Portland student balances art & athletics

When it comes to making goals, Harry Ritter West is scoring two-for-two. A varsity athlete with UVic’s men’s soccer team, West knows how to keep his eye on the ball—but as a fourth-year Visual Arts student, he also has the creative vision to shoot as a photographer.

 

Why study at UVic?

Originally drawn to UVic by the manageable scale of both the campus and Victoria, West, a dual US/Canadian citizen from Portland, Oregon, was also drawn to the proximity of forests and mountains. Growing up as a frequent visitor to the region, he finds a common Pacific Northwest vibe between Victoria and Portland. Both cities have a vibrant, arts-centric downtown area and draw individuals who value a harmonious connection with the natural world, prioritizing a healthy body and mind.

“I’ve always had an appreciation for Vancouver Island. Victoria is such a beautiful place, it’s got a unique environment and everything’s super-close. As Americans, we don’t really learn a lot about Canada in high school and don’t have many opportunities to visit universities here. But we shouldn’t rule Canada out—anyone even considering studying here should just come and experience it for themselves.”

When he’s not playing soccer or shooting photos downtown, you can often find him biking and hiking around the region. “I love it here. My four years have been awesome!”

But West was also drawn by the reputation of UVic’s Visual Arts department. “I’d heard good things about the arts program here—it’s a really tight knit community and the teaching is at a very high level.”

Harry in action on the playing fields (APShutter.com)

 

A balancing act

No question, it’s tricky balancing varsity athletics and visual arts: depending on the season, West is typically looking at a 12-hour day, six days a week as the team’s left wingback, mixing classes, practices, training, games, study and photography. “Soccer usually takes up the space of at least a course, especially with the travelling,” he says.  A workload that would be challenging for any regular student is made challenging due to the nature of his studies.

“It is a lot of scheduling, especially as a photography student,” he says. “You have to plan when you need to shoot because, as an athlete, you’re going to be gone for a period of time and not have access to a camera or have time to actually create your work. You can’t waste a day.”

The only artist on his team, West faces challenges the other players don’t. “A lot of them are in engineering, economics or sciences and can do their work on the bus. But I’m on a completely different schedule and do completely different work—what if I need to shoot a sunset or a nightscape downtown?”

Realistically, that means he needs to shoot in advance whenever the team is flying off to out-of-province games, just so he can digitally edit photos on his computer while he’s away. Interestingly, West’s athletics schedule has also helped shape his creative vision.

“I do a lot of like urban and street photography with subjects, often at night, because that’s when I have the most time to shoot after practice. Night scenes also improve my understanding of the camera, because it’s a whole other beast when you have to do long exposures and account for lack of light.”

When asked if his teammates appreciate his work as an artist, West offers a quick laugh. “Some have kind of cliché views around art, but I’ve shown them a lot of my work and they really seem to appreciate it and think it’s super cool.”

Harry’s multiple-exposure self-portrait  

 

Looking forward

While he’s still got another year of scoring ahead on UVic’s playing fields and art studios, West has already applied for an internship with National Geographic and loves the idea of working as a magazine photographer.

But while balancing training, practices and games with classes, photography and creative practice may sound like a lot, West wouldn’t want it any other way.

“I’ve always had this kind of lifestyle, balancing athletics and art—I’m a very high energy guy,” he laughs. “If I were to focus on just one and not put as much time and effort into the other, I’d feel like less of a person. I really value all the creative thought I put into my day-to-day life.”

$1500 student mural call

All current UVic Visual Arts students are invited to submit a proposal by March 26 for a new $1,500 mural project in the lobby of UVic’s Island Medical Program. This uplifting & welcoming mural should reflect any of the following themes: health & wellness, happiness, pursuit/enjoyment of good health, Indigenous health & wellness (etc).

What to submit

Student artists or teams should submit a proposed design in a 2D medium (including, but not limited, to painting, prints, photography or drawing) plus a short proposal outlining how their design would be suitable for this project. The selected student(s) will then design & create the mural on the designated stand-alone wall in the IMP lobby.

