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What brought you to volunteer at the CAG?

I’ve always had an interest working in an art gallery, and I discovered the CAG last summer while exploring. I began chatting with Jocelyn at the front desk, picking her brain regarding her journey on how she got to work there, and she recommended I submit my resume to volunteer. I believe that volunteering at a place you are passionate about alters the perspective you have on yourself as well as how you are spending your time. It is not only a great experience, but you single-handedly place yourself in a position where opportunities that pertain to your interests or career path are presented to you. I wanted to work and learn from curators, artists and other fellow volunteers, as this was my first time working in a gallery. Now, being at the CAG since May, I’ve made new friends and have learned a great deal about the art world and all its facets!

What is your favorite thing about your volunteer position at the CAG?

Currently I help at the front desk, and being able to answer any questions that visitors may have I find really rewarding, as it aids in their exploration of artwork that the CAG exhibits. Opening nights are always great as well, since I get to check out the new exhibitions the day of, and mingle with like-minded individuals as well as the artist(s).

What and where was the first Contemporary Art work that you experienced?

Some of the first Contemporary artworks I experienced were probably back when I was living in Amsterdam as a teen.

What other creative activities do you do?

I have been sketching since childhood, and have just begun teaching myself how to paint this year! I’m very much enjoying the process. I have also been drumming since I was a teen, and I also edit films on the side, as it is part of my job in the film/TV industry.

Check out Michelle on Instagram, her painting here and a sample of video editing here.

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Volunteer Profiles: Michelle Doherty


What brought you to volunteer at the CAG?

I finished my BFA degree from Lahore, Pakistan, six years ago and have been painting and showing ever since. When I moved to Vancouver at the beginning of this year, I wanted to figure out how the art world functions here. I did a lot of gallery hopping through the summer, I was still thinking about where to volunteer when I came across the design fiction workshop being held at the Contemporary Art Gallery in September. The workshop was very interesting and the people at the gallery were welcoming and friendly. It felt like the right place for exposure to contemporary art, not only in Canada but also around the world. I am glad I started volunteering at CAG because the past few months have confirmed that it most certainly is a hotbed for the exchange of new ideas and information, holding immense potential for growth, and innovation.

What is your favorite thing about your volunteer position at the CAG?

I love the flexibility of being a front desker- thats not a word- being at the front desk? You can check out books available at the lovely shop, even read, if it is a quieter day. If there’s a lot of people coming in, you might have a chat with someone about the ongoing exhibition; sometimes you find they have a completely different take on it. If help is needed for an upcoming show or project you might be asked to do that. I like that I come every week, I am in touch with everything that is going on at the gallery and I get to do different things.

What and where was the first Contemporary Art work that you experienced?

I can’t remember when I experienced my first contemporary art work, it was probably at the Alhamra Arts Complex, Lahore. I do remember when I first fell in love with a contemporary art work, it was “The Painter” by Marlene Dumas.

What other creative activities do you do?

I enjoy photography. I love illustration; I do it for my blog and freelance for childrens books and magazines. Refurbishing and painting old furniture is a lot of fun. Travelling. Walking around, discovering new cities.

Check out Sara’s website here and her blog here.

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Volunteer Profiles: Sara Khan


What brought you to volunteer at the CAG? 

I am a student studying art history and was looking to gain experience in the field of art. I chose to volunteer with the CAG because it provides an intimate platform where people have the chance to meet and interact with artists and others in the art scene.

What is your favorite thing about your volunteer position at the CAG?

Meeting people and hearing their opinion on the artworks being exhibited.

What and where was the first Contemporary Art work that you experienced?

I have always paid attention to public art around the city, but my first really great experience of interactive contemporary art was at the one night festival Nuit Blanche in Toronto in 2013.

What other creative activities do you do?

Painting, photography and creative writing.

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Volunteer Profiles: Jennifer Tuan


Hello all! My name is Jas Lally and for the next 10 months I will be working as the Programs Assistant. I am excited to work with Shaun Dacey, Curator of Learning and Public Programs, the staff and volunteers at the CAG. I have been working and volunteering in the arts for the past few years and some of you may have seen me at the Vancouver Art Gallery and Access. I worked a the Vancouver Art Gallery for 5 years in Visitor Services and Administration where  I was able to meet local and international artists. At Access, where I first met  and worked  with Shaun, I was able to work  one-on-one with the Director/Curator and artists. I really enjoyed this more intimate level of work.

My experiences at both galleries solidified my choice in pursing my Masters in the History of Art which I recently completed  at the University of Birmingham, UK. I studied at the Barber Institute of Fine Art  where I co-curated an exhibition on portraiture with the Barber and the National Portrait Gallery. I also completed my dissertation on exhibition practices where I examined why textiles change meaning when exhibited. I was able to use  Lady Barber’s lace collection as my case study. My time at the Barber gave me perspective  and hands on experiences into the multidisciplinary world of curatorial.

