Thursday, Oct 1 | 11:10am-12:15pm

KEYNOTE 1 | Room 210 (Instrumental Hall)

In-Tending a Future 

Peter von Tiesenhausen

A sensation that we all deeply intuit is flowing through our vessels. This “sensation” is that we are doing something deeply reprehensible, that we are significantly out of harmony with the world we were born into. The effects of the disrespect with which we treat the earth are staring us in the face and manifesting in our very cells. Some respond with blame, anger or denial, others with despair, helplessness or escapist distractions, yet some others are challenged to search and experiment and try to generate solutions. My own reactions have now run the full spectrum. It has been a journey of slow awakening for me. Born in New Westminster, raised on a ranch in northern Alberta’s boreal forest with a rather conservative perspective, I spent 14 of my young adult years working in extraction industries and construction. First as an oil-field worker, then as a gold miner in the Yukon and finally on a heavy equipment crew, building the world’s southernmost earthen airstrip at Rothera, Antarctica. It was there that the reality of the state of the world truly came into focus for me. I left that, my last wage-earning job, twenty five years ago to establish myself as a full-time visual artist. Since then much of my life has been spent observing, reacting to and working with the land where I live in the making of my art. I have dwelt in the rural locality of Demmitt, Alberta for over half a century and the, for me, profound discoveries made there have shaped a life and work I could have scarcely imagined. I have learned to trust what I sense and let it lead me. This talk will highlight some of the most insightful creative moments of the last three decades and how that has led me to believe that positive civilizational change is possible. Start small; and so it began with myself.


Multidisciplinary artist Peter von Tiesenhausen has exhibited and lectured widely across Canada, in the United States and Europe. A recognized Canadian painter, sculptor and self described reluctant activist, Peter most recently garnered international attention for his 1996 “land as art” copyright claim, which prevented a gas pipeline from entering his property. He also spearheaded the construction of a straw bale, timber frame community centre “in the middle of nowhere” in an attempt to revitalize his region. Peter appears to make few, if any, delineations between his life and his artistic practice. His work also includes drawing, installation, social sculpture, performance and video. He was recently awarded the 2015 Lieutenant Governor of Alberta Distinguished Artist Award.

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