Upstream Benefits Symposium – MEET THE ARTISTS

Sunday, November 26
2pm – MEET THE ARTISTS event at Touchstones Nelson
‘Upstream Benefits: Artist-Run Culture in the Kootenays’ exhibition artists Courtney Andersen, Susan Andrews Grace, Amy Bohigian, Brent Bukowski, Boukje Elzinga, Ian Johnston, Maggie Shirley, Natasha Smith, Deborah Thompson and Rachel Yoder. Presented by Exhibition Curators Arin Fay and Miriam Needoba and co-produced by Touchstones and Oxygen Art Centre.

All ten exhibiting artist will join Arin Fay in a ‘MEET THE ARTISTS’ talk as part of the symposium programming at Touchstones. Arin will use her approximately 20 years of knowledge of these artists and their practices to lead an animated discussion about the exhibition, which asked these artists to show a pivotal piece from the artist’s past and a new work in the context of their practice as rural artists.

The artists involved in this exhibition example how artist run culture in the Kootenays has been supported and developed over the last decade.  The place in which we live is an important part of the creative process; artists are informed and fostered by place, where they live and where the work was conceived and created. Each artist will display an early instrumental piece – from their tenure here in the Kootenays, in tandem with a new work which will illustrate the evolution of their respective creation/styles/approach. This exhibition is about artist run culture, about the creative process and the importance of place.

More info:


Touchstones Nelson Museum of Art and History is located at 502 Vernon Street in Nelson, BC



Courtney Andersen is a West Kootenay artist based midway between Ymir and Salmo. In the middle of nowhere. He has been practicing art since he was knee high to a grasshopper. Courtney studied at Nova Scotia College of Art and Design and holds a masters degree. He taught at Kootenay School of Art for twenty-three years in the areas of mixed media and design.


Susan Andrews Grace’s visual art conceptually echoes and honours textile tradition as well as engaging historical and theoretical concerns about human, and sometimes specifically, feminine existence. She has exhibited her works in public galleries over the last thirty years, mostly in Canada. Her bibliography includes Craft Perception and Practice: A Canadian Discourse, Volumes 1 & 2. She’s received Saskatchewan Arts Board, Canada Council, BC Arts Council, and Columbia Basin Trust (CKCA Major Project Award) grants in visual art. Her most recent solo exhibitions were Underwritten at gallery 2, Grand Forks, BC (Aug 22- Nov 15, 2015) and Red Thread, Read Through at Langham Gallery in Kaslo, BC (Oct 6 – Nov 22, 2015). Her most recent group exhibition was 150 Creative Acts at the Kootenay Gallery of Art, 2017. Susan Andrews Grace is also the author of five books of poetry; the most recent, Philosopher at the Skin Edge of Being (Signature Editions, 2013) was shortlisted for the Fred Cogswell Award for Excellence in Poetry, 2014. She holds an MFA Creative Writing (Poetry) and BA (Philosophy).


Amy Bohigian is a new media artist, filmmaker and educator. Her new media work includes Roundtable, Wide Shot/Close Up and Arc: A Story Between Two Frames, which have been exhibited at Oxygen Art Centre, Touchstones Nelson, and Kootenay Gallery of Art.

Amy owns and operates Watershed Productions Inc., where she directs and produces video based projects across sectors and platforms to create social impact. As an independent filmmaker, Amy Bohigian has directed and produced award-winning films that include Love It and Leave It (2008) Conceiving Family (2011) and Dreamers and Dissidents (2015) commissioned by BC’s public broadcaster, Knowledge Network. She founded the Summer Film Camp for Youth in 2007 and has instructed hundreds of youth in all aspects of filmmaking. She has been a guest lecturer and faculty member with the Digital Arts and New Media Program at Selkirk College in Nelson, BC since 2012.

Amy was named Nelson BC’s cultural ambassador (2014) in the category of film/video production. She is currently the Co-chair of the Board at Oxygen Art Centre in Nelson BC. She is married Jane Byers and they have two children, Franny and Theo.