My first introduction to the CAG came only three days after starting when I helped set up and greet guests at the CAG’s annual Art Auction. The auction went really well and it was such an exciting way to start a new job! My new role will allow me to help coordinate some interesting learning programs. For example, we recently launched the Telus Garden project, The City in Motion, where 11 young emerging artists are creating an original film to be permanently installed at the new Telus building. Look out for my blog on this project where you can follow along on the progress. I have also started to work with the artist in residence at the Burrard Marina Field House. The CAG recently hosted Fluid Frames: Filmmakers Series with Ben Russell. We hosted a film social at the Field House.

Look back to the CAG’s Blog for exciting updates about what I’m getting up to!

PS: if you haven’t already seen When Sky was Sea by Shimabuku drop by and say hello and sign up to attend one of the talks on the exhibition!

PSS: Did you  hear about our exciting new project in partnership with Ballet BC? and in association with the Art|Basel Crowdfunding Initiative and commissioning artists John Wood and Paul Harrison? to find out more click here: http://bit.ly/cagXbbc

See you at the CAG soon! – Jas Lally

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Hello from Jas Lally – New Programs Assistant at the CAG


As our contribution to Vancouver Design Week, the CAG worked with James Langdon, recipient of the 2012 Inform Award for Conceptual Design, presented by the Museum of Contemporary Art Leipzig, Germany. Langdon presented a short course and workshop in reading objects, environments and messages. Stimulated by the curious genre of design fiction, the programme asserts storytelling as the primary function of design. Langdon conducted a three day workshop on September 16–18 exploring narrative approaches to design, a series of connected exercises subjecting a collection of found materials to various manual and conceptual processes.

CAG volunteer Sara Khan writes about her experiences taking part in the three day workshop:

 

As an artist who enjoys telling stories through two dimensional media, the School for Design fiction workshop caught my attention; I was curious about what fiction through design could entail. On our first day we were asked to bring in three objects, organic or designed. People brought along things ranging from eggshells and apples to metal birds, buttons, bottles, and moth traps.

Before we started working on the activity set for the day James Langdon had us watch a short film. It replayed the same event but with slight variations with each iteration. A human figure used different objects in unconventional ways, from dumping food on a laptop to sitting on a book instead of reading it. At a glance the human figure came across a sort of a machine that had malfunctioned. Mulling over the film afterward made me wonder about why objects around us are operated the way they are and have a specific function or name, how come we almost use them like robots not really questioning their history, form or task.

Once we started talking about the objects we’d brought along and the workshop progressed; I realised more and more that in the everyday structure and organization of things and lives, we had forgotten to ponder the existence of what surrounds us. It reminded me of Sartre’s Antoine in “Nausea” and how he wonders about the bark of a tree and why it is considered to be black.

As we arranged and rearranged the items with each other, we saw how meaning was added to or subtracted from them. One of the last exercises led some of us to completely deconstruct the objects we were working with; which resulted in a lot of them either being completely stripped off their meaning or not changing at all, which was interesting to see.

By the end of the workshop though, I think, perhaps we were reading too much into everything, as humans often do; put anything before us and we’ll make up a story. At this point we watched a documentary about the Piltdown man. The film reminded me of the story of the Emperor’s New Clothes.

It is amazing how if you put forth a thought with enough conviction and confidence most people will believe it as the truth. It makes me wonder what falsehoods lurk in our histories.

So, as we wonder in awe at the totality of this existence, it is important to question the things we experience.

- Sara Khan

Check out a selection of books by James Langdon in the CAG book shop, on a specially dedicated shelf.

School for design fiction workbook

More Books by James Langdon.

James Langdon
A School for Design Fiction – workshop
16-18 September 2014, 6pm-9pm

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Sara Khan – The School for Design Fiction – A workshop with James Langdon


This summer I was lucky enough to be given the opportunity to intern at the Contemporary Art Gallery as the Communications Assistant. This was my first internship in the industry, so I did not really know what to expect, but it ended up being an incredibly insightful and motivating experience for me.

If you are familiar with the CAG blog, you have likely seen my “From the Archives” series, in which I discussed past exhibitions at the gallery and their relationships to themes of current exhibitions or other current issues in contemporary art. This gave me the chance to research and learn more about emerging and established artists, and was a great chance to use my academic knowledge in a real-world situation. It was pretty awesome to be able to write about an artist who’s work I had seen a few months ago while on exchange in Scotland (Nathan Coley!) on a gallery’s website in Vancouver.

I was excited to use my marketing and communications knowledge to assist with research into the marketing of art institutions and how non-profit galleries can reach a wider audience, especially in Vancouver. It was also eye-opening to be given the chance to attend Brendan Fernandes‘ interim performance and help with the gallery’s Family Day events; seeing and being a part of the processes of the gallery’s programs allowed me to experience what a career in the arts really entails.

I am now back in Montréal to complete my final year as an undergraduate Art History student at McGill University. After my internship this summer, I am looking forward to undertaking independent research concerning issues in contemporary art, something I had never studied heavily before this experience.

I want to thank the staff at the CAG for encouraging my creativity during this internship and giving me an authentic experience at the gallery. I hope to continue to contribute to the gallery in the future and am now even more thrilled to pursue a career in the arts industry!

- Kelli Sturkenboom

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Communicating Creativity: My CAG Experience


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