It’s twice the charm for 2018 Distinguished Alumni Award winners, Twin Kennedy

It’s only been 10 years since sister duo Twin Kennedy graduated from the School of Music, but during that short decade, the acclaimed country/roots duo already released two albums, toured across North America, moved to Nashville and  won the hearts of country radio and fans alike. Now, the sisters are headed back to UVic on February 5th to be honoured among UVic’s 2018 Distinguished Alumni Award winners — an award that’s doubly special this year, given the School of Music’s 50th anniversary.

Know for their distinctly “Canadiana” country roots sound, seamless harmonies and heartfelt songwriting, Carli and Julie Kennedy (BMus ’08) are the latest recipients of the Distinguished Alumni Award for the Faculty of Fine Arts.

Dubbed “the next big thing in country music” by the Nashville Music Examiner, Twin Kennedy’s latest album — 2015’s It’s a Love Thing — was produced by Canadian country superstar George Canyon, and their 2017 winter single “Cold Weather” was chosen by Rolling Stone as one of the “10 new country and Americana Christmas songs to hear right now!

Each year at Alumni Week, UVic’s Alumni Association — in partnership with the universtiy’s faculties and divisions — present Distinguished Alumni Awards to outstanding members of the alumni community. The recipients are selected by their respective faculties or divisions based on a number of criteria, including career accomplishments or service to their community.

Twin Kennedy now join the ranks of previous Fine Arts Distinguished Alumni Award winners, including visual artist Althea Thauberger (MFA ’02) director Glynis Leyshon (BFA ’73), author Esi Edugyan (BA ’99), lighting designer Michael J. Whitfield (BA ’67), filmmaker Mercedes Bátiz-Benét (BFA ’02), poet Carla Funk (BFA ’97), musician Paul Beauchesne (BMus ’88), author Deborah Willis (BA ’06), environmental designer Valerie Murray (BA ’78), author Eden Robinson (BFA ’92) and visual anthropologist Andrea Walsh (BA ’91).

“We’re very proud of years at UVic,” says Carli. “Not everyone in the popular-music world has a degree, and it’s an important part of our story. To be recognized for that side of our career is a huge honour; it means a lot to us.”

“And we did it together!” laughs Julie.

Twin Kennedy will be performing a free, on-campus show as part of the Orion Series in Fine Arts during Alumni Week: their intimate, acoustic concert at Felicita’s kicks off at 8pm on Wednesday, February 7, and is already almost sold out. Reserve your free tickets now. And you can read more about them in this Feb 1 Black Press article.

First, and best, choice

Originally hailing from Powell River, the twin sisters specifically chose UVic’s School of Music to study for their Bachelors of Music, with Carli focusing on classical guitar performance and Julie on violin. “We didn’t plan it, but guitar and violin go really well together,” says Carli.

“UVic was definitely our first choice, because it’s the best string program in Canada, hands down,” says Julie. “We did go and do some lessons with teachers at other universities while we were deciding, but fell in love with the Lafayette String Quartet and [guitar professor] Alexander Dunn.”

“I distinctly remember Carli’s audition at UVic,” says Dunn. “After a few moments, it was apparent there was a true musical mind at work — innate musicianship, ease of execution, effortless focus. I was made aware that her sister was auditioning as well. I nervously contacted the strings instructor to make sure she was aware of the Kennedys. Naturally, they both sailed through and, in the course of their studies, evolved into mature musicians and a wonderful duo.”

Lafayette String Quartet violinist Ann Elliott-Goldschmid similarly recalls her time working with Julie. “Innately talented, Julie had the disposition of a performer from the moment she auditioned,” says Elliott-Goldschmid. “She had a beautiful, singing tone and a will to constantly improve. I remember her captivating Franck Sonata and excellent Saint-Saens concerto to this day!”

