John Wood and Paul Harrison, installation view from ‘I DIDN’T KNOW I DIDN’T KNOW IT’, Contemporary Art Gallery, February 12 – April 24, 2016. Photography by SITE Photography

Meet Johanna | Learning and Public Engagement Assistant

Hello! I am Johanna Killas, the current Young Canada Works Learning and Public Engagement Assistant.  I am also an undergraduate at the University of Toronto, where I study Art History and Health Studies. I have had the pleasure of working here at CAG this summer, with and among the CAG team and the Vancouver arts community.

I am happy to be back at CAG, previously having volunteered as a front desk assistant. To me, the most compelling aspect of volunteering was witnessing the interaction between publics and artworks, in all the diverse and varied ways it took place, thinking about what happens in the space between a person and an artwork. This summer position is a continuation and expansion of this core interest. Alongside Danielle Green, Curator of Learning and Public Engagement, and Emily Dundas Oke, FPCC Indigenous Curatorial Assistant, I supported CAG’s bringing together of publics and art to create this point of engagement. This has manifested mainly through two streams: research into learning and public engagement, and the planning and delivery of this summer’s learning programs.

Much of the research I’ve undertaken has focused on accessibility, as part of learning for CAG on how to be a welcoming place. For example, how can the tools and the avenues for learning and engagement we offer, like tours, printed materials, audio and video materials and more, be expanded to support a wider range of entry points for people to engage with contemporary art?

This summer’s two Family Days have been highlights of my time here. In July, families made assemblages responding to Maryam Jafri’s sculptural pieces, and in August they will be exploring painting and pattern, responding to Rolande Souliere’s use of line and shape on the CAG’s Façade and at Yaletown-Roundhouse Station. Family Days are truly fun – the wonderful art-making happening during Family Days gives such dynamism and brightness to the Gallery.

I have also supported this summer’s iteration of the Contemporary Art Practices – Visual Arts Summer Intensive, a youth studio art program produced by Arts Umbrella in collaboration with CAG. In working with the participants as they learn about curatorial practices, exhibition-making, and the sensibilities of contemporary art, I have focused my own understanding and relationship to these ideas. The culminating exhibitions of the students’ thoughtful work, entitled you do you, will be shown in CAG’s North gallery from September 14 – 22.  

Like this blog post, this internship is near its close. While I will miss working here, I am eager to bring knowledge, understanding and skills into further work and studies.