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Tania Willard tabbed as inaugural director of future UBCO art gallery

When the doors open on UBC Okanagan’s massive new downtown campus, reportedly in 2027, it will include an art gallery space.

The new gallery, along with the FINA Gallery and UBCO’s Public Art Collection, will all fall under the umbrella of UBC Okanagan Gallery.

Today, accomplished artist and curator Tania Willard was tabbed by the school as the first-ever director of the UBC Okanagan Gallery.

<who>Photo Credit: UBC Okanagan</who>Tania Willard

Dr. Bryce Traister, dean of the Faculty of Creative and Critical Studies, says that it will become the region’s first university gallery with a specific focus on decolonial and inclusive practices.

“With our commitment to engaging with and being a leader for our local arts community, we are excited about the addition of this position to the gallery,” he explained. “With Tania’s background as an artist and curator, we are confident she will move the gallery forward positively.”

Willard is an assistant professor and director of UBCO’s Indigenous Art Intensive, an annual program that gathers students, artists and others to discuss contemporary ideas and discourse rooted in Indigenous art-making.

She’s worked with every scale of an art institution across Canada and beyond, and says she’s looking forward to joining the gallery team.

Willard notes that she’s firmly committed to increasing the representation of Black, Indigenous and People of Colour artists in UBCO’s permanent art collection.

“My goal is to manage the collection across campus and outdoors and also provide fresh programming and unique opportunities for UBCO students and regional communities to learn directly from the gallery, its exhibitions and programming,” says Willard.

“I see a growing future for the influence of a new university gallery as part of the region’s exciting network for arts and culture in the city.”

UBCO has identified a gallery mandate to support new acquisitions and commissions of Indigenous art and Traister says the appointment of Willard as a director will contribute to that vision.

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