Beyond focusing on their individual instruments, the Kennedys were also instrumental in the development of UVic’s Vocal Jazz Ensemble, which is still very active today, under the guidance of Wendell Clanton. “He created a directed study for us, and helped to build the whole vocal jazz program—we were the first year of that,” says Carli. “He really encouraged us to try some really out-of-the-box stuff, which is a big part of what we do now,” agrees Julie.

Victoria had an impact on the Kennedys beyond their studies, however, resulting in their family moving to “this beautiful city” and their sister Katelyn choosing UVic for her Education degree. “Where you go to school can really change your life in ways you never even realize,” says Julie.

“We found this out later, but we were both asked the same question at our entrance interview: ‘What are you going to do if your sister quits music?’ And I just couldn’t conceive of that,” she admits. “We’ve always known from the beginning that our path would be together, so I said, ‘That’s not a possibility.’ And they were like, ‘Sure, sure.’” Both sisters pause, look at each other, and burst out laughing. “Look at us now!”

For his part, Dunn isn’t surprised by their success. “I know their dedication and hard work have afforded an unshakable musical foundation,” he says. “I am proud of their accomplishments and will always regard the Kennedys with great fondness and admiration.

Perhaps because they are twins, there’s a clear connection between the two sisters that goes beyond both the personal and professional. (“And we are actually twins—which we got asked recently—although it’s pretty obvious,” laughs Julie.) They frequently finish each other’s sentences, and never hesitate to chime in with additional details.

“Lots of family groups break up, but we work really hard at our professional and personal relationships,” says Carli. “And because we’re legitimately best friends, we’re also pretty lucky. You have this built-in best friend who agrees with you musically 99% of the time.”

“It’s only with Carli that I could do this, and I couldn’t do this without her,” Julie admits with a smile.

Achieving, and inspiring, excellence

With a steadily growing amount of industry recognition — including multiple nominations from the Canadian Country Music Association (three) and the BC Country Music Association (12) — Twin Kennedy have also already won two John Lennon Songwriting awards for their song “Secondhand Gold,” which picked up the Grand Prize (Country) in 2015 and Best Country Song in 2016, as well as a pair of Vancouver Island Music Awards (Country Album of the Year).

“I’m really delighted that Julie and Carli have succeeded so brilliantly in this business,” says the LSQ’s Elliott-Goldschmid, “but I never doubted for a moment that they would go far with their many talents and incredible generosity of spirit.”

But it’s their roots in classical music that continue to set Twin Kennedy apart. Combining classical training with country roots allowed them to not only establish their signature sound and unique live show, but also develop their unique “Classical to Country Workshop” geared towards young musicians. By visiting elementary schools, high schools, and community music programs, Carli and Julie help music students craft their skills and find their confidence on stage.

“It’s really fun to bring both styles into classrooms,” says Julie. “We bridge the two worlds, which are totally different worlds. My favourite thing is when people come up and say, ‘You know, I don’t really like classical music but I really like what you did.’ You give them a taste and hopefully they’ll go to the symphony next.”

“But music is music,” Carli interjects. ”Being in Nashville, we’re surrounded by more people who do what we do, but we’re also exposed to more audiences and more styles of music. The world is getting more genre-less.”

As part of Alumni Week, Twin Kennedy will also be visiting the School of Music and sharing their experiences as recording and touring artists with the likes of the “Business of Music” class. Now based in Nashville, the sisters feel they’re getting “a Master’s degree in songwriting” just by living there.

“All the publishing houses, record labels, writers, artists . . . they’re all there — and not just doing country,” says Julie. “In the music industry, there’s LA, New York City, Toronto and Nashville. And for Americana — or Canadiana — Nashville is the place to be. You’ve gotta go where your music is the thing.”

“Every country song you hear on the radio, 99% of the writers live in Nashville, so we just go to their houses to write,” says Carli. “It’s really elevated our songwriting, once we started working with these hit writers; you can’t help but grow. It’s like coming to UVic—you get to work with the best professors.”

