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Art and controversy coming to UBCO

One of Jonathan Hobin’s works shows child models depicting torture of inmates at the U.S. Abu Gharaib prison.
Image Credit: Contributed

KELOWNA - A new exhibit designed to provoke thoughtful discussion on controversial art is coming to UBCO on Monday.

Art and Controversy is both the title and theme for a day of free exhibits, dialogue and a panel discussion at UBC’s Okanagan campus Nov. 4.

“The works in this show will be all the ones that we have seen to have generated controversy,” UBC Professor Robert Belton says. “What we’re hoping to do is involve not just art students but members of the community that don’t normally talk about these things.”

The exhibition will be mounted this weekend and available for public viewing starting on Monday.  It will feature the work of UBCO art students as well as that of one of Canada’s most controversial artists, Jonathan Hobin

“Bringing in Jonathan Hobin is of great benefit for the community,” says Kelsie Balehowsky, a fourth-year Fine Arts student who received a UBC Tuum Est grant to facilitate the event. “The discussion will bring to light critical issues in how we perceive public art.”

As a student and contemporary artist, Balechowky says it is important to raise social awareness about controversial art and creative expression.

“Art isn’t just something you stick on the wall,” agrees Professor Belton. “It’s actually a trigger or catalyst for some kind of intellectual debate and we’re trying to use this as an opportunity to demonstrate that there is a critical rigour to what these people were doing.  They're not just making 'stuff'."

The exhibition runs from Nov. 4 to 8, from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Fine Arts Gallery in the main foyer of the Creative and Critical Studies Building.  It will feature a slide presentation by Johathan Hobin as well as works by Kassy Davis, a recent graduate.  The artists will be present for a special viewing from 5:30 p.m. to 6:15 p.m.

Jonathan Hobin will also present a public lecture in the UBC Student Union Okanagan Theatre from noon to 1 p.m. followed by a public panel and discussion in room ADM026 of the University Theatre.

The exhibit, lecture and panel discussion are open to the public free of charge.  For more information, visit this website

To contact the reporter for this story, email Adam Proskiw at, call (250) 718-0428 or tweet @adamproskiw.

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