Two artists, one lake, 100 years apart

Paul Walde (UVic Photo Services)

On July 8, 1917, iconic Canadian painter Tom Thomson drowned in Algonquin Park’s Canoe Lake. Now, on the 100th anniversary of Thomson’s death, intermedia artist and Visual Arts chair Paul Walde will swim the length of Canoe Lake — accompanied by a synchronized swim squad, canoe flotilla, brass band, film crew . . . and a minute of silence recorded at the bottom of the lake.

Not only will The Tom Thomson Centennial Swim allow Walde the opportunity of commemorating the centenary of Thomson’s death with this site- and temporally-specific piece, but he will also be reframing the enduring images and legacy of the early 20th-century artist for future gallery installations.

Walde training at a local lake (photo: Brandon Poole)

Media interest in this story has been high, with Walde being interviewed for 10 different media outlets in BC and Ontario, ranging from CBC Radio’s Up North in Sudbury to The Early Edition in Vancouver (skip to the 1:20 mark) and talking about “Canada’s Van Gogh” on radio shows in Victoria, Kamloops, Kelowna and Prince George, as well as this June 22 Times Colonist article and this Saanich News article.

But the most interesting piece was this story that ran on page A3 of the July 9 issue of the Toronto Star, where arts reporter Murray Whyte actually traveled to Canoe Lake to witness the swim itself.

“Landscape painting is about beauty,” Walde says in the piece. “But the landscape is dangerous. It doesn’t care if you live or die. That was the very limit of what I could do. For me, to be in the water where he died — that was powerful.”

Walde is well-known for his bold and innovative sound and video installations, including Requiem for a Glacier in 2013, filmed live onFarnham Glacier in BC’s Purcell Mountains and earning international headlines, and Alaska Variations for an Anchorage Museum exhibition in 2016, which was singled out by USA Today as one of the top US museum exhibits of the year and was recently exhibited in Norway. 

Tom Thomson’s 1912 painting The Canoe, painted at Canoe Lake

“I grew up in Northern Ontario near where the Group of Seven did their first trip together,” he says. “This is what was presented to us as Canadian art, and through my work I’ve been trying to find other ways of engaging with the landscape, especially around issues of the environment and colonialism.”

“I’m trying to give people a sense of what [the landscape] sounds like, what it looks like below the surface, to try to create . . . a different understanding,” Walde told the Times Colonist.

The Tom Thomson Centennial Swim will be documented by a professional film and audio crew. Footage from the event — including underwater body-cam, mobile boat units and stationary positions — will be combined with shots of the lake and locations featured in Thomson’s paintings.

Thomson was also the subject of Walde’s 1997 theatrical performance, Index 1036, a collaborative work created with his wife Christine Walde, a UVic librarian, which fictively examined Thomson’s death in the context of contemporary performance art.

A former competitive swimmer who uses lake swimming to inform his practice as an intermedia artist, composer and curator, Walde has created a body of work exploring interconnections between landscape, identity, and technology with historical events as a recurring theme.

Tom Thomson

Canoe Lake, where Canadian artist Tom Thomson died in 1917, is located in Ontario’s Algonquin Park, Canada’s oldest provincial park (est. 1893) where Thomson worked as a guide from 1913 until his death.

UVic’s Visual Arts department is recognized nationally and internationally for developing innovative artistic voices and is one of Canada’s leading contemporary art programs.

A full slate of exhibits by Visual Arts professors

Early 2017 is a busy time for our Department of Visual Arts professors, many of whom currently have exhibits both in and out of town at the moment. All too often, professors are only seen in the classroom, but these exhibits offer an invaluable opportunity to see their contemporary creative practice in action — while also demonstrating the important role UVic artists play in Victoria’s cultural community.

From Megan Dickie’s “One Way or Another”

One Way or Another is the latest sculptural exhibit by professor Megan Dickie. Focused on the failure involved in the quest for excellence, the project originated with a trilogy of videos that use classic video games as a platform to investigate human struggle; within this trilogy, a character blunders through a series of obstacles that constantly defy her.