“This is your best possible foundation”

When asked for advice for current students, the Kennedy’s stress the importance of what students are actually doing right now.

“This is the best possible foundation ever: developing your technique and discipline, honing your abilities, dealing with performance pressures,” says Julie. “The study seems incredibly intense, but it really pays off.”

“There’s a lot of people in Nashville who can’t do what we can, because they never went to school,” agrees Carli. “We can do country and classical, but we can also do workshops and recording sessions and write songs . . .  that’s the way to make it nowadays. We’re so grateful to have had the time to study and learn before we got out there.”

Beyond an academic background, however, the Kennedys stress the importance of keeping it real. “As an artist, the biggest thing is staying true to who you are,” says Carli. “Maybe it changes, maybe you don’t figure it out right away, but in the world of popular music, it’s all about getting on the road, touring, making an album, putting it out there, booking the gigs, getting a deal, losing a deal, finding an agent . . . you learn by riding the wave.”

“That’s true of any business, but with music it feels so much more personal,” says Julie. “It’s essential to stay genuine to yourself and follow your path, however it may change.”

“People ask what we do for fun, and . . . we do this,” laughs Carli.

And really, how much better can it get than that? “Oh, a world tour, Madison Square Gardens, the Grand Ol Opry, the Grammys, a JUNO Award,” laughs Julie. “How much space do you have?”

“If we get to keep writing songs, making music, building fans — and that’s our career? I’m so grateful for it every day,” concludes Carli. “This award just proves that — we’re so lucky.”

“We really are,” Julie agrees.

And if the School of Music can keep producing talents like Twin Kennedy, then so are we.

Following their homecoming in February, Twin Kennedy will be hitting the road once again for a US tour in March. Keep a close eye on their social pages for further updates.

Conversations and Collaborations: 2017 Distinguished Alumni winner Althea Thauberger

Conversations, negotiations, collaborations — while these are the kind of skills often associated with the realms of politics or business, they can also be essential abilities for a particular kind of artist.

Althea Thauberger

Count Althea Thauberger among the latter. A gifted artist, filmmaker and educator with an enviable international track record, Thauberger’s art practice involves performative and collaborative processes resulting in the production of social documents. These documents can range from performances and films to books, videos and audio recordings, and they often necessitate lasting engagements with the communities and sites where they are produced.

Currently Artist-In-Residence in Photography at Concordia University and represented by Toronto’s Susan Hobbs Gallery, Thauberger received her MFA from the Department of Visual Arts in 2002 and is now the recipient of the 2017 Distinguished Alumni Award for the Faculty of Fine Arts

“It’s such an honour to be chosen to come back to the department for this recognition,” she says. “I really changed a lot during my years at UVic — it was a time of transformation and political awareness for me, a time of really thinking about what it means to be an artist in the world.” Thaubeger offers a short laugh. “We’re in a similar moment now, but this seems reflective of the circles that happen in life.”

Althea Thauberger now joins the likes of our previous Fine Arts DAA winners, including director Glynis Leyshon (BFA ’73), author Esi Edugyan (BA ’99), lighting designer Michael J. Whitfield (BA ’67), filmmaker Mercedes Bátiz-Benét (BFA ’02), poet Carla Funk (BFA ’97), musician Paul Beauchesne (BMus ’88), author Deborah Willis (BA ’06), environmental designer Valerie Murray (BA ’78), author Eden Robinson (BFA ’92) and visual anthropologist Andrea Walsh (BA ’91).

But Thauberger also has the distinction of being the first Fine Arts MFA to receive the award. “We are very pleased to select Althea as a Distinguished Alumni,” says Visual Arts Chair Paul Walde. “Through its focus on intensive studio practice and interdicipinary practices, UVic’s Visual Arts department has developed a reputation for contributing to the careers of some of the best interdisciplinary or genre-defying artists working today — of which Althea Thauberger is an exemplary example. She has garnered international attention for her socially engaged projects, which often incorporate video, photography and performance in powerfully evocative yet contemplative works.”

