I am an interdisciplinary artist living and working on unceded xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish) and səl̓ílwətaʔɬ /Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh) territories.
I work with pinhole photography, text, photo-transfer, book works and installation to represent memories comprised of fiction and nonfiction, nightmares, dreams and wishful thinking. I’m interested in how distortions can contribute to identity and rewrite history — both personal and collective. I’m also interested in absence and gaps — in memory, art, and communication — spaces that invite searching, projection, engagement, misunderstanding, and new versions of the same story. A major focus of my practice is digital and long exposure pinhole photography to create unsettling and fragmented landscapes.
I was born in London, England and spent my childhood on the move with and without my family, from Toronto to the Northwest Territories, to Montreal and back, from the Comox Valley to Vancouver and its suburbs, sometimes living in tents, and for a while, a drive-in movie theatre. Later, as a young lesbian mother, I kept moving, searching for community and security for my family. All of my work in memoir and landscape is grounded in this itinerancy.
My interest in place and storytelling—especially whose stories are told and whose are erased—led me to undertake Memory Block, a photo-text project about community memory in my once working-class, immigrant neighbourhood in the throes of gentrification. The project—which is ongoing—has to date been realized as a book work and as a projected and print installation for group exhibition at Presentation House Gallery (now the Polygon) for the 2017 Lind Prize for Emerging Artists, for which I was shortlisted.
Bringing together my interests in labour and in/visibility, I created the artist book Non-Regular: Precarious academic labour at Emily Carr University of Art + Design in collaboration with 26 instructors and artists and published by UNIT/PITT Projects October 2018. Order the book and learn more at nonregular.ca. A related project, Sessional Office, a photo-text installation concerned with the intersection of space and precarious artistic labour, was exhibited in 2019 at Mónica Reyes Gallery in Vancouver alongside Pia Massie’s Mattering Map Redux.
Other recent highlights include:
In 2019 my series Boon: Olympic Village, one year later, was exhibited as part of the grunt gallery’s Urban Screen, and my pinhole work was part of the Polygon Gallery’s group show Dog Days. In 2020 I was fortunate to be awarded a BC Arts Council Early Career Development Grant to engage in an extended mentorship with Vancouver printmaker and publication artist Aimée Henny Brown—a collaboration that stretched to 15 months as we navigated the COVID-19 pandemic. On Mothers’ Day 2021, I installed a response to the ongoing renaming underway at Grandview Park on Commercial Drive. My iteration, Single Moms Chilling Park, speaks to the site’s history as a gathering place for low-income, single mothers—myself included. Later in 2021 I was commissioned by the art/mamas collective to take pinhole photographs of an online event they organized during their Plot residency at Access Gallery and I was also pleased to speak about my own experiences of mothering and education precarity on another of their panels.
In June 2022 I will be travelling to Santa Fe, New Mexico for a month-long residency at the Santa Fe Art Institute. My residency was awarded under their 2020 labour theme but had to be rescheduled so I am delighted to be attending with the 2022 revolution-themed cohort. I will investigate sustainable models for engaged mentorship in the arts. I’ll be posting to my blog and on instagram so follow along for updates.
In the fall of 2022, I will be exhibiting my pinhole photographs at Vancouver’s Queen Elizabeth Theatre.
In 2018 I completed a decade-long BFA in Photography (Art + Text minor) at Emily Carr University of Art + Design, and was awarded the Governor General’s Academic Medal and the Saralee James Memorial Award. Prior to working in book media and photography, I made short films about mothering, queer identity and poverty and these received awards and screened at local and international festivals. I’ve also taught video production at the Gulf Islands Film and Television School, Access to Media Education Society and through the Vancouver Queer Film Festival.
Follow me on instagram.
2018: BFA in Photography, minor in Art + Text, Emily Carr University of Art + Design (with distinction)
2003: Electronic Media Design Program, Langara College
Selected exhibitions / visual art
2022: Uncertain Ground, Queen Elizabeth Theatre, Vancouver (Oct 2022)
2021: Single Moms Chilling Park, public art installation, Vancouver
2020: The Work of the Work, ECUAD faculty exhibition
2019: Urban Screen, grunt gallery, Vancouver
2019: Vancouver Art Book Fair
2019: Dog Days, Polygon Gallery, North Vancouver
2019: Mattering Map Redux & Sessional Office (dual exhibition with Pia Massie), Mónica Reyes Gallery, Vancouver
2018: Vancouver Art Book Fair
2018: The Cultch Gallery, Vancouver
2018: Photobase: Re-imagined Memories, North Vancouver Community Arts Council
2017: Canzine Vancouver
2017: Pride in Art, Queer Arts Festival, Vancouver
2017: The Lind Prize, Presentation House Gallery, North Vancouver
2015: Are you sure?, Campbell River Art Gallery (solo show)
2015: Verstehen, Campbell River Art Gallery
2015: Geometry of Knowing: Part 4, Audain Gallery, Vancouver
2014: Gimme Shelter, Concourse Gallery, Emily Carr University, Vancouver
2012: Specimen, private studio show, Vancouver
2011: What’s Love Got to Do With it?, private studio show, Vancouver
2010: Chinatown: Past, Present, Future, Vancouver Archives, Vancouver
Art Mamas. Commission of pinhole works for publication. Access Gallery, Vancouver. Forthcoming in 2022.