Brent Bukowski is an artist that works primarily with reclaimed materials. He reanimates discards into compositions that explore environmental and historical themes. His work achieves a high level of detail and has been applied to a variety of sculptural forms: series work, installation, architectural, set design and public art.
Born and raised in Regina, Saskatchewan (1968), he has lived on an acreage in the mountains of the West Kootenays since 1992— where he and his partner, artist and curator Arin Fay, have designed and constructed their house and gardens and have raised two children.


Boukje Elzinga makes art in a variety of media, mainly oil painting, drawing and sculpting at her studio in Hills, B.C. She was born in the Netherlands, grew up on a farm in southern Ontario, studied biological sciences at the University of Guelph completing a BSc and worked as a nurse in British Columbia. She obtained a BFA in studio arts at the Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design and has taught fine arts and art history in the region for many years.  She was a founding member of the ALFA Guild in Nakusp and of the Oxygen Art Centre in Nelson


Ian Johnston is an artist based in Nelson, BC. Born in Moose Factory, Ontario and raised in Ottawa, Johnston studied architecture at Algonquin College, and Carleton University in Ottawa and with the University of Toronto at Paris. Prior to opening his Nelson studio in 1996 he spent five years working at the Bauhaus Academy in post Berlin Wall East Germany. At the Bauhaus, together with two architects, he developed and facilitated a series of workshops around themes of urban renewal and public intervention in a tumultuous time of cultural transformation. Johnston’s art practice is a self-described ‘journey’ of bodies of work that began with a focus on consumerism and the physical waste stream. His current work Fine Line has switched attention from consumption culture to the obsessive-compulsive behaviour that epitomizes it. Johnston has participated in residencies and shown his work in public galleries and museums in Canada, Asia, Europe and the United States.


Maggie Shirley’s work is based on thematic research into the human body, environment and technology, primarily taking the form of performance, installation and socially-engaging projects. She graduated with an MFA from UBC Interdisciplinary Graduate Studies in 2013. Prior to doing her Masters, she did her BFA at the Limerick School of Art and Design in 2008. While she lived in Ireland, she was honoured to act as an Invigilator for the Irish Pavilion at the Venice Biennale (2007). After her undergraduate degree, Shirley returned to Canada and worked at the Banff New Media Institute (The Banff Centre). She is currently living in the Kootenay region of BC where she is Curator at the Kootenay Gallery of Art and continues to make art.


Natasha Smith holds a BA Hons. in Fine Art Printmaking and has been a practicing visual artist for 20 years. Natasha’s personal and physical environment inspire her most recent work, which combine printmaking, collage and painting.  Natasha is a self-defined teaching artist and has taught at the Kootenay School of the Arts, Oxygen Art Centre (where she was a founding member) Metchosin International Summer School of the Arts and Summer Series in Red Deer. Natasha has been an artist in residence in Slocan Valley and Nelson area schools as part of the Artstarts, Artists in the Classroom Program. Natasha exhibits regularly and works from her studio in Krestova, B.C.


Deborah Thompson is a visual artist, art instructor and independent curator. She was born in Toronto, Ontario. She attended the Ontario College of Art (now OCADU) from 1980-84 of which her final year was spent studying in Florence, Italy. After art college, she then spent over a decade teaching environmental leadership in wilderness areas from East Africa to the North American arctic during which she received a B.A. in Experiential Education from Prescott College. She attended the University of Montana to pursue an MFA in painting, upon graduating she taught as an Adjunct Faculty in the painting program. In 1999 she moved back to Canada to teach at the Kootenay School of the Arts in Nelson, BC . She currently resides in Nelson, BC. where she teaches and works in the residency and exhibition program at the Oxygen Art Center of which she is a founding member. She worked as a curator for Touchstones Nelson: Museum of Art and History from 2009-20012. She has been awarded both for her curatorial work and studio practice. She is currently working on a new body of work with the assistance of a major project grant from the Columbia Kootenay Cultural Alliance. She has done a number of residencies including the Vermont Studio Centre and the Banff Centre.


