Top-10 Fine Arts stories of 2021

As we wind down a(nother) year of unprecedented firsts, it is with gratitude and awe that we look back on the student accomplishments, faculty successes, new appointments and visiting scholars who made 2021 memorable. Read on to see some of the things that kept our year bright even in these often trying times.

New Impact Chair

Most recently, Fine Arts was proud to announce that we are now home to one of just four new Impact Chairs positions at UVic. With a deep understanding of art’s power to inspire change and a teaching style that embraces cultural learning, Carey Newman brings his passion for decolonization and Indigenous resurgence to his new appointment as Impact Chair in Indigenous Art Practices in both the departments of Visual Arts and Art History & Visual Studies.

 

Learning with others

“There’s something quite sacred about listening and working with your hands at the sametime.” Award-winning poet, memoirist and Writing professor Gregory Scofield—also a traditional Cree-Metis beadworker— connects traditional beadwork and writing through his creative practice and teaching. All of this unites in Scofield’s course on Indigenous women’s resistance writing and material art, which combines hands-on learning in traditional Cree-Metis beadwork with readings, films and writing practice centered on resurgence and resistance.

And in July, Fine Arts welcomed Karla Point as the new Indigenous Resurgence Coordinator, and we couldn’t be happier. Here’s what Karla had to say about it, “When I was a cultural support liaison with Law, I was ‘Aunty Karla’ for the Law students—so I’d love to be Aunty Karla for all the Fine Arts students.”

 

Transformational theatre

Eurocentrism in theatre continues to be one of the most pressing artistic issues of our time, whether on professional stages, community performances or academic institutions. Enter the Theatre department’s new initiative, Staging Equality—which offers a vision of how theatre can address issues of race, diversity and inclusion by building relationships based on trust and respect. Created out of the Strategic Framework Impact Fund, Staging Equality is a three-year collaborative and creative research project devised by Theatre professors Yasmine Kandil and Sasha Kovacs.

 

Graduate achievements

On June 1, Syilx & Tsilhqot’in playwright & director Kim Senklip Harvey became the first Indigenous woman to win the Governor General’s Literary Award for Drama for her play Kamloopa: An Indigenous Matriarch Story (Talon Books)—less than a week after receiving her MFA in Writing from our Writing department. The widely acclaimed play then received a staged reading at Phoenix’s Chief Dan George Theatre in November.

In September, Theatre PhD candidate Dennis Gupa premiered his Gossip with Whales, a unique choral collaboration which seeks to give voice to those most affected by climate change on the oceans. It was created while Gupa was Artist in Residence with Ocean Networks Canada.

Making music matter

In November, the School of Music’s AUDIO+ held its second annual event to advance the integration of women and non-gender conforming persons into the male-dominated realm of audio engineering. With exciting events including a build-your-own-synthesizer workshop and strong student participation, we hope this is the start of a new tradition here on campus.

Along similar lines, School of Music students highlighted marginalized voices during UVic’s 5 Days of Action this fall, with the hopes of bringing awareness to EDI-related challenges faced by both musicians and music institutions.

Student accomplishments

School of Music undergraduate Iryna Peleshchyshyn received the gift of a lifetime this past year when she was given the opportunity to play a treasured 18th century violin during her degree program. The French violin—crafted in 1748 and valued at nearly $35,000—was donated to UVic by well-known local violinist Trudi Prelypchan, who knows a thing or two about being a young violinist: at just 16, she began playing with the Victoria Symphony in 1964.

In other departmental news, Visual Arts was able to launch its long-awaited and newly upgraded Photography Lab this summer thanks to the help of UVic’s Capital Projects and our donors.

Changing climate

While we are all aware that there is a climate crisis and there’s not enough happening to stop it, the appointment of Sean Holman as the new Wayne Crookes Professor in Environmental and Climate Journalism to help change the narrative around climate change.

And back in June, Visual Arts professor Kelly Richardson brought her environmental vision to the world when she was selected as one of six international artists by the UN Convention on Biodiversity to participate in the Instagram takeover of @withnature2020.

