Life Stories

Life Stories

Life Stories brings to light a provocative array of visual and material culture from the University of Victoria Art Collections that engages with life stages and related rituals. The in-gallery exhibition ran December 2, 2020 - April 10, 2021 at the Legacy Art Gallery Downtown. The digital exhibition lives on here, and was shortlisted for the 2020 Digital Humanities Awards 2020, under the category of 'Best Use of DH for Public Engagement.'

All that we are is story. From the moment we are born to the time we continue on our spirit journey, we are involved in the creation of the story of our time here. It is what we arrive with. It is all we leave behind. We are not the things we accumulate. We are not the things we deem important. We are story. All of us. What comes to matter then is the creation of the best possible story we can while we’re here; you, me, us, together. When we can do that and we take the time to share those stories with each other, we get bigger inside, we see each other, we recognize our kinship – we change the world, one story at a time…

– Richard Wagamese

Art shapes our life stories, our sense of self and our relationships, as we journey through the life stages: Beginnings, Childhood, Coming of Age, Maturity, Later Life, and Passages. Life-stages imagery and objects may inspire memories and reflection, offer comfort, joy, and healing, and foster a sense of belonging. However, such imagery can also be a source of cultural stereotypes, engender marginalization, cause pain, and create feelings of loss.

Paintings, drawings, photographs, textiles, ceramics, and furnishings from the university collections evoke the plurality of experiences across the life course. Artist Elly Heise’s installation “The Bed Room” highlights the intertwining of memory, materiality, and life passages. Interwoven with the artworks are voices of writers, artists, scholars, and curators offering diverse perspectives on significant stages informing our lives. We invite you to add your own life stories to the conversation. “All that we are is story.”

A Note from the Curators:

The diversity of Life Stories is necessarily shaped by the scope of the University of Victoria art collections. We invite visitors to view the exhibition objects on display in conjunction with other aspects such as the four short films: Life Stories Conversations. These films allow us to bring in more diverse perspectives that were not possible to capture through the objects available to us. The filmed conversations explore topics such as complexities of identities and ages, societal factors, and the diversity of life experiences.

We sought to engage a diversity of experiences and perspectives through multiple installations, including the Interactive Guest Book; 'Related Repose' by artist Elly Heise in The Bed Room; and the Anthropology of Sound student soundscapes, which were projected onto the exterior of the Legacy Gallery at night. Moreover, while every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of information for the objects on display, and to embrace best practices for decolonization, we invite feedback from visitors to this site to support the continuous process of updating, modernizing, and decolonizing our sources of information.

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360 degree view:

360 degree view

Life Stories Exhibition