Visual artists explore a kaleidoscope of topics as speakers series resumes

The Visual Arts Speaker Series at York continues with a high-profile lineup of guests who will talk informally about their work. Each speaker will offer insights into the contemporary visual arts scene and the kaleidoscope of approaches, materials and ideas utilized by Canadian visual artists. Featured speakers in the 2005-2006 series, which resumes Thursday, are Gary Evans, Laura Letinsky, Christopher Cozier, Jeff Thomas and Reesa Greenberg.

Gary EvansGary Evans (right), an artist based in Alliston, Ont., who also teaches at Georgian College, will engage the audience on Thursday. His paintings and drawings are primarily concerned with landscapes and how we perceive, experience and remember them. Evans’ work is found in many private and public collections and recently received national exposure in the touring exhibition Seeing Things: The Paintings of Gary Evans. His talk will be held in room 214, Goldfarb Centre for Fine Arts, from 12:30 to 1:30pm.

Laura LetinskyLaura Letinsky (left), Chair of the University of Chicago’s Visual Arts Department, is Friday’s featured guest. Her colour photographic series has been shown at museums and galleries around the world and her work is in numerous public collections. Her talk, “somewhere can be anything”, will be held in room 214, Goldfarb Centre for Fine Arts, from 1:30 to 3pm.

“Throughout my photographic practice I wish to engage the photograph’s transformative qualities, changing what is typically overlooked into something beautiful. I want to look at what is ‘after the fact,’ at what (ma)lingers, at what persists, and by inference, at what is gone,” said Letinsky. “This work is part of my ongoing photographic exploration of intimacy as the homely and the beautiful.”

Chris CozierTrinidadian artist Christopher Cozier (right) visits York on Jan. 30 for a talk, followed by the screening of an excerpt of Richard Fung’s film Uncomfortable: The Art of Christopher Cozier (2006). Cozier works in various media, including drawing, constructions, video, live performance and appropriated objects (breeze bricks, flags, rulers and sandwiches). His works critique discourses of nation, culture, colonial identity and the local.

Cozier’s work has been exhibited worldwide, including at the Havana Biennale; Bag Factory, Johannesburg; TENT, Rotterdam; CCA7, Port-of-Spain; Museum of the Americas, Washington, DC; The Nikolaj, Copenhagen; and Toronto’s A Space. He serves on the editorial collective of Small Axe, A Caribbean Journal of Criticism, and is an editorial adviser for the international publication BOMB Magazine (Americas issue).

Cozier’s presentation is presented in conjunction with the Department of Film and the Centre for Research on Latin America & the Caribbean. It will be held in the Brian Craig Cinema, 211 Founders College, from 2 to 3:30pm.

Canadian artists, Jeff Thomas and Reesa Greenberg (left) will take the spotlight Feb. 3 with a panel discussion, titled “The Museum as Cultural Bridge -Two Views”. Presented in conjunction with the Faculty of Fine Arts, the event will be held in room 005, Accolade West, from 2 to 4pm.

Thomas is an Onondaga-Iroquois artist, curator and cultural analyst who unites the written word with pictorial language as a means of reclaiming the representation of “Indian-ness” in Canadian and American art. His exhibition, Portraits from the Dancing Ground, is currently on view at the McMichael Canadian Art Collection in Kleinburg, Ont.

Right: Detail from “Canada Day 2005, The Delegate in Brandon, Manitoba” by Jeff Thomas

Thomas will lead the first part of the discussion, titled “From Powwows and Museums to Where?” He will address several issues, including: how “Indians” are displayed for the general public, the function of a museum and gallery that displays First Nations culture, how messages are conveyed today and what is missing.

In the second part of the panel, titled “Museums, Collectors and Contemporary Art in the Twenty-First Century: Two Case Studies From Germany”, Greenberg will talk about the intersections of public and private agendas in art collecting and display, and how exhibitions are used to redress or repair history. Her talk will reference the exhibition Partners at Haus der Kunst (House of Art) in Munich, and The F.C. Flick Collection in Berlin’s Hamburger Bahnhof, a former train station converted into a museum.

Greenberg is an independent scholar and museum consultant whose research focuses on exhibitions and display. Her recent work examines the use of art in museum exhibitions related to the Holocaust and the Second World War. Co-editor of the book Thinking about Exhibitions (Routledge, 1996), Greenberg currently teaches at both York University, where she is an adjunct professor in the Graduate Program in Art History, and Concordia University in Montreal.

The Visual Arts Speaker Series is coordinated by professors Nell Tenhaaf and Jennifer Fisher in York’s Department of Visual Arts. The talks are free and open to the public, and are followed by an informal reception where the audience can meet and chat with the speaker. For the full list of presentations, visit

This article was submitted to YFile by Mary-Lou Schagena in the Faculty of Fine Arts.