These impediments are indicative of forms and concepts that drive Dickie’s artistic practice: logic inspired, insurmountable forms that are turned into absurd objects of physical comedy. The structures from the videos have been brought to life through sculptures that focus on endless patterns, and together, the sculptures and videos create an immersive environment of humorous persistence that question the value of human progress, and highlight the struggle for bigger, better, more.​

Read more about Dickie’s exhibit on the Art Openings cultural blog, written by Art History & Visual studies alumnus Kate Cino. “I am an observer of human behaviour,” Dickie tells Cino, “and find our patterns both fascinating and puzzling.”

One Way or Another runs to February 20 at Open Space, 510 Fort. Dickie will also host an artist talk and exhibition catalogue launch at 1:30pm Saturday, Feb 11.

Cedric Bomford (in black toque) amidst his AGGV installation (Photo: Corina Fischer)

Visual Arts professor Cedric Bomford is one of the artists participating in the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria group exhibit It’s in the Making, curated by Haema Sivanesan and Nicole Stanbridge. The artists in this exhibition use the act of making as a process of thinking. They investigate relationships between ideas, materials and things, take familiar materials and ways of making things and present us with new kinds of objects.

Whether it is crocheting with paint, building structures that destabilize our preconceptions of space, or transforming found images to create a new idea through collage, these artists challenge set ideas of how things should be. Working with Cedric on this site-specific piece are his longtime artistic collaborators, brother and father Nathan and Jim Bomford; the exhibit also features new works by west coast artists Angela Teng, Shelley Penfold and Jess Willa Wheaton, and former Visual Arts Audain Professor Nicholas Galanin.

“I am really drawn to the everyday structures we have around us that we don’t really see very much—the things that become scenery on your commute,” Bomford explains in this Canadian Art interview. “That’s a pretty productive territory to mine: the overlooked dynamics within everyday life. I’m also interested in the power structures that exist in architecture, and these are often overlooked too . . . . Putting viewers on different elevations establishes a different kind of relationship for a gallery. Normally in a gallery everyone walks on the floor and looks at objects. Very rarely are you to forced to acknowledge your relationship to other people in the space or other objects in the space.”

It’s In The Making continues to February 12 at 1040 Moss Street, with an exhibit tour at 2pm Sunday, January 29.

“En Trance” by Sandra Meigs (Photo: Winchester Galleries)

En Trance is the latest exhibit by Visual Arts professor Sandra Meigs. For over 35 years, Meigs has created vivid, enigmatic paintings that combine dense narratives with comic elements; her works gradually reveal layers of meaning, giving viewers insight into psychological spaces and philosophical ideas. In 2015, Meigs was doubly honoured to win both a Governor General’s Award and the $50,000 Gershon Iskowitz Prize at the Art Gallery of Ontario. 

Meigs says her paintings come from meditations that give entry to unlimited force, energy, love, being and presence. This allows a radical intervention into the practice of painting. The outcome of the intervention is exuberant visual energy coming forth through the work. Her work utters a call to pay attention, to wake up.

Each canvas permits an unfolding encounter. We can never really know the “experiencer”, she reminds us; we can only really know the experience. As such the paintings are talismans to elevate the soul, to get the small “egoic self” out of the way and to allow space for living in the moment.

All these paintings were completed during the summer of 2016, and En Trance offers a preview featuring 15 of the 30 paintings that will be exhibited in September 2017 at the Art Gallery of Ontario, as part of her Iskowitz Prize.

En Trance runs to to February 11 at Winchester Galleries, 2260 Oak Bay Ave, with a celebratory reception running from 7- 9 pm Saturday, January 28.

A scene from Paul Walde’s “Alaska Variations”

Visual Arts chair Paul Walde‘s 2014 Requiem for a Glacier installation and sound performance work continues to attract attention both nationally and internationally.  Requiem for a Glacier memorializes BC’s Jumbo Glacier area, an ancient feature of the landscape leftover from the last ice age, now under immediate threat from global warming and resort development.

