My time spent in the in the Visual Arts Dept. at UFV was the most exciting and rewarding educational experience of my life. The program was engaging, challenging, and most importantly inspiring. The environment enabled me to have confidence in myself and my skills as an artist. For me art began as a curiosity but has since grown into a passion. Without inhibitions my potential felt unbounded, and UFV was the launching pad for my current career as a visual effects artist in film.
During my studies for my Bachelor of Fine Arts degree at UFV, I focused on three areas of studio production: photography, print media, and painting. My work at UFV led me to pursue a Master of Fine Arts degree at the University of Manitoba. UFV is often overlooked for its Visual Arts program, but I am confident in saying that it is an excellent program. The BFA at UFV prepared me for Graduate Studies in ways I could not have imagined. The diverse range of resources, opportunities, as well as faculty and support staff who were there to push me to realize my potential, have helped develop me into the artist that I’ve become today.
Many people go into University believing that it is merely a stepping stone to a career, further education, or just something to do while they find their way in this world. I went into the BFA program at UFV thinking much the same, but after graduation, I have realized how much more an education can be. The truth is that UFV has shaped my career from the moment I began my studies—giving me the inspiration to push harder and, in time, to compete for jobs I would never have dreamed of before. Now, only 10 months after graduation, I am working as a Music and Art instructor at a private school in Cloverdale, B.C., as well as working in museum and visual arts programming at The Reach Gallery Museum, Abbotsford. While in school I was provided with so many amazing opportunities to get involved with community programs, group art shows and publications, and I even won an Arty Award through the Abbotsford Arts Council. I honestly don’t think I would have even kept making art this long had I not been exposed to the amazing instructors and staff in the Visual Arts Department.
I am a visual artist and graphic designer located in the Fraser Valley. I graduated from UFV in 2014, where I obtained my Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. Within this program, I completed a double extended minor in visual art and graphic design. I am grateful for the opportunity to have been a part of the arts community at UFV. It was a pleasure to learn so much from my professors and fellow classmates, and build relationships with like-minded people. During my years of study, I was exposed to many new experiences and ideas, and I often was challenged and pushed out of my comfort zone. As a result, I grew as a person and was able to further develop and expand my skill set. Ultimately, the experience of obtaining my fine arts degree at UFV has prepared me to pursue and succeed in post-grad opportunities.
I attended UFV with the goal of becoming a teacher but soon found myself focused on developing as an artist. I made a wide range of work, in a variety of mediums, but it was the Visual Arts instructors that shaped my path. The connections that I made at UFV led to trusting relationships where I felt challenged and excited about what I was doing. Knowing that the faculty cared about what I was making meant that I wanted to grow as an artist and learn more about who I was and what I wanted to express. More than the professional facilities in the building, the people are what helped me to become the artist and teacher that I am today. My experience as an art student was crucial in helping me realize both my interests as an art educator and an artist, knowledge I now am passing on to my students at Hope Secondary School.
My arts education began at the University of the Fraser Valley in 2009. Over the next five years due to the continued passion, dedication and support I received from the faculty of UFV, I graduated in 2014 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts. The studio based, theory and art historical courses provided an interdisciplinary approach to education. These courses merge technical education, conceptual knowledge, creative problem solving skills, and critical understanding of the arts within an intimate learning environment. I received two Undergraduate Research Awards in Visual Arts as well as the 2nd place Assistant Vice President Award in Research due to the continued presence and encouragement of my professors, who truly care about the success and achievements of their students.
Upon graduation, I exhibited my artwork at multiple galleries and worked in a professional arts studio for a year and a half, after which I decided to pursue a teaching career. I applied to SFU’s Professional Development Program where I have earned a Bachelor of Education with a minor in Environmental Ed. Upon graduation in August of 2016, I will be a fully certified Secondary Visual Arts and Support teacher. It is through becoming an educator myself, I have come to appreciate the inquiry based and student centered education I received at UFV. After completion of my second degree, I plan to earn a Master of Arts Education to further my learning, knowledge, and professional practice in the Arts.
During my time at UFV I was on the path to become an art teacher... or so I thought. I was determined to achieve this goal but unaware of the great gifts I would receive while attending university. Moreover, I couldn’t know how it would alter my perspective and intended outcome. Deep down I always knew I was an artist, but I honestly had no idea what this really meant—in lifestyle or in practice. In the Visual Arts Dept. I was introduced to the broad spectrum of what contemporary art could be, and to this day I am inspired to continually create new works. Directed studies done with Chris Friesen helped hone my skills in airbrush and put me on the path to the discovery of my current style. I still feel the support and care of VA faculty and staff each time I show works in the Fraser Valley and see familiar faces at the show. At a recent show at Surrey Art Gallery, I even had the surprise of being in the show with two UFV faculty members. I enjoyed each course I studied while at UFV, and I suppose my only regret is not taking every art course that was possible available!
Jenessa Schier (nee Galmut)
Since I graduated in 2013 with my Bachelor of Fine Arts degree I have been working for a local artist who designs features for theme parks and mini golf courses. He also designs dimensional signage for these types of spaces environs and for other businesses. I am so grateful for the opportunity to be involved in this line of work and enjoy all of the hands-on experience I get, including painting, carving, and sculpting. It is inspiring to find that there are still people who appreciate the value of hand-crafted work.
Carving concrete and sculpting with a two-part epoxy, I am constantly reminded of how my current job is a departure from what I learned in my degree, since I focused in the two-dimensional practices. Yet, in so many ways, I have been prepared by UFV’s Visual Arts program—to pay attention to details, to understand desirable aesthetic values, to advise others on style and technique, and to receive similar constructive-criticism myself. I was exposed to so many different artistic mediums in the Visual Arts program and was continually challenged as I endeavoured to develop my skills in each one. Even post-grad, I am still learning new mediums and techniques and enjoy the challenge of mastering them. I am so thankful to my profs and to my fellow classmates who encouraged me to pursue my passion!
Without the challenges, training, and encouragement that I received while studying in UFV's Visual Arts Department, I believe that I would not be a practicing artist today. During my final semester, while preparing for the grad show, I was urged by my instructors to step out of my comfort zone. It is entirely because of this moment that I created my first stencil. This resulted in my discovery of a passion that has opened numerous doors—from showing throughout North America to collaborating with other artists on amazing projects. Without the training that I received in the VA dept. (and the wonderful time I spent wandering the halls of C building), I quite possibly would be spending my time behind a desk rather than discovering a better fitting, paint-covered life.
The dedication and support of the instructors, along with contemporary and culturally relevant assignments, allowed me to engage meaningfully with topics that I am passionate about. When speaking to graduates of BFA programs from other universities I notice that UFV’s Visual Arts Department emphasizes the conceptual side of art making. I have come to value this emphasis as I feel it prepared me well for work in the field of contemporary art. The quality of instruction offered by the UFV Visual Arts Department enabled me to challenge myself and excel. I graduated on the Dean’s List with an Undergraduate Research Excellence Award and the 2014 Bachelor of Fine Arts Graduate Award. The Visual Arts Department at UFV has proved to be a remarkable springboard for me; since graduation, I was invited to a Canadian Wilderness Residency in the Yukon and am employed as the Education Programmer at The Reach Gallery Museum, Abbottsford. I strongly feel that the critically challenging, learning environment of the Visual Arts Department at UFV—as well as the dedicated, creative faculty and staff—has helped to prepare me to work as an art professional.