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The Department of Art is committed to the study and practice of the visual arts as these relate to creative art making, educational practice and theory, and the understanding of art in its diverse historical and cultural settings. The U of C produces graduates well equipped to meet the numerous overlapping skills currently demanded within professional art practice and theoretical discourse.

Announcements and Events

  • B.F.A. graduate Katie Green’s first solo exhibition opens at ArtPoint Gallery & Studios Society on January 9, 2015.  “In Stillness” is inspired by Green’s recent journey paddling the Peel River in the Northern Yukon exploring her relationship with the outdoors and her evolving awareness of how her artistic practice intersects with the natural world. Green graduated from the Department of Art’s Visual Studies program earlier this year.  “In Stillness” runs until January 31; ArtPoint Gallery & Studios Society is located at 1139 Adelaide Street S.E.

  • MFA student Kevin J. Mellis came out a winner at the prestigious New York Photo Festival Photoworld 2014 last week with his unique wet plate positive portraits on black glass, captured with an old school camera and a lens dating back to 1850. His winning works, as well as other photos, are exhibited until Dec. 20 at ArtPoint Gallery & Studios Society, 1139 Adelaide Street S.E. Click here for the full story.

  • Department of Art alumnus, Melanie Wilmink, has received one of the University of York’s most prestigious awards.  Currently a doctoral student in York’s Art History and Visual Culture program, Wilmink is one of only three recipients out of 1,800 to receive the Elia Scholarship valued at $30,000 per year.  Wilmink describes her research at York as "the meeting points between academic and artistic practice, and examines conjunctions between space, architecture and media art, asking: how does architecture influence the way audiences engage with media art, and how does embodiment in the space and time of an artwork create an active spectator?"  Wilmink graduated in 2007 from the Department of Art’s Visual Studies program.

  • The Department of Art's annual Print Sale is Monday, October 20, to Wednesday, October 22, in the 621 Gallery (Art Building).  Prints are only $25; proceeds go to the printmaking scholarship.  Everyone is welcome to stop by between 11a.m. and 1p.m.
    Also, next week from October 20 to October 24, is the Senior Students' Printmaking Show, "Recent Works" in the Little Gallery (Art Building).  The Little Gallery is open from 8:30a.m. till 4:30p.m.

  • Senior instructor with the Department of Art, Denis Gadbois, has received 2nd place for his submission to the Epson International Pano Awards. Gadbois’ photograph in the Open Award Built Environment category, “Macau 360 degree Photography”, was taken in Macau, China.  For Gadbois, the pole at a corner of the park, the lower path, the interesting buildings and the cultural hub contributed to the creation of the unique design and image; he says “location, height, drops, color and culture are key elements that are used to raise 360 degree photography to the level of art”.

    The Epson International Pano Awards is dedicated to the art of panoramic photography and showcases the work of panoramic photographers worldwide; it is the largest competition for panoramic photography. 

    In June 2015 Gadbois will teach a Study Abroad course in Hawaii which will focus on 360 photography.  The course is a collaboration with the University of Calgary’s Centre for International Students and Study Abroad and The International Center at the University of Hawaii.

  • The Department of Art presents the 2014 M.F.A. Graduating Thesis Exhibition beginning today, August 8, at the Nickle Galleries, Taylor Family Digital Library.  The work of Master’s students Isabel Porto, Setareh Minoofar and William Downey will be on display until September 30; an opening reception will be held on Thursday, September 11 from 4:30 to 7:30p.m.
  • At the 2014 Calgary Stampede’s Western Art Showcase, the art of Katie Green and William Downey will be on display in a section devoted to new and emerging student artists.  Green, who received her B.F.A. in June, has two water colours in the show, while Downey, who will graduate in September with an M.F.A., has two pastels.  Both Green and Downey were invited to join the Western Art Showcase after submitting images of their work (Green will also participate in the Artist on Site Day on July 11, where she’ll be painting in public).

    The Head of the Department of Art, Brian Rusted, says the Stampede is encouraging student artists to explore and research Western imagery through initiatives such as scholarship programs and the artists’ ranch residency project and by providing exhibition space for post-secondary students. As many as 10,000 people a day view the Western Art Showcase and for participating artists, the exposure can be invaluable to their professional development.

  • This summer, the Department of Art is offering a course that focuses on the Calgary Stampede's longstanding involvement with western art.  Taught by Brian Rusted, "The Art of the Calgary Stampede" runs from July 2 – 21, 2014.  The course will explore the development of the western art genre and creative responses to the visual language of the west; students will consider issues connected with the significance of convention and stereotype and the visual and tourist construction of place.  A unique feature of the course is that students will attend lectures on campus in a “traditional” classroom setting as well on the grounds of the Calgary Stampede, at the University of Calgary’s Nickle Galleries and at the Glenbow Museum. 

    Rusted is Head of the Department of Art and is an Associate Professor with the Department of Communication and Culture.