Requiem received mention in the December 2016 issue of Canadian Art magazine as part of the fall 2016 group exhibit “The Edge of the Earth” at Ryerson’s Image Centre in Toronto, and it’s now on view at the WKP Kennedy Gallery in North Bay, Ontario, until February 10.

And after a successful summer 2016 run at the Anchorage Museum, Walde’s most recent piece — Alaska Variations, another installation and sound performance —  is currently touring with the museum exhibit The View from Here: The Arctic At The Centre of the World, curated by Julie Decker. The contributors explore the ideas of “wilderness” and “remoteness,” the lessons to be learned from cold places and indigenous knowledge, and how the Arctic is a signal for global change.

The View from Here was also part of the Tromsø International Film Festival in January 2017, and the exhibit itself continues to February 28 at the Nordnorsk Kunstmuseum in Tromsø, Norway — the northernmost art museum in the world.

Extracting Narratives

Visual Arts MFA alumni and current sessional instructors Jeroen Witvliet and Neil McClelland both have concurrent exhibits as part of the  Comox Valley Art Gallery show Extracting Narratives, an artistic program bringing together new work by these contemporary painters in an exhibition that draws attention to shifting relations found in daily life and varied stories told through the painted image.

“Our paintings create fictive, could-be landscapes addressing notions of what is familiar but strange, and suggests a sense of unease and difficult relationships between culture and nature,” Witvliet and McCelland say in the show’s statement. “We allow a relinquishing of control of ideas, but also of the painting’s surface through loose working of materials. The works are always alluding to something perhaps mythological, historical, or some possible future, but in ways that are purposefully ambiguous about what that something is. The images evoke a narrative, an aftermath or a beginning, but each painting is not about its separate elements.”

Witvliet’s exhibit is All Tomorrow’s Parties, while McClelland presents The Perfect Nowhere. “Our work invites viewers to construct meaning, to explore the in-between space between the separate elements within the paintings, and between the paintings in the gallery space.” Extracting Narratives runs to Feb 25 in Courtenary BC, with a community artist talk at noon on February 7 at North Island College’s Stan Hagen Theatre.

Neil McClelland also has his own solo exhibit: Everything is Being Perfected, running Feb 3 to March 4 at Deluge Contemporary, 636 Yates. McClelland’s body of paintings in this exhibit explores tensions between utopic and dystopic visions. His work is inquiring into notions of human happiness and perfectibility, the creation of Edenic paradises, disruption and dissolution of society, alienation and consumption, nature and culture, the monstrous and the beautiful, myth-making and storytelling. Taking imagery and inspiration from literature and film — along with art historical, historical, contemporary and personal sources — McLelland creates combinations and layers of digitally edited compositions that form the basis for beginning a painting in oil.

Althea Thauberger

And in other Visual Arts news, MFA alumna Althea Thauberger will be the 2017 recipient for the Faculty of Fine Arts at UVic’s 10th annual Distinguished Alumni Awards. Currently Artist in Residence in Photography at Concordia University in Montreal, Thauberger’s practice involves performative and collaborative processes in the production of social documents, as well as lasting engagements with the communities and sites they are produced within.

Her exhibitions and screenings have included the National Gallery of Canada, the Power Plant in Toronto, the  Overgaden Institute of Contemporary Art in Copenhagen, the 2012 Liverpool Biennale, the occupied Kino Zvezda in Belgrade and the Guangong Museum of Art in China, among many others.

Thauberger will receive her award at a special event on February 8; while back at UVic, she will also share her experiences with current students in the Visual Arts department.

