Visual arts grad Dieu Anh Hoang has designs on life

If you ask international student Dieu Anh Hoang what aspect of her undergraduate degree had the biggest impact on her, she’ll tell you it wasn’t the pandemic, it wasn’t her co-op terms and it wasn’t even earning her BFA in Visual Arts with honours: it was actually a teacher’s advice about living with fear.

“At the start of my second-year sculpture class, my professor told me, ‘If you’re not scared, you’re not in the right place’—and that stuck with me,” she says. “It changed my attitude completely: I was scared of that professor and wanted to drop the class, but I realized it was good for me to accept the challenge and step out of my comfort zone. Now, I just tell myself ‘I can do this’ and I don’t think there’s anything I wouldn’t be able to do.”

Learning by doing

That “no-fear” attitude perfectly sums up Hoang on the cusp of graduating: in addition to her academic and artistic accomplishments, her workstudy positions with the Faculty of Fine Arts and her leadership as chair of the Visual Arts Student Association, she also stepped up as the architectural lead for UVic’s Seismic Design Team and as a Community + Engage Leader, representing both the faculty and her department.

“I like to put myself in a working environment and take charge of whatever I can,” says Hoang on a Zoom call from her family home in Hanoi, Vietnam. “That’s how I learn: leadership skills, communication skills, managing skills . . . I actually put my studies at the bottom of my priority list, as it was always the least of what I was doing.”

Hoang wasn’t even phased by the pandemic. “I was really lucky,” she admits. “I did my co-op terms online working with UVic’s Learning and Teaching Support and Innovation, and my classes were among the few held in-person during the pandemic. And my family managed okay in Vietnam, too, so I didn’t have to worry about that. It was actually pretty good for me!”

Hoang shows her work to CHEK TV

Behind the scenes

Describing herself as a visual designer (“I like to solve problems within any existing design to make it better and more accessible for everyone”), it was an interest in art and architecture that drew her to UVic after completing the International Baccalaureate Diploma in Abbotsfordbut it was her online abilities that probably had the biggest impact on campus life: her three co-op terms with LTSI saw her managing the transition from CourseSpaces to Brightspace.

“I was there the entire time migrating the platforms during the pandemic, facilitating the Zoom workshops for faculty and students,” she says. As well as organizing training sessions, she also created helpful infographics and content for the campus community. “It was great problem-solving!”

Skills beyond degree

As for her art practice, Hoang has a clear preference towards geometric and design imagery—whether that’s an exploded cube-based wall sculpture or culture-jamming a bag of groceries as a commentary on consumerism and food fads. (“Do people actually read the labels on what they’re eating?”)

Looking into the future, she can see herself working at a design agency in Seattle’s tech hub (“It’s very fast-paced and competitive there—I like that environment”) and possibly earning a Master’s in computer science.

In addition to having learned the positive side of fear itself, Hoang feels one of her biggest degree takeaways is her enhanced people skills. “Knowing how to work with people, learning how to focus on their strengths rather than their weaknesses . . . those are skills I can apply anywhere.”

Annual BFA exhibit returns to in-person format

Given the shifting nature of life on campus recently, it’s hard to think of a better title for this year’s Visual Arts BFA exhibit than Subject to Change. Featuring the work of 32 graduating artists whose academic experience has been very much that since 2020, there’s definitely a heightened sense of excitement for this year’s show, running April 15 to 24 in the visual arts building.

“This is the first exhibit open to the public since our 2019 edition,” notes Visual Arts chair and exhibit supervisor Cedric Bomford. “It’s fair to say the occasion is one we are anticipating with a strange mix of excitement and anxiety. This feeling also flows through the pieces the students have worked so hard to create over the past year of on-again/off-again access and restrictions.”

The exhibit kicks off with a gala opening night celebration, starting at 7pm Thursday, April 14.

 

Finding the positive in a pandemic

While the Faculty of Fine Arts was able to offer the highest number of in-person/on-campus classes during the pandemic, graduating Visual Arts student Joshua Wallace managed to put a positive spin on his online classes. “I feel like I was able to work more, as I didn’t have to run across campus to other classes,” he says.

Wallace also cleverly put his CERB money to work by investing in supplementary online painting classes, which allowed him to greatly expand his creative practice. “I’d be at home studying like crazy, then come to the studio and apply what I learned. My work changed a lot because of that.”

Originally from Vernon BC, Wallace came into the visual arts program with a focus on figurative and landscape painting in acrylic, but now primarily doing portraiture in oils. He’s also been working as a gallery assistant at downtown’s Madrona Gallery for the past three years; owned by fine arts alumnus Michael Warren, Madrona focuses on contemporary and history Canadian art—an ideal job for an emerging artist. His immediate plans after graduation? “Keep exploring, keep trying new things,” he says.