  • Denis Gadbois’ entry in the All About the IMAGE’s photo challenge, Every Picture Tells a Story, has won first prize in the   "Imagination" category.  Gadbios’ photo, “Survivor Tree Old Wanchai Hong Kong”, was taken in Hong Kong with a 6D camera and a 8-15mm lens; the high dynamic range shots were then stitched together using Kolor software.  Because of real-estate development, trees are becoming increasingly rare in Hong Kong.  The trees are cut down for developments while the growth and health of existing trees is affected by the lack of the sunlight and the amounts of asphalt and concrete that cover the soil. Gadbois, an instructor in the Department of Art, received $1,000 for his winning submission.  To see all of the winning entries, go to
  • The Department of Art congratulates Katie Green who, in addition to receiving her B.F.A. (Distinction) in Visual Studies degree (Studio Concentration) at the June 10thconvocation ceremony, will also receive the Department's Silver Medallion.  Each Department awards the Silver Medallion every year to the student graduating with the highest academic distinction. 

    For Green, winning the Silver Medallion is an honor; she says “during my degree I worked extremely hard to continually push myself and my artistic practice. My five years at the University showed me discipline, exploration, dedication, and diversity within my practice”.  Green feels blessed that the Department celebrates and supports her efforts and says “though my educational journey was very personal, I could not have attained the success without the help of my professors and fellow students”.  Winning the Silver Medallion is not only a recognition of highest academic standing; for Green, the award “also commemorates… all the late nights in the studio, the tears and the laughs with my fellow students, the mistakes and the feats and to all my family and friends who consistently supported me throughout all the moments that got me here. They are all just as proud to see me receive this award”. 

  • Geoffrey Simmins is co-author of a book about John C. Parkin, a Canadian architect and urban planner.  “John C. Parkin, Archives, and Photography: Reflections on the Practice and Presentation of Modern Architecture” explores the work and career of the Canadian architect and urban planner.  Parkin led the wave of post-war modernism in Canadian architecture, both in how architecture was expressed and in what it represented and he was involved in the creation of numerous projects, including hospitals, airports, schools, shopping malls and factories.

    Simmins has published numerous articles and books on Canadian architecture and he is an emeritus professor with the Department of Art where he taught courses in Art History.  “John C. Parkin, Archives, and Photography: Reflections on the Practice and Presentation of Modern Architecture” is published by the University of Calgary Press; there will be book launch at Shelf Life Books on June 2nd.

  • Elizabeth Herbert and Christine Sowiak of the Department of Art are contributors to the book, “Marion Nicoll: Silence and Alchemy”.  The book explores the life and career of Marion Nicoll,the first female instructor at the Provincial Institute of Art and Technology (now the Alberta College of Art and Design) and one of Alberta’s most influential artists. 
    Herbert is a sessional instructor with the Department of Art and an independent curator and author.  Sowiak is also a sessional instructor with the Department and the curator of art at The Nickle Galleries. 
    On May 22, the University of Calgary Press will launch “Marion Nicoll: Silence and Alchemy”; the launch will coincide with the opening reception of “Fine Lines: Drawings from the Nickle Collection and the Mackie Donation”, an exhibition which features some of Nicoll’s work as well as drawings by a number of other Canadian artists (the reception begins at 5p.m. in Gallery Hall of the Taylor Family Digital Library).

  • The Spring 2014 issue of Canadian Art Magazine has published a review by Department of Art sessional instructor, Laurel Smith; “Arlene Stamp by Laurel Smith”, reviews an exhibition by Stamp at the Nickle Galleries last fall.  Smith was prompted to write the article after she interviewed Stamp as part of her (Smith) doctoral research; both women were investigating the subject of the color red in art.  Smith is a practising artist who creates minimal painting and conceptual art; she has been teaching for the Department of Art since 2006.

  • Congratulations to RICHard SMOLinski for his recent article in Canadian Theatre Review (#158)!  In " Chika Modum. Identity: borrowed, enlarged, projected, traced and modified ", SMOLinski reviews the 2013 performance piece of Modum, a graduate of the Department's Master's program.  Smolinski's insightful and thought-provoking review demonstrates that his abilities and talent reach beyond visual art into performance and theatre research.  SMOLinski is a sessional instructor for the University of Calgary's Department of Art.

  • The Department of Art is pleased and proud to announce that David Bershad , professor of Art History, has won a Students' Union (SU) Teaching Excellence Award (2013/2014).  The following are some of the comments written by students who nominated Bershad for the award:

- He made me fall in love with art history
- The classroom was ...full of respect and kindness
- He inspires and is the Dalai Lama of Art History
- His knowledge of the subject is rivaled only by his sense of humor
- He changed my life. I’ve never had a professor that has been so supportive [of my learning]
- He welcomes each student as they enter the classroom by name, and tries to get to know his students as people

Given the size of the amalgamated Faculty of Arts, the Department (of Art) realizes that this award is no small achievement; it speaks to both the quality of interaction that Bershad has with his students and also the numbers of students he has influenced across the Faculty.  This is the third time that Bershad has won the SU Teaching Excellence Award - Congratulations!

Upcoming Events

Date & Time:
May 17, 2014 - January 4, 2015

90 x 90: Celebrating Art in Alberta is a two part exhibition that has been organized to commemorate the Art Gallery of Alberta’s birthday. This exhibition features works from Eric Cameron, Alan Dunning + Paul Woodrow, Harry Kiyooka, Bill Laing and Jeffrey Spalding and more.