Finally, Visual Arts is hosting a number of guest artists in the coming months as part of their long-running Visiting Artists series. Watch for free talks by Vancouver-based sculptor and set designer Alan Storey (January 25), curator and director of Calgary’s Esker Foundation Naomi Potter (February 8), Vancouver painter Ben Reeves (February 22) and artist and educator Barbara Cole (March 1). All happen at 7:30pm in room A150 of UVic’s Visual Arts building, and all are welcome.

Early 2017 media roundup

2017 is shaping up to be a busy year for Fine Arts faculty and alumni in the media. A number of stories have run in various media outlets in the last weeks of 2016 and early 2017, featuring representatives in all of our departments. Here’s a quick roundup of who’s been saying what to whom.

School of Music alumnus & instructor Paul Beauchesne was interviewed on TV’s CHEK6 news on December 10 (skip to the 8:14 mark), speaking as leader of the annual TubaChristmas concert in Market Square. The popular School of Music event has raised over $50,000 for local charities over the past 38 years.

In this op-ed for the Times Colonist, 2016 Writing Southam Lecturer Vivian Smith explains the impact of fake news and how it can undermines democracy—a notable concern particularly during the recent US elections.

Brian Pollick with UVic archivist Lara Wilson

Back on December 16, Art History & Visual Studies PhD candidate Brian Pollick was quoted in this Times Colonist story about nearly two dozen rare medieval and early modern manuscripts that are available until May 1 in Victoria — thanks to an innovative new collaboration between UVic Libraries and Les Enluminures, a firm based in New York, Chicago and Paris which has the largest inventory of text manuscripts and miniatures from the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. “People of the medieval time would see a whole multiplicity of different messages, and part of what fascinates me is their visual depth,” Pollick said. UVic is the first Canadian institution to partner with Les Enluminures. Pollick donated the initial funds to create the Medieval Manuscript Fund at the UVic Libraries.

Also at the end of 2016, the annual Critics’ Choice Theatre Awards were announced on CBC Radio’s On The Island  and there were plenty of Fine Arts alumni among the 2016 nominees and winners. February’s Phoenix production of Wild Honey was singled out as an outstanding overall production, with Theatre professor Peter McGuire winning Best Director (community production). “It was one of those shows where you had to ask yourself if you were actually watching students or professional theatre,” says CBC reviewer David Lennam. See the full list of winners and nominees here.

Art History & Visual Studies PhD candidate and local Star Wars expert David Christopher spoke to Vancouver’s CKNW radio on Dec 16 about the release of Rogue One, calling it “the greatest spin-off yet.” An authority on all things Force-related, Christopher was also married in full Star Wars regalia.

School of Music professor Benjamin Butterfield talked to the Times Colonist for this story about both his January 2 Victoria Symphony concert “A Viennese New Year’s” and his decade-long teaching role here at UVic. “For some, the holidays couldn’t be long enough,” wrote Mike Devlin. “Butterfield, on the other hand, loves his career on campus. ‘There’s lots on my mind about what the future holds there,’ Butterfield, 52, said of UVic. ‘I could see myself doing at least another 10 years.'”

Visual Arts MFA alumna Rachel Vanderzwet‘s recent Plastic Bangles exhibit at Deluge Contemporary was written up in the Art Openings cultural blog, written by Art History & Visual Studies alumna Kate Cino. “I have a desire for each piece of the puzzle to be unique,” says Vanderzwet, “but harmonize in a composition . . . . I like the challenge of working with unusual colour combinations,” she says, “playing with pigment to create a visual push and pull within the work.” While the exhibit is now closed, Vanderzwet will be teaching a course titled “Conversations in Abstraction” from January 10 – April 4 at the Vancouver Island School of Art, which is run by another Visual Arts alum, Wendy Welch.

Significant Art History & Visual Studies donor Jeffrey Rubinoff was featured in this Globe and Mail article which ran on Dec 30. Globe arts columnist Marsha Lederman visited Rubinoff’s Hornby Island sculpture park, spoke to him about his theories about art, and mentioned his 2016 donation to AHVS.