Visual Arts student Joshua Wallace

Tour the exhibit online

One advantage of having both the 2020 and 2021 BFA shows only viewable online was an increased familiarity with creating digital exhibitions—a skill the BFA show student organizers have once again put to use, as Subject to Change will also be made available again as a walk-through 3D Matterpoint tour.

A diversity of artistic practices—ranging from painting and sculpture to photography, installations and video—will be on view in both the exhibition and accompanying artist book.

“We’re very excited to be hosting the public back into our building for this, the most important art event of the year on campus,” says Bomford.

Subject to Change runs 9am-6pm daily April 15-24 throughout UVic’s Visual Arts building

Young Alumni Lunch & Learn Series: Finding Meaningful Work in the Arts

Everyone wants to find a relevant job after graduation, but what are the actual steps you’ll need to take to get there? How do you make connections and learn to network? How important can volunteering be to career development? What career assistance is available to you, both before and after graduation?

Bring your questions when recent Fine Arts alumni offer the inside scoop in these moderated, informal, free lunch & learn sessions on a variety of topics

“Finding Meaningful Work in the Arts” with Caroline Riedel

Find out the steps some recent grads took to get where they are—and how they applied skills they already had—in this new Fine Arts Young Alumni Lunch & Learn webinar series. 

Did you know UVic’s Coop & Career Services offers free career services for students and alumni—regardless of when you graduated? From  brushing up your resume and cover letter to mock interviews and more, the Fine Arts rep can help you find the work you want to be doing. 

An experienced arts professional, Caroline Riedel is passionate about creating job opportunities help students mobilize classroom learning into rewarding professional experiences. with UVic’s she coaches students & alumni on career development, employment prep and work search transitions.

12-1pm Friday, April 8: register here

Are You Media Ready?” with Cormac O’Brien

Regardless of your artistic discipline, you need to be able to tell your story through words and pictures—but are you ready to speak to the media? Is your social content appropriate and relevant to your practice? Do you have current and accurate information online? If you’re putting yourself out there, what’s the media going to find? Join a recent grad for this insider-look at best practices when it comes to working with the media, framing your story, creating a professional social media presence & more.

Currently social media manager with Toronto’s Six Shooter Records, Cormac O’Brien is a multifaceted Department of Writing grad who has held all sorts of jobs across multiple arts industries—including musician, journalist, editor, podcast host/creator, content creator, artist manager and graphic designer!

RESCHEDULED to 12-1pm Wed, April 13: register here

 

Catch up on the other sessions in this series with these recordings of our earlier presentations: 

Meet Shakespeare’s Women

The cast of Shakespeare’s Women (all photos by Dean Kalyan)

With the recent International Women’s Day celebrations, the final Phoenix Theatre play of our academic year—Libby Appel’s Shakespeare’s Womenseems doubly appropriate. Featuring the Bard’s most iconic leading ladies—from Hamlet‘s Ophelia to Beatrice in Much Ado About Nothing and the singular likes of Juliet, Cleopatra and Lady Macbeth, these women “in all their infinite variety” are powerful, passionate, merciful, loving and beloved, desperate, mournful . . . and victorious.

Weaving together momentous scenes from 16 of Shakespeare’s most significant plays, Shakespeare’s Women shifts our gaze to revisit the familiar through the eyes of his most memorable female characters including Cordelia, Rosalind, Olivia and Viola, Isabella, Hellen, Helena, Katherine and Cleopatra. The result portrays women “in all their infinite variety”—powerful, passionate, merciful, false, gallant, loving, desperate, beloved, lonely, mournful, and victorious— reminding us that Shakespeare has gifted us with characters that are not stuck in the past, but are the heroines we still need today.

But what do these characters have to say to us today from our contemporary perspective, over 400 years later? Rather than stuck in the past, Shakespeare has gifted us with characters that are the heroines we still need today. Guest director Dean Gabourie brings his years of experience from the Stratford Festival and his passion for addressing issues of social significance with ACME Theatre to reaffirm the importance of the Bard’s plays in our time.

Go behind the story

In this short interview, UVic English professor Janelle Jenstad shares her insights about the women in Shakespeare’s plays . . . including the ones she wishes had more of a backstory and which need to sit down for a talk about their father issues!

Mo Hatch, host of the student-led Phoenix Fire podcast, also has an in-depth conversation with English’s Dr. Nancy Wright. They chat about Dr. Wright’s favourite female characters in the Bard’s plays and she spoke to the significance of seeing them come together on stage. Hatch also speaks with guest director Dean Gabourie about working on Shakespeare’s Women and what inspires and engages him as a director.

