Fern Helfand’s “Okanagan Log Pile” joins the Public Art Collection

UBC Okanagan Gallery acquires a new artwork for the Public Art Collection
Who: Fern Helfand
Where: Second floor hallway beside UNC 200 entrance

UBC Okanagan Gallery is pleased to announce the acquisition of FCCS Professor Emeritus Fern Helfand’s Okanagan Log Pile (2018) into the Public Art Collection. Measuring eight feet at its highest point by twenty-five feet in width, this large scale artwork is a photographic installation printed with UV ink and comprised of nine separate panels on sintra board. Okanagan Log Pile speaks to the multi-faceted and multi-generational relationships between nature and British Columbian identity: industry and socioeconomics, biodiversity, and ecological health.

In her artist statement, Helfand speaks to the symbolic representation of Okanagan Log Pile to the role trees play in our daily lives. She states, “Historically they have supplied us with fuel, warmth, shelter, spiritual sustenance, and a connection to the land. They enabled economic development through logging, lumber production, and the building of our homes, and they act as distinctive sets and backdrops for our many, famous recreational areas. This installation represents the multi-faceted aspects of the foundations trees provide and a reminder of their fragility due to forest fires, insect invasions and the need for sustainability into the future.”

Okanagan Log Pile is now on display on the second floor of the UNC building in the hallway adjacent to the UNC Ballroom.

Pictured above: Fern Helfand, Okanagan Log Pile, 2018, Photographic print on sintra board, 8’ x 25’, UBC Okanagan Public Art Collection, gift of Fern Helfand, 2022.

About the artist:

UBC Okanagan FCCS Professor Emeritus Fern Helfand is a photo-based artist, educator and traveler. She has an honors BA in Studio Art from York University and an MFA from the University of Florida. She taught photography at the University of Western Ontario from 1982 – 1989 and was honored with the opportunity of teaching photography at the Universiti Sains Malaysia in Penang, Malaysia from 1989 to 1992. For 10 months after teaching, she traveled and photographed in South East Asia. Fern returned to school in 1994, attending Sheridan College to learn computer graphics, digital imaging and animation.

In 1998, after some sessional teaching positions and freelance design and illustration contracts in Ontario, Fern moved to Kelowna BC for a position at Okanagan University College, which became the University of British Columbia Okanagan in 2005. Helfand retired from the Faculty of Creative and Critical Studies at UBC Okanagan in 2018. For nearly forty years Helfand has exhibited her photo-based work in group and solo exhibitions across Canada and internationally. In 2021, she co-founded Clayline Pottery Studio in downtown Kelowna.