Guest speakers

Fine Arts was fortunate to host a remarkable range of guest speakers this past year, most hosted by our long-running Orion Lecture Series and many of which are still available for viewing on our Orion playlist. Guests range from celebrated nonfiction author JB MacKinnon, who explored society’s problematic relationship with consumerism, to musical scholar Gayle Young, who offered a unique workshop on microtonality and tuning. Notable among our many other speakers were Islamic curator Fahmid Suleman, multidisciplinary painter Manuel Mathieu and Indigenous actor Gary Farmer, to name but a few.

Online exhibits

Plays and concerts weren’t the only things to shift online: this year also saw the annual BFA exhibition shift into an online virtual reality walkthrough format. “Any limitations have only inspired innovation,” noted supervising Visual Arts faculty member Jennifer Stillwell. The exhibit, titled The End, proved that even a pandemic can’t keep art down as 30 graduating students filled much of the Visual Arts building with their creations.

Livestream and live performances

dead man's cell phone posterLast March, Problem Child became the sole public main stage production of the 2020/21 Phoenix Theatre season due to COVID—prompting a major technological shift as students learned to live stream their first major production. But this fall saw audiences return to the Phoenix Theatre mainstage with a production of the highly entertaining Dead Man’s Cell Phonewith more to look forward to in spring 2022.

Hot new electives for Winter ’22

Students, do you need a fascinating elective for Winter 2022? Fine Arts has you covered, no matter what your faculty or area of study. While we’re offering dozens of electives, we’re highlighting these four as they’re open to all students across campus.

The Ongoing Art of Resistance

There couldn’t be a better time for this new course taught by acclaimed artist & Visual Arts / Art History & Visual Studies professor Carey Newman: “The Ongoing Art of Resistance: Decolonization Through Indigenous Resurgence”.

From the music of Buffy Sainte-Marie & the art of Kent Monkman to the films of Alanis Obomsawin and so many others, you’ll explore how Indigenous artists continue resistance within local, national & international contexts.

Better still, you’ll be learning with one of Victoria’s leading multi-disciplinary artists & master carvers—the creator of the acclaimed Witness Blanket installation.

The Ongoing Art of Resistance: AHVS 392 A04 • CRN 24121
runs 2:30-5:30pm Thursdays, starting Jan 2022

(Image: Andy Everson)

Exploring arts & technology

Interested in exploring immersive & augmented experiences? Check out our new Arts & Technology elective run by noted intermedia artist Christine Swintak.

From virtual exhibitions & livestream performances to geolocation, projector mapping, virtual/augmented reality, immersive media installations & data-driven practices, this practice-oriented seminar will dive into immersive & augmented experiences in both art and society.

Arts & Technology II: FA 346 A01 • CRN 2410
10-11:20am Mon/Thurs starting Jan 2022

Evolution of comics

How did early 20th century comic strips evolve into the sophisticated graphic novels we have today? 

Journey from Milton Caniff’s classic adventure strip “Terry & the Pirates” to Alison Bechdel’s landmark lesbian memoir “Fun Home” via artists like Jack Kirby, Harvey Kurtzman, Will Eisner, Charles Schultz, Robert Crumb, Lynda Barry, Darwin Cooke, Chris Ware & so many more.

You’ll even have the option of creating your own comic in this course taught by local artist Peter Sandmark.

Comic Strips to Graphic Novels: AHVS 392 A02  • CRN: 20075 • 4:30-7:20pm Mondays

Suppressed music

Explore the greatest music you’ve never heard and discover how first-rate composers were suppressed under Third Reich and Communist regimes during the 20th century.

By listening to music and watching films, plus readings & in-class discussions, you’ll explore issues of antisemitism, racism, exile, imprisonment and cultural dispersion/immigration.

You’ll also discover the surprising role of music in internment & concentration camps, all with School of Music professor Suzanne Snizek.

Issues in Suppressed Music: MUS 391 A01 • CRN 22241
2:30-5:20pm Wednesdays starting Jan 2022

2021 Student Community Impact Award winners

The Faculty of Fine Arts is proud to announce the three recipients of our inaugural Fine Arts Student Community Impact Awards, presented as part of the annual Greater Victoria Regional Arts Awards on Oct 1 at a live event held at Sidney’s Winspear Centre.

