More Fall Field Trips

Yesterday students in Nicole’s 4D Class photographed the Bear Creek Compound—an abandoned historic town site located just outside of Dawson. From 1905 to 1966, Bear Creek was the Klondike headquarters for corporate mining interests, acting as the administrative and repair center for the goldfield's dredging operations.

They also visited the Midnight Dome, a popular local geologic feature (actually a “knob” of metamorphic rock) that provides a panoramic view of the Klondike Valley.


Sarah's 3D students are spending their next few classes developing "in situ" projects at the paddle wheeler graveyard! We can't wait to see the final results.

It’s important for us to get out and visit as many local sites and places as possible during these early fall months—there is so much to explore, and winter is coming! A BIG thank you to The Klondike Experience for providing us with clean, safe, transportation so that we can see all of the sites.

Cole Pauls, SOVA Artist-in-Residence

Ever year, SOVA partners with the Klondike Institute of Art and Culture’s Macaulay House Artist Residency to bring up two Artists-in-Residence who work closely with our students on special projects, studio assignments and exhibitions. This fall we are so thrilled to be welcoming our first ever SOVA Alumni to take part in the SOVA Air Program: Cole Pauls! Cole Pauls is a Tahltan First Nation comic artist, illustrator and printmaker from Haines Junction, Yukon Territory. After completing the Yukon School of Visual Arts Foundation Year Program in 2012, Cole went on to graduate with a BFA in Illustration from Emily Carr University. 

Currently located in Vancouver BC, Cole is taking the indie comic book scene by storm with his comic series Pizza Punks, a self contained comic strip about punks eating pizza, and the incredible Dakwäkãda Warriors, Cole’s debut graphic novel, which is a bilingual comic about two earth protectors saving the world from evil pioneers and cyborg sasquatches. 

During his residency, Cole will be visiting Jeffrey’s English classes and will also be hosting a local book launch for Dakwäkãda Warriors while he is in Dawson in October. We can’t wait!

Field Trip to Historic Dredge No. 4

Students from Jeffrey’s English class took a tour of the historic Dredge No.4 this morning. This is the mining machinery that produced the snaking piles of rocks that define our local landscape. We try to squeeze as many field trips in as possible before the snow starts flying! Thanks to Goldbottom Tours for showing us around, and to Klondike Experience for providing transportation!

Field Trip to Ddhäl Ch’èl Cha Nän | Tombstone Territorial Park

One of the highlights of SOVA orientation is getting to visit Ddhäl Ch’èl Cha Nän | Tombstone Territorial Park, about a 1.5 hour drive up the Dempster Highway from Dawson. On Saturday, students visited the Interpretive Centre and hiked the Goldensides Trail, which offers spectacular panoramic views. This area is one of the most important cultural and hunting sites in the Traditional Territory of the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in, and is home to Beringian plants and insects found nowhere else on earth, along with many subarctic mammals!

Orientation 2019

Orientation wrapped up last week, and the first day of classes for our new cohort was September 5th. Our orientation introduces students to the community and to Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in territory. We want to say a huge thank you to our community for their part in welcoming our new students – from friendly smiles and greetings, to offers of couches to crash on, and guiding us through the history of this place, Thank you!!

Reading Group (too long didn't read)

The reading group TLDR is meeting again! Join us on Thursday, April 4th at 7:00pm in the SOVA Library. We will be reading “Writing on Art (Case Study: The Buddhist Puja)”, 2001, by UK-based artist and theorist Simon O’Sullivan. Drop in to the SOVA Library for a free printed copy, or email

This will be our last meeting of the semester.

In this group we read cultural texts to inspire wide-ranging dialogue on topics related (but not limited) to contemporary art. Tea and coffee will be served. No RSVP needed. This is a free event and everyone is welcome!

Jillian Tamaki visits the English class!

We were so excited to speak with award-winning cartoonist and illustrator Jillian Tamaki on Monday afternoon in Jeffrey's English class via Skype! Jillian answered students’ questions about their career as a professional illustrator and best-selling (and banned!) author, whose many accolades include winning a Governor General’s Award and the Caldecott Honor Award. Two of Jillian's books - This One Summer, and SuperMutant Magic Academy - are available in the SOVA Library. Come and have a look!



