A star pupil with star pupils: Tara Nicholson 

<em>Local’s Secret Quarry</em> from Nicholson’s thesis, Wilderness and Other Utopias Magnifying glass

Local’s Secret Quarry from Nicholson’s thesis, Wilderness and Other Utopias

No matter where in Canada MFA Studio Arts grad Tara Nicholson is, she captures her own unique view of this country.

This accomplished photographer has crisscrossed east to west, north to south, documenting the constructions within the landscape. Focusing primarily on northern Canada, her projects over the past five years have addressed Canadian identity and created narratives surrounding our collective view of northern landscape as places for isolation and safe haven.

After traversing the country from her native B.C. to Toronto for her BFA from Ryerson, she went back to B.C. to work in the film industry and to complete a post-graduate diploma at UBC in B.C. First Nations’ contemporary art practices. Following that, she landed a job at the Banff Centre for the Arts for a four-year stint as Photographer/Artist Assistant.

Not satisfied to hang up her travelling hat, she came to Montreal and Concordia for her MFA, which kept her moving. This time, to the remote islands of Haida Gwaii, B.C. for her thesis Wilderness and Other Utopias, which was selected for the Collision 6 exhibition at the Parisian Laundry gallery in St. Henri this past spring. “This was an amazing experience, exhibiting in such a beautiful, professional gallery,” she says.

One of only six master’s students in the highly competitive photography program, Nicholson was awarded the $5 000 Carolyn and Richard Renaud Teaching scholarship for her work as a TA. She was also chosen as one of three students representing Concordia at the 2009 Governor General Awards gala in Ottawa. As well, during her second year at Concordia, she received the Alberta Foundation for the Arts Award for her previous work out west.

“All of these experiences as well as seeing the work of my peers develop and change was a huge learning experience,” she says. “The facilities and staff at Concordia and Hexagram are amazing at creating the possibility for students to explore new media and work with a wide-range of equipment, resources and support.”

Her work further north was featured in Ignition, the MFA showcase at the Leonard and Bina Ellen Gallery (see Journal, May 13, 2010). She’s also exhibited at Vancouver’s Jeffery Boone Gallery and the 2008 Contemporary Exhibition of Photography in Calgary.

Nicholson has again returned to B.C. for a position teaching a summer undergraduate course at uVic in the Department of Visual Arts exploring Canadian identity, ecology and landscape-based work. “I love Victoria, being on [Vancouver] island and I am hoping to continue teaching here in the fall,” she says.


Concordia University