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UVic art show exhibits sounds of the forest on a topless grand piano

PREVIEW Now Art: A UVic Faculty of Visual Arts Exhibition When: Friday through June 8, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Public reception June 5 from 5 to 7 p.m.
Paul Walde, one of seven faculty members with work in UVic's Now Art show, created a piece for the eyes and the ears.


Now Art: A UVic Faculty of Visual Arts Exhibition

When: Friday through June 8, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Public reception June 5 from 5 to 7 p.m.

Where: UVic Visual Arts Building

Admission: Free

Three evergreens hang from the ceiling above a topless grand piano in a room at UVic’s Visual Arts Building.

Every once in a while, a needle falls on one of the exposed piano strings, releasing a note.

It’s a new installation that visual-arts faculty member Paul Walde says fits with a theme he’s visited regularly: Exploring non-human activities as “cultural” events. In the past, that has meant putting lights inside a drum and attracting moths to tap against it. In another case, he brought a drumkit outside in different weather settings for percussive concerts.

“I’m interested in these small sounds: There’s activity going on all around us that we don’t necessarily notice,” he said. “By bringing them into a cultural context, it frames them, in a sense, and causes us to think about them and appreciate them in a different way.”

Walde is one of the newest faculty members in the department of visual arts at UVic, so it should come as no surprise that this will be his first faculty-dedicated exhibition at the school.

More surprising is that it’s a first for 20-year faculty member Sandra Meigs. While faculty shows are common at other universities — and even for other faculties within UVic, like the School of Music — it just hasn’t happened for the arts department in recent memory, she said.

Seven faculty members are represented in the show, called Now Art. The exhibition was possible thanks to funding made available through the university’s 50th anniversary celebrations and Congress 2013, a series of public lectures and events.

On display will be sculptures, photography, paintings, drawings and lightwork by Vikky Alexander, Lynda Gammon, Daniel Laskarin, Jennifer Stillwell and Robert Youds.

Meigs will show two works in a series of four that she calls the “basement panoramas.” Each plays with the architecture of underground spaces, painted in monochrome across canvases that are two metres high and up to 16 metres wide.

She began working on the series following her husband’s death in 2010.

“I went through a year of grieving,” she said. “And I came out of it wanting to do a work that would kind of express that process,” she said.

The first represents the realization of mortality. The second, a cave-like space, is about learning to breathe. The final two won’t be in Now Art, but will appear at Open Space this fall: They represent insomnia or restlessness and momentum.

Other pieces will be exhibited in Victoria for the first time. As Walde says, although they work locally, it’s common for these artists to exhibit elsewhere — in Toronto, Vancouver and internationally.

“I think it’s important for people in the community to see what’s going on, because there is some really interesting work being made here.”

Visitors can expect a wide diversity in the work. “Everyone has such distinct voices,” Walde said. “But I think we all have a deep respect for what each other is doing. ”