Posts by Kelsi & Kirsten Barkved

An Evening of Continuum

Continuum: Opening Night Gala of BFA Graduation Exhibition

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Here is a list of things that I did last night, in no particular order:

  • Ate butter tarts (3 in total)
  • Two stepped obnoxiously to some rad, local music
  • Felt small, humbled and awestruck by art

I’m uncertain as to which of the above three had the most profound and memorable effect on me. Though those butter tarts were pretty life changing (okay fine, I had four, that’s it), I must say, mingling with art connoisseurs, lovers, and artists of the graduating kind and the non-graduating kind, Continuum, the UBCO’s Opening Night Gala of BFA Graduation Exhibition is the cherry on top of my weekend in the same way that strawberries were the delectable garnish atop those tasty, creamy butter tart feast (I promise that will be the last time I talk about tarts in this post).

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A lot can happen in four years. Saturday April 20th was a manifestation of just that. A proclaimed rite of passage for Fine Arts students at UBCO, the Graduate exhibition showcases the creative work of BFA students, a show that previously has shown work that has went on to receive national critical acclaim.

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Spanning the first two floors of the Creative and Critical Studies Building, Kelsi and I waltzed through an intricate display of Graduate artwork, ranging from photography, ink, oil, acrylic, sculpture, mixed media, print, typography, and installations. Saturday’s exhibition also featured live performance from the first graduating class of UBCO’s Interdisciplinary Performance Program.

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Peering through the crowds, even an external third party, not accustomed to the arts scene, the work, time and effort involved in creating an embodiment of yourself, or something like it, could see the pride and love in the final products on display and the crowds admiring them.

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And that’s literally what Saturday’s Gala felt like: swimming in a sea of proud parents, family and friends. At eight, we all pressed to the walls and stairs as heads craned in an effort view the graduating artists receiving awards in recognition for their hard work and artistic endeavors (winners listed below!)

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Canwest Global Centre Graduating Prize:
Emilia Schmidt

DVC Purchase Awards:

  1. Nadine Bradshaw
  2. Sarah Franklin
  3. Jenna Stillwell
  4. Brit Bachmann

FCCS Visual Arts Prize:
Dylan Ranney

Creative Studies Dept. Award:
Corie Waugh

BMO Competition*:

  1. Brit Bachman
  2. Nadine Bardshaw
  3. Sarah Franklin

FCCS Dean’s Office Purchase Award:
Devon Kennedy

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She Says She Has Anxiety, They Say It’s Just A Phase

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It’s quarter to seven on a Friday. I sit listless in the passenger seat of my sisters 4 door sassy sedan, which we think in its past life was a basset hound; all stubbornness and no motivation. We clunk and sputter in silence to the Alternator Centre, where tonight, Pierre Leichner’s opening exhibition entitled “They Say She is Bipolar and He’s Got ADD: The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders Text Re-revised And Related Texts” opens to the public. It’s a mouthful to say, and I bet you all my pocket and couch change that you can’t say it five times fast, but we are both excited to attend, even though looking at the two of us, you wouldn’t be able to tell.

“How are you?” I ask Kelsi, my sister and co-contributor/photographer-extraordinaire/high-five expert. And while on this may seem a pretty simplistic, everyday run-of-the-mill question, so on-the-surface-mundane to the likes of something such as “pass the butter?”, to the two of us, it is a required question that is riddled with layers.

“I’m okay,” she says. They are two words, but they are deep and carry multiple and complex things. Much like the content that Leichner’s series of art sculpted from the DSM.

I don’t know anyone these days that isn’t touched by someone or some incident of mental health, though you really have to get to know a person, it seems, to find this out. Mental Illness carries a stigma that is literally like that large grey mammal with a trunk in the room; you know it’s there, you know it exists, but it’s swept under a living room rug along with dusty bunnies and spare bobby pins or pennies that you’re too lazy to pick up off the floor because it’s a subject that is touchy, taboo and just not talked about.

But why?

For my sister and I, mental illness is about as talked about as Justin Bieber’s relationship status between two LG’s. Kelsi has a Social Anxiety Disorder. It means she has an extremely difficult time in social situations, which often makes it tricky for her to leave the house, carry on a conventional minimum wage jobs that are in keeping with your early 20’s, and going to class at the college proves to be a constant, panic attack-y uphill struggle. So when I ask her how she is doing, I’m not just asking for shits and giggles. It’s a loaded question, and a necessity.

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Art has many functions, but for artist researcher, Pierre Leichner, it is a tool for change. Pierre has dedicated 30 years of his life to psychiatry, and spent the previous 10 attaining his BFA at Emily Carr, his MA at Concordia. He left his practice 3 years ago to work on an artistic expression that carries significant, social commentaries that cater to social justice issues. His exhibition is a compilation of various Diagnostic and Statistical Manuals (DSM) that seeks to create a commentary, a critique on the state of Mental Health these days that, he says, grew out of a dissatisfaction with the system itself.

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