The mural will be located on a 14 x 6 foot standalone wall, which will have the current plaques removed & will be prepared prior to project start date. An honourarium of $1,500 will be paid to the artist(s) once the project is completed (or split evenly between a team), with up to $500 in additional material fees.

About materials

Art must not have any sharp or harmful elements, and all paint and adhesives must be water based (no spray paint or spray adhesives).  All materials proposed to be used must be described in full in your proposal. The curved wall must be able to support the art without triggering structural design concerns.

Deadlines

Deadline for concept submissions is March 26 and the mural must be completed sometime between April 22 and May 30. The artist(s) must be currently enrolled in UVic’s Visual Arts department. Artist(s) will be chosen by a selection committee. This project is part of the new Fine Arts creative partnership with IMP that is also seeing an AHVS grad student curating a new collection of art for their lobby.

Please visit UVic’s IMP building (between MacLaurin A-wing & Cunningham building) prior to submission to get a sense of the wall & surrounding environment.

For more info or to submit a proposal to finecomm@uvic.ca

Equity Review results

During the 2022-2023 academic year, the Faculty of Fine Arts engaged in an Equity Review in order to provide an opportunity for faculty, staff, instructors and students to share their personal experiences with equity, diversity, inclusion and anti-oppression in Fine Arts.

The survey was distributed to approximately 1,500 current Fine Arts members and we received 241 responses (16%).

The results revealed that respondents appreciate the inclusive content in our courses, that equity-centred pedagogy is beginning to define the work we do, and that increased diversity among our faculty, staff and instructors has been well received.

However, some survey respondents indicated behaviours and systemic barriers that continue to impede our progress, including elements of discrimination, harassment and/or oppression. As a result, we will be focusing on growing our inclusive culture, increasing representation and learning opportunities, streamlining our complaint process and continuing our outreach with the Fine Arts community.

You can view the full results here:

Fine Arts is committed to doing the important work to advance our shared responsibility in making social justice the foundation of our community; our progress in these areas will be shared at a later date. Please reach out to us if you have any thoughts or suggestions about the Equity Survey Results that you wish to share.

2023 Student Impact Award winners

For the third year in a row, Fine Arts honoured the winners of our annual Student Community Impact Awards as part of the Greater Victoria Regional Arts Awards. Held on November 24 at Victoria City Hall, Fine Arts Dean Allana Lindgren presented three separate awards of $1,000 each to Heidi Goetz and Nathan Malzon (both School of Music students), and recent Visual Arts grad Laveen Gammie.

Including our 2023 winners, Fine Arts has now given over $10,000 to eight different students over the last three years — all thanks to the generosity of our donors.

Created in 2021 by the Dean’s External Advisory Committee, the Student Community Impact Awards recognize individual achievements or outstanding efforts made by full-time Fine Arts undergraduate students for a local arts organization.

Next-generation learning

Heidi Goetz (seen here with Fine Arts alum Matthew Payne) won her work as the coordinator of Music Discoveries, the School of Music’s annual weekend music camp — which, in January 2023, welcomed over 100 SD61 middle-school students and involved more than 40 volunteers in the two-day event.

As Music professor Steven J. Capaldo pointed out in his support letter, “Heidi demonstrated genuine dedication and commitment to providing strong service to the music education community, as well as her desire to improve the lives of the students with whom she connects.”

Music technology in action

Nathan Malzon won for being an enthusiastic part of creating the permanent live-streaming system for downtown’s Christ Church Cathedral; this has become an essential method for broadcasting both their regular worship services and substantial music performances.

As Christ Church’s Reverend Canon Jeannine Friesen says, “Nathan has devoted hundreds of hours to this work . . . thanks to him, we can bring sacred and secular music to thousands of people, not only in Victoria, but around the world.”

Engaging the public

Laveen Gammie picked up her award for her unflagging work in taking an unwanted room in downtown’s vibrant Rockslide Studio and turning it into the vibrant Vault Gallery. Currently pursuing her MFA at the University of Chicag, Laveen wasn’t able to attend the ceremony.