A way of looking at the world

Althea Thauberger at the Distinguished Alumni Awards

Thauberger originally came to UVic to do her first year of a general arts degree with an emphasis on philosophy and history — two early passions that still fuel her work — before switching focus to Visual Arts; and while she transferred to Concordia to complete her BFA, she came back to UVic to pursue her MFA.

“I knew Visual Arts had a strong program and an interdisciplinary focus,” she says of her decision to return to UVic. “They had great support for students and there were artists I wanted to work with. It just felt like the right department for me.”

Foremost among those faculty members was Fred Douglas. A documentary photographer who specialized in the narrative possibilities of constructed scenes, Douglas furthered the photography program originally established at UVic by Roland Brener.

“Fred was very influential to me—he was like a mentor,” she says. “His work was really concerned with theory and history. He had a way of looking at events happening around him, a way of thinking about things that shaped our reality and our imagination. Through working with him, I saw a crossover of many aspects in life and work that were pretty inspiring — being engaged and unsettled with the world, and bringing that into all aspects of your work, including teaching.”

Looking at the world a particular way has permeated Thauberger’s own work. Her film and video installations are often the result of long-term negotiations and collaborations with those depicted — including subjects as diverse as religious choir members, tree planters, conscientious objectors, teenage singer/songwriters, female combat soldiers in Afghanistan, speakers of endangered languages and US military wives. As this Canadian Art magazine article noted, “Thauberger offers varied perspectives on the impact of individuals and groups on the margins of historical or cultural awareness.”

Thauberger’s 2009 piece “Kandahar International Airport” considered the role of Canadian women soldiers in Afghanistan

Prizes and accolades

Such works have resulted in her being shortlisted for the 2004 Sobey Art Award and the 2011 Grange Prize, and having pieces featured in numerous national and international exhibitions, including the National Gallery of Canada, the 2012 Liverpool Biennial, the 2010 Biennale of Sydney, China’s Guangong Museum of Art, Copenhagen’s Overgaden Institute of Contemporary Art, Belgrade’s occupied Kino Zvezda, and numerous other exhibition spaces.

“I’ve been very fortunate to create commissioned projects, supported by various organizations and institutions, but each work and each relationship is different,” she explains, “You always have to negotiate the institutional landscape and local community to learn and find support. Its crucial to cultivate a critical self-awareness of the privilege of the position you occupy, of the responsibilities to communities, and then how to push back in a productive way with regards to institutional interests . . .”

A still from her film “Marat Sade Bohnice,” which addresses mental illness, experimental theatre & art therapy

Despite such international acclaim, Thauberger admits that a career as a working artist isn’t always easy. “It’s often a struggle,” she admits. “There are times when you feel really supported and everything seems to be falling into place and other times when it’s quite the opposite and you feel like you might never make another work.” She pauses and laughs philosophilcally. “You have to find a way to deal with those ups and downs throughout your career.”

Advice for the next generation

While back at UVic during Alumni Week, Thauberger will also be speaking to current Visual Arts students, both at the undergrad and graduate level. What advice does she have for the new generation of students and emerging artists?

“It’s important for students to make best use of the kind of amazing opportunity of being surrounded by students and faculty who are there to support you and help you develop,” she says. “I always try to impress upon students that this is where their community begins: developing your work in relation to your peers is what’s going to keep you going once you’re out of school. It’s essential to build those discursive relationships, for example, to start writing about each other’s work — that’s how you make a scene, that’s how you build support.”

And, as a teacher herself now, is there something she keeps in mind when she’s working with a class?

Althea receiving her award from Fine Arts Dean Susan Lewis

“Not to forget what it’s like to be a student,” she chuckles. “As much as it is a privilege, its also  really tough to be an art student — art students have to learn how to make things out of nothing; there’s no rote, no guide like in other disciplines, and everyone’s path is different. And that can be terrifying, as it can be when you have to stand beside your work as you’re being critiqued and not take it personally. I certainly struggled as a student, and now I can mine those experiences to have more understanding. And I will never forget the teachers that were especially inspiring; they are still an example to me.”

