Although his work has taken him from B.C. to the prairies and the far reaches of the Arctic, the coast of Vancouver Island maintains a mystical connection for renowned artist Bill Zuk.
Currently serving as a professor emeritus in art education at the University of Victoria, Zuk has been named this year’s Ambassador of the Arts for the Metchosin International Summer School of the Arts (MISSA).
An accomplished digital artist, printmaker and sculptor, Zuk was born in Trail, B.C. and grew up on the Prairies before earning a master’s degree in art from the University of Alberta in 1970. His passion to learn about the arts and culture of indigenous people of Canada led him to teach the Inuit in the Arctic, as well as teaching in a coastal Tsimshian village in the Pacific Northwest.
Those experiences had a profound influence on Zuk in many different ways, he acknowledged last week at an event announcing his MISSA appointment at Coast Collective Gallery.
“You get a sense of the close, unique connection the arts have with the coast,” he said. “There’s a cultural richness of people on this coast dating back thousands of years that you won’t find anywhere else.”
Of the 59 indigenous languages in Canada, more than half are in B.C., he noted.
As for being selected as the summer school’s Ambassador for the Arts, he considers it an honour.
“It’s wonderful when the community acknowledges some of the things you have done,” said Zuk, who has a more than 20-year connection with the West Shore Arts Council and will be a jury member for Fairies, Fantasies and Folk Tales, an upcoming student show at Coast Collective.
“I’ve always had an interest in the arts scene on the West Shore, particularly with students and teachers because of the quality of the work and the people involved. Meeting the artists is always a treat.”
Cindy Moyer, executive director of MISSA, said it’s an honour to have Zuk as ambassador. “He symbolizes the lifelong connection between artists and teachers in the Sooke School District,” she said. “Artists teaching teachers who teach students who become artists embodies the lifelong cycle of the arts.”
The school runs from June 20 to July 3 on the grounds of Pearson College in Metchosin. For more information on the offerings or prices, visit missa.ca.