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Graduating KPU art students celebrate first in-person show in 2 years, in Surrey

‘Untitled’ exhibit features works by 8 artists at campus in Newton
Ciska Jans’ “The Aftermath” deals with her experience of being sexually assaulted by someone with genital herpes who passed it on to her. The work is featured in “Untitled,” an exhibit created by Bachelor of Fine Arts students at Kwantlen Polytechnic University in Surrey. (Photo: Tom Zillich)

For eight graduating Bachelor of Fine Arts students in Newton, it’s a joy to show their works to the public again – in person, not online.

For a couple of weeks, for the first time in a couple of years, the Surrey campus of Kwantlen Polytechnic University is home to an art show, “Untitled,” which features works by Cassandra St. Godard, Ciska Jans, Kacia Lee, Krystal Charlston, M. Lissette Isaak, Sue Johnston, Winnie Hui and Zoe Leung.

While the pandemic gave the artists more time to work, it also prevented such in-person exhibits from happening.

“We were able to create together here still, and now it’s very exciting to be back in-person with this, to have people come and see our work,” said Krystal Charlston, whose “Farm Girl” series reflects her rural life in Langley.

On Friday (April 8), Charlston’s scarecrow-like sculptures stood outside KPU’s Spruce Building during the exhibit’s opening-night celebration. Inside, the artist’s pink-coloured tires are displayed on a wall.

“The series is about myself, mostly,” she explained. “I’m very girly but I also work with tools and on a farm and shovel horse poop. You can do both, and that’s what I’m focusing on.”


Ciska Jans created two pieces, “The Aftermath” and “The Healing,” that deal with her experience of being sexually assaulted by someone with genital herpes who passed it on to her.

“There was no justice for me because of this, and I had a really hard time coping with it, and so I made art to kind of process how I was feeling, the pain,” explained Jans, who lives in New Westminster. “So this kind of looks like flowers, a floral bed covering with beads and watercolour, and this is the scene after it happened, the aftermath.”

Across the hall, “The Healing” features a series 23 framed drawings, like a grandmother’s picture wall. “This represents me trying to find my way back to my femininity,” Jans said. “The inspiration for this is that my dad told me that I was a flower that’s been stepped on, and that I’d always grow back.”

Richmond’s Zoe Leung created “Ephemera” with photographs of herself and some family members.

“I wanted to create sort of a landscape that offers an idea of a dreamlike quality, a dreamlike childhood, a memory landscape, like being able to walk through a hallway of your own memories and have them be up close, tangible and in your face,” Leung explained. “The idea is for people to walk through the installation, down these corridors, and get up close to the pictures.”

M. Lissette Isaak, a Langley resident, was 50 when she decided to go to university, starting in 2016. Now she has a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree with a minor in anthropology.

“Getting a degree is something I always wanted, but never did,” Isaak revealed. “It’s been a long slog – very fun but also very hard, but I’m very happy to have done it.”

Isaak’s “Gathered” drawings show the scrap items collected in the Port Coquitlam garage of her mother and step-father. “I loved the way Merv, my step-dad, arranged things – an old metal skate, shaving brush and door handles, things like that,” Isaak said. “I started taking photos of it, and these drawings are based on those, in the tradition of Still Life. I see it as a sort of collaboration, where he’s the curator and arranger, and I’m making recordings of them.”

Other works in the show include Cassandra St. Godard’s digital media, Sue Johnston’s earthenware clay, Kacia Lee’s embroidered felt and Winnie Hui’s “You” work, made of foam board and mixed media.

Artist bios and photos are posted to, and also

Fine arts instructor Liz Toohey-Wiese says the show is an opportunity for the students to celebrate all the hard work they have done over the past couple of years.

“Being able to share with friends and family and the community the work they have been doing is a really important part of being an artist,” Toohey-Wiese said. “And getting to share their ideas with the world in person is just a great opportunity for them they are really excited about.”

The exhibit is located in KPU’s Spruce building, on the south side of the Surrey campus, 12666 72 Ave.

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Tom Zillich

About the Author: Tom Zillich

I cover entertainment, sports and news for Surrey Now-Leader and Black Press Media
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