Visual Arts Students Repeat Performance at Port Theatre

March 3, 2014 - 5:30am

On the morning of February 21st, the Port Theatre lobby was scattered with large-scale cardboard sculptures: a gramophone, drums, theatrical masks, lighting and sound equipment, a variety of stringed instruments, and more. The works would soon be suspended from the ceiling, a showcase of work from first-year Visual Arts students from Vancouver Island University (VIU).

“This is one of the most exciting things we’ve done in recent years,” explains Port Theatre general manager Bruce Halliday about the partnership with the Visual Art department. “Developing and enhancing the relationship with interdisciplinary art and bringing in more art downtown so that the public can see…it’s exactly what we should be doing in public spaces.”

This is the third student exhibit to be hung in the theatre’s lobby, and the second time first-year students were charged with the task of creating sculptures inspired by the performing arts.

“We’re always looking for ways to build partnerships with the community,” says VIU sculpture and design instructor Jason Gress. “This was a great opportunity to take the work students are doing as part of their curriculum and bring it to the community’s attention in a high profile space.”

Visual Art student Jamie Heise wasn’t sure what to make of the assignment at first. “I was really dubious about using cardboard as a medium. I didn’t really know what could be done with it.” She soon gained inspiration after seeing examples from art instructor Gregory Ball. Heise’s piece is a beautifully detailed pan pipe.

First Nation student Shanna Mastrangelo got inspiration for her drum from somewhere close to heart. “I didn’t want it to be ordinary so I thought about incorporating my culture into the art piece itself.” Not only that, but Mastrangelo looked up to current art at the Port Theatre, the commissioned work “Salmon Coming Home” by Phil Ashbee. “The sun and all the salmon… [it] was really inspirational.” She ended up incorporating the same sun motif on the face of her drum.

The opportunity to showcase work is important for new visual arts students like Heise. “Before being in Visual Arts [at VIU] nobody ever saw anything I ever made…I was so excited when I found out I got selected, I starting jumping up and down,” she says.

Feedback from people attending events at the Port Theatre and picking up tickets at the Box Office has also been very positive.

“We get a lot of reaction from patrons and lots of questions about the work from the public,” says Halliday. “They look up and wonder about it and that allows us to have discussions about visual art with them.”

“This relationship far exceeds what I thought it was going to be and I’m delighted that we will be continuing these kinds of displays,” Halliday adds.

The sculptures will be on display for at least 6 months, so if you’re taking in a show at The Port Theatre, remember to look up at the student work from the talented students up the hill at VIU.


Shari Bishop Bowes, Communications Officer, Vancouver Island University
P:250.740.6443 C: 250.618.1535 E: T: @viunews

Tags: In the Community

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