Visual Art chair Paul Walde‘s installation “Requiem for a Glacier” received a positive mention in the December 2016 issue of Canadian Art magazine as part of the group exhibit “The Edge of the Earth” at Ryerson’s Image Centre in Toronto; it is now featured in a solo exhibition at the WKP Kennedy Gallery in North Bay, Ontario until February 10. And from January 14 until February 28, the Nordnorsk Kunstmuseum in Tromsø, Norway, presents Walde’s “Alaska Variations” as part of a touring version of The View from Here: The Arctic At The Centre of the World.

UVic’s longtime Artists-in-Residence, the Lafayette String Quartet, were featured in the Jan/Feb issue of Focus magazine, highlighting their history together and previewing their upcoming Feb 3-9 performance of the complete Shostakovich Cycle of 15 String Quartets. Now entering their fourth decade of performing and teaching together, the LSQ continue to be a highlight of the School of Music. “UVic has allowed us to take on these kinds of research-based projects—delving into 15 quartets of one composer is a great opportunity,” says violinist Sharon Stanis.

Music professor Patrick Boyle January 21 “Deep in the Groove” faculty concert was featured in the Dec/Jan issue of Boulevard magazine. The concert also features Music alumni Tony Genge and Kelby MacNayr. “If you like to swing deep in the groove, you should definitely be at this concert,” says Boyle. There’s no direct link, but you can click here and navigate to pages 116 & 118.

Art History & Visual Studies professor Victoria Wyatt has once again been asked to participate in the Edge.org 2017 Annual Question.  This year’s question is, “What Scientific Term or Concept Ought to be More Widely Known?” Wyatt’s response is  “Evolve,” is a pitch for more integrated education that synthesizes sciences with humanities, social sciences and fine arts. “Evolved means better, as if natural law normally dictates constant improvement over time. In translating progress from species evolution to the metaphor of evolve, the significance of dynamic relationship to a specific environment gets lost. Through natural selection, species become more equipped to survive in their distinct environment. In a different environment, they may find themselves vulnerable. Divorced from context, their measure of progress breaks down. The popular metaphor of evolve misses this crucial point. Evolve often connotes progress without reference to context.”

A number of School of Music performances—including the January 7 Emerging Alumni concert featuring Jiten Beairsto, Sydney Tetarenko and Emily Burton, and the January 8 “Brass Menagerie” faculty concert by Music instructors Paul Beachesne and Scott MacInnes — were highlighted in a round-up of music events in this Times Colonist article.

Visual Arts professor Megan Dickie‘s new exhibit at Open Space, “One Way or Another”, was previewed in this Times Colonist article on January 12. Described as “her biggest and most ambitious art project to date.”  “Part of this is inspired by reality television shows where they’d doing activities and failing, like running through courses and stuff,” Dickie said. “There is pleasure in seeing somebody — not fall and hurt themselves — but to go to those limits and not succeed. That’s all in there.” The exhibit runs through to February 18.

Victoria Symphony starts 75th season with new Butterfield piece

When the Victoria Symphony opens its 75th anniversary season on September 21, School of Music professor Christopher Butterfield will be helping them celebrate—courtesy of the world premiere of his latest composition.

Christopher Butterfield

Christopher Butterfield

Simply titled Canter, Butterfield’s piece will be conducted by maestra Tania Miller alongside the likes of Aaron Copland’s Fanfare for the Common Man, Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No. 3, Wagner’s Ride of the Valkries and Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess, among others. Vaunted company, to be sure, but apt considering Butterfield’s latest was commissioned by the Victoria Symphony itself.

“They called me up and asked me to do a piece for their 75th anniversary. The only thing they said was, ‘Don’t make it a dirge.’” Butterfied pauses and laughs. “’Don’t worry,’ I said to them, ‘I don’t do dirges.’”

Butterfield—a School of Music alumnus himself—has been a professor of composition and theory at UVic since 1992. His music has been performed across Canada and in Europe, is recorded on the CBC and Artifact labels, and he’s no stranger to the Victoria Symphony. From 1999 to 2002, he was their first composer in residence and a number of his compositions have been showcased by the Symphony—including his popular WWII inspired Convoy PQ 17 requiem, which has been remounted a number of times since its 2001 debut.