Naomi Duska portrays Nerissa from The Merchant of Venice

Watch it online

See theatre the way it works best for you! Our performances are beautifully captured by three different camera angles for a dynamic online streaming experience from the comfort of your own home. An easy one-click link is emailed to you the afternoon before your show time.

Streaming shows run Thursday, March 24 at 7pm, Friday, March 25 at 7pm and Saturday, March 26 at 3pm.

And you can read more about the $15,000 UVic & donor-funded, three-camera, 10-person streaming team need to create live theatre online in this behind-the-scenes story on the Phoenix Fire blog.

Ximena Garduño Rodríguez plays Cleopatra from Antony and Cleopatra

In the media

In this clip, CTV Vancouver Island spoke to fourth-year design student Brock Keeler about his work on Shakespeare’s Women (the story starts at 37:42). We also see a scene from As You Like It (featuring Sophia Radford and Jaswant Cridge).

“A play like this is a natural fit for a university in that it provides students, especially young women, the chance to sample a multitude of classic roles,” says this Times Colonist review. “The notion is that these diverse characters pop in and out of a nightclub with throbbing electro music. The conceit works, thanks in part due to Brock Keeler’s atmospheric design: warehouse/industrial with rusting girders.”

Describing the show as “a light, fun exploration of the Bard’s work,” this Martlet review notes that, “The enjoyment of Shakespeare’s Women comes down to the performances. It’s really about the actors handling abrupt changes in tone, as well as the back and forth their characters are put in. I would recommend it for this alone, just to see the verbal fighting the actors can get into as they bounce banter off each other.”

Tabatha Hamilton plays Lady Macbeth, from Macbeth

Shakespeare’s Women runs through to March 26 at UVic’s Phoenix Theatre, with 8pm evening performances and a 2pm Saturday matinee. Tickets range from $16-$30, with a $15-per-household streaming option 

Young Alumni Lunch & Learn Series: Are You Media Ready?

Whatever your creative practice, it’s essential that you tell the right story about yourself—and have the kind of social media profile that shows you’re serious about your craft. Join a recent grad for this insider-look at best practices when it comes to working with the media, framing your story, creating a professional social media presence & more.

Bring your questions when recent Fine Arts alumni offer the inside scoop in these moderated, informal, free lunch & learn sessions on a variety of topics.

Find out the steps these recent grads took to get where they are—and how they applied skills they already had—in this new Fine Arts Young Alumni Lunch & Learn webinar series.

Are You Media Ready?” with Cormac O’Brien

Regardless of your artistic discipline, you need to be able to tell your story through words and pictures—but are you ready to speak to the media? Is your social content appropriate and relevant to your practice? Do you have current and accurate information online? If you’re putting yourself out there, what’s the media going to find?

Currently social media manager with Toronto’s Six Shooter Records, Cormac O’Brien is a multifaceted Department of Writing grad who has held all sorts of jobs across multiple arts industries—including musician, journalist, editor, podcast host/creator, content creator, artist manager and graphic designer!

12-1pm Wednesday, April 13: register here

 

“Finding Meaningful Work in the Arts” with Caroline Riedel

Everyone wants to find a relevant job after graduation, but what are the actual steps you’ll need to take to get there? How do you make connections and learn to network? How important can volunteering be to career development? What career assistance is available to you, both before and after graduation?

An experienced arts professional, Caroline Riedel is passionate about creating job opportunities help students mobilize classroom learning into rewarding professional experiences. with UVic’s she coaches students & alumni on career development, employment prep and work search transitions.

12-1pm Friday, April 8: register here

Note: these sessions are open to all students and recent alumni.

Catch up on the other sessions in this series with these recordings of our earlier presentations: 

BC Arts Council Funding 101

 

Curious about funding your creative projects? Wondering how to apply for grants?

Get to know the BC Arts Council—the provincial funding agency for arts & culture—in this Q&A info session aimed at upper-level undergrads in any Fine Arts department.

Featuring BC Arts Council program officer & Theatre alum Erin Macklem, this 1-hour session covers grants for individual artists—including eligibility requirements, current strategic priorities, registering an online application & invaluable tips for writing successful grants!

About the presenter

After 25 years working in professional theatre as a costume designer, playwright and administrator, Erin Macklem joined the team of Program Officers at the BC Arts Council in 2018 where she facilitates youth-focused multidisciplinary programs. She has a passion for outreach and engagement, especially as they relate to supporting the BC Arts Council’s strategic priorities. A graduate of UVic’s Theatre department, Erin is a member of the Metis Nation of BC and the Metis Nation of Greater Victoria. She strives to bring this cultural lens to her work, while being conscious of the white-skin privilege afforded her by her father’s Irish and English ancestors.