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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

  • Adjunct professor with the Department of Art, Jeffrey Spalding, has been appointed Senior Curator of New Brunswick’s Beaverbrook Art Gallery.  Spalding is a curator, educator and writer.  His art is exhibited by a number Canadian museums, including the National Gallery of Canada, the Vancouver Art Gallery, the Art Gallery of Alberta, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts and the Canadian Embassy in Washington.  Spalding has taught art at Florida State University, York University, the University of Lethbridge and The Banff Centre; he organized Canada's art exhibition for Expo 93 Korea and has authored works for exhibitions at prestigious museums including the Tate Gallery, Russia’s Hermitage Museum, the National Gallery of Canada, and the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts.  Spalding is a recipient of the Order of Canada (2007); he received the award for his efforts in championing Canadian artists, notably as a curator who has developed popular and critical exhibitions that have attracted new audiences to Canadian art galleries.

  • Two Department of Art instructors, Bob Kelly and Jim Parker, have been nominated for the Student’s Union Teaching Excellence Award (Winter 2015).  Kelly was nominated by the students in his Art 393 (Applied Concepts in Art with Adolescents)  class while Jim received the nomination from his Art 321 (Net Art: Theory and Practice) class - congratulations to both of you!  The Teaching Excellence Award winners will be announced at the end of April.

  • Biljana Arnautovic, the Department of Art’s Graduate Program Administrator, also holds the same position in the Department of Linguistics, Languages and Cultures (LCC).  The exceptional work done by Biljana and three of her LCC office colleagues has been acknowledged by a Faculty of Arts Outstanding Staff Recognition Award.   Biljana will receive her award at a reception on May 4.  Congratulations Biljana!

  • Printmaker Charles Heine will be honoured in a retrospective exhibition from March 2 to 6, 2015, at the Department of Art’s Little Gallery.  When Heine's wife, Elaine Dixson, contacted the Department of Art to ask if anyone was interested in acquiring printmaking materials and a press that belonged to her late husband, art professor Bill Laing didn’t hesitate.  “This is an important donation to the university,” explains Laing. “Our current presses have been heavily used for more than 40 years. This addition was very welcome. It is one of the better presses and the students are very excited to use it.”

    Laing took his students to Heine’s studio and says “The students were excited to see the studio and prints, and started to research Heine’s creation process; It raised the bar for them to try to do that.“

    Heine immigrated to Canada in 1960 from the Netherlands.  A graduate of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts and member of the Guild of Designers and Illustrators in Holland, he found work in Calgary as the art director for the newly established television station, CFCN, a position he held for his entire career.  For a number of years, Heine served as chair of the Advisory Committee at the Alberta College of Art (now ACAD), where he became a part-time student in the printmaking program, achieving his lifelong dream of learning the art of etching.  After retiring from CFCN, Heine focused on printmaking.

    “He loved nature and patterns,” explains Laing; “the patterns he created are incredible and have great depth and I think it’s because of the process of aquatint.”  Aquatint is a technique that involves a metal plate, acid and an acid-resisting ground. The density of the tone is determined by how long the plate is left in the acid. The plate can be dipped again and again, with small changes in between, which makes it a very laborious process. 

    Laing and his students wanted to express their appreciation for the donation and decided to organize an exhibition to showcase Heine’s work.  The exhibition has a major educational component and is a unique and valuable opportunity for students. On the one hand, they are learning how to select prints, as well as set up and take down an exhibition. On the other hand, the exhibition will analyze the creation process of some works.  “There will be original drawings, then the metal plate, followed by consecutive prints that slowly change,” explains Laing; “It’s interesting to see the evolution of the idea behind the artist’s work, instead of just seeing the final image.”

    There will be an opening reception in the LIttle Gallery (Art Building, room 604) on March 3 at 5:30 p.m., with notes by Elaine Dixson.  
    (The text for this piece was adapted from a story by Aurélie Maerten, Faculty of Arts.)

  • Alumnus of the Department of Art, Leya Russell, is one of 10 finalists competing for the title of 2015 VISTEK Emerging Photographer hosted by Exposure Photography Festival.  Based in Calgary, the B.F.A. Visual Studies graduate has been creating and exhibiting images from a young age and is currently showing with Alberta Foundation of the Arts; Russell is also a thriving wedding and portrait photographer and has traveled extensively to countries such as India, Iceland, Ireland, New Zealand, Tibet and Nepal.  

    Graduating in 2011 with a primary focus in printmaking and photography, Russell says she owes her success to the great instruction that she received at the U of C; “my time there was one of the best periods of my life. Access to fantastic instructors like Bill Laing and Clyde McConnell, coupled with amazing studios in which to work, pushed me to reach my potential and fully explore my artistic sensibilities”. 

    Exposure is a registered non-profit established by the Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies to encourage the broader community to consciously examine, question and appreciate the medium of photography.  Exposure will award a major prize to the 2015 VISTEK Emerging Photographer on February 27 at the Endeavor Art Gallery.  (For more information, go to

  • Current Department of Art student Samantha Jones is also a top 10 Finalist in the 2015 VISTEK Emerging Photographer competition.  Jones, a 4th year student in the Visual Studies program, is interested in photography and wildlife.  Her photographs show a passion for nature with colourful shots that connect the viewer to the outdoors; with each photograph, Jone's intent is to capture an emotion or story with and involving nature, inspiring the collective imagination of the audience.

