KPU Students Host First Art Exhibition at Fort Langley National Historic Site

Fri, Apr 26, 2019

Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU) Fine Arts students explored their identities as settlers on Indigenous land through field trips into the landscapes captured in their work.

Now those students are hosting an exhibition based on the artwork created from their experiences in the Politics in the Landscape class, which was offered for the first time this spring thanks to a grant from the Faculty of Arts Excellence and Advancement Fund.

“It was great to physically be in the landscape that I was meant to make artwork in response too,” says KPU student Japneet Bal. “Both field trips were a great experience for me to learn more about British Columbia's history and landscape.”

Throughout the course, students learned about the history of landscape art in North America and Europe.

Kwantlen Polytechnic University fine arts students walk through the forest to understand historical landscapes.

“This historical knowledge will help frame our explorations of contemporary landscape art, and allow students to critically engage with these histories when creating their own artwork,” says Liz Toohey-Wiese, KPU fine arts instructor.

“Our university is keen to build stronger relationships with local First Nations and this was a perfect opportunity to incorporate First Nations knowledge into our critical pedagogy.”

The first field trip was a visit to the Kwantlen First Nations Cultural Centre in Fort Langley, where students attended a plant walk and studied traditional uses of native plant species along the Fraser River.

“The plant walk gave me new insight to our native plants here on the West Coast, and I feel that I have a better connection to my home because of it,” says student Alison Curtis.

The second field trip was to the Fort Langley National Historic Site for an interpretive tour of the site.

“Taking the trip to the Fort Langley National Historic Site was really inspiring and sparked a different thread than what I would have expected,” said student Sara Freitas. “I was interested in finding out that the fort had actually been built or moved three different times and I used this to make up most of my final painting in response to the field trip.”

Their final projects, using media such as drawing, painting, sculpture, video and performance, form the “Contemporary Landscapes” exhibition at the Fort Langley National Historic Site until May 24, 2019.

Story by Samantha Dutton-Jones