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UA: Some of the unsung heroes that keep universities running

February 27, 2018 — 

As University Affairs reports: 

There are many folks on campus who play important but unrecognized roles “behind the scenes.” We highlight a few deserving of recognition….

Art is all around

Liv Valmestad, acting head of the Architecture/Fine Arts Library, University of Manitoba

Liv (pronounced “leave”) Valmestad is an accomplished visual artist whose multimedia drawings, paintings and sculptural works are much sought after in the marketplace. She is also the acting head of the Architecture/Fine Arts Library at the University of Manitoba and teaches a course on visual literacy.

And, as if that’s not enough, she has devoted much of her spare time over the past 20 years on a one-person project to catalogue the vast and eclectic collection of outdoor sculptures and indoor artworks that adorn the grounds and buildings of U of Manitoba’s sprawling campus. “It’s a labour of love,” she says of what began as a small research project to document all the artwork that has been given to the university or left by former students over the years.

“No one knew what they had here,” recalls Ms. Valmestad, who arrived at U of Manitoba in 1997. “I started with the outdoor sculptures and went from there.”

Backed by several small grants, she has photographed, mapped and catalogued more than 30 outdoor sculptures. She also created a virtual tour and interactive Google map of the works that can be found on the university’s website. The collection includes pieces by famous Canadian artists like Armand Vaillancourt, Joe Fafard and Eli Bornstein.

Ms. Valmestad’s research also notably led to the restoration of a large steel sculpture from Expo 67 that was donated to the university and installed on campus after the Montreal fair had ended. Unfortunately, the scuplture was later cut in half by snow-removal equipment. “The knocked-off part had been sitting in the yard of the mechanical building for years,” says Ms. Valmestad, who was able to reconstruct the sculpture after discovering what it originally looked like, and has written a book about the search. “The manager was happy to finally figure out where [the part] came from.”

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