Last week students participated in the GARBAGE500, a collaborative project between SOVA students and KIAC Artist-in-Residence, Justin Tyler Tate.

A video of the event can be seen here. Photos by Justin Tyler Tate can be seen here.

“The GARBAGE500 is a toboggan building workshop and race. It challenges participants to create sustainably designed toboggans using only waste materials that will be driven down a snowy hill. In addition to simply racing to determine who is the fastest, participants will also be judged on their performative ability, ingenuity, style and other criteria which challenge racers to think about their project from a variety of angles.

During the workshop component of the GARBAGE500 participants will have to think about how the available materials, physics, and aesthetics will come together in the functionality of the final product. In each participant’s design, the toboggan will act as a bridge between the landscape and body. Participants are also challenged to explore how a toboggan can also be another form of art production such as performance, sound-art, sculpture, wearable or printmaking machine.

Through the competitive event of the GARBAGE500, participants will race their toboggans down a slope, hoping that their assembly skills endure the breakneck speeds that they will encounter. The competitors will be judged by a panel to determine which racer is the fastest, who has the best panache, whose design is the most ergonomic or durable as well as whose is the most dangerous.

The GARBAGE500 pushes participants to explore a multidisciplinary approach to the construction of functional art objects as they relate to both the body and the environment.” [Justin Tyler Tate]

TLDR (too long; didn't read)

The public reading group TLDR will meet on Wednesday, March 6th at 7:00 pm in the SOVA Library. We will be discussing the introduction to David Abram’s book The Spell of the Sensuous (1996). Advance reading is recommended for this meeting. We’ll be discussing pages 3-11. The text is available here.

In this group we read cultural texts to inspire wide-ranging dialogue on topics related (but not limited) to contemporary art. Tea and coffee will be served. No RSVP needed. This is a free event and everyone is welcome!

Final meetings for the semester:

  • Wednesday, March 20th, 7:00 pm

  • Wednesday, April 3rd, 7:00 pm

Meetings are in the SOVA Library.

Lisa Birke - SOVA Artist in Residence, winter 2019

Please join us for an artist talk with SOVA's visiting Artist in Residence, Lisa Birke, on Thursday, February 7th, at 7pm in the SOVA Lecture Room (upstairs).

Lisa Birke is an interdisciplinary artist whose work is a collision of video, performance art, and installation. In her work she explores the stories that we re-cite and how these inform our conception of the world and the tragi-comic perception of ourselves. Filmed in the Canadian landscape, absurd yet insightful performative acts become entangled in complex videos and installations that trouble viewer expectations through the mixing of referents from art history, popular culture and the everyday. 

Lisa Birke has had solo exhibitions across Canada and her short films have been screened internationally, including at: Centre for Contemporary Art (Scotland), Cologne OFF X (Germany), Vancouver International Film Festival, Slamdance Film Festival (USA), Arizona International Film Festival (USA), Athens International Film + Video Festival (USA), International Short Film Week Regensburg (Germany) and 12-14 Contemporary (Austria), among others. Birke is currently Assistant Professor of Digital and Extended Media at the University of Saskatchewan. 

For more info, please visit:

During her time in Dawson, Lisa will be working with the 4-D Studio class on a project involving performance for the camera. Please join us for her talk!

This event is made possible through our partnership with the Artist in Residence Program at KIAC (Klondike Institute of Art & Culture).

Coming Soon: Open House & Student Exhibition

Time for our students to toot their own triumphant horns!

The SOVA mid-year exhibition and Open House is Thursday, December 20, 2018 from 5-7pm at the Yukon School of Visual Arts.

Student works will be exhibited throughout out the school; come and enjoy some catered snacks provided by Auntie's and witness some of the incredible pieces that have been produced at SOVA over the past 4 months!

All are welcome!

Poster by our very own 4D instructor Nicole Rayburn.

