Coming Soon: Open House & Student Exhibition

Time for our students to toot their own triumphant horns!

The SOVA mid-year exhibition and Open House is Thursday, December 20, 2018 from 5-7pm at the Yukon School of Visual Arts.

Student works will be exhibited throughout out the school; come and enjoy some catered snacks provided by Auntie's and witness some of the incredible pieces that have been produced at SOVA over the past 4 months!

All are welcome!

Poster by our very own 4D instructor Nicole Rayburn.

TLDR (Too Long; Didn't Read)

Are you interested in getting together once a month in an informal reading group to discuss a topic in contemporary art and culture? TLDR (Too Long; Didn’t Read) is a proposal for such a group – a call to anyone who would like to participate. In the first meeting, Thursday, Dec. 6th at 7:00pm, at the SOVA Library, we’ll brainstorm some topics for subsequent meetings. The first reading is available here: Canadian Art magazine, Dirty Words: Interesting

The idea is that the readings and discussion will inspire and challenge our thinking but not challenge our schedules. It will be a collaboration of participants, and a fun social gathering. TLDR will involve much less preparation than a book club, but will be just as exciting! Please join us for the first meeting, or drop in to the next one, in January.

Alumna Aubyn O’Grady named as new program director of Yukon School of Visual Art

May 15, 2018

DAWSON CITY—Yukon College, along with its partners Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in and Dawson City Arts Society, is pleased to welcome Aubyn O’Grady as the new program director at the Yukon School of Visual Arts (SOVA) in Dawson City.

It is a long-anticipated return to the territory for O’Grady. She attended SOVA in 2010-11 and stayed on for several years working for Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in and the Dawson City Music Festival before heading south in 2013.

“I am excited to return to Dawson City and SOVA. I am honoured to have this opportunity to support and inspire future generations of northern artists as well as combine my artistic and educational practice,” said O’Grady.

In addition to a Certificate in Fine Arts from Yukon College, O’Grady holds a Master of Arts in Curriculum, Teaching and Learning from the University of Toronto and is currently a Ph. D. student at the University of Toronto. Her thesis research investigates the educational and environmental contexts of alternative schools established by conceptual artists.

O’Grady has coordinated post-secondary education and training programs for the Canadian Network for the Detection of Atmospheric Change (CANDAC) and the Department of Atmospheric Physics at the University of Toronto. Since 2015, O’Grady has also worked as a research assistant and archivist with Dr. Stephanie Springgay on her SSHRC-funded research initiative, The Pedagogical Impulse.

"Aubyn is going to bring energy and enthusiasm to SOVA and, as a former student of the School, she brings credibility also. Smart, engaging, and funny--I'm very much looking forward to working with Aubyn on the next chapter at the School. There are some big tasks ahead: growing enrolments and exploring the possibility of an indigenous visual arts program, to name just two—but I believe these projects are in good hands,” said Dr. Andrew Richardson, dean of Applied Arts at Yukon College.

O’Grady is also the creator of the national performance art collective, The League of Lady Wrestlers, which began in Dawson City and over five years grew to include sister leagues in Toronto, Montreal and Victoria, and involve over 100 performers. The project received international press coverage and included an outreach program that ran arts workshops for at-risk youth.

O’Grady believes the unique learning environment at SOVA and the community of Dawson City have enriched her career as an artist and educator.

“SOVA instructors cultivate resourcefulness in the students and the program provides incomparable opportunities for collaboration. Upon graduation, I had participated in two group shows, collaborated with two internationally-renowned teams of artists, contributed to a collaborative publication, and was  planning a solo show for the Confluence Gallery – quite an accomplished CV for an emerging artist,” said O’Grady.

“My experience is not an exception; there is a growing community of working artists across Canada that can speak to the benefits of beginning their artistic career at SOVA,” she added.

O’Grady will arrive in Yukon in late May and work alongside outgoing interim program director, Eldo Enns, before assuming her new position in June.

Maureen Gruben, Artist-in-Residence

October 26, 2018

We are so excited to have Maureen Gruben joining us for the next 10 days as the SOVA Artist-in-Residence. Maureen was born and raised in Tuktoyaktuk, NT; she creates multidisciplinary works that share intimate perspectives on contemporary life in the Western Arctic. Also joining us is Maureen's collaborator; curator, and writer, Kyra Kordoski.

The photograph below is of Stitching My Landscape (2017), a large-scale work of land art consisting of 111 ice holes connected with red broadcloth on an expanse of the frozen ocean surrounding Ibyuq Pingo, southwest of Tuktoyaktuk.

Welcome Maureen and Kyra!

photo: documentation of Stitching My Landscape (2017), Maureen Gruben

The Haunting of the Palace Grand

November 1, 2018

The Palace Grand Theatre in Dawson City is already haunted, but that didn't stop SOVA students from adding to the horror in several rooms of this historic building, managed by Parks Canada. Students and many other members of the Dawson community took over the entire theatre for a night of spine-chilling fear in honour of Halloween.

link to Facebook post?