Finally, is there anything she wished she had been told as a student?

“You need to develop practical skills: how to negotiate, how to stand up for yourself and your peers — especially for women artists. Despite the fact the majority of art students identify as women and are quite culturally diverse, when you look at the dominant careers here in Canada, the art world — like most other worlds — it’s  largely white male voices. It’s important to find ways to make space and take space with confidence and solidarity.”




Phoenix frequent among 2016 Critic’s Choice winners

The 16th annual Victoria Critics’ Choice Theatre Awards were announced on CBC Radio’s On The Island at the end of December and, as always, there were plenty of Fine Arts alumni among the 2016 nominees and winners. We’ve got a breakdown of the awards below, but you can hear the full broadcast with the critic’s comments here. This year’s critics included David Lennam and Monica Prendergast, both reviewers with CBC Radio; interestingly, Prendergast is herself an alumna of the Theatre department.

David Ferry on his Long Day’s Journey

As with every year, the Theatre department figured prominently in the 2016 awards, in all areas of production: direction, design and acting. At a glance, February’s production of Wild Honey was singled out as an outstanding overall production (“It was one of those shows where you had to ask yourself if you were actually watching students or professional theatre,” noted Lennam), as was Theatre professor Brian Richmond‘s production of Long Day’s Journey Into Night at his Blue Bridge Repertory Theatre in May.

This year’s nominees included MFA alumnus Alan Brodie (lighting) for A Christmas Carol at the Belfry, Hank Pine (sound) for The Threepenny Opera at the Phoenix, Gillian McConnell (acting, community) for Summer & Smoke, Art History & Visual Studies alumna Glynis Leyshon (director, professional) for Pacific Opera Victoria’s Simon Boccanegra and Writing alumna/professor Joan MacLeod (professional production) for The Valley at the Belfry.

Jack Hayes & Arielle Permack in Wild Honey (Photo: David Lowes)

But it was Michael Frayn’s Wild Honey, an adaptation of Anton Chekhov’s first play, which gained the most nominations of any Phoenix production.

“Chekhov himself was around the same age as our students when he wrote this play,” director Peter McGuire noted at the time of the show’s mounting in February 2016, “and young people are living the chaotic nature of love every day. This play is about the need for love and the frustration of love. These are people trying to connect but not able to. Some are in a position where they cannot communicate their love because of their social status in the community. And here are our students in the theatre department or the writing department, writing their first plays, looking at human relationships, examining the world that they’re living in. This is the beginning of Chekhov.”

Wild Honey nominees included Theatre students Dallas Ashby (set), Graham McMonagle (costumes) and Jack Hayes (acting, community), with Peter McGuire (director, community production) ultimately winning his category.

Brian Richmond

Other Critic’s Choice winners with a Fine Arts connection include Music alumnus Tobin Stokes (sound) for Speed-The-Plow at the Belfry and the Victoria Shakespeare Society’s production of Twelfth Night, directed by Theatre alumna Janet Munsil, which won best acting ensemble (community) for a cast that included Theatre alumni Trevor Hinton, Cam Culham and Emma Grabinsky plus Writing alumna Karen Lee Pickett.

Finally, Theatre professor Brian Richmond was named winner in the directing category (professional production) for Long Day’s Journey Into Night, which also earned best acting ensemble (professional) for a cast that included Theatre alumni David Ferry and former student Jacob Richmond.

Congratulations to all!

Top 10 Fine Arts stories of 2016 – part one

With over 150 public events a year here in the Faculty of Fine Arts—not to mention classes, research, guest lectures and the kind of creative activity that defines who we are and what we do—the year always just seems to fly by. As always, there was no shortage of things to keep everyone busy in 2016. Here’s part one of our annual wrap-up featuring some—but certainly not all—of the leading Fine Arts stories of the year.