Butterfield describes the eight-minute Canter as being like a concerto for the orchestra. “That just means it’s focussed more on individual players, rather than the orchestra as a whole,” he explains. “Instead of just having the first or second violins playing in unison, for instance, I have a lot of individual string parts—18 separate violin parts, 6 separate viola parts, 6 separate cello parts and 4 separate bass parts. The result will be an impressionistic conveyance of either motion or utterance.”

Did the commission come with any specific requests? “There are orchestras that say they want this kind of a piece or that kind of piece,” he says, “but I’m very lucky. For whatever reason, nobody has ever told me what to do, so I usually just do whatever it is I feel like doing. ”

Victoria Symphony

Victoria Symphony

There are a number of decisions that go into creating a commissioned work, Butterfield explains, ranging from the composer’s circumstances and a symphony’s season context, to the size of the orchestra and what else may be on the program the night the piece debuts. The beauty of a commission, he says, is that it provides a composer with an ideal opportunity to play.

“When you find out you have orchestra to work with, it gives you the chance to try out ideas that otherwise might’ve only done with smaller groups,” he says. “Canter, for instance, has radical dynamic changes in volume within the ensemble—a great scattered sound that creates almost a perspective from very quiet to very loud but happening all at once. I’m very fortunate that I’ve got a bigger orchestra for this one  than I might have . . . I’ve even got a harp.”

And what happens to Canter once it has debuted? “It’ll go to the symphony library,” he says. “When an orchestra commissions a piece, it’s very much part of their artistic capital—it’s been written specifically for them.” Sometimes, he explains, new pieces will languish in the library for years before being dusted off, while others—such as his Convoy PQ 17—goes on to be performed internationally by other orchestras. Butterfiled mentions the first piece he ever wrote for the Victoria Symphony which he was able to revise 10 years later as part of their New Music Festival. “I didn’t change anything structurally at all, just essentially tidied it up, and that worked really well. So sometimes the material goes in the library and gets quite a long life.”

Butterfield is looking forward to hearing the complete Canter . . . especially now that he can move on to other projects. “It’s funny how eight minutes can absorb weeks and weeks and weeks of work,” he chuckles.

 

Top 10 Fine Arts stories for 2014

2014 sees the end of another busy year here at the Faculty of Fine Arts, where there was always something afoot. Five departments and hundreds of annual concerts, theatrical productions, readings, exhibits and lectures by visiting artists, academics and professionals means Fine Arts is always one of the busiest faculties on campus when it comes to community engagement. Here’s a quick wrap-up featuring some—but certainly not all—of the leading Fine Arts stories of the year.

“Hear us roar!”

UVic President Jamie Cassels and Vikes mascot Thunder present Rally Song winner Colleen Eccleston with her iPad (photo: Armando Turo)

UVic President Jamie Cassels and Vikes mascot Thunder present Rally Song winner Colleen Eccleston with her iPad (photo: Armando Turo)

To the cheers of a tight game and the applause of a packed house, the winner of the School of Music / Vikes Nation Rally Song Contest was decided at the Vikes men’s basketball game way back on January 10—and first prize went to the School of Music’s own songwriting instructor Colleen Eccleston. With 18 submissions from across campus—including entries by students, faculty and administration alike—the top three finalists were performed live at half-time by fourth-year Music student Josh Lovell. Eccleston picked up a brand new iPad for her winning song, “Vikes Nation” (“We are Vikes Nation, hear us roar!”) as chosen by judges UVic President Jamie Cassels, Director of Athletics and Recreation Clint Hamilton, Director of School of Music Dr. Susan Lewis Hammond and varsity athlete Kyle Irvine. Attendees now hear a recorded version of Lovell’s rendition before the starting lineups of each Vikes home game.

