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  1. "Wiiwimta-eyḳ Thliitsapilthim", early 1970s.
    Ceremonial curtain of the Senior Chief of Kayukwit, painted by Ḳi-ḳe-in. Keeper of the history:
    Wiiwimta-eyḳ, Christina Cox. Courtesy of Wiiwimta-eyḳ, Christina Cox. L to r: Samantha
    Cox, Walter Cox, Sophie Jules, Wiiwimta-eyḳ,
    Ḳi-ḳe-in. Comox Community Hall, early 1970s.
    Photo: Ḳi-ḳe-in.

What’s Art Got To Do With It?

The First Annual Dean of Arts Prize for the Best Essay in Visual Literacy

Contest ends 5 pm, April 1, 2010

Please feel free to direct queries to

Every undergraduate student at UBC is invited to participate in an essay contest considering the relationship of the aesthetic and the political. The exhibition Backstory poses the question, you provide some answers.

There will be a $1,000 cash prize for the best essay. The essay will be featured on the Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery website.

Essays might choose to address some of the following questions: Is it possible to perceive art outside of its specific political context? Can works of art be interpreted persuasively as political even when an exhibition doesn’t make this context explicit? A broad spectrum of thinkers – theorists, artists, writers, scientists, and more – are drawn to examining the relation of art to politics. These two domains have been conceptualized in conflicting ways – as mutually autonomous or as inherently linked. How does Backstory: Nuuchaanulth Ceremonial Curtains and the Work of Ḳi-ḳe-in (at the Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery until 28 March 2010) propose a strategy for apprehending the political aspects of art? How do we understand this show in light of the fact that Ḳi-ḳe-in (Ron Hamilton), the painter, does not refer to himself as an artist? Are we required to come to an exhibition well versed in the social, political, cultural context of the work? And what if we don’t?

The guidelines:

Essays must be no longer than 1,000 words in length and submitted (4 hard-copies) to the Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery no later than 5pm on April 1st, 2010. Contestants must be full-time students registered in an undergraduate program at the University of British Columbia.

The Jury:

Dr. Adam Frank, Department of English, UBC
Dr. Bill French, Department of History, UBC
Prof. Marina Roy, Department of Art History and Visual Art, UBC
Dr. Shelly Rosenblum, Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery, UBC

For further information please contact: Jana Tyner at,
tel: (604) 822-1389, or fax: (604) 822-6689