We would like to extend a warm welcome to Andrea Valentine-Lewis, who is joining returning board members Aileen Bahmanipour, Sara Ellis, Jennifer Huang, Michael C.K. Ma, Madison Mayhew, Roxanne Panchasi, James Spetifore and Alena Webber to form the 2021/22 Board of Directors. Keep scrolling down to read their bios. This year’s slate was confirmed at our Annual General Meeting on August 8, 2021.
UNIT/PITT would like to fill 2 vacancies on the Board of Directors with individuals who have professional skills and experience in any of the following areas: fundraising, law, accounting, real estate, web development, public art, disability arts, language translation, community engagement. We’re committed to providing leadership positions to Black, Indigenous, racialized, trans, Two-Spirit, queer and disabled people, and people with lived experiences of poverty. For information on how to apply, contact Board Chair Jennifer Huang at governance [@] unitpitt.ca
The society would like to thank former Chair Sunny Nestler, former Treasurer Eleanor Wearing, and former Secretary Terra Poirier for their service on the Board of Directors. Sunny and Terra were involved in the hiring and orientation of Director Brit Bachmann, and all three were involved in the 2019 strategic visioning that saw UNIT/PITT reaffirm its commitment to support student, emerging and early-career visual artists and writers. Eleanor and Sunny collaborated on the development of an extensive and comprehensive Human Resources Manual, which has been an invaluable reference since the arrival of COVID-19. Thank you to Sunny, Eleanor and Terra for helping to guide UNIT/PITT through these last few years of transition, and we wish you well in your future artistic and social endeavours.
While we’re at it, we would also like to thank artist Miki Aurora for their ongoing work with the Programming and Archive Committees. As a member of the society and active volunteer, they have enriched our committee projects with their presence and contributions since 2020.
Aileen Bahmanipour (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 (Board Chair; Board Development Committee Chair) 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.
Madison Mayhew (Vice Board Chair, Human Resources Committee Co-Chair) is a writer, musician, and cultural worker interested in the environmental and economic specificities of the Pacific Northwest coast, working within Marxist understandings of aesthetic production, urban/rural space, and history. She is currently based on the unceded territories of the xʷməθkwəy̓əm, Skwxwú7mesh and Səl̓ílwətaɬ Nations, where she sits on the Board of Directors at UNIT/PITT Society and the Toast Collective, and works as the Admin & Governance Coordinator at 221A Artist Run Centre Society. She holds a MA in Comparative Media Arts from SFU’s School for the Contemporary Arts (2021) and a BFA in Critical and Cultural Practice from Emily Carr University (2017).
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.
James Spetifore 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.
Andrea Valentine-Lewis (Treasurer) (she/her) is an independent curator and writer based in so-called Vancouver, BC. She is also the Gallery Manager at Burrard Arts Foundation – a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting emerging artists through their Residency and Exhibition Programs. Andrea holds an MA in Art History from McGill University where she focused on plants in contemporary art, and a BA in Art, Performance and Cinema Studies from Simon Fraser University. Outside of art, Andrea likes working on DIY projects, gardening, cooking, and keeping active.
Alena Webber (Human Resources Committee Co-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.