A whole new Dean

Dean Susan Lewis

Back in July, we were proud to announce that Dr. Susan Lewis had been selected as the new Dean of Fine Arts—the ninth Dean since Fine Arts became a faculty in 1969. Her five-year term will continue the momentum already begun by her term as Acting Dean for the 2015/16 academic year. “With Fine Arts being one of only a few freestanding faculties in the country whose focus is entirely devoted to performance, arts scholarship, and creative expression, this gives us an edge as we look to enhance synergies across the faculty, campus and into the community,” she said at the time.

Lewis originally joined the School of Music as an Assistant Professor in 2001, and has since served as the School’s Acting Director (both in 2010 and 2012) and Director. She holds a PhD in Musicology from Princeton University, a Master of Fine Arts (Princeton), Master of Music (University of Arizona), and Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Music degrees from Queen’s University. Her international experience includes a year of study at the University of Glasgow and University of Edinburgh, and active research networks that span North America and Europe. Her extensive experience serving on a number of regional, national, and international organizations — including the American Musicological Society, Canadian University Music Society, Society for Seventeenth-Century Music, the Canadian Association of Fine Arts Deans, and Council of Colleges of Arts and Sciences — is sure to benefit the Faculty in the years to come.

“A core mandate of my first year as Dean is leading the collaborative development of a strategic plan for Fine Arts,” she says. “It has been an exciting few months as we work together to develop a vision for the future of the Faculty that builds on our strengths and brings us to new levels of achievement, opportunity, and possibility.”

A monumental donation

Jeffrey Rubinoff (right) with UVic President Jamie Cassels

When BC sculptor Jeffrey Rubinoff and the Jeffrey Rubinoff Foundation presented the Department of Art History and Visual Studies with the largest donor-funded endowed award in UVic’s history in September, he created exceptional opportunities for future doctoral students to study the complexities and richness of the history of modern and contemporary art. The Jeffrey Rubinoff Scholar in Art as a Source of Knowledge Endowment establishes a recurring four-year PhD fellowship in the area of modern and contemporary art history.

“My own sculptural work is completely dedicated to art history,” says Rubinoff. “Original ideas grow out of original work, which led me to see art as a source of knowledge. Since these insights form the context within which the work becomes meaningful, it is imperative that the general public, artists and art educators understand them if the work is to be fully appreciated.”

After receiving his MFA in the USA in 1969, Rubinoff returned to Ontario to pursue his artistic career before moving to a 200-acre farm on Hornby Island in the early 1970s. Living and working on the northern Gulf Island for nearly five decades, he has built the Jeffrey Rubinoff Sculpture Park and the annual Company of Ideas forum held at the park. This remarkable 200-acre site is home to over 100 of his steel sculptures, which he has created unassisted using his one-man steel foundry.

“Jeffrey’s sculptural work is monumental in its scope and his legacy will now create a monument to future scholarship,” Dean Susan Lewis said at the time. “This extraordinary contribution underscores the crucial cultural work done in the Faculty of Fine Arts and reaffirms once again that UVic is a key player in creative innovation and the exchange of ideas about social change.”

AHVS department chair Erin Campbell was equally excited by Rubinoff’s donation. “In our 50th Anniversary year, as we look forward to the next 50 years and beyond, Jeffrey Rubinoff’s generous gift to the department allows us to envision a brighter future for our vibrant and diverse graduate students, who will use this legacy to deepen the impact of art history both at home and around the world.”

Read more about the Rubinoff Endowment here.

50 years of Art History

It was a full house for the Bob Wittman lecture

As Campbell noted, the 2017/18 academic year is the 50th anniversary of the Art History and Visual Studies department. And while the Rubinoff Endowment may well be the most significant event of their anniversary year, it’s certainly not the only one. AHVS began its celebrations with a sold-out guest lecture by former FBI art crime special agent Robert K. Wittman in October, which saw well over 300 people packed the Bob Wright Centre to hear his true-life tales of art adventure, as well as supporting comments from Kilshaw’s Auctions owner and alumna Alison Ross.

