Close-Up: Oxygen Art Centre Executive Director Genevieve Robertson on the Kootenay Connection

Oxygen Art Centre, Nelson, BC -

By Michael Turner
Founded in 2002 by former writing and visual art faculty at the Kootenay School of Art, the Nelson Fine Art Centre Society spent its first two years building an educational infrastructure before opening as the Oxygen Art Centre in January 2005. Over the next 12 years, the OAC established itself as a vital “interdisciplinary artist-run centre” that serves locals and visitors alike.
In January 2018, practising artist Genevieve Robertson joined the OAC as its executive director. Preview caught up with her a year into the job.
Preview: Is there anything about your time in the Kootenays that has come as a surprise to you?
Robertson: Arts organizations are doing amazing work, often with very limited human resources capacity and small budgets.
Preview: The Kootenays has a long history of art and artists. Is it possible to speak of a “Kootenay style”?
Robertson: What I fi nd most interesting is the diversity of art practices. A theme that I find prevalent is people’s connection to this region and their desire to link the issues here with larger social issues elsewhere.
Preview: What can you tell us about your next exhibition?
Robertson: Hildur Jónasson is an Iceland-born artist based in Nelson who works in printmaking, installation, performance and photography. Her exhibition focuses on a performance she made in Svalbard, Norway, using the shape and weight of her body as a tool to imprint the texture of the Svalbard glacier, a work that evokes impermanence and the futility of trying to capture the retreating ice. Hildur’s exhibition runs from December 1 to 22, followed by an experimental residency in January 2019.

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