VIU students Jiang Shuxin, Lorri Clark, Maureen Hill, Georgina Wood, Mary Anne Molcan, Ciro Di Ruocco and Amber Morrison (clockwise from top-left) are exhibiting their work in the visual art graduate show, Archipelago, from April 23 to May 11 at the View Gallery. (Josef Jacobson/The News Bulletin)

VIU visual arts graduates display work at View Gallery

Seven students will show off their work for the last time in VIU’s BA art program

Seven Vancouver Island University students are concluding their visual arts BA program with a final exhibition of their work.

The 2018 graduate show, Archipelago, features paintings, drawings, prints, sculptures, ceramics and multimedia pieces by Lorri Clark, Ciro Di Ruocco, Maureen Hill, Jiang Shuxin, Mary Anne Molcan, Amber Morrison and Georgina Wood. The exhibition opens with a reception on Friday, April 20 and runs until May 11.

Art history professor and View Gallery curator Justin McGrail said the show nicely wraps up the four-year degree program.

“It’s an exciting moment to see the culmination of their studies and it’s obviously got a little tinge of sadness in that they’re leaving us, so there’s the parental aspect,” McGrail said.

“But the main thing is the grad show is an opportunity for the faculty like myself to really see the evidence of everything that these students have achieved while they’ve been in the program and it’s a real privilege from the gallery’s perspective to give them the gallery treatment before they go away.”

When attendees arrive, the first thing they’ll notice are Morrison’s pieces: a greenhouse installed on the cement pad outside the gallery, as well as a 100-foot rope made from torn bed sheets. Both pieces are made largely from recycled components.

“I’m trying to find ways to work my practice in a greener direction. I’m not even there fully yet myself, but it’s a gesture toward it,” Morrison said.

Entering the reception, visitors will hear Clark coaxing sound from her crystal singing bowls. Her contributions also include vibrant drawings, prints and sculptures. She returned to VIU to finish the program after a 10-year hiatus and said the smaller class sizes led to a greater sense of co-operation and community.

That’s a sentiment the students share. Acrylic landscape painter Maureen Hill worked in VIU administration before retiring and enrolling in the visual art program. She said she’s learned a lot from her peers.

“Now I’m at the end and it’s going to be sort of strange. What am I going to do next year? Because I really do like the interaction and the social contact with students and I think, at least for me, it keeps me motivated,” she said.

In that vein, Di Ruocco said, “If someone tells you that you can’t do something, if you really put your mind to it, you can do it and you can prove them wrong. And I savour that,” Di Ruocco said.

The ceramicist has been writing poetry about the toll fentanyl has taken in the Nanaimo area and incorporating that into his ceramic pots. He also has a painting and sculpture piece that depicts his experience with narcolepsy.

Molcan’s mixed-media pieces are all inspired by a dead moth she found and some include actual moth wings as part of the art work.

“We were able to do a lot of directed studies, which gives us the opportunity to really message a subject and research it and delve into it deeply and I think that’s one thing that I appreciate the most and it’ll give me the confidence if I apply further for artist residencies and an MFA program,” she said.

Wood is displaying a series of paint and print pieces that depict things she describes as overlooked, such as caffeine addiction and people who died in the Bible’s great flood. She said her time at VIU helped her discover her art form of choice.

“My VIU experience in the arts program allowed me to try out so many different mediums that I actually managed to find two mediums that actually speak to me… Now whenever I come up with an artistic idea, it’s just the automatic medium I go to is painting and printmaking,” she said.

Jiang Shuxin is contributing a series of acrylic and water colour paintings based on dreams she’s had. When viewers stare at her rippling waves of colour, she expects them to leave confused and ask her to explain the story behind the piece.

“But I don’t even know the exact story,” she said.

WHAT’S ON … Archipelago opening reception takes place at the View Gallery on Friday, April 20 at 7 p.m. The show runs from April 23 to May 11. The gallery is open Tuesday to Thursday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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