Pam Vickars stands in a garden area.

Pursuing a lifelong passion for art

February 3, 2022

Meet Pam Vickars – student curator for VIU’s View Gallery

Pam Vickars has always been passionate about art, but a demanding career and busy family life left little time for her to pursue it in depth.

“I took pottery, a few crafts and interior design in continuing education classes and really enjoyed them. I had this vision that when I retired I would pursue painting, which I foresaw taking more time,” says Pam, a VIU Bachelor of Arts student.

Pam has an undergraduate degree from the University of Victoria and a Masters of Social Work from McGill University. She worked in health care, post-secondary education and private practice. After semi-retiring, Pam took watercolour painting at the Old School House Arts Centre in Qualicum Beach and silversmithing with a master goldsmith in Parksville. She is now pursuing her love of art through VIU’s Visual Art program.

“It’s allowing me to explore art in a comprehensive way – from drawing, painting and ceramics –  through art history and curating,” says Pam, adding that like many programs people study, it begins with your university degree and you carry onward. “Learning is lifelong.”

Pam hopes to work part-time as a curator, as well as a practicing artist. Her interest in curating was piqued when Jesse Birch, Curator of the Nanaimo Art Gallery, attended one of her classes as a guest lecturer.

“Jesse spoke passionately about his journey into curating. He has since shared that while the exhibition is about both the artist’s work and the viewer, the curator will work with a story in mind or perhaps an issue to speak about through the art,” says Pam. “Those aspects really interested me.”

Pam curated the latest exhibit at VIU’s View Gallery – Figuratively Speaking: A Journey Through Movement – which runs until February 12. The exhibition features the work of Chintan Bolliger, Katarina Meglic, Joel Prevost and Kathy Venter. There was also a contemporary dance performance by Maya Campbell as part of the opening reception.

“The theme of figurative work and movement spans movement in the broad sense across physical, psychological and emotional perspectives. It’s really about our movement through life,” says Pam. 

She wanted the exhibition to be pertinent to both students and the broader public and says it is particularly relevant to visual arts students, who study figurative work in class.

“I thought this exhibition would demonstrate a variety of creative ways figurative work can be undertaken,” says Pam.

A curator has numerous responsibilities which include: communicating and building relationships with artists; selecting artwork that works well with the evolving theme; displaying the art in a meaningful way; writing a curator’s statement, press release and booklet for the exhibition; and event management.

Pam has been learning more about curating in a directed studies course with Chai Duncan, VIU Visual Art Instructor and View Gallery Curator.

“It’s been an enlightening opportunity to work one-on-one with Chai and learn about his perspective on curating. He provided a nice balance of guidance while giving me the scope to do what I envisioned in setting up the exhibition,” says Pam.

Pam is currently studying Advanced Drawing with Pamela Speight and Contemporary Art with Justin McGrail, both VIU Art and Design Professors, and Art of West Coast First Nations with Rodney Sayers, a VIU Sessional Instructor. 

The View Gallery is VIU’s contemporary art gallery. Learn more by visiting the gallery’s website.

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