Series - Deborah Carruthers

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Deborah Carruthers

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5.5cm of textual records and other materials

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Biographical history

Deborah Carruthers is an inter-arts artist from Montréal, Quebec who engages in project-based practice. She earned a Diploma of College Studies in Social Science in 1980 from Vanier College in Montréal, before going on to earn a Bachelor’s Degree in Applied Social Science in 1986 from Concordia University in Montréal. In 2017, she received a Master of Fine Arts degree in Creative Practice from Plymouth University’s School of Art, Design, and Architecture in the United Kingdom.

In her life as well as her work, she is driven by an insatiable curiosity about what makes us tick, i.e. the who, what, where, why, when, and how. Topics of particular interest to her work include genetics, the environment, absence, and solastalgia (a form of mental or existential distress caused by environmental change). Her interest in genetics comes from being an identical twin who was often a research subject, thus making her want to know what was so compelling about her DNA. As for her interest in the environment, she grew up with a family log house on a lake in the Laurentian Mountains in Quebec that had no road access, electricity, or plumbing – a place she refers to as “heaven.” Having such a close connection to the wilderness, her father taught her to hike, fish, track, and identify birds and mammals. He also taught her that we are all inexorably connected to our environment and that the loss of any habitat can have a profound effect. These lessons are highly evident in her graphic scores and notes on slippages, her 2018 orchestral collaboration focused on climate change.

Carruthers maintains involvement with the artistic community through her various board positions. She represented CARFAC (Canadian Artists’ Representation/Le Front des artistes canadiens) – a non-profit corporation that acts as the national voice of Canada’s professional visual artists – on its Executive Board of Directors from 2010 to 2016. In 2010, she also became a member of the RAAV (L’association représentative des artistes en arts visuels du Québec) Board of Directors, on which she still serves; from 2012 to 2017, she also acted as RAAV’s vice president. In 2013, she joined the CARCC (Canadian Artists Representation Copyright Collective) Board of Directors, additionally serving as its Co-Chair from 2015 to 2018. Currently, she is a member of Berlin’s Society for New Music, Berliner Gesellschaft für Neue Musik e. V., and continues call Montréal home.

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Series consists of original graphic scores, conductor's score, working templates, notes, art prints, and photographs related to the work ‘slippages’ by Montréal based composer and interdisciplinary artist Deborah Carruthers. In 2017, Carruthers served as the inaugural Artist in Residence at the Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies, University of British Columbia (UBC). Deborah teamed up with science researchers at the institution as well as the UBC School of Music to find a way to creatively combine sound, science, and visual art for the purpose of increasing public awareness of the climate crisis. Carruthers conducted field work for the project in the Columbia Icefield along the border of British Columbia and Alberta. Inspired by the threatened glacial landscape, Carruthers returned to her Montréal studio and completed a series of paintings, 27 of which were selected and arranged to produce a graphic score. Graphic scores use visual symbols to represent music rather than traditional music notation. Because of their emphasis on the visual, graphic scores are frequently considered works of art in and of themselves. Moving from sight to sound is accomplished through the creation of a geography of the orchestra on a sheet of transparent plastic which is then used to map over Carruthers’ art works and determine which instruments take responsibility for which parts of the images. ‘Slippages’ premiered Friday, October 5th, 2018, at the Chan Centre for the Performing Arts with the UBC Symphony Orchestra under the baton of the symphony’s Director, Dr. Jonathan Girard. Project documentation includes a notebook holding hand-written texts revealing assimilation of glacial theory, inspirational preliminary sketches, and unique inserts; an audio/video recording of the premier; and a copy of a video component to be shown above the orchestra as it performs the work.

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Audio/visual elements exist as digital files. See RBSC staff to arrange access.

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Physical description

5.5cm of textual records ; and 5 prints

Accompanying material

The UBC Symphony Orchestra performance video is available as a digital file. Contact UBC Rare Books and Special Collections staff for details.
Staff note: S:\RBSC

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