Art NOW Series: Jesse Birch

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Art NOW: Jesse Birch
Context Matters
12 pm, March 2, 2020
University Recital Hall
Free admission, everyone welcome

In my practice as a curator, I am deeply committed to context responsive work, which involves engaging with forgotten or underrecognized sites and histories, empowering those whose stories are often not heard, and celebrating diverse forms of expression. With this in mind I collaborate with my colleagues and community members, to develop thematic exhibitions that provide artists with unique contexts to respond to, while facilitating accessible entry points for local audiences.

In Nanaimo this approach began with a trilogy of projects relating to the resource industries that the city was built on. Black Diamond Dust (2014), Silva/The Mill (2015/16) and Landfall and Departure (2017/18) were expansive on and off-site projects that set Nanaimo in international dialogue through contemporary art. Black Diamond Dust and The Mill, have been published in book form and are distributed internationally through publishing agreement between Nanaimo Art Gallery and Sternberg Press, Berlin. In my talk I will discuss these projects and other context responsive exhibitions.

Jesse Birch is Curator of Nanaimo Art Gallery (2014-).  He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Arts (Photography) from Emily Carr University (2001), and a Masters of Arts degree in Art History (Critical and Curatorial Studies) from the University of British Columbia (2008). In 2007, he was a curatorial fellow at de Appel arts centre in Amsterdam. Birch was Co-Director/Curator of Access Gallery in Vancouver from 2008 to 2010 and Exhibitions Curator at Western Front from 2012-2014. He has also served on the Board of the Or Gallery (Vancouver) and was active with the Pacific Association of Artist Run Centres.  Recent curatorial projects include a trilogy of exhibitions that set the resource industries that built the small coastal town of Nanaimo in international dialogue through contemporary art. Birch has published in numerous exhibition catalogues and art magazines including C Magazine, Yishu, and fillip.  In 2013, he received the Art Writing Award from Ontario Association of Art Galleries for his essay on artist Kika Thorne for the Art Gallery of Windsor. From 2009-2013 Birch taught at Emily Carr University in the Critical and Cultural Studies faculty.




Art NOW wishes to thank the Southern Alberta Art Gallery for their collaboration in making Jesse Birch's visit and presentation possible.

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