University of Calgary
UofC Navigation

Is it a painting, a performance, or a photograph? Yes!

PhD student and Faculty of Arts instructor Tia Halliday exhibits her work exploring the body’s relationship to painting and sculpture


Tia Halliday stands with Sideshow, an aluminum dye sublimation print, as the Alberta Biennial Exhibition kicked off in Edmonton over the weekend. Photo by Betty Rice

By Betty Rice
May 29, 2017

Imagine you’re at an art gallery, viewing a new exhibition. You wander into a room, splashed with colour and light and shadow, and you glimpse a bit of motion across the room out of the corner of your eye.

Is it your imagination, or did that canvas just move? 

If Tia Halliday’s work is on display, there’s a good chance it’s not your mind playing tricks on you. That’s because her art is alive.

Halliday, a PhD student in curriculum and learning in the Werklund School of Education and a tenure-track instructor in the Faculty of Arts, is an interdisciplinary artist, teacher, researcher and scholar.

“I began graduate studies at the Werklund School in order to expand upon my research into the body in art, media and education,” explains Halliday, “and I hope to continue to pursue interdisciplinary research and teach at the post-secondary level.”

Halliday identifies first as a painter, yet through her exploration of that medium, has expanded her body of work to include performance, photography, and digital media — not necessarily separately, but rather presented together.  

With this in mind, she has created what she calls “performed paintings”, which she describes as an analysis of the body’s relationship to painting and sculpture. In her work, she physically choreographs common aspects of painting such as flatness, depth and rhythm or mood; she then adds the use of human figures under fabric cloaks or sheaths which mimic being underneath the surface, or skin, of a painting. 

For this project, Halliday received a project grant from the Alberta Foundation for the Arts, enabling her to work with five distinguished dancers from Alberta Ballet.

This unique blend of painting, photography and performance drew the attention of the curators of the Alberta Biennial Exhibition and 18 months ago, she was invited to be part of their 2017 event.

On May 27, the Alberta Biennial Exhibition kicked off at the Art Gallery of Alberta in Edmonton, and Halliday was on hand to share three large-scale aluminum photographic prints cut into irregular shapes. The photo prints are printed onto the aluminum using a dye-sublimation process. This process is a relatively new printing technique, giving the images a three-dimensional “HD” effect.

In late June, an additional exhibition will open at the Walter Phillips Gallery in Banff, and Halliday will perform there and as part of the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity’s Midsummer Ball Weekend in July. “It is a dream to be invited into the landscape of Banff in the summer in the community of such wonderful artists and critical creative researchers,” says Halliday.

“A year and a half ago when I found out I was selected to participate I was extremely excited and a bit nervous,” says Halliday. “To be positioned within an exhibition that in many ways stands for contemporary art in Alberta is an incredible — and slightly daunting — position to be in as an artist.”

“There is so much incredible artwork being made across Alberta and so many dedicated professionals in the field.  These are big shoes to fill and it is a tremendous honour.”