Alumni of the Month: Denise Tierney and Ruben Galdames

VIU alumni Denise Tierney and Ruben Galdames have teamed up for Immortal Narratives, a show at the Ladysmith Waterfront Gallery.

March 22, 2018 - 9:15pm

Two VIU alumni – mixed-media artist Denise Tierney (Bachelor of Arts ’17, Visual Arts major) and sculptor Ruben Galdames (Visual Arts) have teamed up to put on a show together at the Ladysmith Waterfront Gallery. Opening on Saturday, March 24 at 7 pm, Immortal Narratives reflects the artists’ common desire to translate stories of the human condition. Tierney and Galdames borrow from personal experience, historic events, ancient mythology and ritual to create visual manifestations of memories, thoughts, desires and fears. The show closes April 1.

This will be Tierney’s first major exhibit since graduating from VIU. Currently the artist-in-residence at St. Andrew’s United Church in Nanaimo, she participated in a number of student exhibitions while at VIU and was also a gallery assistant at The View Gallery.

Galdames, a retired architect from Chile, took visual arts courses at VIU for personal interest over the past four years and has exhibited his work in a number of group shows, including at VIU, the Ladysmith Waterfront Gallery and Gallery Merrick in downtown Nanaimo.

The pair were happy to answer a few questions about their exhibit, and how VIU was the common connection that helped kick start this collaboration. They invite all to stop by to see the show – and stay for a story or two.


What have you been up to since graduating?

Tierney: I’m currently the artist-in-residence at St. Andrew’s United Church in Nanaimo. The church envisions the program as a way to build relationships within the community and broaden their outreach. Their goal is to create a safe and supported environment for attendees to explore the connection between creativity and spirituality. I initiate and guide art programming for the church community. I also conduct my own practice on-site to encourage visitor engagement. The residency is 10 months in duration.


Tell us about the Ladysmith Waterfront Gallery show.

Tierney: Ruben is a member of the Ladysmith Waterfront Gallery’s board of directors and participated in a few group shows there. He saw my work at the Visual Arts Major 2017 grad show, Chronicle, and thought that our artwork would complement each other. He invited me to participate in a show with him and Immortal Narratives was born.

Galdames: The Ladysmith Waterfront Gallery has been instrumental in my development as an artist in the medium of clay. I have participated in some exhibits with other ceramists and through my experiences with these exhibits and being on the Ladysmith Waterfront Gallery board, I felt ready to have a private show. Immortal Narratives came about after, as Denise said. I saw her final graduation exhibit at The View Gallery.

The show is about each of us expressing ourselves and telling stories about feelings and life experiences. I feel like we are narrating our lives and they will become immortal for years to come. Observers will relate to our stories or add a narrative or two about their own experiences.


How did the education you received at VIU help prepare you for what you’re doing now?

Tierney: I’ve learned how to interpret, write and speak about art; how to prepare for and hold an art show; how to use a variety of tools and artistic skills; and, most importantly, I’ve met some wonderful people who have become part of my circle of art friends.

Galdames: At VIU, I grew into a love of clay and expressions of this media. I started with small projects, learning the techniques and developing my own expressions. My art provided me with the opportunity to grow and heal from the experiencing of battling and surviving a very serious illness. I had cancer, which asked me to do a great work with my body and mind. Clay has been a very powerful tool for survival and understanding life from a different perspective. I have participated in several exhibitions at VIU through the years, with some of the pieces created through my courses. All this experience at VIU has prepared me to be in the place where I am right now as an artist.


What’s next?

Tierney: I plan to continue to develop my artistic skills, complete another body of work and participate in more art shows.

Galdames: I will continue learning and experiencing the world as an artist because it has become a part of me and given me a place to share my thoughts and feelings with the world.

Artwork by Denise:

Artwork by Ruben: 


Tags: Our Alumni