SOVA So Far Exhibition

September 1, 2018

Yukon Arts Centre Public Gallery, Whitehorse

This alumni exhibition is a celebration of the artists and post-secondary arts education that we are privileged to have in the Yukon Territory. SOVA students come from far and wide, and create work across a wide range of mediums. In this exhibition, we are proud to showcase work from the following artists:

Kerry Barber
Darcie Bernhardt
Devon Renee Berquist
Ange Bonnicci
Dan Brown Hozjan
Izzy Burgwin
Rosie Butler
Lavinia Chu
Emily Chudnovsky and Justin Apperly
Adonika Jayne
Justice Colwell
Ellen Friesen
Chantal Fraser
Sophie Fuldauer
Annie Johnsgaard
Solvey Johnsgaard
Lucy Koshan
Tamika Knutson
Nathaniel Marchand
Vivian McIntosh
Bronwyn Mundell
Aubyn O'Grady
"Sarah and Rachel Seburn (Temporary Investments)"
Matthew Stoker
Merran Smith
Deirdre Sokolowska
Cari Tangedal
Karen Thomas

The exhibition runs:
Sept 6 - Oct 13, 2018
Yukon Arts Centre Public Gallery, Whitehorse

Opening reception:
Sept 6, 5:30pm - 7:30pm

image: Karen Thomas, Untitled (detail), 2017. Oil and cold wax medium on canvas. 22 x 36 in.

Hellos and Goodbyes (ch-ch-changes…)

October 1, 2018

It has been a season of changes recently for SOVA. Two staff members said goodbye, and we welcomed two new people to the school, in addition to welcoming a new program director.


September 27th was the day we said goodbye (sort of) to John Steins, SOVA’s Studio Technician since 2011. John is a master printmaker, a long-distance runner, a musician, a whiz with tools and technology, and a former mayor of Dawson City. We will miss him (and his expertise) around the school, and wish him an engaging and happy retirement!


Our Administrative Officer Kyla MacArthur's last day of work at SOVA was in early August. Kyla was with the school for over six years, and SOVA has been incredibly fortunate to have her in this position; she was often the first friendly voice that prospective students spoke to, and was a big source of support when they became students here.


We will miss Kyla tremendously, and will definitely miss all of the cat GIFS. (Yes, she is wearing golden cat ears in the photo!) Good luck meow!


Welcome to our new Administrative Officer, Ange Bonnici! Ange brings years of arts administrative experience with her, is a practicing artist, and is actually a SOVA alum! Welcome Ange, we are so happy to have you on the team!


Welcome also to Nate Jones who has joined our crew as the incoming Studio Technician. He is an experienced carpenter, professional photographer, and accomplished bread-maker. We are so excited to have him on our team!



Student Orientation 2018

September 12, 2018

Orientation during the first two days of school introduced SOVA students to the local community, and included a tour of the Dänojà Zho Cultural Centre, the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in Heritage Department, several historic buildings in Dawson City with Parks Canada, the Klondike Institute of Art and Culture (KIAC), and the ODD Gallery.

Field Trip to a Gold Dredge

On September 13th,  SOVA students travelled up Bonanza Creek Road to see the historic Gold Dredge #4, now almost fully restored. Ron from Goldbottom Mine Tours explained the workings of this incredible machine and walked us through its interior. Dredging for gold began in the Klondike in 1905 and continued until 1966. Dredging has permanently altered the landscape of the Klondike valley near Dawson City.

Field Trip to Tombstone Park

September 15, 2018

As part of Orientation, SOVA students visited Tombstone Territorial Park on September 15th. They explored the displays in the Visitor Centre and then met up with Cathy, a Park Interpreter, for a guided hike onto a subarctic meadow. Cathy shared her knowledge about Caribou moss (lichen) and the subarctic ecosystem. She then led an outdoor workshop that involved drawing rocks and book making. After that we drove further into the park to see the dramatic Blackstone Uplands.

Maureen Gruben works with SOVA students

Maureen Gruben and Kyra Kordoski joined us in October as our fall artists-in-residence, in partnership with the Klondike Institute of Art & Culture (KIAC). Maureen was born and raised in Tuktoyaktuk, NT; she creates multidisciplinary works that share intimate perspectives on contemporary life in the Western Arctic. Kyra, a curator and art critic from Victoria BC, works as Maureen's artistic collaborator.

3D studio students worked with Maureen to punch 10,000 tiny holes in seal skin scraps Maureen recovered from the Tuk landfill- the punched seal skin holes were then meticulously pinned together onto blue construction foam. While they worked together as a group they listened to Tanya Tagaq's book Split Tooth. Thank you, Maureen and Kyra, for sharing your time and knowledge with us. And thank you for the seal skin scraps! 3D students will now be making their own pieces out of the seal skin in response to their project with Maureen.

photo courtesy Kyra Kordoski

Exhibition in Toronto celebrates BMO 1st Art! competition winners

A reception on November 15th at Justina M. Barnicke Gallery in Toronto celebrated the work of 12 regional winners and the national winner of the BMO 1st Art! competition, open to art school students from over 100 post-secondary institutions across Canada. Christopher Dufour, SOVA grad (2018), is the Yukon winner, for his Commodity Chains (2018). Images of the artworks in the exhibition are available here. The exhibition, curated by Dawn Cain, runs until December 8th, 2018.

image: Christopher Dufour, Commodity Chains, 2018, encyclopedias, clamps, book shredding, measuring bowl, photographs, 33×66×15.2 cm, photo courtesy the artist