By Kristin Froneman – Vernon Morning Star


For Marissa Brown and Heather Leier, 2012 not only marks the Mayan calendar’s supposed end of the world, but the year they wrapped up their schooling at UBC Okanagan.


Both recent graduates of the bachelor of fine arts (BFA) degree program, housed in the university’s department of creative and critical studies, the women are hoping the doomsday prophesy will wait just a little while longer as they prepare for another big art exhibition with their fellow graduates.


Originally held last month at the UBCO campus, the graduate show, aptly titled Twenty Twelve, features the work of 34 students and is about to move into the Vernon Public Art Gallery.



UBC Okanagan BFA student Josie Thiessen works on a painting for the graduate exhibition, Twenty Twelve.“One of the great things at UBCO has been getting our art out into the community,” said Brown, who is originally from Vernon and has recently returned home to work at the VPAG. “Many of our students have shown their work in the public art galleries in Penticton, Kelowna, Lake Country and Vernon, so it’s nice for our work to go beyond the campus.”



Twenty Twelve features a broad spectrum of art practice, from traditional art forms such as painting, printmaking and sculpture, as well as interactive sound and video displays, large-scale digital photography, animation, soft sculptures, illustrated journals, and screen-printed collage.

There is even an opportunity to engage with relational art in the form of a free-standing confession booth.


“You see a good mix of mediums and subject matter,” said Leier, who is based in Kelowna and is hoping to enter a master’s in fine arts program in the near future. “The artists have been in different places and concepts, even geographically, and that is reflected. It’s a nice snapshot.”


The show is also a reflection of what has come out of four years of study at the school.


Besides the technical practice of learning to use the tools of their respective trades, the BFA students are guided towards conceptual thinking by the faculty on hand.


“This year compared to other years has really introduced interdisciplinary studies, mixing media and cross disciplining them with other art forms, such as painters being introduced to sculpture,” said Brown.


“We learn all the things that are happening out there and are guided by our professors, who support you and help you make your work the best it can be,” added Leier. “It helps put things into perspective that not every piece is the end all be all. It’s the beginning of our art careers, so not everything you do is going to be shown.”

Although the VPAG exhibit will be a smaller-scale version of what was shown at UBCO last month, with their professors helping the students in selecting a piece to show, the graduates already have the knowledge of what goes into installing a grand-scale exhibition.


“It’s especially difficult to coordinate such a big group,” said Leier. “It’s left up to us to not only generate the art, but to figure out what we are going to show and how we are going to show it.”


And it’s also a way to say goodbye to what has been their world the past four years.UBC Okanagan BFA graduating student  Jeremy Shantz.



“Other than the technical skills and the quality of my work improving, I think connecting with other artists has been my favourite part,” said Brown.


“This is a unique community, and we are more connected now even as we move away to different parts of the world,” added Leier.


Twenty Twelve opens in the Topham Brown gallery at the VPAG May 31. Also opening are three other exhibitions all featuring the work of Okanagan-based artists.


Shauna Oddleifson’s I Heard a Story Once is comprised of a series of drawings that address the issues of wild animals and their intersection with the urban environment.


In addition to drawings, Oddleifson will exhibit miniature intaglio prints of animals personified with human-like attributes and actions that raise awareness about their coexistence and daily interactions with the people living in interfacing areas.


The Kelowna-based artist will provide an artist presentation on her exhibition at the VPAG on June 23 at 1 p.m. Suggested donation is $5.


Kelowna’s Amy Burkard is also opening her exhibition, Cozy, a series of sculptural objects that explore the relationship of the form and function in relation to the discourse about what constitutes an art object versus a craft.


Burkard’s exhibition further addresses the issues of functional art, its utilitarian value, and its aesthetic purpose.


Burkard talks about her exhibition June 9 at 1 p.m., and will also teach a felting workshop open to all levels from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. that day.


Anyone interested in taking part in the workshop are asked to pre-register by calling the gallery at 250-545-3173. More information is available online at vernonpublicartgallery.com.


The Vernon Camera Club is also opening its exhibition, Through the Lens.


The group of local photographers meet twice a month to share knowledge and experience through presentations, photo competitions, workshops and photo shoots. Artists’ abilities encompass novice to master, using film and digital, ranging from simple to complex equipment.


In the last year, members have enjoyed a diversity of presentations both amateur and professional, including fashion, nature, and travel photography.


Guests, artists, and members are invited to attend the opening reception for all the shows May 31 from 6 to 8 p.m. Patrons can enjoy food and drinks, live guitar and a lyrical performance by local musician Jimmy Balfour.


The reception is open to the public and admission is by donation to the gallery.
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