TLDR (Too Long; Didn't Read)

Are you interested in getting together once a month in an informal reading group to discuss a topic in contemporary art and culture? TLDR (Too Long; Didn’t Read) is a proposal for such a group – a call to anyone who would like to participate. In the first meeting, Thursday, Dec. 6th at 7:00pm, at the SOVA Library, we’ll brainstorm some topics for subsequent meetings. The first reading is available here: Canadian Art magazine, Dirty Words: Interesting

The idea is that the readings and discussion will inspire and challenge our thinking but not challenge our schedules. It will be a collaboration of participants, and a fun social gathering. TLDR will involve much less preparation than a book club, but will be just as exciting! Please join us for the first meeting, or drop in to the next one, in January.

Alumna Aubyn O’Grady named as new program director of Yukon School of Visual Art

May 15, 2018

DAWSON CITY—Yukon College, along with its partners Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in and Dawson City Arts Society, is pleased to welcome Aubyn O’Grady as the new program director at the Yukon School of Visual Arts (SOVA) in Dawson City.

It is a long-anticipated return to the territory for O’Grady. She attended SOVA in 2010-11 and stayed on for several years working for Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in and the Dawson City Music Festival before heading south in 2013.

“I am excited to return to Dawson City and SOVA. I am honoured to have this opportunity to support and inspire future generations of northern artists as well as combine my artistic and educational practice,” said O’Grady.

In addition to a Certificate in Fine Arts from Yukon College, O’Grady holds a Master of Arts in Curriculum, Teaching and Learning from the University of Toronto and is currently a Ph. D. student at the University of Toronto. Her thesis research investigates the educational and environmental contexts of alternative schools established by conceptual artists.

O’Grady has coordinated post-secondary education and training programs for the Canadian Network for the Detection of Atmospheric Change (CANDAC) and the Department of Atmospheric Physics at the University of Toronto. Since 2015, O’Grady has also worked as a research assistant and archivist with Dr. Stephanie Springgay on her SSHRC-funded research initiative, The Pedagogical Impulse.

"Aubyn is going to bring energy and enthusiasm to SOVA and, as a former student of the School, she brings credibility also. Smart, engaging, and funny--I'm very much looking forward to working with Aubyn on the next chapter at the School. There are some big tasks ahead: growing enrolments and exploring the possibility of an indigenous visual arts program, to name just two—but I believe these projects are in good hands,” said Dr. Andrew Richardson, dean of Applied Arts at Yukon College.

O’Grady is also the creator of the national performance art collective, The League of Lady Wrestlers, which began in Dawson City and over five years grew to include sister leagues in Toronto, Montreal and Victoria, and involve over 100 performers. The project received international press coverage and included an outreach program that ran arts workshops for at-risk youth.

O’Grady believes the unique learning environment at SOVA and the community of Dawson City have enriched her career as an artist and educator.

“SOVA instructors cultivate resourcefulness in the students and the program provides incomparable opportunities for collaboration. Upon graduation, I had participated in two group shows, collaborated with two internationally-renowned teams of artists, contributed to a collaborative publication, and was  planning a solo show for the Confluence Gallery – quite an accomplished CV for an emerging artist,” said O’Grady.

“My experience is not an exception; there is a growing community of working artists across Canada that can speak to the benefits of beginning their artistic career at SOVA,” she added.

O’Grady will arrive in Yukon in late May and work alongside outgoing interim program director, Eldo Enns, before assuming her new position in June.

Maureen Gruben, Artist-in-Residence

October 26, 2018

We are so excited to have Maureen Gruben joining us for the next 10 days as the SOVA Artist-in-Residence. Maureen was born and raised in Tuktoyaktuk, NT; she creates multidisciplinary works that share intimate perspectives on contemporary life in the Western Arctic. Also joining us is Maureen's collaborator; curator, and writer, Kyra Kordoski.

The photograph below is of Stitching My Landscape (2017), a large-scale work of land art consisting of 111 ice holes connected with red broadcloth on an expanse of the frozen ocean surrounding Ibyuq Pingo, southwest of Tuktoyaktuk.

Welcome Maureen and Kyra!

photo: documentation of Stitching My Landscape (2017), Maureen Gruben

The Haunting of the Palace Grand

November 1, 2018

The Palace Grand Theatre in Dawson City is already haunted, but that didn't stop SOVA students from adding to the horror in several rooms of this historic building, managed by Parks Canada. Students and many other members of the Dawson community took over the entire theatre for a night of spine-chilling fear in honour of Halloween.

link to Facebook post?

