Ian Verchere + Germaine Koh: The Creative Edge

Germaine Koh + Ian Verchere  | At the summit of The Cobbler, Scotland
Posted: Thu, 2014-04-24 14:32

Ian Verchere and Germaine Koh challenge our preconceptions by establishing a student award celebrating the symbiotic relationship between creativity and athleticism.

When Germaine Koh and Ian Verchere approached Emily Carr to establish an award in recognition of creative and athletic achievement, our reaction was gratitude, followed quickly by confusion. What did athletics have to do with creativity and Emily Carr students?

Germaine Koh, Terminal City All Stars | Photo: Tyler Shaw Germaine and Ian were persuasive, their rationale was sound, they both exemplify the artist-athlete – and their concept was quickly embraced. 

Germaine Koh is an accomplished visual artist who has exhibited internationally, received the 2010 VIVA Award, is an occasional lecturer at Emily Carr, and was an Assistant Curator of Contemporary Art at the National Gallery of Canada.  She also played varsity volleyball and badminton while studying at the University of Ottawa and is the former captain of the Terminal City All-Stars roller derby team.

Her artwork takes a mind-body approach, and a year and a half ago, Germaine launched League to further the idea of embodied problem-solving and physical practice as a form of creativity. She shares:  “I have always been involved in both sports and art, I speak both their languages, and it never sat very well with me that they are so often treated as separate worlds.” 

Ian Verchere, alpine skiingIan Verchere is a 1989 Emily Carr alumnus who has made his career in the creative arts – he is a published author and screenwriter, and is a leader in Vancouver’s gaming world as Chief Creative Officer and co-founder of Roadhouse Interactive. He is also a former professional alpine skier, a well-rounded athlete, and the current Strength and Conditioning Coach for the women’s Team Canada roller derby team.

When asked about his passion for the creative arts and athletics, he explains, “I've never bought into the idea that the domain of athletics and the domain of the arts are mutually exclusive…I've had as many good creative ideas running a trail, on a long ride or ripping down a hill as I have in more prototypical creative spaces.”

It is through Germaine and Ian’s life-long passion for athletics and creativity, and the belief that a healthy mind and healthy body go hand-in-hand, that the idea for the ACE award was conceived.  Ian shares how his involvement with professional sports in his final year at Emily Carr influenced his work and why the award was established. “I was thinking critically, seeing and observing things differently, and that led to an incredibly prolific and productive month leading up to my grad show. The other aspect then, is that I’d love for someone else to have a similar experience.”

Creativity is our greatest resource, and according to Germaine, it needs to be nurtured and supported. “There’s an argument to be made that there’s greater value in teaching people to think creatively than in simply learning procedures. That’s why art schools are essential.” Read the complete interview to learn more about this fascinating couple and how they want to change how people see the relationship between artists and athletics.

The Koh-Verchere Award for Athletic and Creative Excellence is the latest “specialized” award established at Emily Carr. Graduating students will apply for the juried award by submitting an essay about their athletic activities and images of their work. If you would like to establish a student award, contact Eva Bouchard, Stewardship + Awards Officer at 604 630 4553 to find out how you can turn your idea into an opportunity for students.