Berardini, Adi. “Non-Regular Interview with Terra Poirier.” Femme Art Review. Oct 2018. bit.ly/farNR
Bozikovic, Alex. “The problem with public-private partnerships: mediocre buildings.” The Globe & Mail. Apr 29, 2018 (web) / May 5, 2018 (print). https://www.theglobeandmail.com/arts/art-and-architecture/article-how-to-design-a-mediocre-building/. Comments and photo credit.
Carter, Sue. “A recent study paints a grim portrait of academic contract life at Canadian post-secondary institutions.” Quill & Quire, Dec 2018. bit.ly/quillquireNR
Freeman, Lisa. “Precarious Academic Labour, The Struggle is Real.” Social Justice Centre, Kwantlen Polytechnic University. Oct 25, 2017. https://www.thesocialjusticecentre.org/blog/2017/10/25/precarious-academic-labour-the-struggle-is-real
hannah_g (editor). PaperWait Contemporary Art Writing, vol. 19 (2016-17). p 74. http://www.aceart.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/PaperWait-2017-complete.pdf
Harter, John-Henry, New Social Movements, Class, and the Environment, cover, Cambridge Scholars Publishing, Newcastle, UK (2011).
Liinamaa, Saara. The New Spirit of Creativity: Art, Work and Compromise, photos, U of T Press (forthcoming, 2022).
Michaelis, Catherine Alice. Camera’s Eye – Artist’s Books Unshelved. Bainbridge Island Museum of Art. June, 2021. https://youtu.be/wKoSIfo6bTI.
Poirier, Terra. “Colonialism and the Olympic Games” (introduction, sections 1, 2, 3, 4, 7, since edited), Wikipedia (2014).
Poirier, Terra. Non-Regular: Precarious academic labour at Emily Carr University of Art + Design, UNIT PITT Projects, Vancouver (2018).
Poirier, Terra. “What is the Value of Art Education? Why Students Should Fight for Fair Labour at ECU.” Woo, Spring 2018, p 16. woopublication.ca/issuu/.
Prudhomme, Julia. “Exhibition Statement: Suzo Hickey, ’Like the Back of My Hand’ Terra Poirier, ’Are You Sure?’” Campbell River Art Gallery website (August 2015). http://crartgallery.ca/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/SUZO-TERRA-ExStatement-PRINT-copyfor-online.pdf
Sandals, Leah. “Precarity a Major Concern for Canadian Art-School Faculty,” Canadian Art, Sep 26, 2018. https://canadianart.ca/features/precarity-a-major-concern-for-canadian-art-school-faculty/
Simunovic, Roni. “Erasure: The pinhole photography diary project of Terra Poirier,” Geist Magazine, vol. 27, no. 100 (Spring 2016): 50-51. https://www.pressreader.com/canada/geist/20160330/281535110222821
Smith, Janet. “Capture Photography Festival announces shortlist for King Edward Canada Line Station contest,” The Georgia Straight. (Jan 18, 2017). https://www.straight.com/arts/1020896/capture-photography-festival-announces-shortlist-king-edward-canada-line-station
Van Evra, Jennifer. “Vancouver art gallery goes to the dogs with furry photography show,” CBC Radio, Jul 12, 2019. https://tinyurl.com/polygondog.
Additional press coverage of Non-Regular here.
Bibliography / self-published
! (aka Pussy & Balls), flipbook, 2017, edition of 25.
Are you sure? 1971–2007, photo/text book, 2015, unique.
Are you sure? 1973–1993, photo/text book, 2015, unique.
Are you sure? 1973–1981, photo/text book, 2015, unique.
List dependents, illustrated & mixed media pop-up book, 2011, unique.
The Mechanical Reproducer in the Age of the Work of Art, zine, 2013.
Memory Block, Vol 1, photo/text book, 2017, edition of 100.
