March 11, 2022

The Department of Art and Art History Boosts Its Visiting Artist Series During the Pandemic

Department of Art and Art History found ways to create new opportunities for students during remote learning
University of Calgary Department of Art and Art Hisotry Visiting Artist Series

While almost all in-person activities were suddenly restricted during the pandemic in 2020, learning became more challenging. Online classrooms became a necessity, and quickly became the norm for both faculty members and students.

“When the pandemic hit, we were faced with uncertainty about how to move forward with our Visiting Artist and Scholar Program,” says Heather Leier, Assistant Professor in the Department of Art and Art History. “In previous years, the program typically brought three internationally recognized artists and/ or scholars to share their expertise with our students.”

With the pandemic, as we know, came the travel restrictions. It would have been easy for the Department to just cancel the Program for the year then and regroup once the travel was allowed again. But instead, the Visiting Artist Program quickly adapted to this new reality, and they used this as an opportunity to expand the program.

In the Fall 2020 / Winter 2021 semesters, they were able to host, not their usual three, but 23 guest artists and scholars online. An incredible accomplishment and one that benefitted student experience incredibly.

And of course, the art of online programming is that they were able to invite guests from all over the world - from cities across Canada, US, and even UK. And because we were able to have many more guests than usual, the students were exposed to not only artists, but also experts from different areas of research and teaching.

“Having 23 guests brought more diversity of perspectives into our classes and certainly unique learning opportunities,” says Leier. “We even had a professor of accounting who also holds a BFA, and she taught how to manage funds as artists – a skillset we need as a artists but do not necessarily have an opportunity to learn while in school. The pandemic shifted the way we organize the program, creating new possibilities for engagement. Integrating virtual visiting artists and scholars’ “visits” into the program, will be something the committee will consider keeping as part of our program as we move forward.

The Department of Art and Art History continued its online Visiting Artist Series for the remainder of the Winter 2022 semester.


From left to right (clockwise): A Square is Not a Circle (South), Judy Anderson; Untitled (Garden Study), Emmanuel Osahor; In the Landscape, Logan MacDonald; My Garden Funeral, Rocio Graham; antipersonnel, Barb Hunt, Belles Eaux Vue Exposition, Guillaume Adjutor Provost; Wearable Art Dresses, Tamara Lee-Anne Cardinal