On the button blanket

The button blanket receiving its inaugural dance at UVic's First Peoples House (Photo Services)

The button blanket receiving its inaugural dance at UVic’s First Peoples House (Photo Services)

It may have been nicknamed “the big button blanket project” by Art History & Visual Studies, but the creation and subsequent exhibit of Adasla: The Movement of Hands at the Legacy Galley garnered a great deal of attention in the community and the media. Both the blanket’s inaugural dance at the opening ceremonies of UVic’s annual Diversity Research Forum in February at First People’s House and the accompanying exhibit—featuring a special contemporary performance collaboration between Governor General’s Award-winning performance artist Rebecca Belmore, former Audain professor for the Department of Visual Arts, and blanket co-creator, Tahtan Nation artist Peter Morin—represented one of the strongest examples of community engagement of the year.

A name you can trust

Chancellor-designate Shelagh Rogers meets the media. Credit: UVic Photo Services

Chancellor-designate Shelagh Rogers meets the media. Credit: UVic Photo Services

It was the kind of news that would warm the heart of any arts supporter when famed CBC Radio host Shelagh Rogers was named the University of Victoria’s 11th Chancellor in May. “To speak in a very non-chancellorian way, I’m thrilled out of my bean,” Rogers said at the time. “I feel like over the last little while I’ve been dating UVic—I’m glad now to be in a relationship with you.” Nominated by Fine Arts Dean Dr. Sarah Blackstone and Associate Dean Dr. Lynne Van Luven, Rogers’ term begins in January 2015. “As UVic’s chancellor, Shelagh Rogers will enhance the excellence of our university,” said Blackstone. “She will bring tremendous energy and great insight to her new role. Her national reputation as an advocate for Canadian arts and culture will serve the university well. UVic could not ask for a better ambassador as we build on our reputation for excellence in teaching, research, and community engagement.”

Getting an A in Queen B

Melissa Avdeeff

Melissa Avdeeff

There’s nothing like a little controversy to spark interest in a course, as School of Music instructor Melissa Avdeeff discovered when word broke in July that she’d be teaching a course on the music of Beyoncé at UVic, resulting in some less than positive comments (“I think I just gave up on Western culture!” “Truly a waste of education and money!”). It didn’t take long for media outlets ranging from the CBC, CTV and Macleans to the Globe and Mail and the Huffington Post to jump on the Beyoncé bandwagon. “I don’t see studying popular culture as any less academically or socially relevant than studying other forms of musicology like historical musicology or music theory,” Avdeef told the Globe. “It’s important to have these courses. They get people thinking more critically about how they are engaging with media.”

Art on view

"Hit for the sculpture!" Stillwell's piece in context of the baseball diamond

“Hit for the sculpture!” Stillwell’s piece as it appears from the baseball diamond

It was a busy year for professors in the Department of Visual Arts, with a number of exhibits and new sculptures being unveiled. Both Jennifer Stillwell and Robert Youds debuted new pieces of public art—Stillwell’s High Five began reaching for the sky in Winnipeg back in August and Youds’ For Everyone a Sunset was unveiled at the Vancouver Art Gallery’s Offsite in October—while departmental chair Paul Walde‘s Requiem For A Glacier installation appeared in Nelson in January, was written up in a  Times Colonist UVic Research feature in July, ran from September to November at the Evergreen Cultural Centre in Coquitlam, then ran at Laval University Art Gallery in Quebec City until the end of December. Meanwhile, photographer Vikky Alexander opened two photography exhibitions this fall—a show of new work Theatergarden Bestiarium in Los Angeles and the retrospective The Temptation of St Anthony in Vancouver—and will have two more shows opening in early 2015 in both Calgary and Montreal.

