—we can learn from their knowledge and wisdom,” he says. “Our poetries and songs renew our kinship with the ocean.”

Gupa’s research focuses on traditional ways of knowing, as well as storytelling and applied theatre, and how these elements can be drawn into important discussions and dialogue in support of social justice, community participation and climate action.

A youth theatre project in 2015 co-directed by Gupa for a rural high school “glee club” in the Philippines. (Photo: The Perfect Grey | ASEAN Center for Biodiversity)

And he very much believes in bringing people together to share stories. Gupa says, “I create interdisciplinary work with a kinship among knowledge disciplines. One of the fascinating functions of an artist is being an interlocutor, bringing people together to share our stories.”

He conducted field work in the Samar-Leyte region of the Philippines, working closely with local elders on the island community of Guiuan, where the super typhoon Yolanda in 2013—one of the deadliest on record—first made landfall.

Interdisciplinary conversations on global issues

In addition to collaborating with ONC at UVic, Gupa was a visiting graduate research fellow at UVic’s Centre for Studies in Religion and Society in 2019/20 and a recipient of a 2017 student research fellowship from the Centre for Asia-Pacific Initiatives at UVic. He is also a Vanier Scholar.

“Scientists spend hours in their labs thinking about their work, similar to what theatre and performance artists do in their rehearsal spaces,” he says. “We’re all exploring and searching for meaning; this kind of interdisciplinary conversation simply lets us be better adjusted to global issues.”

Gupa also spent a decade at the University of the Philippines Los Baños where, in addition to teaching theatre, he was named the first head of the Office of Arts and Science Fusion Program.

In 2011, Gupa received a grant from the Asian Cultural Council (established by John D. Rockefeller III) for six months in as the director-in-residence with Ma-Yi Theatre Company in New York City.

His collaborative work has also won support from the British Columbia Arts Council, the Canada Council for the Arts, World Bank Manila Office/Australian Agency for International Development, ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity and the Dharmasiswa Scholarship through the Indonesian government’s Ministry of Education, among many others.

Gupa has an MFA Directing (Theatre) degree from UBC and an MA (Theatre) from University of the Philippines.

Gupa wearing a traditional Filipino malong at a local beach in Victoria. (Photo: John Threlfall)

Follow the social media feeds of both Fine Arts and ONC for developments on the artistic residency this spring.

Phoenix Theatre livestreams Problem Child

Phoenix Theatre is excited to be presenting their only public mainstage production of the 20/21 academic year: George F. Walker’s Problem Child, running at 8pm March 24-27 via their new broadcast-quality livestream. Tickets $15 per household via the Phoenix box office 

Learning livestream technology

During this time when we are not able to have audiences in our theatres, filming and livestreaming the work of our students is one of the only ways we can share our work with you. Thanks to the incredible support from UVic, a generous donor and Phoenix Theatre’s long-time sponsor iA Financial Group, the Theatre department has been able to obtain professional-quality livestream equipment.

Since the arrival of the equipment late last fall, production staff have been busy instructing students in the art of filming, live camera direction, video editing, and other skills, offering our students advantages that will take them into the future of theatre. While livestreaming is a necessity today, there’s no doubt that this technology will continue to be a key part of theatre outreach, even when we are able to return to our seats in the theatre.

Relearning theatre

For instructor and assistant technical director Simon Farrow, this process offered an opportunity to relearn how we create theatre. “True livestreaming for theatre—where the performance is filmed live while you are watching—is challenging,” he says. “We wanted to set the viewer’s expectation of the video production to be as polished as every other element of our Phoenix productions.” (Above, theatre student Jadyn McGregor works the livestream board.)

“A good livestream theatre experience requires all the other elements of the production to contribute as well,” Farrow continues. “The set design needs to offer access for good filming angles. Costumes need to translate over the screen. The lighting needs to be adjusted for camera exposure, the sound design needs to integrate well into the livestream mix and, of course, the actors need to adjust their blocking, already distanced for COVID guidelines, for the camera. All of the students working in these areas are reframing their work to the camera lens, rather than the auditorium.” (Below, Theatre student Brandon Sugden directs the livestream student team,)

About Problem Child

Stuck in a room. Stuck in the system. A desperate mother and her hapless partner are confined to a hotel room while they try to put their delinquent pasts behind them in order to regain custody of their baby. Problem Child is a gritty social comedy by one of Canada’s most prolific and popular playwrights, George F. Walker—best known for his fast-paced social comedies satirizing the woes of contemporary culture under the pressures of capitalism.

As the only public mainstage production this year, this play was chosen by director and Theatre professor Fran Gebhard to offer the fourth-year performance class challenging contemporary roles for their final required credits, all while maintaining physical distancing guidelines. As such, there will be two alternating, four-person casts featuring our fourth-year performance class for their final required credits; all performances will also maintain physical distancing guidelines. See the Problem Child website for cast schedule.

 

Putting it all together

Combining the new technology with the rehearsal process offered a spectacular and a positive learning experience for everyone in the Theatre department—all of which is being applied to Problem Child.

