Fonds 2021-01 - Renée Van Halm fonds

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Renée Van Halm fonds

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  • Graphic material
  • Moving images
  • Photograph
  • Textual record

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ca. 2.5 m of textual records and other material

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Name of creator

(1949 -)

Biographical history

Renée Van Halm is a Canadian visual artist and arts educator best known for her installations, paintings, and collages. Born on July 11, 1949, in Badhoevedorp, Netherlands, Van Halm immigrated with her family to Canada in 1953. Van Halm graduated from high school in North Vancouver in 1967 and enrolled in the Vancouver School of Art (now Emily Carr University of Art + Design). Van Halm studied printmaking with Bob Evermon and Gary Bowden and graduated with honors in 1975, after taking time off to travel in Africa, Asia, and Europe from 1968-1971. While in school, Van Halm was an Adult Education Instructor for the North Vancouver School Board (1973-1974) and Vancouver School of Art (1974-1975). Van Halm was a founding student member of the Malaspina Printmakers Society in Vancouver (1974). In 1975, Van Halm moved to Montréal to attend Concordia University, where she earned her MFA in 1977 after studying under Guido Molinari and Irene Whittome. At this time, Van Halm worked as a Teaching Assistant at Concordia, and an Instructor at the Montréal Museum School of Art and Design. Van Halm was the Director of Galerie Optica (1977-1979), a contemporary art gallery in Montréal, where she curated and/or coordinated exhibitions including Suzy Lake, Bill Vazan, Robert Walker, Miroslav Maler, Pierre Boogaerts, and Paul Diamond.

In 1979, Van Halm moved to Toronto, where she helped found Mercer Union, an artist-run centre, and taught painting and drawing courses at York University as a Sessional faculty member (1979-1991). Van Halm also taught at the Banff School of Fine Arts (Banff, Alberta) as visiting faculty (1982) and the Associate Head (1984), and at the Ontario College of Art (Toronto) where she was the Course Director (1988-1989).

Van Halm was active in the Toronto arts community, serving on the Mercer Union Resource Board (1984-1990), Art Gallery of Ontario Canadian Contemporary Acquisitions Committee (1986-1993), Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery Board of Directors (1989-1992), Metropolitan Toronto Public Art Policy Advisory Committee (1990-1992), and various other public art selection committees. Van Halm also worked on projects related to the performing arts, designing and constructing sets for choreographers Denise Fujiwara’s Life Lines (1985) and Paula Ravitz’s Dorothy (1987), and designing costumes for the Clichettes’ play Up Against the Wallpaper (1988), for which Van Halm received a Dora Mavor Moore Award nomination.

Van Halm moved back to Vancouver in 1992, when she became an Associate Professor at Emily Carr University of Art + Design. Van Halm taught classes in the Painting Department and was Dean of the School of Visual Arts (1996-1999). Van Halm continued teaching as an Associate Professor until 2008, when she became Interim Dean of the Faculty of Graduate Studies, a position she held until 2010, when she was named Professor Emerita. In Vancouver, Van Halm continued to be active in the arts community, serving on the Vancouver Art Gallery Board of Trustees (1993-1996), Surrey Art Gallery Acquisitions Committee (1998-2001), Vancouver Foundation Arts and Culture Advisory Board (2000-2005), City of Vancouver Public Art Committee (2011-2016), and various selection panels and committees.

Nationally, Van Halm served on Selection Committees for the Canada Council Grant (1980, 1989, 1991, 1994 and 1996), and Canada Council Art Bank (1978, 1980, 1982, and 1991). Van Halm also served as a member of Canada Council’s Visual Arts Advisory Committee (1997-1999) and Royal Canadian Academy of the Arts Board of Governors (2011-2013).
Van Halm has been represented by S.L. Simpson Gallery in Toronto (1986-1998), Equinox Gallery in Vancouver (2000-present) and Birch Contemporary in Toronto (2001-present). Her work has been featured in numerous solo and group exhibitions throughout Canada, the USA, Italy, Germany, China, England, South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, and Australia. In addition, her work is held in many public and private collections, including by Air Canada, Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, Bank of Montréal, Burnaby Art Gallery, Canada Council Art Bank, Government of Canada Global Affairs, Kamloops Art Gallery, Musée d’art contemporain in Montréal, National Gallery of Canada, and the Vancouver Art Gallery. Van Halm has been commissioned to provide pieces for the Keesee Office Building (now Kirkpatrick Bank) in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, the South Hill community in Vancouver, the Joyce-Collingwood Skytrain Station in Vancouver, the Façade Festival at the Vancouver Art Gallery in Vancouver, and the West Vancouver Art Gallery in West Vancouver.

