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School of Creative Arts

Alumni Stories

Are you a UFV alumni with a BMA, BFA, BA Theatre major, Visual Arts or Theatre Diploma? We are now accepting alumni story submissions!

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Jesse Klassen

Bachelor of Fine Arts, Major in Visual Arts

Instagram: @J.klassen.artspot / @Abby.artist.collective

Was there a certain experience that stood out during your program and educational journey at UFV? Can you explain how it impacted who you are today?

"There were many impactful moments during my undergraduate studies. I remember one early on in my degree, it was nearing the end of semester, final projects and essays were in full swing and the stress levels were tangibly high. I had taken on a particularly difficult semester with more than a full course load and I was exhausted. I remember working in a studio class one day, it was a work period and I was standing at my easel but I was having trouble settling my mind. The professor walked over to me about halfway through the class and, recognizing that I was stressed and tired, brought me a chair. She simply said “Jesse, I can see you’re pushing it hard this semester, don't forget to take a moment to breathe.” It was such a simple act but it carried a huge impact. As a student, especially as someone who sets high personal standards, remembering to breathe and center yourself can be such a challenge. This professor recognized a stressed and anxious student and made the decision to care, I really can’t ask for more."

How did your program/educational experience help you to obtain your career goals? What type of area do you work in now and what’s your current role?

"In the few years since graduation I have successfully started up a privately run collective art studio, exhibited my work in numerous spaces both online and in person, and am now pursuing my Masters of Fine Arts at the University of Calgary. All of this was made possible by my education at the University of the Fraser Valley. The professors in this program worked hard and invested themselves to set a high academic and artistic standards, encouraging and working with students to help them excel. Due to the passion of UFV SoCA faculty and staff, I often left class feeling encouraged and excited about the material. I have discovered this is not the case at all institutions. UFV’s Visual Arts program is good, covering a wide range of artistic approaches with excellent studios, but the leadership and investment from the faculty and staff is what makes it great."

What types of skills (hard or soft) did you gain from your program?

"Problem solving, critical thinking and analysis, academic writing, and a willingness to ask for and accept criticism. Skills in painting, drawing, installation and conceptual development."

Is there any advice you would give to future students at UFV?

"The main piece of advice I can offer is to take advantage of UFV’s study abroad program. I studied abroad for almost a full year experiencing other cultures, different learning environments and pedagogy, and adding life experience that I would say is priceless. UFV’s study abroad program works hard to offer incredible opportunities to students including financial assistance. My time abroad offered me some of the most impactful learning in the entirety of my academic journey."


Mitch Huttema ‌‌

Bachelor of Fine Arts, Major in Visual Arts

‌Instagram: @videomitch  Facebook: m.hutt films inc.

Was there a certain experience that stood out during your program and educational journey at UFV? Can you explain how it has impacted who you are today?

"I worked for the Cascade student newspaper for a few years during my degree. I started as a video editor and progressed to multimedia editor and finally managing editor. Working for the Cascade allowed me to meet people from numerous departments at UFV, including my current boss at UFV who I met at an event I was covering for the Cascade. I also made life-long friends from this experience who are themselves moved on to be artists and arts advocates. Since attending UFV, we have collaborated together on several creative projects over the years, including short films and music videos. The Cascade broadened my network significantly and led to numerous opportunities to grow my career.

I also just have to mention CIVL Radio, I was on the board (and still am!) for several years and the connections I made in my work with and for the radio station have amplified to opportunities in my career as a filmmaker and artist!"


How did your program/educational experience help you to obtain your career goals? What type of area do you work in now and what’s your current role?

"I am a filmmaker. There isn’t a filmmaking program at UFV (or from what I hear, hopefully, just wasn’t in my time, but there were numerous opportunities at UFV SOCA to go beyond course requirements in creative ways. The UFV SoCA faculty are extremely supportive and allowed me to take several courses as directed studies so I could develop my filmmaking skills within a Visual Arts curriculum. In the last year of my degree, I started my filmmaking company m.hutt films inc, through which I do video work for various corporate and creative clients. The Visual Arts program gives so much agency to its students that I was able to develop all the skills I needed to see a project through from conception to delivery in a professional manner as a creative freelancer and artist. The fourth year professional development courses that were part of the BFA were absolutely instrumental in shaping how I work as a professional creative."


What types of skills (hard or soft) did you gain from your program?

"Number one thing I learned was how to take critique. Your work comes from within you, and though it may feel like it, the critique of your work is not a critique of you to be taken personally. Taking feedback tactfully is crucial in our world as artists and as people! Critique allows you to see your work from how it is viewed by a cross section of the public. Learning how to take it, interpret it, and upgrade your work with it, can make or break you as an artist.

I learned to I had to, and how to do, my taxes as a creative professional.

First classes with Brenda and Melanie in Material Practices and Space, Form and Time, blew my mind and taught me how to look at materials (and ideas) in a completely 180 degree different way. Melanie walked into class, plopped 250 copies of the Georgia Straight newspaper and some rolls of packing tape down on the floor and said, “You have the next two hours to make whatever you want out of the materials you see in front of you, and that you can find within the room.” The next two hours of competitive creative pandemonium was mind opening! With Brenda, our entire term was dedicated to doing every single creative sketch, painting or exercise within one book, which we found or made, within the first week of class, and it couldn’t be a sketchbook. I chose an Art History textbook I accidentally bought the wrong edition of for my class. By the end of term, with all of the various paint and materials that had been used on assignments within it, it had doubled in thickness to a width of nearly 15 cm when closed. It also had a casted wax copy of my nose affixed on the front cover which attributed to a portion of those 15 centimetres that I won’t admit.

Another key skill I learned was creative problem solving, and also how to work with what’s around you. A big part of that is often due to budget constraints and the boundaries of material properties. Once, while seeking inspiration for a no-bounds sculpture project, I went to Home Depot to look at materials and think. I stumbled across a sale on spray-foam insulation while thinking about the concepts of origin, inherited traits, and rebirth. I ended up making a giant egg, which I used in a performance piece where I hatched from within it one morning in front of my class, and then swept it up and tossed it in the dumpster. The video is still on YouTube I think."


Is there any advice you would give to future students at UFV?

"Go beyond your classes. There are so many opportunities to find work and start developing your career. Pace yourself though. Don’t take on too much at once, so that you end of bailing on any or all of it. Steady wins the race, not too fast, not too slow, that’s one of the hardest things I learned. Develop a routine, one that allows you to grow creatively. That being said, take advantage of as many opportunities as you can. You never know during which you may meet the boss, curator or supporter that kickstarts your career!"

Paige Caldwell 

Bachelor of Fine Arts


Was there a certain experience that stood out during your program and educational journey at UFV? Can you explain how it has impacted who you are today?

 "I studied visual arts in pursuit of my Bachelor of Fine Arts degree at UFV. My main areas of focus were painting, print media, and sculpture, with an interest in art history. Studying art history alongside the hands-on studio courses gave me a much more in depth perspective about what art is and what it can be. Although most of my work favoured drawing and painting, my final piece for the grad show ended up being a six foot tall sculpture. Having the ability to try different methods of creating art, I gained skills which greatly expanded my art practice because some concepts will work better as a painting or a print and others as sculptures.

During my third year, I submitted a piece to the Reach Gallery for an upcoming group show. It was my very first public show outside of school and I don’t think I would have applied without the encouragement from my UFV SoCA professors. It was a great experience getting the opportunity to show alongside two excellent artists and get a glimpse of the larger community I could be a part of. The support and feedback I received from my professors and classmates helped guide me into the artist I am today and gave me the confidence to put my work out there."





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