Education Beyond the Classroom: Experience the ULethbridge 2024 BFA – Art

Two Art Studio students get a once-in-a-lifetime professional development opportunity through a scholarship.

Bachelor of Fine Arts – Art (Art Studio) | Faculty of Fine Arts | University of Lethbridge

Students Leah Evans (left) and Natalia Smith (right) at the Gushul Studio. Photo by David Miller.

How the ULethbridge Faculty of Fine Arts supports student artistic development through education beyond the classroom

The Art Studio major in the ULethbridge BFA – Art program empowers artists to delve into contemporary art production with a blend of theory and hands-on exploration. Students engage in open studio collaboration with faculty who are both active artists and scholars, fostering a dynamic learning environment.

This intensive studio experience hones artistic voices, preparing students for independent artistry or professional roles in the arts. The program covers diverse methods and materials, from drawing and painting to photography, installation art, performance art, spatial practices, printmaking and electronic art. Through a fusion of technical, aesthetic, and theoretical studies, students develop the skills needed to thrive in the realm of contemporary art.

Art Studio students also receive the opportunity to win prestigious professional awards and scholarships that enhance their artistic practice and give them critical career skills through internships, residencies and other experiential learning opportunities. ULethbridge’s unique model of education beyond the classroom gives students valuable experience and allows them to grow in professional settings.

Each year, two Art Studio students are awarded the chance to unlock their artistic potential with the Founding Faculty Artist Residency Prize. Recipients of this award complete a month-long retreat in the Gushul Studio and Cottage, receive one-on-one professional mentoring from a faculty member and an extra stipend of $700 each.

In the majestic Crowsnest Pass mountains, the Gushul Studio and Cottage have been nurturing creativity since 1988. Owned by the ULethbridge, this haven in Blairmore, Alberta, welcomes artists and writers worldwide for professional residencies. Many have found inspiration here, turning it into a cultural gem for the community. For ULethbridge students, it’s a canvas for artistic growth.

Discover the incredible projects and life-changing experiences of last year’s winners, Leah Evans and Natalia Smith, as they spent their residency crafting vibrant projects from textiles to paintings.

Window by Leah Evans, 2023.

When Leah Evans found out she won the Gushul Studio Award, she was thrilled. Being able to work in a beautiful studio space and dedicate her time to her artistic practice is something she was grateful for.

“The residency allowed me to spend extensive time focusing on my work and engage mentally with my practice to a full extent of which I had never quite been able to do previously,” Leah says.

“The studio space supported my practice by allowing the creation of large works with wonderful lighting for the process. Sharing the studio with another artist allowed for us to share ideas and critiques and I enjoyed the company!”

During her residency, Leah completed four conceptually-connected paintings, getting direct inspiration from her surroundings.

For Leah, the experience of working in the Gushul Studio further inspired her to continue refining her practice, which included a trip to New York City to conduct street photography as part of the Roloff Beny Foundation Photographic Award in Fine Arts she received in the Spring 2023 semester.

“As a student, the value of gaining this experience is irreplaceable and has inspired me to pursue more residencies in the future. This award was meaningful to my studies in the time it gave me to focus on my art and the opportunity to stay in the studio. Living in Blairmore for a month was invigorating – of which inspired me to paint and explore my own artistic interests in a way which I hadn’t had the energy to in a while.”

Textile works by Natalia Smith, 2023.

Natalia Smith began planning her residency from the moment she found out she won. For her residency, she worked with textiles for the first time, with themes surrounding relationships; relations with other people, objects, places and ourselves through dying fabrics, stitching and embroidering.

“I’m always curious to try new materials and see how this will affect how I create art and expand what I’m able to do. I consider materialism to be an important aspect of my work and I feel as a woman artist, having an amateur approach to working with textiles embeds a bit of a comedic relief,” Natalia says.

For Natalia, the process from application to receiving the award felt like a real-world experience.

“This experience is something I can place on my CV and gives me a sense of what to expect from residencies in the future. It’s very self-motivating and I had the freedom to create anything I wanted, which lured me into being experimental with methods mediums. I’m able to bring this explorative mindset forward in my studies and be more comfortable in taking risks and learning what works for me and my work.”

Since starting her work in textiles, Natalia has been looking at other ways to incorporate textiles and painting into her artistic practice. She hopes to return to the Gushul Studio again in the future and see how her work has evolved.

“I think the residency would be beneficial to any artist and would encourage all my peers and future Fine Arts students to submit their applications for future residency opportunities.”

Read the full story at

Experience more with the Faculty of Fine Arts:

  • Awards, scholarships & student supports
  • Productions, exhibitions, concerts & more
  • Applied studies, internships & a range of work experience
  • Enhanced education opportunities locally, nationally and abroad

University of Lethbridge | Bachelor of Fine Arts – Art
Apply now

Deadline for Admissions: Apply by March 15, 2024 to maximize your scholarships!

For additional information or questions, please contact:
Student Enrolment & Registrar Services

University of Lethbridge
4401 University Drive W
Lethbridge, AB T1K 3M4

Facebook | Instagram | LinkedIn

The University of Lethbridge is fully accessible. For more information, visit: