Thompson Rivers University will see two familiar names at the 2018 Mayor’s Gala for the Arts on Jan. 20. Visual Arts faculty member Donald Lawrence is nominated for the first time for Artist of the Year: Visual Arts and TRU alumni Andrew Cooper is nominated for Emerging Artist.
Both nominees have spent several years perfecting their craft and contributing to the local Kamloops art scene in various mediums.
Lawrence, who teaches primarily sculpting and drawing course at TRU, has been working hard on his own personal art as well as incorporating student research assistants to spread the knowledge. His goal in his work is to involve everyone in the realization of these projects.
In much of his work Lawrence likes to incorporate the wilderness, both in romantic themes and consumerism. Currently he is working on the Camera Obscura Project, which has been funded through the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.
The Camera Obscura Project focuses on pre-photographic optical devices and the functionality of image making. The project came to Kamloops in 2016 for the Midnight Sun Camera Obscura show, a show taking inspiration from the Midnight Sun Camera Obscura Festival 2015 in Dawson City, Yukon.
Cooper has been involved in much of the Kamloops Theatre scene since moving to the city to earn his major in theatre at TRU. Much of his theatre interest involves immersive and site-specific pieces of theatre.
With immersive theatre, Cooper aims to get the audience involved and active instead of passive watching like they would do at the cinema. Cooper is currently involved with the local production of Frankenstein, which holds some of the immersive elements he’s been working towards and recently he performed in the Western Canada Theatre production of a Christmas Carol late 2017.
Cooper is now working on building the artistic community in Kamloops with a new performing arts festival, The Hydra Performing Arts Festival, which will hold its inaugural festival May 2018. The festival will be introducing 12 local works to the local arts scene.
In regards to the Kamloops’ local art scene and the creative energy of the city, both Lawrence and Cooper hold the work of their colleagues and the city in high regard; praising the small city for its diverse and growing creative reach.
Cooper expressed that Kamloops is a “great place to launch a professional career in the arts,” a feat he has done himself since graduating from TRU.
From an educator’s point of view, Lawrence held TRU and the Kamloops Art Gallery highly in his records as a thriving location for students to grow with the close-knit community eager to help; “There’s so many opportunities for students here.”
The Mayor’s Gala for the Arts is the iconic in supporting local artists and bringing recognition to amazing artists.
“If you have the means to go and support the arts, this is the event to do it at,” Cooper said.