1980 - 1999 | Content in Context
The 1980s represented diverse forms of expression and fostered photo-conceptual work as well as romantic neo-expressionism. Student work was ambitious and outward looking due in part to a lively visiting artists program
In 1980, Robin Mayor facilitated the move to the new campus on Granville Island. The Charles H. Scott Gallery opened as a professional gallery with Ted Lindberg as its first director. Alan Barkley became president in 1986 and hired many new faculty members. To address the need for gender equity within the faculty, a concerted effort was made to hire experienced women artists and teachers. There was a growing interest in issue-based practices in the arts. In the curriculum, interpretation and content began to take precedence over technique and pure materiality. The commitment to design was expanded with the establishment of the Industrial Design Department.
In response to the new provincial mandate, the University implemented the Outreach Program under Nini Baird. The program included the Printmobile and workshops in remote communities throughout the province as well as part-time studies, summer school, and later the Florence program. An art educational television series, including Mark & Image (1988), was developed with the Knowledge Network by the late Tom Hudson, Dean Emeritus, along with Ann Morrison and Maurice Yacowar.
By the late 1980s the Granville Island building was too small to accommodate the burgeoning number of students. The Design and Painting Departments moved off Granville Island until, in 1994, the south building opened. The building also provided for a larger library to acknowledge the new degree-granting status (Bachelor of Fine Arts and Bachelor of Design) and the need for more academic courses. Along with the degree program came the name change from College to Institute. Mammoth graduation exhibitions with up to 5000 people attending, printing grad catalogues, and the student newspaper In Flux (formerly Planet of the Arts) were characteristic of this period of growth and increased visibility.
If the 1980s were focused on issues of gender then the 1990s brought forth those of cultural diversity and sexual orientation. A student exchange program was instituted. Digital technology became the primary toolbox for design and media practices. Dr. Ron Burnett, who became President in 1996, increased the commitment to digital technology and began redefining the University’s place in the art and design world.