Alumna Charlene Vickers


Degrees help artist draw attention to public issues

October 03, 2017

By Alisha Pillay

Since graduating with a Master of Fine Arts from SFU’s School for the Contemporary Arts in the late 90’s, Charlene Vickers has gone on to paint herself a vibrant career.

She has been hosting public exhibitions of her art since her first show in 2004 at the Grunt Gallery in Vancouver. Today, her work is held in the permanent collection of the Museum of Anthropology at UBC.

“I always wanted to be an artist and a painter,” says Vickers, who is from the Wauzhushk Onigum First Nation in Kenora, Ontario.

“I was drawn to the idea of making really big paintings on canvas, so that is where I started.”

Now, Vickers uses her artistic talent to draw attention to issues of violence against women, and abuse of land and the environment.

 My involvement as an activist is situated in contemporary art and performance,” she says. “My influences are coming from histories of colonialism, violence, fear and worry for the future of our natural world. I am trying to give a space of healing and transformation for myself and the viewers of my works.”

Vickers chose SFU for both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees because of the high ratio of inspirational women who taught in the arts program, including Jin-me Yoon, Laura Marks, Allyson Clay and Heather Dawkins.

The most valuable aspect of her time at SFU?

Acquiring the courage to share her ideas with the world. As an artist, Vickers takes a direct, no-fear approach to her art and is unafraid to engage with viewers of her works.

Vickers says she is most proud of the continuous movement, exploration and production of her practice over the past 10 years.

“It really is a practice—practice in tending to my work, practicing my skills, learning new skills and being diligent and patient within the art world.”