Awards + grants
2022: Santa Fe Art Institute residency
2020: BC Arts Council Mentorship Grant
2018: Governor General’s Silver Medal for highest academic achievement, undergraduate, ECUAD
2018: Saralee James Memorial Award, ECUAD
2018: Shortlist, Capture Photography Festival Canada Line Competition
2017: Finalist, Phillip B. Lind Award for Emerging Visual Artist
2005: People’s Choice Award for Best Short, Vancouver Queer Film Festival
2004: Gerry Brunet Memorial Award for Best BC Short Film, Vancouver Queer Film Festival
2004: First Place, Digital D.I.Y. Competition, Vancouver Queer Film Festival
2002: Canada Council travel grant: Toronto
2001: Best Overall Film and Best Experimental, National Student Film Festival
2000: Two Canada Council travel grants: Winnipeg & San Francisco
1998: Video In Producer Mini-grant
2022: Labor/Revolution residency, Santa Fe Art Institute, New Mexico
2016: Artist residency, Obracadobra, Oaxaca, Mexico
2015: Research residency, Art Print Residence, Barcelona
Talks, performance, service
2017-2022: Multiple talks & presentations for Non-Regular. Details: nonregular.ca/outreach
2021-present: Board member, MARFEC
2021: Speaker, Art Mamas panel, PLOT, Access Gallery
2021: Visiting artist, Community Arts Practices class, UFV
2019-2021: Board member, UNIT/PITT Projects
2019: Panelist, Practice, ECUAD
2018: Guest presenter: Making Zines & Chapbooks, Creative Writing Dept, Anne Stone, Capilano University
2017: Guest presenter: Making Zines & Chapbooks, Gender Relations & Social Issues, Lindsey Freeman, SFU
2017: Panelist: What is precarious academic labour? How does it affect our teaching and learning communities? Emily Carr University.
2017: Guest presenter: Making Zines & Chapbooks, Creative Writing Dept, Anne Stone, Capilano University
2017: Guest presenter on self-publishing & artist books, Writing for Graphic Forms, Sarah Leavitt, UBC
2015: Workshop instructor, Phototransfer, Campbell River Art Gallery
2013: Jury, Coast is Queer Short Film Award, Vancouver Queer Film Festival
2012: Reading at thrilLITERATE, Vancouver
2010: Reading at thrilLITERATE, Vancouver
2010: Reading at Word is Out, Vancouver
2009: Jury, Short Documentary Award, DOXA Documentary Film Festival
2008: Jury, Gerry Brunet Memorial Award, Vancouver Queer Film Festival
2007: Artist talk, “First-person storytelling and DIY filmmaking,” Out on Screen Scholarship Program
2004: Guest presenter, “Women Confronting & Creating Culture,” Women’s Studies, Amber Dean, Capilano College
2002: Mentor, PrideHouse, Access to Media Education Society & Simon Fraser University
2001, 2003, 2007: Mentor, Out On Screen Scholarship Program
2000–2003: Instructor, Gulf Islands Film & Television School
2000: Mentor, Art Smarts, Galiano Island Community School
All titles available through Video Out.
Rated F, 2004, digital video, 8 min, co-directed with Donna Lee
Bear River, 2004, super 8 film, 3.5 min
Spaghetti 8, 2002, super 8 film, 2.5 min, co-directed with Adam Garnet Jones
The Adventures of A.D.D. Girl, 2000, super 8 film, 4 min, co-directed with Lauren Mainland
1-800 Yer Mama, 1998, hi8 video, 4.5 min
Selected exhibitions / film
Vancouver International Film Festival
Vancouver Queer Film Festival
Vancouver Asian Film Festival
Signal & Noise Festival, Vancouver
Video Nomad at Pacific Cinémathèque, Vancouver
Antimatter Experimental Film Festival, Victoria
National Student Film Festival, Regina
First Person Plural Artist Mother Symposium, Winnipeg
Inside Out Queer Film Festival, Toronto
Rendezvous with Madness Film Festival, Toronto
Dawson City Short Film & Video Festival
Herland Film & Video Festival, Calgary
G-inale, Straslund, Germany
Lesben Film Festival, Berlin, Germany
Queersicht, Bern, Switzerland
Visibilia Lesbian Film Festival, Bologna, Italy
Paris Lesbian & Feminist Film Festival
Flying Broom Women’s Film Festival, Ankara, Turkey
Kansai Queer Film Festival, Kyoto, Japan
Boston Lesbian & Gay Film Festival
Chicago Lesbian & Gay Film Festival
Tampa Bay International Gay & Lesbian Film Festival
Honolulu Rainbow Film Festival
Austin Gay & Lesbian Film Festival
Women in the Director’s Chair Film Festival, Chicago
Portland Queer Film & Video Festival
Women of Color Film Festival, San Francisco
Mix NYC New York Queer Experimental Film Festival
DC Underground Film Festival, Bethesda
Visualized Activist Film Festival, Denver