Friday, Oct 2 | 2:45-4:30 pm

ART PRACTICES | Room 210 (Instrumental Hall)

A Gentle Noticing: Nature Informing a Rhythm of Life

Doris Auxier

Over an eighteen-year period the presenter has developed a diverse body of work featuring natural fibres, post-functional objects and plant life from endangered ecosystems in British Columbia. Recalling the Christian monastic tradition of Rule or Rhythm of Life this presentation examines how the practice of nature based/environmental art can be embedded into the rhythm of an artist’s life.   This session will explore how spiritual reflection and environmental/natural subject matter have informed artistic practice, personal growth, soul and culture care, and university teaching.


Doris Hutton Auxier lives in Fort Langley, BC. She has lived and practiced art in Princeton, NJ; Chicago; and Tucson, AZ. Auxier's paintings and drawings are represented in multiple private and public collections. Auxier is Associate Professor of Art + Design in the School of the Arts, Media + Culture at Trinity Western University.  Her work surrounds issues of endangered ecosystems.

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Art-Science Collaborations in Contemporary Art Practice – An Artist's Perspective

Mary Abma

Collaborations between artists and scientists are not new; however, there have been an increasing number of such partnerships in recent years--partnerships that have led to innovative artworks and creative approaches to carrying out scientific investigations. Art and science are both disciplines that involve devising processes that allow their practitioners to work from hypotheses; both involve experimentation, and both aspire to discovery. Although their methodologies are different, both can share similar points of interest and goals.

Over the past several years, my artistic practice has been characterized by collaboration with scientists and others who work in scientific fields. Inspired to bring issues about destructive land use and ecological degradation to the sphere of visual expression, my work is in part lamentation and in part a call for redemption and restoration. Research and scholarship have long been hallmarks of my artistic practice, so it was a natural evolution of my process for me to seek opportunities to collaborate with those whose life work is dedicated to grappling with the issues I explore in my artworks. 

Through a discussion of two recent exhibitions, “In My Own Back Yard” and “The Widowmakers,” both of which have been enriched by the involvement of scientists from various disciplines, I will share from personal experience what it is like in the “trenches” of an art/science collaboration. I will describe how the two disciplines complement one another and are made richer for the collaboration. I will share details of my artistic practice, show images of my works, and tell stories that exemplify how science and scientific practice inform my art and how art in turn has the potential to bring viewers to a deeper understanding of scientific research and to inspire scientists to new, innovative approaches to their work. 


Mary Abma is a multi-disciplinary artist from Bright’s Grove, Ontario. Her work, which is idea-based, expands the boundaries of artistic practice to encompass the disciplines of science and history. Abma’s work explores how society’s choices are interconnected with our collective past and how they affect the broader landscapes of our world and the ecosystems in which we thrive. With numerous solo and group exhibitions, Abma exhibits regularly in public and university galleries. In January 2012, Abma’s work, displayed at the Center Art Gallery at Calvin College, was central to the j-term course, “Exploring the Arts to Foster Creation Care.”

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Data Mulch: A Phenomenology of Slow Photography

Helma Sawatzky 

We seem to live in what philosopher of photography Vilém Flusser has described as a photographic universe—a world in which we encounter photography everywhere all the time, a world we come to ‘know’ through photography.

The fact that photographs closely resemble ‘life as we know it’ makes it the perfect medium for fixing and perpetuating ideologies and myths. Paradoxically, it is also photography’s insistent ontological realism that makes it such an interesting medium for questioning the ‘nature of things,’ for complicating reality as we know it. The challenge for artists and photographers today is —to quote Flusser once more— “to oppose the flood of redundancy with informative images.”

In my photographs, I purposely engage in processes of making strange, of defamiliarization, in the pursuit of creating ‘informative images’—images that open up a space of dialogue and interaction about how we as a society envision and materialize our communities.

In my presentation I will discuss my work and the questions it raises about the complex environmental impacts of contemporary patterns of consumption, about the transformation of the world as we know it, and about the necessity of being reflexive about the fragility of, and responsibility to, our “carnal inherence in the more-than-human world.”


Helma Sawatzky is an artist, graphic designer and musician who lives in Surrey, BC. Her interdisciplinary academic background includes undergraduate degrees in music education (The Netherlands, 1991) and visual arts (Emily Carr University of Art + Design, 2009), and an MA in Communication (Simon Fraser University, 2011). She is currently pursuing PhD studies at the Simon Fraser University School of Communication. Her research focuses on photography, embodiment, and mediation, and explores the phenomenological dimensions of media—ways in which various media technologies participate in shaping and transforming the lived experience of time, space, and embodied being-in-the-world.

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