Letters to the Editors

Union Gallery a ‘forum for ideas’

Dear Editors,

RE: “Results in for fall referendum” (Journal, Nov. 4, 2005).

The Union Gallery is the University’s student-run art gallery. It is the only student-run gallery of its kind in all of Canada, and it provides a polished and professional venue for students to show their work. The Union Gallery was just shy of receiving enough “yes” votes in the fall referendum to pass our request for a mandatory fee increase from $1.50 to $1.75, and [this is still the case] after the recount that took place on Monday night.

We were of course disappointed, but not discouraged. I believe very strongly in the Gallery and [I believe] that many of those who voted “no” did so because they don’t know about us or don’t understand what we do. And while the unfortunate voter turnout may not be a complete and accurate representation of the feelings of the whole student body, I think the results suggest that many students write the Gallery off as a venue exclusive to fine art, art history or film students. But this is a misconception, and being in these areas of study is not a prerequisite to benefiting from or appreciating contemporary art.

After all, how many of you are engineering, psychology, politics or history majors? Engineers and artists have begun to collaborate annually on creative projects in an event titled “Engineered Art” that was shown at the Union Gallery last year, and will be again this year. In the Oct. 18 issue of the Journal, Joanna Nicholson reviewed a show entitled First Glance that, among other things, encouraged viewers to interact with and reveal their psyche by interpreting various inkblots and leaving their interpretations on the wall in chalk. In September the Union Gallery had the privilege to show work by the professional artist Nadia Myre. Myre is a celebrated Canadian artist who intimately explores the themes of language, desire, loss and identity. She tackles the issue of how indigenous peoples are viewed by and within the predominant Canadian culture, and is thus clearly addressing the historical and political themes of colonialism.

Or perhaps you are an English, science, philosophy, economics or commerce student. Indeed who is more apt to appreciate the splendor of interpretation and thematic exploration that is frequently required of viewers of contemporary art than an English major? And despite our tendency to view ourselves as opposites, art and science are inseparable in the studio where your health, safety and the successful execution of your work depends upon an understanding and comfort with toxic and reactive chemical materials. Surely then, art also addresses the beauty of science and the science of beauty. But what is beauty? Art is the subject of, and the propellant behind, this and other powerful and perplexing philosophical questions, including “what is art anyway?” and “why does art matter?” For those of you in economics or commerce, the Gallery provides the opportunity to become familiar with the business side of art—one of the most lucrative and competitive businesses in the world. Please also note that I am writing now because of monetary concerns.

I just want to encourage all of you to readjust your view of that space at the end of the Stauffer atrium. It is not an exclusive or elitist club. It is a forum for ideas that we are all involved with here at this university. Art and expression is part of a thoughtful and vibrant community, so please go and check it out.

Vanessa Nicholas
President, Union Gallery Board

9/11 ‘unrelated’ to Remembrance Day

Dear Editors,

It was a lovely ceremony at Grant Hall on Friday. The poem was stirring. The address was concise and thoughtful. The last post and reveille were clear and piercing. The minute of silence was, well, really quiet. The choir sounded positively Vatican, and when everyone joined in the national anthem in both languages, it was heartfelt.

Yet I was confused: what were we commemorating again? The World Wars were mentioned in the address, and subsequent wars were hinted at. If nothing was said about Korea, it’s forgivable—November 11 is most closely associated with the two World Wars, after all. Fine. But what does Remembrance Day have to do with the hijackings of Sept., 11, 2001?

Don’t get me wrong: the student who played and sang his own composition, “American Dream,” sounded amazing. The lyrics were moving and were sung heartbreakingly well. Yet they were totally out of place. If Sept. 11 was an act of war, and it’s certainly arguable, then it was war on America. Someone will say that it was an attack on civilization or peace or some other universal value that Canadians share, and so we were equally under attack. Fine. But the lives tragically lost that day were not given in sacrifice, excepting those of rescue workers and, depending on your perspective, the hijackers themselves.

Sept. 11 is an enormous tragedy whose effects are still being felt.

It is certainly worthy of commemoration. But not at a Remembrance Day ceremony. It’s unrelated, and detracts from the occasion. Most importantly, the fact that we can confuse September 11 with the national and individual sacrifices made in Canada’s international wars suggests that we really have no idea what those sacrifices represent. November 11 is not a day to remember people dying, but people giving their lives, their limbs, their youth [and] their efforts, for a set of values and ideals that were represented by home, country and King, by the Dominion of Canada. Given, not taken. Lest we forget.

Joel Bastedo
MA Candidate, History

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