Date & Time:
November 22, 2014 - January 3, 2015

This intimate exhibition is Bill Laing's return to etching, which the artist hasn't made in almost 20 years. Wonderfully intricate and deeply poetic, these small scale works are like individual novellas with theme, narrative and personal meaning.

Faculty and Student Exhibitions in Calgary and Around the World

  • Faces Among Us…”, an exhibit by Masters of Fine Art student, Kevin Mellis, opens at ArtPoint Gallery & Studios Society today, December 5th.  “Faces Among Us…” runs until December 20th (ArtPoint is located at 1139 Adelaide Street S.E).

  • The closing reception of 'I cannot forget them', an exhibition by undergraduate student, Najmeh Moheb, will be held on Thursday, November 20th.  Moheb’s exhibition is part of the Department of Art’s new +15 exhibition space at the EPCOR Centre for Performing Arts.

    In her work, Moheb suspends a series of Chine-colle lithographs based on memory and place.  She writes: "I focus on my experiences growing up in Iran... by re-living them I re-represent the essence of my memories in the way that (I hope) viewers can also part take of the works. By working with fragments of other sources in a collage format, I extended my area and interest into a larger thematic exploration of memory.

    In the last farewell, hanging feet and a Persian poem by Hafez has been presented in different compositions. The poet addresses the infidelity in the relationship by leaving everything behind in simple and yet complicated death. The poetic words... are becoming branches of a larger memory of tree, which contains our body and mind. In Islamic belief the fig tree contains the fruits of heaven; it is also mentioned in holy Quran. Here the cultural symbol implies a beginning and an end to me, and the symbol is depicted to represent the idea of heaven. A Persian miniature and a delicate rosary appear in the work, which are cultural and personal objects of mine".

    Moheb says that Islamic literature and history become the social cultural aesthetic living on and conforming our way of thinking and relating to others. And the question is where an individual memory begins in such a complicated collective social memory space?

    The closing reception for 'I cannot forget them' is at 6p.m., Thursday, November 20th. (upstairs in the corridor of the Epcor Centre, 205-8th Avenue S.W.  Refreshments to follow at Wine-Ohs, 811 - 1st Street S.W).

  • The fifth and final installment in Glenbow Museum’s ground-breaking survey of regional art, “Made in Calgary: The 2000s”, reflects the energy and diversity of Calgary’s arts community in the first decade of the twenty-first century. Curated by Katherine Ylitalo, who has taught Art History for the Department of Art, the exhibition explores the diverse approaches of artists, both emerging and established, who are creating in Calgary; the exhibition reflects the not-yet-defined, freewheeling nature of contemporary art in Calgary.

    Included in the “Made in Calgary: The 2000s” exhibition are artists with current and past connections to the University of Calgary and to the Department of Art such as William Laing, Linda Carreiro, Marjan Eggermont, John Will, RICHard SMOLinski, Kay Burns, John Chalke, MN Hutchinson, Jennifer Wanner, Diane Bos, and Steve Nunoda, Shelley Ouellet, Bradley Harms, Rita McKeough, Tomas Jonsson and members of Arbor Lake Sghool.  The extensive spectrum of the work demonstrates a fascination with both the physics and subjectivity of perception; the relationship between photography and computers; an immersion in pop culture; the presence of narrative (be it fantasy, fiction, memory, history or a blend); an abiding collage aesthetic; a scrappy do-it-yourself approach and the redefinition of art and fine craft.

    The show runs concurrently at the Glenbow Museum and the Nickle Galleries (University of Calgary) from September 20 to December 14.  An opening reception will be held at the Glenbow Museum on Saturday, September 27, at 7p.m. (“pay what you can” entry fee) and at the Nickle Galleries on Thursday, September 25, at 5p.m. (free admission).

  • The closing reception for "Enclosed Identity", an exhibit by Masters student, Setareh Minoofar, will take place on Saturday, September 20th. This exhibition is presented as part of the Department of Art's Plus 15 exhibition space at the EPCOR Centre for Performing Arts.

    Minoofar describes her work: "As an Iranian living and working in Canada, I am concerned with the issue of identity. I address identity as a complex issue and study it in the context of contemporary world and in relation to culture, geography, history and the notion of "otherness". Therefore my work has an autobiographical and narrative-based nature...  After moving to Canada I faced the absence of the Iranian culture... I felt displaced and disoriented. I lost the sense of belonging. I discovered I am the "other". As a solution, I deconstructed Iranian cultural elements such as texts in Farsi (my first language) and Persian motifs in my work, in order to re-territorialize my cultural identity as an Iranian. I covered over 120 objects in screen-printed canvas. By wrapping my belongings in the fabric, I extended the territory of my body and created my own little island. The objects are placed on the floor close together, in order to establish a small personal territory, like an island in the middle of nowhere. I use the term nowhere to refer to an unknown territory from a foreigner's perspective."

    "Enclosed Identity" runs until September 31st with the closing reception on the 20th at 6p.m.; refreshments to follow at Wine-Ohs (811 - 1st Street S.W.).