MUN names first artist-in-residence

Everton McLean
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John Crosbie stares at you. He closes his eyes, opens them, and keeps on staring. You an see every wrinkle, every eyelash, and you can sense the discomfort - an awkwardness in the man who never seems uncomfortable.

This is a sample of Peter Wilkins' artwork, a kinetic portrait of Crosbie. He has several others, including a series on Canadian writers, as well as other digital works that use technology to create a different perspective on life.

Peter Wilkins is the first artist in residence at Memorial University. - Photo by Keith Gosse/The Telegram

John Crosbie stares at you. He closes his eyes, opens them, and keeps on staring. You an see every wrinkle, every eyelash, and you can sense the discomfort - an awkwardness in the man who never seems uncomfortable.

This is a sample of Peter Wilkins' artwork, a kinetic portrait of Crosbie. He has several others, including a series on Canadian writers, as well as other digital works that use technology to create a different perspective on life.

Now, Wilkins is bringing that talent to Memorial University. He was recently named the first artist-in-residence for the faculty of arts, where he'll serve a three-month term.

During that time, he plans to gathers as many people as possible in a snow storm to capture images, and he wants to do an illusion piece in the MUN tunnels.

But his overall project is to capture the essence of learning through art, he said - a task he admits may be difficult to do.

"It's a wonderful opportunity because I get the infrastructure of the university to work within and be in a position to create some work there," he said.

"As an artist, it's about how do I capture learning and how do I present it artistically? Whether I can or not remains to be seen, but I hope with any luck I shall."

In addition to creating his own pieces, Wilkins will also be available to the community to give his opinions on art.

"Anybody can ask me questions about art, and I'll be giving talks," he said.

Wilkins, who calls himself a "lens-based artist," meaning his digital works all come from a camera or video camera, said he also hopes to encourage young artists at the university.

He said that despite being based in St. John's, well away from fine arts students based out of Grenfell College, he believes students who come to art from different fields will be able to glean some insight from him.

"(Many of) the aspiring young visual artists may be (in Corner Brook), but those who may want to come (to artistic life) from a different course, how will I inspire them? By (showing) that there are roles an artist can play, that it is worth pursuing, and giving them just basic encouragement," he said.

And he said those lessons apply equally to writers, musicians and other non-visual artists as they do to painters and photographers.

"Like in any creative industry, there's no easy path. You've got to just keep doing it and believing it," he said.

Most important, he said, is making sure you're doing it for the right reasons.

Particularly, he warned against any student planning on getting rich from being an artist.

"I think you'd be deeply upset," he said.

Instead, he said "the right reasons (to be an artist) are because you believe you can look at the world slightly differently from everybody else, and then present it to them in a new and interesting way to help them understand a certain aspect of the world, perhaps."

Jennifer Dyer, director of studies in humanities, which will host Wilkins, said having an artist-in-residence will help spur strong, fresh thinking at the university.

"Art opens up the experience of others, of ourselves and of the overlooked, so we can recognize the value in all of them," she said. "This is especially important when there is no visual arts department on campus and the esthetic experience, which is a fundament of human experience, is not overtly addressed."

Wilkins will be available Monday afternoons in the Arts and Administration building on the St. John's campus, room 3099. Appointments can be made directly with him by calling 737-3558 or e-mail peter@wilkins.ws.

emclean@thetelegram.com

Organizations: Grenfell College, Arts and Administration

Geographic location: St. John's, Corner Brook

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Recent comments

  • Anthony
    July 02, 2010 - 13:35

    I suppose there is no legitimate art beyond reality television or paint-by-the-numbers pieces for some skeptical philistines commenting here. At the very worst, an artist-in-residence will have a negligible effect upon the students. The sneering attitude exhibited here, however, is known to stifle creativity and free thinking around the world. Perhaps Wilkins has some advice for aspiring artists on how to deal with all the naysayers they will encounter over the years?

    And I assure you, Jennifer Dyer is not his wife. It is nice to see an immediate jump into conspiracy theorizing, though!

  • Timboy
    July 02, 2010 - 13:29

    Is not Jennifer Dyer, his wife? Me thinks so... let's get some research going here Everton! Easy endorsement there. Just curious.... Did Peter Wilkins ever go to art school? Or is he just winging it? me thinks the later bu hey it's art right...anything goes! But you know - like some other visual artists here - the Cult of the Personality wins over content.

  • Johnny
    July 02, 2010 - 13:26

    Beyond the office of the president, does the Dept. of Education have any say into hiring priorities at MUN? Maybe it should Minister Burke.

  • Ted
    July 02, 2010 - 13:24

    Jennifer Dyer, director of studies in humanities... said having an artist-in-residence will help spur strong, fresh thinking at the university.

    ==========

    What a pile of nonense. And how specifically will that happen? Should we expect engineering and medical research breakthroughs? Give me a break!

  • Trevor
    July 02, 2010 - 13:13

    Anthony S from St. John's, NL writes: Perhaps Wilkins has some advice for aspiring artists on how to deal with all the naysayers they will encounter over the years?

    I'm sure he will. Get those grants and pad your resume as much as possible so as to get those juicy Canada Council ones and produce art here where less than 1% of the local audience can understand it.

    So wouldn't he be better off having this former TV host and former internet guru to be hanging around at Grenfell Art College then? He could take some courses at the same time. Lastly you'er just as judgmental as anyone here Anthony or can I call you Pete ?

  • Anthony
    July 01, 2010 - 20:25

    I suppose there is no legitimate art beyond reality television or paint-by-the-numbers pieces for some skeptical philistines commenting here. At the very worst, an artist-in-residence will have a negligible effect upon the students. The sneering attitude exhibited here, however, is known to stifle creativity and free thinking around the world. Perhaps Wilkins has some advice for aspiring artists on how to deal with all the naysayers they will encounter over the years?

    And I assure you, Jennifer Dyer is not his wife. It is nice to see an immediate jump into conspiracy theorizing, though!

  • Timboy
    July 01, 2010 - 20:16

    Is not Jennifer Dyer, his wife? Me thinks so... let's get some research going here Everton! Easy endorsement there. Just curious.... Did Peter Wilkins ever go to art school? Or is he just winging it? me thinks the later bu hey it's art right...anything goes! But you know - like some other visual artists here - the Cult of the Personality wins over content.

  • Johnny
    July 01, 2010 - 20:13

    Beyond the office of the president, does the Dept. of Education have any say into hiring priorities at MUN? Maybe it should Minister Burke.

  • Ted
    July 01, 2010 - 20:10

    Jennifer Dyer, director of studies in humanities... said having an artist-in-residence will help spur strong, fresh thinking at the university.

    ==========

    What a pile of nonense. And how specifically will that happen? Should we expect engineering and medical research breakthroughs? Give me a break!

  • Trevor
    July 01, 2010 - 19:51

    Anthony S from St. John's, NL writes: Perhaps Wilkins has some advice for aspiring artists on how to deal with all the naysayers they will encounter over the years?

    I'm sure he will. Get those grants and pad your resume as much as possible so as to get those juicy Canada Council ones and produce art here where less than 1% of the local audience can understand it.

    So wouldn't he be better off having this former TV host and former internet guru to be hanging around at Grenfell Art College then? He could take some courses at the same time. Lastly you'er just as judgmental as anyone here Anthony or can I call you Pete ?