“When I tell people I’m taking art history, they sort of make a face like, ‘Good luck starving to death’, but really that’s true with any department; there’s work out there and uses for every degree, but being in one particular department or major doesn’t guarantee you a job,” remarked Lydia Miliokas, curator of the Fifth Parallel art gallery. “There are lots of visual arts students who’ve gone through this program and are successfully working in various parts of the country.
“It wasn’t the comment that made me upset, but what bugged me was the I feel like [the visual arts department] is cut off. When I read that, it made me feel that we’re cut off from the general university community.”
The comment she is referring to is a declass that ran in the Carillon on Oct. 6 (Vol. 54, Issue 7) that stated, “If phony ‘programs’ such as theatre and fine arts were not actually considered real programs there would be a lot more room to park not only at the U of R, but in the entire world.”
The title for the upcoming exhibition at the Fifth Parallel, No Parking, is a tongue-in-cheek reference to this comment.
“If they could see some of the work coming out of [the visual arts department] or get to know the arts community at the school, they’d come to like it or respect it as a legitimate department, but we also thought it would be a cute way to poke fun at that conversation,” Miliokas said.
“One of the things I think I will put in the curatorial statement is that we don’t mean to antagonize, choose sides, or pick fights, but I thought it would be a nice comment on that discussion that we originally saw in the fall because I know it garnered a lot of attention from the visual arts community as well as other programs.”
Gallery director Jess Richter believes that comments such as this particular declass display a failure to understand each faculty’s contributions and idiosyncrasies.
“As someone who is a practicing visual arts major … spend[ing] on average maybe sixteen hours a day at school, when you have comments like that said about what you do, calling it a phony degree – be it business or a visual arts degree – it shows that we don’t understand each other as faculties,” Richter said. “And we do need to have this conversation going on so that people do understand that every faculty has its contributions to the university.
“Every faculty works hard.”
This exhibit is a way of displaying how hard the visual arts department works, although, Richter feels “it shouldn’t be” necessary to have to prove one faculty’s validity.
“Probably the reason that we do get comments like that is there’s no one that sees what we do,” the gallery director said. “This is our chance to show that we’re active, we work hard, and we’re deserving of respect by other faculties.”
As an attempt to showcase what the visual arts department at the University of Regina is capable of, No Parking will feature a variety of artists who are either currently in the visual arts program at the University of Regina or have completed it.
“We have a couple of students who graduated last year who’ve expressed interest in submitting,” Miliokas said. “We figured we’d open it up to show who’s currently in the faculty, but also open it up to people who have gone through the program.”
Guidelines for the submissions are very general, as the show is more about showcasing a multitude of various works and mediums as opposed to concentrating them on a single theme or idea. Miliokas hopes to be able to show works from all disciplines within the visual arts department.
“I think we want to keep it fairly open to allow more and more people to apply,” Miliokas said. “What’s important to me is that since we are doing an open call for submissions, ideally we have something that represents every major and strength, such as painting, drawing, intermedia, and interdisciplinary work to show students that are combining ideas.”
As well as works being submitted across many disciplines, individual works will likely vary greatly in size, which affects the number of submissions the gallery can accept for the show.
“Ultimately, it will depend on the size of the works and what feels comfortable in the space itself,” Miliokas said. “We’ve got some people who prefer to work on a small scale (three-to-four inches), and then we’ve got other people submitting things that are up to eight feet long. Depending on the size of each work, I think we could comfortably fit fifteen students’ works in. We could also work with the centre floor space as well for students who are submitting 3D works.”
Submissions for No Parking are now closed, but the show is scheduled to run from Feb. 19 to Mar. 10.