Presentation By Oxygen Art Centre’s Founders

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RESILIENCY OF THE WEST KOOTENAY ARTS COMMUNITY IS FOCUS OF A PRESENTATION BY OXYGEN ART CENTRE’S FOUNDERS JAN. 21

The resiliency of West Kootenay artists who, after being fired en masse from Nelson’s Kootenay School of the Arts in 2002 went on to start the city’s only artist-run centre, will be the subject of a talk by five of the founding members of the Oxygen Art Centre on Saturday, Jan. 21 at 4p.m.

The founders’ talk is part of Oxygen’s exhibit and other happenings celebrating a decade and half of programming. Admission is free and the event is open to the public. The Oxygen Art Centre is located at 320 Vernon St. (alley entrance).

Speaking Jan. 21 will be West Kootenay artists Natasha Smith and Boukje Elzinga, and writers Verna Relkoff and Tom Wayman. Moderating will be Nelson artist Deb Thompson. All were part of the mixed media or writing departments at KSA when their departments were abruptly abolished in the spring of 2002.

In exploring why these and other former KSA faculty chose to create another viable arts institution in the city, rather than simply fade away, the speakers on Jan. 21 will retrace the route from KSA to the current configuration of Oxygen. Topics to be considered include the closure of Nelson’s David Thompson University Centre in 1984, arts education in a rural community, leadership at KSA, starting the Nelson Fine Arts Centre, and Oxygen’s mandate and development over the years. 

“Oxygen arose from the resolve of local arts instructors to continue to provide the community with arts education opportunities that suddenly had been curtailed,” said Oxygen’s current executive director Miriam Needoba.

“While Oxygen has evolved since that initial intent of its founders, Oxygen’s story is an inspiring one in an era when every form of public enrichment—from public health care to art and music programs in the schools—is threatened with reduction or abolition. And 2017 represents just the latest chapter in Oxygen’s ongoing and exciting story,” Needoba said.

The current exhibition at Oxygen, Memory Palaces, is the product of an initiative to process and digitalize the centre’s archives. The exhibition will also be developed into an online archive and all materials will also be stored in accordance with archival standards.

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