Visual Arts image gallery

As the Centre for Communications and the Arts opened in a whirlwind as part of the “instant university” in 1965, its brand new facilities buzzed with activity. Charter students eagerly seized the opportunity to learn painting, drawing, sculpture and other artforms from renowned visual artists-in-residence, such as Ian Baxter& and Joel Smith. In the mad rush to welcome students to a campus under-construction, artwork was often displayed in the theatre foyer or library, and visual art workshops were led in the chronically overbooked basement of the theatre building, as the Centre lacked a dedicated gallery space and well-equipped studio facilities.  What the program lacked in infrastructure, it compensated for in the form of tremendously resourceful and inventive resident artists.

Initially hired to tackle the challenge of curating exhibitions and building an art collection without a conventional gallery space, resident Jim Felter transformed the program’s eccentricity into an advantage. Conceptual art - or art that emphasised ideas over canvases - found a curious and engaged audience on campus. Exhibitions curated by Felter in 1969, such as “               ” [blank], “One Month,” and “The Group of Non” brought a sense of imagination and whimsy to the university, often in unexpected formats and locations. Naturally, N. E. Thing Co.’s inventive President, Iain Baxter&, helped to lead the university's experimental art movement with his "product demonstrations." As time went on, this resourceful community of artists carved out a permanent home of the visual arts on campus, with the Simon Fraser Gallery finally opening in 1971 under Felter’s direction.

Browse the below gallery for a selection of images from the visual art activities happening at the Simon Fraser University during the era.