“Bob Wittman is the ideal choice for our 50th anniversary event,” said Campbell in October. “He demonstrates the impact art history can have on the world, and his participation in two of our classes during his visit is typical of the kind of exciting, expert-based, hands-on learning that happens in AHVS.”

Wittman signing copies of his books in October

Dubbed “the most famous art detective in the world” by The London Times, Wittman recovered millions of dollars worth of stolen art and cultural property during his 20-year career — including paintings by Rembrandt, Goya, Norman Rockwell, and one of the original 14 copies of the U.S. Bill of Rights. He was instrumental in the creation of the FBI’s rapid deployment Art Crime Team, and has since instructed international police and museums in investigation, recovery and security techniques. Now the New York Times bestselling author of Priceless: How I Went Undercover to Rescue the World’s Stolen Treasures, Wittman also signed copies of both Priceless and his latest book, The Devil’s Diary: Alfred Rosenberg and the Stolen Secrets of the Third Reich.

AHVS was also involved in the special naming dedication of UVic’s Williams Building (formerly the Administrative Services Building) in November, and will continue their 50th anniversary celebrations throughout the first few months of 2017, with an anniversary exhibit at the Legacy Maltwood Gallery in the Mearns Centre/McPherson Library, and a special event during IdeaFest in March.

Read more about Wittman’s visit here.

Feeling distinguished

Leyshon delivering her popular speech at the Distinguished Alumni Awards

The history of AHVS was also in the spotlight back in February, when celebrated director Glynis Leyshon was honoured as a Distinguished Alumni. One of Canada’s most respected opera and theatre directors, with an enviable career working with the most prestigious performance companies in Canada, Leyshon has also been the artistic director of two theatre companies of national repute, was the head of the Opera as Theatre Programme at the Banff Centre and has conducted courses at such diverse locations as UVic, UBC, the Victoria Conservatory of Music and William Head Penitentiary—not to mention the recipient of Canada’s Commonwealth Medal for her contributions to the arts.

But surprisingly for someone so closely associated with Canadian theatre, her academic career culminated in 1973 with a BFA from History in Art. “Who knew that having an art history degree would be so incredibly useful for a theatre director?” Leyshon said with a good-natured chuckle. “In many ways, I can think of no better background—the eye training alone was incredibly useful, but also having the insight and vocabulary to work with designers on sets and costumes.”

It was doubly rewarding having her present at the special Alumni Week event at the Royal BC Museum, considering she had survived a harrowing stabbing in Toronto less than eight weeks prior. Leyshon now joins the likes of previous Fine Arts Distinguished Alumni Esi Edugyan (BA ’99), Michael J. Whitfield (BA ’67), Mercedes Bátiz-Benét (BFA ’02), Carla Funk (BFA ’97), Paul Beauchesne (BMus ’88), Deborah Willis (BA ’06), Valerie Murray (BA ’78) and Andrea Walsh (BA ’91).

Read more about Glynis Leyshon here.

Art on view

Cedric Bomford

It’s been an especially good year for exhibits by Visual Arts professors—notably Cedric Bomford, who exhibited at both Calgary’s Esker Foundation and the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, and is working on a major public art project in Seattle. Bomford, who joined the Visual Arts department in September 2015, also received the Canada Council’s $15,000 Victor Martyn Lynch-Staunton Award in July, honouring outstanding artistic achievement by Canadian mid-career artists in the disciplines of dance, inter-arts, media arts, music, theatre, visual arts, and writing and publishing.

“I’m extremely pleased on behalf of the Visual Arts department to congratulate our colleague Cedric Bomford on having his research recognized with this national award,” said Visual Arts chair Paul Walde at the time. “Over the past year, Cedric has proven to be a tremendous asset to both the department and the UVic community and we are delighted to have him with us. He has a number of high profile research creation projects underway which will no doubt bring further accolades and recognition in the months and years to come.”