Each recipient—(from left) Kyla Fradette (Music), Alison Roberts (Theatre) and Dani Neira (AHVS)—received $1,000 plus a beautiful crystal glass award for their community efforts this past year.

“For over 50 years, Fine Arts has been an incubator for young artists, technicians, arts administrators, volunteers and audience members,” noted Acting Dean Allana Lindgren at the awards ceremony.

“And while our alumni and faculty members continue to make a vital impact on Victoria’s arts community, we felt it was time to recognize the work and contributions our students make to the local arts community . . . and the time the community itself spends fostering and mentoring our students.”

About the awards

The Fine Arts Student Community Impact Award was created by the Dean’s External Advisory Committee to recognize the individual achievements or outstanding effort made by a full-time Fine Arts undergraduate student for a local arts organization.

Kyla Fradette was honoured for her participation with Pacific Opera Victoria’s “Pop Up Opera” pandemic project that brought live musical performances to the streets and outside the windows of care homes throughout Greater Victoria.

Alison Roberts was recognized for her continuing volunteer work with the Victoria On Stage Musical Theatre Society—where, for the past 10 years, she has taken on duties ranging from performer and choreographer to director, fundraiser and now board member.

Dani Neira was selected for her work as both the gallery intern at the Open Space Artist-Run Centre and the creator of Open Space’s printzine project, (un)productive—which helped connect artists and creatives during last year’s lockdown.

More awards

Congratulations also to our alumni who received awards, including local artist Sarah Jim—an emerging artist of mixed ancestry and a member of the W̱SÁNEĆ nation from the Tseycum village—the team at Theatre SKAM and our colleagues at Puente Theatre & Intrepid Theatre for their conVERGE IBPoC residency.

Kudos also go out to our behind-the-scenes alumni who helped make the whole event possible—including Ian Case, Matthew Payne, Doug Jarvis & Justin Lee.

We also gratefully acknowledge our donors—who made it possible to offer three separate $1,000 awards this year—as well as our colleagues on the awards selection committee. 

Click here for a full list of the 2021 GVRAA winners. 

Theatre SKAM receives their award

Student jobs now open!

Looking for on-campus work that won’t conflict with your studies? Check out UVic’s workstudy program: with 58 student jobs now posted in Fine Arts alone, each of our departments (and some associated units) are offering paid positions that will benefit your academic experience.

We have all sorts of jobs now available in various areas, including—but not limited to:

  • props and costumes 
  • stage managers and ushers
  • visual resources
  • technical theatre
  • communications and social media
  • web design
  • sound recording
  • lab supervision
  • life drawing
  • photo lab

Most pay $16 to $19/hour and offer invaluable skills to boost your degree—and look great on a resume! While some departments prefer to hire students from their own areas, you can apply for any position across campus—some units even have multiple positions available.

Click here for full application details

Here’s the current list of Fine Arts-related jobs:

Fine Arts

  • SIM Lab supervisor (6)
  • Communications assistant
  • Web designer
  • Developer

Art History & Visual Studies

  • Visual resources assistant
  • Social media/communications coordinator

Music

  • Recital hall coordinator
  • Concert & event stage manager (4)
  • Recording technician (4)
  • Social media assistant
  • Concert & event usher (4)
  • Orchestra/Wind Symphony stage manager
  • Livestream technician

Theatre

  • Communications assistant (2)
  • Audience service assistant (5)
  • Theatre production assistant
  • Theatre properties assistant
  • Technical theatre assistant (4)
  • Scene shop assistant (4)
  • Senior costume assistant (3)

Visual Arts

  • Photo lab technician
  • Workshop assistant (2)
  • Life drawing coordinator
  • Visiting artist assistant

Writing

  • Digital storytelling online editor

Legacy Gallery

  • Visitor engagement assistant (3)

Malahat Review

  • Editorial assistant
  • Social media assistant

Student recording technician at work in the School of Music

New accordion scholarship offers keys to the future

Visit any music academy in Eastern Europe, Russia or China and you’ll find numerous programs created specifically to study the accordion. Not so in North America, where it still doesn’t get the respect it deserves as a symphonic instrument­.

