Visual arts students kick off York’s Fine Arts Festival

York’s Department of Visual Arts, which ranks among Canada’s largest and leading centres for professional training in the visual arts, will kick off the York Fine Arts Festival on March 9 & 10 with two shows: See Here!, a spectacular open house featuring more than 500 works in all media by 300 upper-level undergraduate students; and Here is Where we Meet, a group exhibition showcasing work by 25 graduate students in the Visual Arts Master of Fine Arts Program.

See Here! highlights the work of rising young artists who will emerge onto the art scene in the next few years. The pieces on display were chosen by students in conjunction with professors in each studio area. “The work of these young artists is bold, interdisciplinary and critically engaged with our contemporary world,” said , painter and curator Janet Jones, Chair of York’s Visual Arts Department.

The exhibition will transform the entire Joan & Martin Goldfarb Centre for Fine Arts at York’s Keele campus into one giant art gallery, with works on view on all four floors throughout the building. York music students will provide live entertainment at the opening, March 9, 5-9pm. Artists will be on hand to welcome and tour visitors through the building.

Concurrently, Here is Where we Meet will be displayed in The Gales Gallery, an outstanding new facility of the Department of Visual Arts in York’s Accolade West. Dedicated to showcasing student work, the gallery is named in honour of community leaders H. Barry and Joy Gales.

The exhibition brings together artists pursuing advanced studies at York, many of whom are already making their mark in the profession. They include well-known Canadian painter John Abrams, internationally recognized photographer Vid Ingelevics, and Paul Couillard, an internationally acclaimed performance artist and founder of Toronto’s FADO performance series.

Works were selected for the show by guest curators Sara Knelman, curator of contemporary art at the Art Gallery of Hamilton, and Ben Portis, associate curator of contemporary art at the Art Gallery of Ontario. The artists, Knelman and exhibition coordinator Yvonne Singer, director of York’s Graduate Program in Visual Arts, will be on hand to introduce the show at the opening reception on March 9, 4-6pm. The exhibition, which runs to March 16, can be seen during gallery hours: March 9, 9am-9pm, March 10, 10am-4pm, March 12-16, 9am-4pm.

Several other visual arts exhibitions will be presented during the festival:

720 by 840 (March 12-16) highlights time-based art, encompassing 30 individual video programs and five video installations by 23 up-and-coming artists. The show is coordinated by well-known video artist, documentary filmmaker and York Professor Nancy Nicol.

Print Media Exhibition (March 19-23), coordinated by faculty members Barbara Balfour and David Armstrong, showcases student work in lithography, intaglio/relief and screen-printing, while the Photography Exhibition (March 26-30), coordinated by award-winning photographer and York faculty member Katherine Knight, features a wide range of approaches in photo media by upper-year photography students.

The groundbreaking York/Sheridan Joint Program in Design joins the festival with Palette of Ideas (March 19-30), an exhibit of applied communication design by students who combine their creative and technical skills to demonstrate that inspiration is everywhere.

With Windows on Fine Arts Cultural Studies, the cutting-edge interdisciplinary program offers interactive exhibitions, new media presentations and intercultural performances on March 10 & 12. Highlights include:

India and the Arts
Last summer, 14 students from York’s Fine Arts Cultural Studies Program undertook a residency in Mumbai, India, to experience first-hand how art is created on the other side of the world. While there, the students shared their experiences and insights through a series of podcasts. The podcasts have been condensed into a riveting video by Denise Nuttall, an accomplished tabla player and widely published scholar on Indian culture.

L’Esprit d’Escalier or Surreptitious Experience
Using video projections of interactive performance and installation works, students investigate interactive technologies with the aim of rethinking the viewer’s relationship to time and space, the cultural position of the artwork, and the mediating effect of technologies.

The Body in Performance
Utilizing their own bodies as the main site of signification, students explore issues of personal, cultural and social identity and critiques of bodily representations in performance works, presented on video.

Cabinets of Curiosities
Exploring the concept and construction of the encyclopaedic Cabinet of Curiosities, also known as the Wunderkammer (wonder-room), the artists present personal collections of intriguing objects that were precursors of today’s museums.

Decentralized Communication
These projects consider original vs. reproducible work, the collaborative creative process, the artist-viewer relationship, and technologically-mediated communication.

Complementing these exhibits and performances is the sixth annual Symposium on Art & Visual Culture presented by York’s Art History Graduate Student Association on March 9. Titled “Performative Histories of Art: Perilous Conventions, Possible Disruptions”, this international conference addresses current and historical issues in performance art, theory and performative practices. Presenters include graduate students from institutions such as the University of Hong Kong and University of Colorado, as well as York. The keynote address is by York theatre Professor Laura Levin. Her presentation titled "Blending into the Background: Performing Camouflage in Photographic Self-Portraits, will explore the use of performative camouflage in the work of Toronto photographer Janieta Eyre.

The York Fine Arts Fesitval features more than 40 public events packed into a three-week period from March 9 to April 1, 2007. All the fine arts are represented: dance, design, film, music, theatre, visual arts and interdisciplinary fine arts cultural studies. Events take place at York’s Keele campus.

For a detailed schedule of York Fine Arts Festival events, including gallery hours and times of performances, visit