EIGHT x EIGHT Exhibit Showcases KPU Students’ Artwork

Current and former students organized an independently-run exhibition at Vancouver’s Gam Gallery

Art works of students Durrah Alsaif and Alanna Edwards displayed in the student led exhibition EIGHT x EIGHT Dec. 12 Gam Gallery. (Kenneth Yuen)

From Dec. 8 to 28, eight of Kwantlen Polytechnic University’s Fine Arts students and graduates hosted an exhibition entitled EIGHT x EIGHT which featured their artwork chosen through an independent jury process. Students and alumni sent their work to three KPU Fine Arts professors, who chose which pieces should be exhibited at the Gam Gallery throughout the month of December, based on various criteria such as quality and balanced representation.

The initiative was spearheaded by Kenneth Yuen, a Fine Arts student currently in his fourth year at KPU. Yuen, who is also the president of the KPU Fine Arts Collective, feels that “there is an under-recognition of KPU’s Fine Arts Department in the local community.”

In the past, KPU students have had exhibitions in spaces such as the Newton Cultural Centre and the Surrey Art Gallery, but according to Yuen, there haven’t been many opportunities to showcase their work in Vancouver, which he calls the “centre” of the Lower Mainland’s art community.

“We are underrepresented in Vancouver, and I [decided] to take it upon myself to show people that there is community outside of it, and that we are actually competitors to consider,” he says.

The EIGHT x EIGHT exhibit, which took place at the Gam Gallery on East Hastings, presented work in a variety of mediums, including ceramic, concrete, wood, fabric, oil, and acrylic paint. Alanna Edwards, who is in her graduating year, created an installation which uses both synthetic and found materials. The work is part of a larger installation featuring objects from the natural environment. Part of her installation is also currently exhibited in the Arbutus Building on the Surrey campus.

“I’m interested in the combination of synthetic and natural materials, and how they relate to my identity as a mixed Mi’kmaq First Nations and settler woman,” says Edwards. “Every piece tells a story—I see art and beauty in everyday elements because it is a part of me and how I was raised. Taking the time to work with natural materials which are decaying or left to rot, or ignored, honours them, and places them in a high regard just like a piece of fine art.”

Other pieces included sculptures by Durrah Alsaif, who incorporated car parts into her work, and a video installation by Keith Harris that focused on hip hop culture and challenged the role of masculinity in it.

Amiee Risby, a student in her third year, created four glazed ceramic sculptures of human hearts, which were placed in ascending order on wooden platforms projecting from the wall. She says that this work focuses on themes of “externalized development,” or “what the organs would look like if the personality of the host deformed the physical body,” and “why discrimination is illogical.”

“[Imagine] a utopia where people didn’t have to second guess what a person is like and can actually see them for who they are,” says Risby. “In realizing how ridiculous this notion is, I wanted to then compare the actuality where people already act as if they can tell who someone is by looking at them.”

The other students and alumni whose work was exhibited at EIGHT x Eight were Hailey Logan, Sara Grieve, and Syby Abraham.

The opening night was a resounding success, as approximately 200 attendees squeezed into the 40-metre space. The artists received a lot of interest and positive feedback from their audience. The next exhibition of KPU artwork is the graduation show in April, which may also take place in Vancouver.


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