Lindsay Kirker

ABOUT

Name
Lindsay Kirker

Role
Student

Program
Fine Arts

Faculty
Creative and Critical Studies

Campus
Okanagan (Kelowna, BC)

Education
Fine Art Diploma, MacEwan University

Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA), University of Alberta

Hometown
Calgary


“A good teacher points you in the right direction. But you have to find the answers yourself.”




Lindsay’s Story


Master of Fine Arts student vividly illustrates how following our true nature leads to unexpected success.

FINE ARTIST LINDSAY KIRKER CRADLES A STEAMING CUP OF COFFEE in her studio nestled among the rolling hills of Okanagan orchards. While it feels remote, her studio is located in University House on the edge of UBC Okanagan’s growing campus. A cabin-like building tucked behind a pond and down a narrow path through a field, it’s home to the Faculty of Creative and Critical Studies Master of Fine Arts student studios.

As she discusses her large, striking oil paintings that frame the walls, Kirker moves from broad smiles to careful looks. There is surprise in her voice as she considers how she got here.

“In junior high, the art teacher always sent me outside and said: ‘Paint whatever you see.’ I hated school and so that was my best memory of school. I always look back and wonder, was she done with me and wanted me out of her classroom — or did she see something in me?”

The ninth-grade teacher must have seen more than a disruptive student in Kirker, who recalls being the only one sent outside during class time to paint.

Find out more about our Master of Fine Arts “I must have been a brat. But to just sit in nature and paint, I was like — ‘This is it, I love this.’”

Those grade-school sojourns to paint what she saw outside evolved not only into an enduring passion for painting but the pursuit of a graduate degree in fine art.

Angled over her cup of coffee in the cozy atmosphere of her studio, Kirker explains why UBCO was the natural fit.

“I applied to four different schools and got into a few but the others just didn’t feel right. I looked into UBCO and loved the relationship with the surrounding environment.

“The way that the campus was here out on the edge of Kelowna and integrated with nature appealed to me. This is a place where I have space to develop my own ideas and not be influenced by everything around me,” says Kirker, who also liked that her classes would be small and she would be working away from big city centres.

 

A MEETING OF MINDS
When she met her graduate supervisor — Assistant Professor Samuel Roy-Bois, an award-winning artist whose large-scale installations explore how architecture and the built environment contribute to our understanding of the world — it all clicked for Kirker.

“It was like meeting someone else who was speaking my language. I knew this was where I wanted to study.”

While Kirker and Roy-Bois work in different mediums, both share a preoccupation with how the built environment intersects with nature.

“Sometimes you feel instructors are molding you towards what they’re interested in,” says Kirker. “But that’s not how I feel at all with Samuel. He encourages me to paint what I’m drawn to and I love that.

“A good teacher points you in the right direction. But you have to find the answers yourself.”

It’s clear from her paintings that Kirker has found a unique point of view. The canvases pinned to her studio walls depict buildings at various stages of completion that seem to merge into natural landscapes.

Asked to explain where she derives inspiration, Kirker tilts her head pensively and looks up at the deeply-layered blue and green oils of her work Dissociation.

“It’s a feeling. I don’t really think too much about what I want the viewer to see. If I thought too much about that, it would interfere with the work I want to produce.”

With a little further inquiry, she muses that her paintings are a way to underline how humans have profoundly changed the natural environment.

Dissociation, 72″ x 96″, oil on canvas

BUILDING BLOCKS
Kirker found her inspiration during routine runs around Kelowna. She began to pay particular attention to construction sites and took notice of things people usually overlook, like how concrete slabs are used in buildings.

“Buildings and construction can become a way to understand our relationship with our own inner nature. I think what’s inside us is in that,” says Kirker, motioning to the hills outside her studio window. “We are connected to nature — to the land, the hills, the growth and the oceans,” she says, returning her gaze to her painting. “So, if we are building in a way that’s disconnected to the environment, we are living our lives in a way that’s disconnecting with what’s inside us.”

The meaning behind her work becomes a little clearer as she unravels her relationship to nature and the built environment. And despite the broad-brush explanations of her creative process, it’s clear she is driven by a very specific need to connect and communicate.

“I have this idea that if you work really hard on something you’re passionate about, it will work out. I watched a lot of Oprah growing up,” says Kirker, shifting from a slow and thoughtful look to a wide smile.

“It’s so important to constantly take two steps back to reflect on how you want your life and your school experience to work for you.”

 

TRUANT TO TEACHER
Kirker says she has enjoyed how the MFA program balances independent studio time and collaborative work with other students and the broader university community. She’s currently preparing for an exhibition that will be part of her graduate thesis.

“I really value having the chance to show my work. To get it out in the gallery and just to have it surrounded by white walls, you are forced to look at it differently.”

In a twist that Kirker could not have imagined in middle school, she also had the opportunity to work as a teaching assistant for a critical art theory class. Never having been a keen student, she is surprised by how much she loves teaching.

“I really feel like I made the right decision to come here. I enjoy teaching and interacting with students and feel like I am contributing to a greater conversation outside of my studio walls.”

Kirker vividly illustrates that following your passion can lead not only to good, but often unexpected results.

Asked what’s next, she responds without hesitation: “I want to teach. I never thought I’d say that.”