Virginia Stephen has an MA in Visual and Performing Arts Education (University of British Columbia) and undergraduate degrees in both Art History and Arts Education (Queen’s University) and is a graduate of the Getty Museum Leadership Institute. She has over 35 years of experience as an arts educator, museum educator and senior arts and museum administrator. She was Deputy Director (Head of Programs – Exhibitions Education and Public Programs) and Curator of Education at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, Executive Director of the Edmonton Art Gallery and Executive Director of Liberal Studies (Visual Art, Residential Interiors, Writing, Humanities), Faculty Of Extension at the University of Alberta. She is a creativity facilitator for the Leadership Development Program at The Banff Centre.
Virginia has curated exhibitions in historic and contemporary Canadian art, folk art and craft, researched and written over 15 exhibition catalogues and books for museum audiences of all ages, including several books for children (including The Way I see It and Built for Us) and contributed to arts education and museum publications and peer reviewed journals and anthologies in Canada and the United States. As a high school teacher and consultant she specialized in visual and drama arts programs, curriculum development, and evaluation and continued to contribute to these in advisory and contract capacity for district level and provincial curriculum in Nova Scotia, British Columbia and Alberta. As a writer, she focusses on engaging a diversified readership and developed a guidebook for developing exhibition related text (labels, text panels, wayfinding). Most recently she has been writing exhibition reviews for Studio Magazine.
Virginia is an active pursuer of knowledge about creativity and how it connects with both personal/individual action and organization effectiveness. She attends and has presented at creativity conferences in Canada, Europe and the United States. She shares her knowledge and facilitates the creative growth of others through workshops and in her teaching using exploring visual literacy.
Virginia has worked and presented across Canada and has been a guest speaker at education, museum, healthcare, and leadership conferences and symposia in the United States and Europe. As a consultant in art museum and collection development, curator, and program development her clients have included the Alberta Foundation for the Arts, Alberta Education, Varley Art Gallery, and University of Alberta Museums. Using visual facilitation and arts based action, her visioning, planning and team development workshops engage participants to push the creative and innovation potential of individuals, teams and organization. Clients include not for profit, government, and corporate groups. Virginia is certified to use the Foursight® Breakthrough Thinking Profile and has trained as a visual facilitator.
In 2014 Virginia was appointed to the Alberta Premier’s Advisory Council for Culture. She also serves on the Edmonton Design Committee, and the Board (executive of the Edmonton Heritage Council (of which she was a founding director). She is a past chair of the Edmonton Arts Council and has served on the board of several arts organizations including Harcourt House (artist run centre). She has been on the board of the Canadian Museums Association and Canadian Art Gallery/Museum educators. Stephen has served on peer juries for national (including Canada Council), provincial (Alberta Museums Association Museum Recognition program), and civic (Edmonton Arts Council) grant and recognition programs for individual;as and organization.
Throughout her career, Virginia has been a passionate artist working in fibre, basketry, printmaking, and painting, often combining many media in mixed media works. She is inspired through both taking and teaching classes and workshops in several mediums.
Virginia now lives and works in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia.
cv available on request