Bachelor of Fine Arts 2015 graduate show
A candid Q & A with three graduating students
I had the pleasure of chatting with a few of the brilliant minds behind the artwork in this year’s beautiful BFA grad show – Adam Whitford, Veronica Frank and Lisa Jones. Read on as they share their favourite memories, advice and reasons why you should get over to the FAB Gallery to see the show before it ends Saturday, May 2. The feature image above is titled Pillow Talk and was completed in 2014, by Kirsty Templeton Davidge.
What was your focus in the visual arts program at the University of Alberta and what drew you to it?
Retrograde, a video by Adam Whitford
My focus during my undergrad was in intermedia. Intermedia is a vague title given to classes that don’t use painting or printmaking and the medium in which you approach your work is largely up to you. In these classes, most people end up working in photography, video, or installation. I was drawn to video first as a way to capture performances but I started to appreciate it for its immediacy in capturing and creating my work. I was never very good at having the patience to layer paintings. I loved the freedom that intermedia gave to the students in creating their work.
Printmaking ended up being my focus, although I didn’t love it initially. I had no idea what it was at first, but the work that I saw coming out of the program was really compelling. I was drawn to its various, unique methods of image-making, the sharing of knowledge and support of the printmaking community, and the artistic possibilities those elements produce.
My love has always been painting. It’s hard to describe exactly what drew it to me at first but ever since I was little I have always had a strong interest in it. I still have pictures of myself at three years old, seated on the kitchen floor, paintbrushes in hand, covered head to toe in paint. There is something about color that excites me, something about the tactile nature of paint. Throughout my years at the University of Alberta my ability to represent life with my paintbrush has vastly improved. I am now able to experiment with texture, tonality, opacity and so on. Paint can do so much, and when I am able to express something, when I need to talk about it, I deal with it in a painting and share that with other people. That connection I make with my viewer is invaluable to me.
Schaulust, mixed media by Kasie Campbell
What is something you’ll take away from your years in the program?
From the program, I’ve learned that being critical is a process of making something better, an investigative process. The self-questioning and self-examination that you learn helps you to be more honest with yourself. Being critical of someone else’s writing or art doesn’t mean that you dislike their work but that you want to know more and help the work to be better.
The importance of simply beginning a project, no matter how daunting – just start, and go from there. Also, the importance of taking risks, of perseverance, and acting based on both experience and instinct.
That I am capable of far more than I could have ever imagined. When you are given the space to make art and the instruction and support, there are few limits to what you can accomplish.
The Last Sight, selection of oil on masonite paintings by Ying Yu
Do you have a favourite memory you could share?
It’s not a specific memory but the feeling of completing a long project, finding the perfect space to showcase your work and feeling that you’ve made something worthwhile that you and others can appreciate — that is a great feeling. Making an interesting piece that you can be proud of is its own reward.
Just a happy blur of working hard until late at night in the studio, usually with a few other night owls and some music.
I think an important memory for me was curating my first art show, Proximities. I finally had the opportunity to put together a show that showcased the works of my talented peers and that was so rewarding. It made me realize that there was yet another facet of the art world that I could and wanted to explore. It was challenging, for sure, but seeing how excited people were to see their art up on a gallery wall, and that I was the one who was able to do that for them — that was thrilling.
Detail of – This Creature of Mine, by Leeanne Johnston
What advice would you give to someone considering the University of Alberta’s BFA program?
If I were to meet someone considering the BFA program at U of A, I would encourage them to try everything. Every studio course helps to make better work in other studios but the Art History and English classes, the philosophy classes, etc. are just as important. Creating art is about engaging with the world and the only way you can do that is by learning about it. Learning from as many sources as possible will only help to make better art.
Just go for it. It sounds cliche, but it truly is an educational experience like no other. You’ll be pushed to think in unusual ways, to create work that you never, ever expected, and have the chance to work with incredibly inspiring teachers and classmates. Basically, the BFA program creates a huge variety of opportunities, and students come out of it very diversified and extremely well-prepared to approach whatever they are drawn toward – and that path will almost certainly look different from when you first began.
Do it. Don’t hesitate. I waited two years before I applied because I was scared that my work wasn’t good enough and those were two wasted years. Being in the BFA program has been the most rewarding experience of my life. The teachers and the peers and the experiences are beyond anything I could sufficiently give praise to.
Citrine, clay sculpture, by Maud Madsen
What are your plans for after graduation?
Next year I’m heading right back to school. I have been accepted as an Art History master’s student at the U of A in the coming fall. The intention with this degree is to work in a gallery or in a curatorial position.
I still have one Spring painting class to look forward to, which I think will help ease the transition out of school. I work part time with a printmaking artist who I will continue to work for and this summer I hope to get a second job in something art related. From there I hope to work and pay off some debts for the next 2 or so years before I start applying to graduate school. I think it is important to live a little and spend some time in the art world outside of school before committing to a grad school. I’d like to have a few more shows under my belt before I begin applying.
Detail of a painting by Jeanette Lazar
Why should people come to the show? What do you hope viewers will take away from the show?
People should come to the show to be in the presence of objects that will take them outside of their usual experiences. They should come to find a work that they love and one that they hate and justify it with a friend. Come to the show to spend time with an experience that someone thought was worthwhile.
It’s a peek into what the U of A’s emerging artists are investigating, right now – it’s a look at the diversity of issues we care so deeply about that we had to create work about them, so that you can experience them in your own way and start a dialogue about those issues too.
I think this show is a wonderful cross section of what we have all worked towards over the past several years. There is so much talent jam-packed into our grad class. Anyone who doesn’t get a chance to see this show, I truly believe is missing out. There is such a wide variety of media that people are dealing with, I’ve been through the show upwards of three times and I still keep finding new and interesting things to look at and contemplate. I really can’t get over how far everyone has come and how profoundly their work has developed, even just in the the last year. Such a talented group of artists.
Follow online here:
You can find Veronica Frank on twitter: @VeronicaFrarm
You can Find Adam’s work on Youtube or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
You can Find Lisa Jones’s work on Facebook and Instagram
Event title: By Risk & By Reckoning: University of Alberta Bachelor of Fine Arts Graduate Show 2015
Exhibition dates: until May 2nd, 2015
Venue: FAB Gallery (1-1 Fine Arts Building, University of Alberta)
FAB Gallery Hours: Tuesday to Friday: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Saturday: 2 p.m. – 5 p.m.
Closed Sunday, Monday and statutory holidays