View Gallery curator Chai Duncan admires the work of graduating visual art student Hailin Zhang, one of the artists in the upcoming End Marks grad show. (Josef Jacobson/News Bulletin)

View Gallery curator Chai Duncan admires the work of graduating visual art student Hailin Zhang, one of the artists in the upcoming End Marks grad show. (Josef Jacobson/News Bulletin)

VIU visual art grad show presented as virtual gallery tour due to COVID-19

‘End Marks’ exhibition is on display from April 29 to May 30

For the first time in more than a year, art is on display in Vancouver Island University’s View Gallery.

Starting April 29, the 10 graduating students from VIU’s Visual Art BA program present their end-of-year exhibition, End Marks. Due to uncertainty regarding COVID-19 regulations, a virtual tour of the show is being made available on the View Gallery website. The exhibit runs until May 30.

Works in the show include painting, drawing, sculpture, photography, digital art and film. View Gallery curator and visual art professor Chai Duncan said he “loves” the diversity of the practices represented in the exhibition and art faculty are proud of what the students were able to create during the pandemic.

“It has also been great to see some of our students stretch into new territory and experiment with new techniques, media and subject matter,” Duncan said in an e-mail. “The pandemic has changed the post-secondary academic landscape this past year and I think the work in the exhibition reflects our students’ courage, resilience and creative approach to navigating that new and strange landscape.”

The exhibition is named after the decorative notations used to indicate the end of a paragraph or chapter in a book. As the grad show marks the end of the students’ chapter at VIU, Duncan said “I think the light came on for just about everybody” when one of the students suggested they name the show End Marks.

As the gallery was closed for the past year, Duncan took the opportunity to do some renovations. The walls have been redone with new drywall and paint, the carpeting was removed and replaced with vinyl flooring and the halogen bulbs in the lighting grid have been swapped with LED bulbs, which Duncan said “cost much less to run and look better, too.”

“Last August when we realized that the gallery was not going to be open to the public at least for the fall term, we thought it would be a good time to give the space a good polish…” he said. “It’s great to see our students’ best work in our clean new space.”

Although the students are now moving on from VIU, Duncan said he suspects this isn’t goodbye for good. He said the school invites art alumni to come back “whenever possible” to speak at classes and give artist talks.

“We feel that even though we are sending them out into the world, the art community here in Nanaimo, on the Island, and in fact in Canada as a whole, is pretty interconnected, so we always feel like we’re going to see our students again,” Duncan said. “Knowing that makes it easier for sure.”

WHAT’S ON … End Marks can be viewed from April 29 to May 30 on the View Gallery website.

RELATED: VIU visual art grads hold final exhibition online due to COVID-19

RELATED: Vancouver Island University art students display latest work in online show

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