Throughout her career, Van Halm participated in numerous guest lectures, visiting artist series, and residencies, including at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, Halifax (1980), University of Lethbridge, Lethbridge, Alberta (1982, 1984, 1988, 1995, 1999, 2002); Emily Carr College of Art, Vancouver (1984, 1988, 1991, 1992); National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa (1986); Cité internationale des Arts, Paris (1990); Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, New York (1999); Banff Centre for the Arts, Banff, Alberta (2000); Contemporary Art Gallery, Vancouver (2002); Vancouver Island School of Art, Victoria, BC (2016); and many others. Van Halm has also spoken on many panels, including at the Western Canadian Museum Conference, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan (1983); the Social Theory and Art Conference at York University, Toronto (1990); the John Clark Symposium at the University of Lethbridge (1993); the Yokohama Citizen’s Gallery, Yokohama, Japan (1996); and the Nadiff Bookstore and Gallery, Tokyo (2005).

Van Halm’s work is often a combination of media, blending painting, sculpture, and architecture. Describing her artistic practice, Van Halm has stated that, “Cultural history and how we represent and inhabit architecture are fundamental to my work. Over the years I have looked at many subjects that reflect on art and design practices through the genres of still life and landscape as well as decor, abstraction and pattern.” Van Halm’s work has been inspired by a variety of sources, including early renaissance paintings, media images of disasters and social phenomena, modernist furniture and interior design, film set design, and images from magazines and the internet.

According to Van Halm, her “ongoing interests are with the politics of space, who owns it, who inhabits it and how we, as individuals, define and negotiate our private and public identities in the spaces where we live.” Van Halm currently lives in Vancouver and is continuing her artistic practice.

Custodial history

Renée Van Halm kept archival materials at her studio and packed them into 10 boxes. The archivist retrieved the initial materials from Van Halm’s studio on November 30, 2020, and made a subsequent trip on February 11, 2021, to the remaining materials.

Scope and content

Fonds consists of textual records, graphic materials, and photographs received, created, and collected by visual artist Renée Van Halm. Records relate to Van Halm’s practice as an artist and publicity, and as a teacher at York University and Emily Carr University of Art + Design.

Fonds has been arranged into six series: Artist practice files; Teaching, academic, and professional development files; Preparatory drawings and reference material; Notebooks; Photographic documentation of artworks; and Publications, exhibition catalogues, and promotional materials.

The Artistic practice files series chronologically documents the progression of Van Halm’s career through correspondence, press clippings, artwork planning documentation, artwork inventories, and promotional material like exhibition handbills and catalogues. The Teaching, academic, and professional development files series features records, including course outlines, lectures notes, CVs, and grant applications, related to Van Halm’s academic career at York University (1979-1991) and Emily Carr University of Art + Design (1992-2010).

The Preparatory drawings and reference material and Notebooks series contain artwork process documentation including drawings, photographs, and notes that Van Halm used plan her installations and paintings. The Photographic document of artworks series includes various types of photographs depicting Van Halm’s artworks. The Publications, exhibition catalogues, and promotional materials series includes materials that Van Halm collected which promoted her exhibitions and artworks. Van Halm collected some similar records in her Artistic practice files.

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Prior to donation, Van Halm arranged some of her records chronologically, some by subject, and some by type. This order has largely been maintained by the archivist.

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Records are in English unless otherwise specified.

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Restrictions on access

Access to some files and items is restricted; please consult the archivist.

Terms governing use, reproduction, and publication

The donor retains copyright to materials in this collection. The materials have been licensed under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC. This license allows others to remix, tweak, build upon, and redistribute materials for any non-commercial purpose, and only so long as attribution is given to the creator. Copyright belonging to other parties, such as text or images, may still rest with the creator of these items. It is the researcher’s responsibility to obtain permission to publish any part of this collection.

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