SIAT students Salathiel Wells (left) and Quinn MacDonald view student videos at the Museum of Vancouver’s new Haida art exhibit.

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SFU students’ videos featured in Museum of Vancouver’s new Haida exhibit

March 21, 2018
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By Diane Luckow

A new Haida art exhibit at the Museum of Vancouver features seven short documentary videos by undergraduate students from SFU’s School of Interactive Arts and Technology (SIAT).

The exhibit, “Haida Now: A Visual Feast of Innovation and Tradition,” opened on March 16 with an unparalleled collection of more than 450 Haida art pieces created as early as 1890.

The students’ videos showcase the work of 10 prominent, contemporary Haida artists, including Jim Hart, Corey Bulpitt and Evelyn Vanderhoop as well as non-Haida people such as gallery owner Peter Lattimer and scholar Bill Angelbeck.

The students collaborated with Haida guest curator Kwiaahwah Jones and museum co-curator Viviane Gosselin to develop a framework for the film exhibit. They then interviewed the artists and produced the videos during the 2017 fall semester as part of their work for the IAT 344 Moving Images course.

“It’s exciting to see students engaging with Indigenous histories and contemporary reconciliation efforts, and supporting the museum’s work at the same time,” says professor Kate Hennessy, a cultural anthropologist.

She has developed relationships with museums around the world as part of her research into how digital technology can help to safeguard cultural heritage. She frequently seeks out collaborative opportunities in which these institutions and her students can gain mutual benefit. The students gain real-world experiential learning while the museums gain interesting digital components, such as videos or interactive installations, to enhance their exhibits.

Fourth-year SIAT student Brandon Hoare, whose group produced the video on Corey Bullpitt, is impressed that SIAT professors make the effort to establish experiential learning opportunities for students.

“Based on our initial work in the class, the curators have now supported the idea of making a longer documentary about the exhibit this semester,” he says.

Since the students had completed the Moving Images course last semester, some are making the new video as part of a directed studies project while Hoare is doing it as an honours project.

“Our film is documenting the development of the exhibition and way that the MOV is working collaboratively with Haida people today,” says Hoare.

A mature student who moved to Vancouver from Ontario to study at SFU, he says he now feels ready to pursue a career in documentary video-making, with the added advantage of having also learned how to create websites and do graphic and spatial design.

Click here to view some of the videos.