The new curator at the Campbell River Art Gallery is stepping into her role with a head start – she’s worked there before.
In 2013 Jenelle Pasiechnik did a co-op placement at the gallery as part of her degree at UVic.
“I was education and programming outreach assistant,” she said. “I did a lot of work in the community with different organizations and First Nations bands assessing their needs and also their relationship with the gallery and then coming up with strategies to make that relationship more fulfilling.”
And now she is back in her dream job, as the full-time curator. She started at the beginning of January.
“This is my first real shot at a full time curatorial position,” she said. “I feel really appreciated and respected here, which is wonderful. In art history in particular, and many other arts degrees, sometimes it is difficult and people don’t end up working in their field. I feel really proud that I’ve been able to get a full time position, a career position.”
As the curator, Pasiechnik sees herself as a storyteller and translator.
“Highlighting different work to educate viewers about different trends in contemporary art, how they reflect the social and cultural issues that are important today and how they can engage our community in experiences of learning and appreciating art itself,” she said. “And facilitating and creating a space where people can ask questions and have discussions and maybe even create artwork themselves.”
After graduating with her master’s degree in art history and visual studies in 2015, Pasiechnik stuck around Victoria, volunteering and working projects and contracts here and there “just trying to… put a career together by piecing little jobs here and there.”
For awhile she was working four or five jobs at a time.
“It feels uphill for awhile and then suddenly you feel like you are really getting somewhere,” she said.
Though she has moved to Campbell River, Pasiechnik is continuing work as an assistant curator on a project for the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria called “In the Present Moment” curated by Haema Sivanesan.
“It was really nice to because the curator, Haema, approached me and asked me to work on the project with her, which felt really really good,” she said.
The project is about the relationship between contemporary art, Buddhism and socially engaged practice. The first part is going to be a retreat in 2019 and the exhibition will open in 2020 or 2021.
“For a young curator like myself it is really a privilege to work on such a large scale project and watch a more experienced curator work through every step,” Pasiechnik said. “It’s been a really good mentorship process for me so I will probably be applying a lot of the things I am learning down there up here at the gallery.”
Pasiechnik started her art history bachelor’s degree at the University of Calgary and transferred to UVic part-way through, and while she was searching for curatorial jobs across the country she was hoping to stay on the Island.
“It would have been really sad and tragic to have to leave,” she said with a laugh.