SOVA So Far Exhibition

September 1, 2018

Yukon Arts Centre Public Gallery, Whitehorse

This alumni exhibition is a celebration of the artists and post-secondary arts education that we are privileged to have in the Yukon Territory. SOVA students come from far and wide, and create work across a wide range of mediums. In this exhibition, we are proud to showcase work from the following artists:

Kerry Barber
Darcie Bernhardt
Devon Renee Berquist
Ange Bonnicci
Dan Brown Hozjan
Izzy Burgwin
Rosie Butler
Lavinia Chu
Emily Chudnovsky and Justin Apperly
Adonika Jayne
Justice Colwell
Ellen Friesen
Chantal Fraser
Sophie Fuldauer
Annie Johnsgaard
Solvey Johnsgaard
Lucy Koshan
Tamika Knutson
Nathaniel Marchand
Vivian McIntosh
Bronwyn Mundell
Aubyn O'Grady
"Sarah and Rachel Seburn (Temporary Investments)"
Matthew Stoker
Merran Smith
Deirdre Sokolowska
Cari Tangedal
Karen Thomas

The exhibition runs:
Sept 6 - Oct 13, 2018
Yukon Arts Centre Public Gallery, Whitehorse

Opening reception:
Sept 6, 5:30pm - 7:30pm

image: Karen Thomas, Untitled (detail), 2017. Oil and cold wax medium on canvas. 22 x 36 in.

Hellos and Goodbyes (ch-ch-changes…)

October 1, 2018

It has been a season of changes recently for SOVA. Two staff members said goodbye, and we welcomed two new people to the school, in addition to welcoming a new program director.


September 27th was the day we said goodbye (sort of) to John Steins, SOVA’s Studio Technician since 2011. John is a master printmaker, a long-distance runner, a musician, a whiz with tools and technology, and a former mayor of Dawson City. We will miss him (and his expertise) around the school, and wish him an engaging and happy retirement!


Our Administrative Officer Kyla MacArthur's last day of work at SOVA was in early August. Kyla was with the school for over six years, and SOVA has been incredibly fortunate to have her in this position; she was often the first friendly voice that prospective students spoke to, and was a big source of support when they became students here.


We will miss Kyla tremendously, and will definitely miss all of the cat GIFS. (Yes, she is wearing golden cat ears in the photo!) Good luck meow!


Welcome to our new Administrative Officer, Ange Bonnici! Ange brings years of arts administrative experience with her, is a practicing artist, and is actually a SOVA alum! Welcome Ange, we are so happy to have you on the team!


Welcome also to Nate Jones who has joined our crew as the incoming Studio Technician. He is an experienced carpenter, professional photographer, and accomplished bread-maker. We are so excited to have him on our team!



Student Orientation 2018

September 12, 2018

Orientation during the first two days of school introduced SOVA students to the local community, and included a tour of the Dänojà Zho Cultural Centre, the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in Heritage Department, several historic buildings in Dawson City with Parks Canada, the Klondike Institute of Art and Culture (KIAC), and the ODD Gallery.

Field Trip to a Gold Dredge

On September 13th,  SOVA students travelled up Bonanza Creek Road to see the historic Gold Dredge #4, now almost fully restored. Ron from Goldbottom Mine Tours explained the workings of this incredible machine and walked us through its interior. Dredging for gold began in the Klondike in 1905 and continued until 1966. Dredging has permanently altered the landscape of the Klondike valley near Dawson City.

Field Trip to Tombstone Park

September 15, 2018

As part of Orientation, SOVA students visited Tombstone Territorial Park on September 15th. They explored the displays in the Visitor Centre and then met up with Cathy, a Park Interpreter, for a guided hike onto a subarctic meadow. Cathy shared her knowledge about Caribou moss (lichen) and the subarctic ecosystem. She then led an outdoor workshop that involved drawing rocks and book making. After that we drove further into the park to see the dramatic Blackstone Uplands.