“Subject to Change” a reminder of the importance of galleries to artists

Culture Visual Arts

The annual UVic Arts show is back for 2022

Image via UVic Fine Arts

When it comes to art nowadays, it’s impossible to discuss its presentation and creation without bringing up COVID and its effects on the process.

During the early days of COVID, many creators and organizations moved to presenting more of their work online, or making works more accessible through online options. There were theatre companies doing script readings over Zoom, films with online-only release dates, and online concerts, to name a few. But as the pandemic continued, something still seemed to be missing. After the 10th script reading on Zoom, I found myself longing to see a play in person again, though I couldn’t explain why. Going to see Subject to Change helped to contextualize that feeling for myself.

Subject to Change is the exhibition of 32 undergraduate students in the UVic Visual Arts program. Usually an annual exhibition, it was put on hold during COVID, but has returned for 2022. 

The overall theme of the exhibition has very much to do with change and how it has affected each artist. Hoang Dieu Anh, the executive chair of the exhibition, stated that the exhibit itself “represent[s the students’] determination to take on the unpredictable. We are thrilled to incorporate a spectrum of themes ranging from the complexities of social and cultural identities, translations of memory and emotion, to formal considerations relating to realism, architecture, and design.” 

The theme of being subject to change also reflects the students’ state of mind during the 2022 school year with the uncertainty of restrictions being lifted.

Cai Leting, executive co-chair of the exhibition, explained that there was a lot of uncertainty leading up the event due to changing pandemic conditions. According to Leting, the students were happy to be able to put on the show in person.  

“People were so excited to present their art, because, yes, there’s online platforms, but it’s really different for a lot of people,” said Leting.“You can’t see a painting by four feet by five feet online, it’s just small.”

It’s a very different experience seeing art in person versus online. With many of the art pieces being large sculptures, I agree that it felt very different than simply seeing a jpeg image on a website. 

There’s also the immediacy of seeing it up close and personal. There were many moments where I found myself leaning as close as I could to see all the little details to see how these art pieces were made. For example, there was a sculpture carved from styrofoam, a vase that was knit, and an interactive exhibit with food available to patrons. 

Leting also explained that, for the students, it’s important for people to actually present art in a gallery space, to have people physically in the art gallery. 

“One of my mentors once told me this: ‘If you are making art, if you don’t want to show it to anybody, it’s more like a hobby.’ So in a way, if you want to be an artist, like some of the students want to be a self-established artist, it’s really important to be shown, to be critiqued on, … so this is something that online can’t really do.” 

When it comes to the impact of COVID on the artists, Leting explained that it was traumatizing for the students with so many events being cancelled. 

“But to have an event happening, I think it’s a good thing like … this is what it feels like to achieve something we promised, we worked on,” said Leting. “I think this is a good self-prepare lesson for out of school … [and]  a good stepping stone for people to start believing and achieving.”

Subject to Change is a chance to see some really engaging works of art from emerging artists. If not to see some art, go to support the local artists.

Subject to Change runs from April 14 to April 24 in the Visual Arts Building. Admission is free, and there is a gift shop. More information can be found on the Subject to Change website and Instagram page.