Fran Gebhard

“I’ve been a fan of George Walker’s work for years,” says Gebhard. With a cast of only four, it allowed our graduating students to be featured in two alternating casts, giving everyone complex roles and allowing for distancing on stage. “We rehearsed in facemasks and practised our social distancing to the letter. Our staging and blocking had to adjust to these protocols accordingly,” says Gebhard. “A daunting challenge? Yes! Different? Certainly. But we’ve loved every minute.”

“We’re natural-born theatre-makers,” Gebhard concludes, “and neither hell nor high water, nor even a global pandemic, can stop us from carrying out our work with joy.”

Read more in this Times Colonist article about how Fran Gebhard brought her years of experience in film and television to guide this livestream production.

 

George F. Walker’s Problem Child 
LIVESTREAM PERFORMANCES
March 24, 25, 26 & 27, 2021

TICKETS: $15 per link/household
An easy-to-use, one-click link and password will be sent to you the day of your performance. All tickets come with a no-questions-asked, money-back guarantee (within 24 hours of performance date for a full refund).

Charge by phone at 250-721-8000 at the Phoenix Box Office (no in-person or online sales at this time.)

Orion Series presents Drew Hayden Taylor

The Orion
Lecture Series in Fine Arts

Through the generous support of the Orion Fund in Fine Arts, the Faculty of Fine Arts, University of Victoria, is pleased to present:

Drew Hayden Taylor

Playwright, novelist, filmmaker, journalist

“Canoeing Down the River of Contemporary Storytelling”

12:30 – 1:30 pm (PST) Thursday, April 1, 2021

 

Free & open to the public via Zoom

Presented by UVic’s Department of Theatre
For more information on this lecture please email: theatre@uvic.ca 

The changing face of Indigenous literature 

Drew Hayden Taylor is an award-winning playwright, novelist, filmmaker and journalist. Born on the Curve Lake First Nation, he has done everything from performing stand-up comedy at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. to serving as Artistic Director for Canada’s premiere Indigenous theatre company, Native Earth Performing Arts.

Having written 20 plays with over 100 productions, Drew is currently working on the second season of his APTN documentary series, GOING NATIVE, as well as finishing up two plays, a novel, and a book of essays on Indigenous futurisms.

In his lecture, Drew will talk about the changing face of Indigenous literature, its origins, its trajectory, and his unexpected journey through it.

About the Orion Fund

Established through the generous gift of an anonymous donor, the Orion Fund in Fine Arts is designed to bring distinguished visitors from other parts of Canada—and the world—to the University of Victoria’s Faculty of Fine Arts, and to make their talents and achievements available to faculty, students, staff and the wider Greater Victoria community who might otherwise not be able to experience their work.

The Orion Fund also exists to encourage institutions outside Canada to invite regular faculty members from our Faculty of Fine Arts to be visiting  artists/scholars at their institutions; and to make it possible for Fine Arts faculty members to travel outside Canada to participate in the academic life of foreign institutions and establish connections and relationships with them in order to encourage and foster future exchanges.

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

Orion Series presents Gary Farmer

The Orion
Lecture Series in Fine Arts

Through the generous support of the Orion Fund in Fine Arts, the Faculty of Fine Arts, University of Victoria, is pleased to present:

Gary Farmer

Actor, filmmaker, musician, publisher, activist

“My Life as a Baby Clown”

12:30 – 1:30 pm (PST) Tuesday, March 23, 2021

 

Free & open to the public via Zoom

Presented by UVic’s Department of Theatre
For more information on this lecture please email: theatre@uvic.ca 

A pioneer in Indigenous media 

Gary Farmer is a filmmaker, musician, publisher, activist, and multi-award-nominated actor, who has worked in film, theatre, radio and television. He is currently performing the role of Dan Twelvetrees in Syfy Network’s TV show Resident Alien.

Farmer has won Best Actor awards at the American Indian Film Festival for his roles in Powwow Highway in 1989 and Dead Man (opposite Johnny Depp) in 1997. He received nominations for the Independent Spirit Award for his roles in Powwow Highway, Dead Man, and Smoke Signals. In 2001, he was honoured with the Taos Mountain Award for lifetime achievements of an outstanding Native film professional, and in 2017, with the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Annual Native American Music Awards for his role as the harmonica playing frontman in the band, Gary Farmer & The Troublemakers.

Farmer is also widely recognized as a pioneer in the development of media for Indigenous peoples in Canada, launching the magazine Aboriginal Voices and founding the Aboriginal Voices Radio Network.

In this lecture, Gary will discuss his freedom to explore his cultural identity through the performing arts, working with diverse human storylines for better thinking humans since 1975.  

About the Orion Fund

Established through the generous gift of an anonymous donor, the Orion Fund in Fine Arts is designed to bring distinguished visitors from other parts of Canada—and the world—to the University of Victoria’s Faculty of Fine Arts, and to make their talents and achievements available to faculty, students, staff and the wider Greater Victoria community who might otherwise not be able to experience their work.

The Orion Fund also exists to encourage institutions outside Canada to invite regular faculty members from our Faculty of Fine Arts to be visiting  artists/scholars at their institutions; and to make it possible for Fine Arts faculty members to travel outside Canada to participate in the academic life of foreign institutions and establish connections and relationships with them in order to encourage and foster future exchanges.

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