    For Jones, the Department of Art’s drawing and photography courses are inspiring and they have allowed her to improve, explore and develop her own artistic style.  She is interested in pursuing the study of animation following graduation from the Visual Studies Program.

  • Join us in the Department of Art for the Post Mini Show and Sale on Friday, February 6. Original art work (approximately 12" x 12" x 12" in size) will be on display for viewing and bidding in the Little Gallery (AB 604) from February 2 to February 6.  On the evening of the 6th, there will be a reception at 6:30p.m. with the live auction starting at 7:30p.m.  This is an great opportunity to purchase original art and the monies raised help cover the costs associated with this and other student exhibitions.

  • 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.

  • 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 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.

  • 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 photographers worldwide and 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 is 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

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Faculty and Student Exhibitions in Calgary and Around the World

  •  Linda Carreiro will present a solo exhibition of her work at the Center for Book Arts in New York City, opening on April 17, 2015.  This show offers the opportunity to exhibit in a prestigious, international facility—-one of the oldest and most-renowned centres in the world dedicated to the production and presentation of contemporary artist’s books. The Center’s Curator, Alexander Campos, has invited Carreiro to prepare an exhibition for their Featured Artist Project series. These shows are targeted at  individuals whose work is influenced by book art production or printmaking, but with a contemporary approach through installation or non-conventional book and print practice.

    The artist has selected recent and newly created works for her exhibition, "Inside Out of Words"; the title derives from theorist Jacques Derrida’s idea of decentering language, which shifts and defers the meaning of words. Carreiro conveys text as something unfixed and malleable, a material that repositions outside the traditional "pages" of a book.

    "Inside Out of Words" runs from April 17 to June 26, 2015; Carreiro will be in New York City for the opening reception on April 17 and will conduct an artist's talk on June 26.
    image: Digest, hand-printed Sweetheart® conical cups, 2014-15.

  • "The patina of consonants", a solo exhibition by Linda Carreiro, begins March 12 at Harcourt House Gallery in Edmonton.

    In "The Pleasure of the Text", language theorist Roland Barthes desires for written words to have the texture of their spoken counterparts.  He imagines "a text where we can hear the grain of the throat, the patina of consonants, the voluptuousness of vowels." Building on this idea, Carreiro’s exhibition explores text as a sensuous, playful material, where such character emerges. Revealing the means by which words are fabricated, the exhibition traces emergent wordplay and the bodily imprint of making.  Hand-done letterforms reveal imperfections and variations, showing text as malleable matter acted upon by the body. The visual movement of letters throughout the pieces conveys language as unfixed and manipulable, something formed and re-formed. Positioned in corners, near the floor or suspended from the ceiling, reading is experienced in an alternate way.  "The patina of consonants" asks viewers to engage language as both conceptual and physical material, something embodied, sensate and shifting with each reader.

    The patina of consonants" opens on March 12 with an artist's talk at 8p.m; the exhibition runs until April 14 (Harcourt House Gallery is located at 10215-112 Street, Edmonton).

  • Paintings by recent M.F.A. graduate, William Downey, will be exhibited at Calgary's Christine Klassen Gallery, March 12 through April 18.  Downey will be speaking about imagery and process at the opening reception for “Microcosms and Macrocosms” on March 14 at 2p.m.

  • The Department of Art is pleased to present Matthew Donovan's "Pre-Alpha" as part of our +15  exhibition space at Arts Commons (formerly the EPCOR Centre for Performing  Arts). The exhibition features large-scale digital prints by Donovan, a B.F.A. Visual Studies student.  Donovan says, "The digital art I create is not meant to be a simulacrum of traditional art. Rather, my images are entirely native to the potentialities of the computer and its’ virtues as a tool for making art. Because of my work's purely digital nature, it presents an aesthetic that is reflective of the 21st century."

    "Pre-Alpha" runs throughout February and March. The closing reception for the exhibit is at 6 p.m., Thursday, March 19, at the walkway of Arts Commons (refreshments to follow at Palomino Smokehouse, 109 7th Avenue Southwest).

  • Richard Smolinski has had two of his works selected for the “35th Bradley International Print and Drawing Exhibition” running from March 7th to April 17th, 2015.  The second-longest running juried print and drawing competition in the United States and the most prestigious graphic arts biennial in North America, the Bradley International Print and Drawing Exhibition is international in scope and features the best contemporary art from around the world.  The exhibition will be presented at The Contemporary Art Center of Peoria, The Peoria Art Guild, Prairie Center of the Arts and Heuser Art Gallery at Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois.

    Smolinski’s work, "Gore-me/Stomp-me" is included in an exhibition of satirical works on paper, “Heads Will Roll”, February 20th to May 2, 2015, at Artspace in New Haven, Connecticut.  Organized by Sarah Fritchey and Martha Willette Lewis, "Heads Will Roll", opens in tandem with the larger exhibit “Vertical Reach: Political Protest and the Militant Aesthetic Now”, an exhibition that explores the blurred relationship between political protest and creative practice.  "Gore-me/Stomp-me" explores police-force militarization in such as incidents as the Ferguson, Missouri riots.  Smolinski is a sessional instructor for the Department of Art.