All for Two 4 One

Bradley considering a shot on set (photo: Arnold Lim)

Bradley considering a shot on set (photo: Arnold Lim)

Department of Writing professor Maureen Bradley‘s locally lensed debut feature film, Two 4 One, had  its world premiere at the 2014 Calgary International Film Festival in September, before moving on to its BC premiere at the Vancouver International Film Festival in October, and the Eastern Canada premiere at Montréal’s Image + Nation Film Festival in November.
Coming up in February 2015, it will be the opening gala film at the Available Light Film Festival in the Yukon and local audiences will be able to see the film—described as Canada’s first transgendered romantic comedy—as part of the Victoria Film Festival, also in February. Two 4 One is written and directed by Bradley and produced by digital media staffer Daniel Hogg.

The best exotic intergenerational theatre company

Theatre PhD Matthew Gusul (centre) at the field school in India

Theatre PhD Matthew Gusul (centre) at the field school in India

Department of Theatre PhD candidate Matthew Gusul attracted attention with his field school to India in October. Gusul and 13 undergraduates spent two months in the Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry regions to create the country’s first intergenerational theatre company. By positively highlighting the life experiences of residents at the Tamaraikulam Elders’ Village and the students of the Isha Vidhya Matriculation School, Gusul and his students worked with a team of Indian directors to encourage these seniors and rural youth to perform their own stories, develop strong community relations and create new lines of dialogue across generations. Stay tuned for an update on their efforts, coming the first week of January.

World War I history mystery

Marcus Milwright with JM's diaries

Marcus Milwright with JM’s diaries

When Art History and Visual Studies professor Marcus Milwright began planning his November exhibit The Arts of World War I, he had no idea that his use of a two-volume leather diary set featuring illustrations of life during the Great War—signed only by the initials “JM”—would generate so much publicity. But Milwright’s search for JM’s identity sparked a flurry of international media attention, which you can read about here. His hunt for JM’s identity also earned Milwright a spot on UVic’s own Top 10 News Stories for 2014. The Arts of World War I continues to March 2, 2015, in the McPherson Library’s Legacy Maltwood Gallery, and will be a featured part of UVic’s IdeaFest in March.

National honours

Arleen Paré accepts her award from the Governor General

Arleen Paré accepts her award from the Governor General

The Faculty of Fine Arts was remarkably well-represented in national awards this year, thanks to the nomination of five Fine Arts faculty and alumni in the 2014 Governor General’s Literary Awards—Writing professor Bill Gaston, Writing alumni Garth Martens & Arno Kopecky, and Department of Theatre aluma & playwright Janet Munsil, as well as eventual Poetry winner and Writing alumna Arleen Paré. But there was also Writing professor Tim Lilburn‘s induction as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, retired Writing professor Patrick Lane receiving the Order of Canada and Department of Visual Arts student Kim Adams winning the 2014 Governor-General’s Award in Visual and Media Arts. “Having so many areas of the Faculty of Fine Arts recognized illustrates the strength and vibrancy of fine arts at the University of Victoria in particular and in British Columbia generally,” says Dr. Lynne Van Luven, Acting Dean of Fine Arts. “Such achievements are all the more impressive given budget cuts for fine arts programs overall.” Add to that new books by Writing professors Lee Henderson (The Road Narrows As You Go), Bill Gaston (Juliet Was a Surprise) and Kevin Kerr (Tear The Curtain).

Fine Arts can be a picnic

Evocative 1940s costumes made Picnic a winner in the Spotlight Awards (photo: David Lowes)

Evocative 1940s costumes made Picnic a winner in the Spotlight Awards (photo: David Lowes)

Finally, Phoenix Theatre rounded out another busy year of productions in the Department of Theatre with their 1970s revamp of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, directed by professor Fran Gebhard, which followed their latest Spotlight on Alumni production The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe—which was so popular that it had to be held over! Both their spring productions—Picnic (directed by professor Peter McGuire) and Unity (1918) (written and directed by Writing professor Kevin Kerr)—were well-received and recently earned nominations and a win for Best Costumes in Victoria’s annual Critic’s Choice Spotlight Awards.

Here’s looking forward to an equally busy 2015!