Rachel Yoder is largely self-taught as an artist. Working as a colour printer in a custom photographic lab for 5 years and designing/planning, and building custom houses for 25 years, made constructing paintings from blocks, lines, and grids of colour, a natural progression.

Restricted, repeating structure is a major component of her work. Rachel combines the strength of grids and blocks and line with depth of colour to form canvases that are concerned with creating space and movement. How to build visual structure in a canvas, what elements can be used to make a painting, and how they become a unity, are some of her concerns. Rachel’s work explores the ways in which colour differences, contrast, tone and hue affect response and interpretation.

Rachel Yoder’s paintings have been shown in a variety of alternative venues and have exhibited at Touchstones Museum of Art and History, Nelson, BC, Oxygen Art Centre, Nelson, BC, Gallery 378, Nelson, BC, and Hidden Garden Gallery, New Denver, BC. In 2011, she received a Major Project Grant from the Columbia Basin Trust/Columbia Kootenay Cultural Alliance. The resulting body of work, Memento Mori, was exhibited at Kootenay Gallery, Castlegar, BC, 2014 and Campbell River Art Gallery, Campbell River, BC, 2015, and is currently on display at Kalein Hospice Centre, Nelson, BC.

Rachel lives and maintains a studio in a mountain valley near Nelson, BC.



Arin Fay is a curator, writer, and artist living in the interior of British Columbia. Areas of special interest include: publications, curatorial writing and advocating for art and artists. Arin has curated and toured several exhibitions in British Columbia, including Marianne Nicolson’s ‘Waterline’ and Toru Fujibayashi and Tsuneko Kokubo’s ‘Regeneration’. She holds an English degree (with distinction), and has attended the Banff Centre – Writing with Style Program (2010), and undertaken a residency at the Mackenzie Art Gallery in Regina Saskatchewan (2016). Arin has been an active participant in the arts and culture community in the Kootenays for over twenty years, as an artist, volunteer, board member and curator. Her female writer focused art series Between the Lines has exhibited widely, and several images reproduced for publication: Jean Rhys: Scrittrice ipertestuale, 2011; Horsefly Literary Magazine (Cover art – Issue #5), 2008; Nod Magazine (Issue #9, February 2009). Arin is the Curator at Touchstones Nelson Museum of Art and History in Nelson, British Columbia.


Miriam Needoba is a filmmaker and new media artist and Executive Director of the Oxygen Art Centre in Nelson, BC. Miriam graduated from Emily Carr University with a BFA in film/video in 2001 and her short films, documentaries and net art works have been screened and exhibited nationally and internationally. She is a member of the International Cinematographer’s Guild (I.A.T.S.E. 669) and director of the independent media production company Small Town Films Inc.

Needoba has been the director and program manager at Oxygen Art Centre since 2012. With supporting and celebrating rural artists at the core of the Centre, Needoba has founded several legacy projects over the last six years, including the popular Annual Youth Arts Festival and the Annual Oxygen Art Market. For her final legacy contribution, as she will be leaving her post in December, Needoba is producing the ‘Upstream Benefits’ project for Oxygen Art Centre.



‘Upstream Benefits – Rural Art Symposium’ is a 4-day-long symposium that explores and celebrates the role and impact that the arts have in rural communities and will bring into focus artist-run culture in the Kootenays.  Symposium programming includes multiple panel discussions, artist talks, literary readings, a night of performance art and music and an art exhibition.  All symposium programming is free to attend and everyone is welcome!  (Donations are appreciated.).

For more information and to see the symposium schedule link here

Oxygen Art Centre gratefully acknowledges support for this programming from Columbia Kootenay Cultural Alliance, Columbia Basin Trust, British Columbia Arts Council and Province of British Columbia, Touchstones Nelson Museum of Art and History, The Writers’ Union of Canada, Elephant Mountain Literary Festival, Pacific Association of Artist-Run Centres, City of Nelson, Region District of Central Kootenay, Hall Printing, Nelson Star and the Hume Hotel.


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