Voice and vision

The Department of Visual Arts’ popular Artist Speaker Series is continuing this term with a stellar lineup of guests. This public lecture series brings leading artists to campus to talk informally about their work, offering both professional and personal insights into the contemporary visual arts scene in Canada.

The series kicked off the winter term on Jan. 6 with a presentation by Robert Bean, an artist, writer and professor at the Nova Scotia College of Art & Design.

British artist Dick Averns is the featured guest today. He will engage the audience with a talk titled “Navigating Ambivalence Blvd.”, which looks at the place of ambivalence in artmaking. Averns will deliver his lecture in room 334 of the Goldfarb Centre for Fine Arts, from 11:30am until 1pm,

Right: Dick Averns’ 2003 work The Armchair Terrorist LIVE

Born in London, England, Averns earned an MFA from the University of British Columbia in 2003 and now maintains a practice in Calgary, where he teaches at the Alberta College of Art & Design. His work addresses issues of language, politics and media convergence through sculpture, performativity, text-based works and photography. For more information, visit Averns Web site. 

On Jan. 24, the series spotlights guest artist Liz Parkinson, who wonders why we choose and keep the things we do. Her thought-provoking lecture, which examines collections of information, will be held in room 322, Goldfarb Centre for Fine Arts, from 11am to 12:30pm.

“I am interested in how specific information is recognized, desired and acquired; in how it is ordered and named as belonging to a collection,” said Parkinson. “I am also interested in how a science, history, and many other narratives may be created based on the choices, organization and context of the collection.”

Parkinson is well known for her collections of prints. A member of Toronto’s Open Studio printmaking cooperative since 1979, she won first prize in the Great Canadian Printmaking Competition, sponsored by Ernst and Young and Canadian Art Magazine, in 1996. Her prints grace the collections of numerous corporations, as well as the Canada Council Art Bank and Canadian embassies throughout the world. For more information, visit Parkinson’s Web site. 

Palestine Trilogy: Documentations in History, Land and Hope by Toronto-based filmmaker, video and installation artist b.h.Yael, rounds out the month on Jan. 25. Yael’s critically-acclaimed three-part documentary will be screened following her talk. This provocative film trilogy offers a critical perspective on the mostly overlooked, if not deliberately ignored, peace-building efforts that occur on the ground on a daily basis between Israelis, Palestinians and others.

  • Deir Yassin Remembered (28 min.) considers the pivotal repercussions of the 1948 massacre at the Palestinian village of Deir Yassin.

  • Even in the Desert (33 min.) focuses on several sites of solidarity, activism and peaceful resistance to the displacement and destruction of lives and livelihoods of those living behind the wall in the West Bank.

  • A Hot Sand Filled Wind (13 min.), which concludes the trilogy, is a video poem in English, Hebrew and Arabic. Based on a poem written by York University humanities instructor Nadia Habib, it acknowledges that mutual recognition is the only basis for hope for future peace between Israelis and Palestinians.

Yael’s lecture and screenings will be held in the Nat Taylor Cinema, N102 Ross Building from 3:30 to 5:30pm.

The Artist Speaker Series is coordinated by Visual Arts Professor Nell Tenhaaf. “These illustrated presentations create a ‘contact zone’ for interaction with the artists and their artwork, while sparking discussion,” said Tenhaaf. “All of the artists featured in the series have a reputation for thinking ‘outside the box,’ providing a good opportunity to take in fresh perspectives on particular artistic works, styles or movements.”

The lectures are free and open to the public, and are followed by an informal reception where the audience can meet and chat with the artist. For the full list of speakers, visit the York Fine Arts Web site.