Fonds RBSC-ARC-1755 - Zeljko Kujundzic fonds

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Zeljko Kujundzic fonds

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Physical description

8.35 m of textual records and other material.

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Archival description area

Name of creator


Biographical history

Zeljko Kujundzic was born in Subotica, Yugoslavia on October 23, 1920 and was the fifth generation of craftsmen of Turkish descent. He received his Master’s of Fine Arts from the University of Budapest and traveled under a scholarship from the Hungarian Ministry of Education to study Folk Art. During WWII he was captured and held in prison twice, first by the Germans and then by the Russians. His experiences during the war are captured and documented in his autobiography Torn Canvas, published in 1957.

Kujundzic lived and painted in Scotland from 1946 to 1956, and married his first wife Ann Johnson, with whom he had five children. The family then moved to Cranbrook, British Columbia in 1958 where he was a founder of the Kootenay School of Art (KSA) in Nelson, B.C., serving as its director from 1959 to 1963. During this time he painted among the First Nations people of the Kootenay region and conducted a series of workshops in pottery and ceramics with the First Nations peoples of the Caribou and Okanagan under a Koerner Foundation grant from the Anthropology Department of the University of British Columbia. In 1964 Kujundzic established the Art Centre in Kelowna, B.C., the Okanagan Summer Arts Festival, and formed the Contemporary Okanagan Artists group.

In 1968 Kujundzic accepted a position in the United States where he served as the head of the new Arts Department at Pennsylvania State University’s Fayette Campus. Kujundzic often moved between Penn State and the Okanagan between 1968 and 1982, and during this time received several grants and accolades, traveling extensively exhibiting his work and also to study the art of other indigenous cultures including stops in Mexico and Guatemala. He also met his second wife and fellow artist Elizabeth Campbell during this time. He retired from Penn State University with the rank of Professor Emeritus in 1982 and returned to the Okanagan Valley where he continued his artwork and leading workshops in various locations across British Columbia. In 2003, Kujundzic passed away in Osoyoos, British Columbia.

Kujundzic’s artistic media includes clay moulding, painting, woodblock printing, sculpturing, and metal, stained glass and weaving. He was also a writer and inventor, building a working solar kiln in 1976. He exhibited widely and his work has been staged in various parts of the world, including Great Britain, France, Spain, Italy, Canada, the United Stated, Mexico, South America, and Japan. He also completed many significant commissions, including the sculpture for UBC’s Thunderbird Stadium, and the “Gate of Life” holocaust monument in Pennsylvania.

Custodial history

Scope and content

The fonds consists of records related to Zeljko Kujundzic’s role as an artist as well as his role as an educator. There are also records related to his personal life. The fonds consists of three series: artist records; teaching and professional records; and personal and administrative records.

Records relating to the first series, Kujundzic’s artist records are divided into two subseries: artwork and projects, and exhibitions and publicity. The artwork and projects subseries contains records related to the production of his artwork, including drafts, studio works, sketchbooks, writings, poetry, and research and inspiration materials. It also includes several pieces of Kujundzic’s artistic media, such as his metal moulds and woodblock prints. The subseries exhibitions and publicity consists of records relating to Kujundzic’s public appearances and the exhibitions and galleries he was part of. It includes magazine articles, newspaper and press clippings, artwork commissions, posters and pamphlets, and photocopies of articles about Kujundzic and his art.

Records in the series teaching and professional records relate to his role as a professor and as a member and director of arts societies. This series is divided into three subseries: Kootenay School of Arts, Pennsylvania State University, and Professional affiliations. The series Kootenay School of Arts contains records of Kujundzic’s time as a teacher in the Okanagan, B.C., and records relating to the Art Centre in Kelowna. The subseries Pennsylvania State University contains records related to his time spent with the Arts Department of PSU and consists of teaching, lecture and workshop materials, correspondence between faculty, and records relating to his role as a professor. Professional Affiliations subseries contains records relating to the associations and societies he was part of and some that he founded, including the Sculptors’ Society of British Columbia and the Contemporary Okanagan Artists.

Records in the personal and administrative records series includes personal correspondence made and received by Kujundzic, photographs, family and biographical records, CVs, applications, and immigration and travel documents.

Notes area

Physical condition

Immediate source of acquisition

After Kujundzic’s death in 2003, his records were kept by his ex-wife, Ann, and also his children. His children donated the fonds to UBC Rare Books & Special Collections in 2016.


The records in this fonds were arranged by the archivist. Some of the news clippings and publicity material in subseries Exhibitions and Publicity were sorted into decades by Claire Kujundzic and they are filed accordingly. Some records were removed from the collection including duplicate material, receipts, and financial records.

Language of material

  • Croatian
  • English
  • French
  • Hungarian
  • Spanish

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No further accruals are expected.

General note

Photograph identifiers: RBSC-ARC-1755-PH-0001 to 3602

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Books associated with this creator will be catalogued separately.

Physical description

Metal moulds
Plaster moulds
Woodblock prints
Film reel; b&w

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The fonds was arranged, processed, and described by Jessica Tung, completed December 2016.

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