Tracing the Early Years of Kootenay Studio Arts at Touchstones Nelson

Tracing the Early Years of Kootenay Studio Arts at Touchstones Nelson

Aug 12 2014
The rise of Nelson's artistic prominence can be traced back to an important innovator in the early 1960s. The works of Zeljko Kujundzic are being featured in a special exhibit at Touchstones Nelson that also celebrates the early years of Kootenay Studio Arts.

Touchstones Nelson is taking visitors on a flashback to the 1960’s with the new exhibit Zeljko Kujundzic and the Early Years of the Kootenay School of the Arts.

Kujundzic, a fifth generation artist from former Yugoslavia, was hired in 1960 as the first principal of the newly formed Nelson School of Fine Arts’ three-year diploma program. An internationally acclaimed artist in his time, Kujundzic drew students to Nelson from across Canada and the US. His rigorous European “studio method” of instruction emphasized the use of local materials and trained multi-disciplined artists. The study of literature and philosophy were also included to enrich cultural depth.

Zeljko Kujundzic paints while students look on, c.1959. (Collection of Touchstones Nelson)

Major Influence on the Regional Arts Scene

Although Kujundzic was only at the school for four years, his influence marked the beginnings not only of KSA, but perhaps also of Nelson’s re-invention as the “Best Little Arts Town” in Canada.

The bold lines and iconic imagery in Kujundzic’s work reflect his Eastern European background, as well as the aesthetics of the times. His artistic practice included ceramic sculpture, painting, printmaking, metalwork, jewelry and numerous public are commissions, all of which will be featured.

The exhibition also traces the tenacious and tumultuous evolution of KSA through a collection of rare archival photographs and original course calendars.

A sample of Kujundzic's work that will be on display at Touchstones Nelson starting on Friday.

Explore Kujundzic’s diverse artistic practices and the history of the iconic Kootenay School of the Arts (now Kootenay Studio Arts at Selkirk College) through this unique exhibition.

The opening reception of the exhibition is set for Friday, August 15 between 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. at Touchstones Nelson (502 Vernon Street). Kujundzic’s family members will be in attendance and artwork by three of his daughters will be featured in the lobby.  

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