Two annual springtime art exhibitions took on new meaning this year and may help launch the career of an emerging artist from the University of Calgary. Senior students exhibited their work at PUSH, a juried exhibition at a private gallery. This was followed by the Bachelor of Fine Arts Show of graduating students’ artwork in preparation for a new competition. My First Professional Exhibition offers a solo exhibition at a local art gallery to one graduating student from the visual studies major (studio concentration).
“Our two major student exhibitions represent a broad and diverse showing of the best works of students from the Department of Art both on campus and in the broader Calgary community,” says Robert Kelly, associate professor in the Department of Art. The concept for the new competition came after the 2011 BFA Show was held at Virginia Christopher Fine Art and graduate Joseph Brocke was added to the gallery’s stable of artists as a result of the show. At the same time, donors George and Susannah Kurian were looking for a way to honour their recently deceased friend, artist Dorothy Macfarlane, while supporting emerging artists. For the next five years, their donation will fund a solo exhibit in a local gallery for one University of Calgary art student each year, called My First Professional Exhibition.
“A show in a commercial gallery is a crucial step toward an artist’s success, facilitating recognition in the wider community and opening doors to other galleries and artist-run centres,” says Jean-Rene Leblanc, head of the Department of Art. “It makes a signature difference for emerging artists at the University of Calgary.”
The inaugural recipient of My First Professional Exhibition will show at Virginia Christopher Fine Art this fall. The Kurian’s gift includes advertising for the show and the tuition for the four courses required for the BFA studio concentration.
The competition couldn’t come at a better time as Calgary ramps up to celebrate its designation as the Cultural Capital of 2012. Evan Smibert, Sylvie Richard and Andy Dinh are just three of many 2012 BFA graduates and upcoming artists in the Department of Art who will emerge in the cultural capital of Canada ready to make their mark on the world of art and culture.
—With files from Caitlyn Spencer