Exhibits were also mounted by sessional instructors Laura Dutton (at Victoria’s Open Space), Jeroen Witvliet (at Victoria’s Slide Room Gallery) and Tara Nicholson (at Kingston’s Modern Fuel artist-run centre), as well as professors Jennifer Stillwell and Paul Walde. Stillwell’s New Work: Smokestacks, Spills and Figures appeared at Toronto’s Pari Nadimi Gallery, while Walde participated in a pair of high-profile group exhibits this year: The View From Up Here at Alaska’s Anchorage Museum—which made USA Today’s “12 must-see summer museum exhibits” list—and The Edge of the Earth: Climate Change in Photography & Video at Toronto’s Ryerson Image Centre. Walde’s work from the Alaska exhibit will also be heading off to Denmark in early 2017.

Visitors at the Audain Exhibition in October

And in his second year in the Audain Professorship of Contemporary Art Practice of the Pacific NorthwestRande Cook presented his exhibit Accumulation in October at the Audain Gallery in the Visual Arts building. Timed to coincide with Intersections, the national conference of the Canadian Society for Education through Art, Visual Arts hosted conference delegates who were able to experience Cook’s exhibit, as well as hear him as a presenter. Also presenting was keynote speaker Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas, a former Audain Professor himself.

In other Visual Arts news, four of the eight nominees for the inaugural Philip B. Lind Emerging Artist Prize in March had connections with the department: graduate student Kerri Flannigan, undergraduates Brandon Poole and Anna Shkuratoff, and alumna Emily Geen. Flannigan was named runner-up, winning a $1,000 prize.

Stay tuned for part two of our best of coming up next!


Free performance of Mary’s Wedding

It’s an eternal story: boy meets girl, they fall in love—but, since the year is 1914, the boy must go off to war and their love must face an uncertain future.

The School of Music is pleased to welcome Pacific Opera Victoria for a special free production of Mary’s Wedding, a notable new Canadian opera about the impact of the First World War on the homefront. Described as “a love letter to the power of memory and innocence, and to a generation of Canadians who were caught in the crucible of the First World War,” Mary’s Wedding is an apt way to mark Remembrance Day on campus.

Kaden Forsberg & Caitlin Wood in a scene from Mary's Wedding

Kaden Forsberg & Caitlin Wood in a scene from Mary’s Wedding

Originally written for the stage by Stephen Massicotte and later developed into a full-scale English-language opera featuring music by Andrew P. MacDonald and Massicotte’s own libretto, POV has now created a re-imagined one-hour version of Mary’s Wedding that they will be presenting at 7:30pm Friday, November, 13, in the Phillip T Young Auditorium.

Set in Western Canada in the aftermath of World War I, Mary’s Wedding was originally commissioned by Pacific Opera Victoria and had its world premiere in November 2011. This production—directed by Art History & Visual Studies alumna Glynis Leyshon—features a strong School of Music presence, with first-year Masters candidate Kaden Forsberg in the lead role as Charlie, as well as third-year undergrad soprano Margaret Lingas in the chorus; joining her in the chorus is also Music tenor alumnus Cedric Spry. “The chorus is only a quartet, so it’s nice that two of our students are there,” notes proud Opera and Voice professor Benjamin Butterfield.

Mary’s Wedding explores the fleeting nature of time and the lasting power of love, evoking prairie thunderstorms and ladies’ teas, and, as innocence rides off to war, the horror of the battles of Ypres and Moreuil Wood, in which Canada came of age as a nation. Much of the production’s power comes from its sense of the fluidity of time, the shifting of past and present, here and there, reality and dream. The emotional impact is stunning: everything becomes present for us here and now . . . we are the children of Mary’s Wedding.

Seating is limited, so do arrive early.