Another year, another batch of talent making their mark in Vancouver’s local emerging art scene. This week marks the graduation of the final class to leave the Granville Island Campus at Emily Carr, and such a celebration is being accompanied by an official afterparty held in the underground project space at Celebrities.
“I don’t think there’s ever been a legal grad show afterparty. So I think this is the first one we’re doing right now. A lot of those other ones get shut down mostly. We just wanted to make it so people’s art would get seen by making it at a legal venue.” Ester Tóthová, one half of the show’s curators (alongside Lauren Ray), is a Slovakian native living in Vancouver while attending Emily Carr for photography. Alongside her practice, Tóthová has made a name for herself in Vancouver’s nightlife community as a house photographer and promoter for events like Glory Days at the Cobalt and Re-up at LED bar.
About Emily Carr’s illegal grad parties - the line between legal ones and illegal ones are blurred. Though official, sponsored EC grad parties have been held at venues like the Cobalt and the Biltmore in the past, the illegal ones are the ones that have become mythical in status amongst the Vancouver art community, with moments like Mac Demarco hanging from ceiling rafters and poking his thumb up his butt at some and police-enforced helicopter shutdowns at others.
The parties act as both celebrations for the new grads, but also showcases for other EC talent that are still working on their degrees. The blend of 3rd and 4th year students draws attention to the crop of students graduating next year who may not have had a chance to showcase their work in a gallery setting yet.
“I see it as a way to give people exposure as we’re expecting a lot of people to come through. We’ve also kept it pretty DIY - we could’ve advertised it through Celebrities or [event agency] Blueprint or whatever, but we chose to go very DIY and keep it between the community, and just tell people about it, invite people on Facebook, without the need to pay for ads or anything.” Tóthová explains.
“We wanted to keep it small but big at the same time! We didn’t want it to feel like something commercial, we want something that gives people a place to show their work within the community. Which is why we’ve set up local bands and DJs, as well.”
“And I’m still new to Vancouver. I’ve only been here for 3 years, going to Emily Carr. And what I’ve seen across Canada, and Vancouver as well, is because maybe how small it is - I think we have a great scene, with established artists as well as emerging artists, and I want to support that scene, which is why I’m very happy to be working on this show. There’s a lot of the bigger artist-run centres, or actual established galleries, who won’t always show emerging artists. So I think we’re very lucky to have a lot of smaller artist-run venues that keep the community together and give artists the space to express themselves.”
The works on display represent the diversity that makes up Vancouver’s art culture. “We really wanted to make it a show where you don’t just have “white bros”. I don’t want to make the art world seem like it’s full of white bros…but it kind of is. So, I made it my goal to have [the roster of artists] dominated by females, queer artists, and artists of colour. The bands that were booked by Lauren always have a female in them, and there’s the Switch DJ’s which are 3 girls. We just really tried to make it a safe space.” Tóthová emphasizes.
Among the diverse group occupying the roster are creatives practicing in a wide range of mediums. “Marisa [Kriangwiwat Holmes] and Tori [Schepel] were both nominated for the Lind prize, and Marisa actually won it. There’s people like Evan [Sproat], he does a lot of soft sculptures, as well as painting and ceramics. I have not seen a lot of his own shows, which is very surprising, because I consider him one of the most talented people I happen to know. And definitely Lauren, who put a lot of effort into putting together a slide show thats going to be on loop all night, with over 20 female photographers that she looks up to. Lauren is a person who’s always supporting the local community, whether its bands, photographers, and that’s something I really admire about her. She always supports the community - especially the girl squad community.”
All EC grads receive priority entrance. The Show at Emily Carr University of Art + Design runs between May 6th to 21st with over 300 works on display at the Granville Island campus. The university will be re-locating to its new Great Northern Way campus later this summer.