This is a long overdue welcome to our 2020/21 Board of Directors! Aileen Bahmanipour, Sara Ellis, Jennifer Huang, Madison Mayhew, James Spetifore and Alena Webber have joined Mike C.K. Ma, Sunny Nestler, Roxanne Panchasi, Terra Poirier and Eleanor Wearing for a full slate of 11 directors.
The new directors were selected through an open call for applicants in Spring 2020, and have committed to two-year terms. As you’ll read below, each individual brings unique lived experiences and interests to U/P that will guide the direction of the organization through 2021 and beyond.
Thank you to past director Molly Randhawa for her participation on the Programming Committee in 2019/20.
Aileen Bahmanipour (Incoming Secretary) is an Iranian-Canadian artist based in Vancouver since 2014. She has received her BFA in Painting from the Art University of Tehran and MFA in Visual arts from the University of British Columbia. Bahmanipour has exhibited her work in a body of solo and group exhibitions in Iran as well as in Canada, including her solo and group exhibitions at Vancouver’s grunt gallery, Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery, Gallery 1515, Hatch Art Gallery, and Two Rivers Gallery. She is the recipient of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council grant in 2017, Gail and Stephen A. Jarislowsky Artist in 2019, and Early Career Development grant from BC Arts Council in 2019. Website
Sara Ellis (Archive Committee Chair) is the Art Librarian at UBC’s Music, Art & Architecture Library. Her background is in libraries and education: in addition to experience in academic and special library settings and public library service, Sara has worked as an art history instructor, developing curricula and teaching undergraduate and graduate courses. In her free time, she enjoys cooking and trying out new recipes, and road-tripping to explore arts and culture sites and historic small towns.
Jennifer Huang has a background in art history and english literature and is interested in photography, video art, archives, and community based initiatives. Her goal is to work toward creating accessible and informative spaces and platforms. She also maintains a photographic practice. Website
Michael C.K. Ma is a faculty member in the Department of Criminology at Kwantlen Polytechnic University, British Columbia. He works in the area of social justice, community advocacy, anti-racism, and harm reduction. His current research is in the area of drug use. He is a founding member of The Social Justice Centre, and a current member of the Vancouver District Labour Council. In the past he was very active with the Chinese Canadian National Council – Toronto Chapter and the Metro Network for Social Justice. His academic training is in sculpture, art history, and social/political thought.
In 2017, Madison Mayhew graduated from Emily Carr University’s Critical and Cultural Practice program with a minor in Social Practice and Community Engagement. Since then, she’s spent time creating and delivering arts programming for elementary school students in East Vancouver, always contextualized in relation to contemporary pedagogical social practice artwork. She also self-publishes a zine project called Horticultural Counterpowers, a collection of art criticism and critical theory essays about how plant life figures, metaphorically and literally, within Marxist conceptions of urban space. She is currently working as 221A’s Admin Assistant and completing her MA in Comparative Media Arts at SFU’s School for the Contemporary Arts.
Sunny Nestler (Board Chair, Board Development Committee Chair) is an artist whose work is rooted in drawing and studies mechanisms of biological life using a process that mimics DNA replication and mutation. They also work in video, installation, performance, and painting. Their subject matter cross pollinates biological processes, DIY communities, and unusual landscapes with the political affect of relatedness and adaptation. Sunny completed an MFA at Emily Carr University of Art and Design in 2013, where they teach drawing and natural science. Sunny was formerly the programs manager for the Bike Kitchen and has been involved in community bike shops since 2007 as a founder, organizer, mechanic and administrator. Sunny is originally from New York and was raised in Arizona, where they helped run an artists’ collective and underground venue that was a hub for a diverse range of activists, artists and musicians.
Roxanne Panchasi is an Associate Professor of History at Simon Fraser University who works on modern French culture, politics, memory, military technologies/imaginaries, and film. She is the author of Future Tense: The Culture of Anticipation in France Between the Wars (2009), and her current research focuses on nuclear weapons and testing in France and its empire since 1945. The founding host of New Books in French Studies (a podcast series on the New Books Network since 2013), Roxanne is the mother of one sassy kid, and the owner of one absurd little dog.
Terra Poirier (Outgoing Secretary) is a photographer and book artist interested in memory, contested space, labour and (in)visibility. Many of her projects are activist interventions or autobiographical graphic narratives concerned with storytelling, agency and the disruption of erasure. Terra is the creator of the 2018 artist book Non-Regular: Precarious academic labour at Emily Carr University of Art + Design, made in collaboration with 26 instructors and artists. Terra’s activist art is informed by her experiences as a queer teen mother, her previous anti-poverty and prison justice organizing, and her day job translating social justice research into accessible forms. She also works with long exposure pinhole photography to explore memory, place, and their disruptions. Terra’s films on mothering, queerness and poverty have screened at festivals worldwide, and she’s mentored through the Gulf Islands Film and Television School, the Access to Media Education Society, and the Vancouver Queer Film Festival. terrapoirier.ca / @t.pois
James Spetifore (Fundraising Committee Chair) is a screen printer, artist and graphic designer based in so called Vancouver BC. Being involved in the local arts and culture scene is one of his biggest passions and aside from being involved with UNIT/PITT, he is also involved with CiTR & Discorder Magazine as a graphic designer, is currently on the board of directors for Unibrow Comedy and Zine festival, and has also founded Good Luck Studios, a print studio based out of Red Gate Arts Society.
Eleanor Wearing (Treasurer, Human Resources Committee Chair) is a white settler who grew up on unceded Syilx/Okanagan territory. She brings experience from the local music community, where she has spent 5+ years as an organizer, musician, writer and radio producer. She has worked at local record label Mint Records, helped organize Music Waste Festival, written for Weird Canada, and worked as the Volunteer Manager of CiTR Radio and Discorder Magazine. Eleanor holds a BA in Human Geography from UBC. She is interested in disrupting the predominately white, cis, male artistry in Vancouver’s music community, the history of art communites in Vancouver, and issues of accessibility.
Alena Webber (Board Vice-Chair) is a multidisciplinary artist who explores issues surrounding mental health, identity, and the human experience. She believes in art as an avenue for joy, a means to cultivate community and foster understanding through expression. Her practice moves between drawing, mixed media, and photography — always with an eye for the interesting. Alena holds a BFA from Emily Carr University, and has a background in creative management, art direction, content creation, and event planning. Community being an underlying theme in much of her work, she has been involved with the Vancouver Art Gallery, Mural Fest, Art Book Fair, and Creative Mornings. She plans to apply this diverse background in her pursuit of becoming an art therapist, specializing in youth who have experienced trauma. Using art as a tool to generate engaging experiences which connect, express, and maximize positive impact is something Alena is passionate about making accessible.