At UVic, however, that perception is changing thanks to the Brian Money & Nancy Dyer Accordion Scholarship in Music, which supports outstanding graduate or undergraduate students.

New accordion program

Our new School of Music program is unique in North America (University of Toronto also offers accordion studies, but only at the doctoral and Masters levels), and was “purposely designed” to be flexible, says Music professor Adam Con—an accordionist himself.

“We’re preparing students to enter the market to be performers and ambassadors of the accordion with a wide variety of styles under their belt—even jazz, which you can’t do anywhere else.”

Part of that preparation will come from internationally acclaimed accordion performer and teacher Jelena Milojević, as well as from our Phillip T. Young Recital Hall. “We had 30 professionals from all over the world come here for a festival and they thought our acoustics were the best they’d ever heard for accordions,” says Con.

Nikolay Ovchinnikov

Gift makes program a reality

Donor Brian Money started playing accordion at seven and continued studying throughout his career as a telecommunications engineer—including with Milojević herself). Russian graduate student Nikolay Ovchinnikov became our first accordion performance student in 2020, with three more starting in fall 2021 and still more confirmed for 2022.

“This instrument has a lot of ability to open up a diversity of music styles and experiences we’re otherwise blind to,” says Con. “There are a lot of students from Eastern Europe who want to come to North America.“

20/21 Donor Fast Facts

  • $4.688,093 received from donors
  • $2.3 million funds received from estate gifts
  • 749 overall donors
  • 200% donors doubled in last year
  • 9 new fine arts awards created
  • $759, 314 awarded to students from donor awards
  • 452 awards available for undergraduate students
  • 68 awards available for graduate students
  • 319 students who received awards
  • 1 in 4 student received donor support

Donors Brian Money & Nancy Dyer

Violin donation offers 250-year-old gift

Some gifts transcend time, as current School of Music undergraduate Iryna Peleshchyshyn discovered when she received the gift of a treasured 18th century violin to play during her degree program.

The French violin—crafted in 1748 and valued at nearly $35,000—was donated to UVic by well-known local violinist Trudi Prelypchan, who knows a thing or two about being a young violinist: at just 16, she began playing with the Victoria Symphony in 1964.

Back to Bach

The impact of the gift isn’t lost on Peleshchyshyn. “The first time I played it, I fell in love with the sound,” she says.

“New violins might be powerful, but old violins have a gorgeous tone and a beautiful rich sound. It’s like it has a soul: you feel its history, how many people have played it, how it has traveled and the different pieces it has played over the centuries.”

In fact, the first piece Peleshchyshyn played on the instrument was Bach’s “Chaconne”—which was also the first piece donor Trudi Prelypchan performed on the same violin . . . which was itself built during Bach’s lifetime.

Violin donor Trudi Prelypchan

The many colours of music

Originally from Ukraine, Peleshchyshyn is a  fourth-year education major studying with Lafayette String Quartet violinist and Music professor Ann-Elliott Goldschmid; as well as performing with the UVic Orchestra, she also plays in a student quartet and was a finalist in the School of Music’s 2021 Concerto Competition.

When asked if she has any remarks for Trudi Prelypchanthe violin’s donor, Peleshchyshyn doesn’t hesitate in expressing her gratitude.

“Thank you so much for the opportunity to play upon this violin,” she says. “It has really allowed me to explore so many new colours . . . it’s such a beautiful instrument.”

20/21 Donor Fast Facts

  • $4.688,093 received from donors
  • $2.3 million funds received from estate gifts
  • 749 overall donors
  • 200% donors doubled in last year
  • 9 new fine arts awards created
  • $759, 314 awarded to students from donor awards
  • 452 awards available for undergraduate students
  • 68 awards available for graduate students
  • 319 students who received awards
  • 1 in 4 student received donor support