Woodward’s vibrant arts community

By Josie Wichrowski

Social cohesion continues to thrive among the fine arts departments despite geographical separation from the main campus

At the beginning of the semester, after finding herself alone in Woodwards’ Audain Gallery, Daryn Wright wrote an article for The Peak “Ghost Town: SFU’s absent arts community”, January 23, which came to the conclusion that SFU had art, but lacked a community to enjoy it.

Wright was perhaps too quick in her assessment. What she missed was that the Audain functions as more than just a gallery. Had she picked up a brochure or looked on the website, Mapping the Future, the exhibit at the time, also included over a dozen community events held right in Audain spanning over the course of the exhibit’s residence. Events included workshops on Japanese brush painting, panel discussions, and a collaborative performance with Red Diva projects, all of which were free to participate in.

The Audain Gallery is a place where various communities witness and collaborate on a variety of engaging and pertinent issues, and community shouldn’t necessarily have to be limited to students. On that note, however, there are many students who are invested in SFU’s arts. So Crazy it Just Might Work, a student-run exhibition with artwork that engages visitors in themes of utopia and dystopia, and attracted over 150 visitors on its opening night, most of whom were students. One attendee even commented that this number was an improvement over the previous year’s turnout.

Vanessa Wong, one of the student artists at So Crazy, said that most people came to the galleries at their own leisure, but in the same breath emphasized that many people turn up to the community events. “That’s where everybody is!”

Many visual art students agreed with Wright that the move of the arts faculties from the Burnaby campus to Woodward’s has caused a spatial void, but what the latest exhibition hopes to achieve is attract students from other campuses as well. Student art used to be located at a campus offshoot along the industrial border of Gastown, and its recent move to the more central location reflects an increased effort to display student art in a more professional environment that is more accessible to both students and the public.

Much else is being done to increase visibility for arts at SFU, with building an online presence a priority, according to Audain curator Sabine Bitter, though she also noted that past gallery events were very successful with people from the neighbourhood as well as faculty and students. Yi Xin Tong, a fourth-year visual arts student, also suggested that using online sources such as email would be ideal for students to keep informed with upcoming events at Woodward’s.

SFU’s arts community is more than just the campus’ students. It also includes families, friends, and people from the DTES community of Vancouver. As Tong puts it, “Community shouldn’t be limited to just the campus but should encompass everyone.”

That being said, it’s a little surprising how low student involvement is to begin with. One the major student gripes is that they’re always broke, yet free events are held on campus all the time, some of which even include refreshments, from screenings of film festival award winners to workshops.

Visual arts student Andrea Creamer, whose work is also included in the show, was confident in the draw of the show. “The pieces in here are engaging, people will want to come.”


So Crazy It Just Might Work runs until March 24 at the Audain Gallery. Gallery hours are 12:00 to 6:00 p.m., Tuesdays to Saturdays.