As Rockslide’s chair Logan Ford says, “Laveen worked tirelessly — and fully voluntarily — to develop and lead this innovative space for over a year. The Vault has made a remarkable impact on the local creative scene and has shown that Laveen has a genuine passion for the arts and dedication to her community.”

A legacy of achievement

While the GVRAAs recognize a variety of early- and mid-career achievements, we consider our own Student Community Impact Awards as more of a pre-career category, as all our recipients are definitely talents to watch.

For over 50 years, Fine Arts has been the city’s incubator for artists, technicians, curators, scholars, volunteers, arts administrators, board members, and appreciative audience members.

Indeed, a great many of our alumni can be found on the list of previous GVRAA winners: Matthew Payne, Lindsay Delaronde, Mercedes Batiz Benet, Andrew Barrett, Rebekkah Johnson, Colton Hash, Sarah Jim, Chelsea Kutyn
. . . all have emerged from Fine Arts to become key players in Victoria’s arts scene.

Finally, we were excited to see Theatre alum Andrew Barrett‘s performance company Impulse Theatre win the $15,000 JAYMAC Outstanding Production Award this year for their recent performance, The Soft Spaces.

Congratulations to all! 

International exchange info fair

Did you know UVic offers academic exchanges with over 70 other universities worldwide? That means you can study and travel and not feel like you’re falling behind in your degree work!

Learn more at our free international exchange information session specifically for Fine Arts students, running 12:30-2pm Wednesday, Nov 29, in Fine Arts room 108. Come for the info, stay for the snacks! Register in advance here (just for the snacks.)

An incredible experience

“Solo travelling and moving abroad was one of the most incredible experiences of my life,” says Writing student Sophie Thomas, who spent a semester at the University of Manchester in 2022. “I’m excited to be back on the island but I’ll miss all the amazing people I met, and the places that I got to know. “

Thomas combined some solo European travel ahead of her semester with weekend trips to places like Germany, Scotland and Ireland while she was studying in Manchester. 

Why choose international?

“Doing an international exchange was something I had wanted to do my entire degree,” says Thomas. “I wanted to a chance to learn in a new environment and be immersed in different cultures. Studying abroad offers a knowledge and perspective different from what you learn at UVic. This experience comes back home with you and I found it helped me think from different angles when I returned.”

The November 29 info session will feature returning exchange students from a variety of Fine Arts departments, plus a representative from UVic’s international office who can speak to issues around travel visas, academic equivalencies, housing, financing and more.

“Doing an international exchange is such an incredibly rewarding experience,” says Thomas.

“Interacting with other people and cultures is an experience that pushes you to grow, learn new skills and make new connections . . . it can feel like a scary step to make, but the experience you get is worth it. And honestly, the exchange was so much fun and the memories you make you will cherish forever!”

Linda Catlin Smith named Honorary Degree recipient

Honorary degrees have been awarded at UVic since its inaugural convocation in 1964. An honorary degree is the highest honour the university can bestow for distinguished achievement in scholarship, research, teaching, the creative arts and public service.

As part of the Fall convocation ceremony on November 14, we were thrilled to confer upon School of Music double alumna Linda Catlin Smith with an Honorary Doctor of Music (DMus).

Forging a career in music

Linda Catlin Smith’s music has been performed by Canada’s major orchestras and featured in concert series and festivals across North America and around the world. Born in New York City, Linda received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from UVic, before moving to Toronto. Since then, she has forged a career like her music: quiet and persistent, unassuming and steady, with an absolute certainty of purpose.

On the surface, her music is deceptively simple; look closer, and it reveals a mastery of harmony and orchestration that puts her in the highest ranks of composers. In the classical music world, where works by (male) composers from the past dominate orchestral concerts, Linda’s is often the only contemporary voice. Over more than 40 years, she has developed a singular vision, creating real beauty in a world that profoundly needs it.

A sensitive teacher and mentor, Linda has also been an inspiration and a model for a generation of young composers, performers and ensembles, many of whom have become important artists in their own right. She will continue to be revered by future generations in Canada and beyond.