Brock alumni, faculty, and staff recognized for contributions to the St. Catharines arts community

The Bacchae, a Twitches & Itches Theatre production, was on stage at FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre in January 2017. (Photo by David Vivian)

Brock’s alumni continue to contribute to St. Catharine’s art scene long after graduation and this year a number of them are being recognized by the community with nominations for the St. Catharines Arts Awards.

Two individual alumnae and one group of alumni have been nominated for St. Catharines Arts Awards—Emerging Artist 2017. Visual artist Lauren Regier (BA ’14), costume designer Jo Pacinda (BA ‘13) and the Twitches & Itches Theatre group have all been nominated for their contributions to St. Catharines’ art scene.

Lauren Regier (BA '14) working in her studio. (Photo by Lauren Regier)

Lauren Regier (BA ’14), a graduate from Brock’s Department of Visual Arts, explores the relationship between nature and machines through her photography, video, performance, and installation art.

Regier used an artist residency position in British Columbia in 2016 to explore the functional and survival properties of plants for her BioArt series of work. Regier combines plants with industrial products to create strange prototypes, which she then photographs in black and white and hand-tints with watercolours.

Participating in the local arts community is important for Regier.

“Some of the best people and institutions in St. Catharines have positioned themselves to be generously receptive of new ideas, artwork and dialogue,” says Regier.

“When it comes to contributing to the arts community post-graduation, it’s our willingness to attend talks and show by people we don’t know, or to introduce and guide newcomers that truly makes on an accessible and valued member of the cultural community.”

Regier showed art from her Fantasy Fleur series at Malcolm Gear Studio in Welland earlier this year, which was featured on the blog.

Most recently, her work was part of the Brock University and State University of New York at Buffalo collaboration “Post-Industrial Ephemera: Sounds, Gestures, and Poetics” at Silo City,

Twitches & Itches Theatre is a multi-disciplinary artist ensemble committed to developing local acting talent. Eight of the group’s nine core performers trained at Brock’s Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts.

The group was founded in 2009 by Colin Bruce Anthes (BA ’14, MA ’16) and Tom DiMartino, and moved
to St. Catharines in 2013. They hope to show emerging actors that they don’t need to leave the region to pursue their craft.

The ensemble has done six full productions; their first independent production “The Bacchae” was performed at the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre in January. They have also participated in community events, Culture Days, and charity fundraisers.

The group includes alumni Hayley Malouin (BA ’15), Sean Rintoul (BA ’15), Kaitlin Race (BA ’13), Sean Aileen McClelland (BA ’16), and Marcus Tuttle (BA ’15).

Staying in Niagara has always been important to nominee Jo Pacinda (BA ’13) . Pacinda is a Brock theatre graduate and aspiring costumer who works with a number of theatre companies in Niagara. Her recent work includes company costumer and design assistant for Essential Collective Theatre and wardrobe assistant for Theatre Project, Foster Festival, and Twitches & Itches.

“I’ve always wanted to start and build my theatre career in Niagara and this nomination means I’m headed on the right path with that,” says Pacinda.

Pacinda credits her Brock experience with helping her give back to the community.

“Brock holds a great place within the local arts community and the overall support the school has for its current student, alumni, as well as staff, is really fantastic. It’s with all this support that alumni are able to contribute and build St. Catharines’ art scene.”

The recognition of these Brock alumni is an honour for the students, alumni, faculty, and staff of the Marilyn I Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts, says Director David Vivian.

“If our graduates can bring their hearts and minds to make St. Catharines and the region a better place, whether because of their professional work in costuming or by making innovative and provocative art that asks us the tough questions we face and that encourage us to generate imaginative insight leading to change and sustainability, then the faculty and staff at the Marilyn I Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts have successfully done the work the community is entrusting us to do,” Vivian says.

It’s not only alumni contributing to St. Catharines’ arts community; a number of current Brock staff and faculty have also been recognized with nominations.

Gordon Cleland, a professor with Brock’s Department of Music and principle cellist with the Niagara Symphony, has been nominated for his work in the music community. Cleland is an instructor with Suzuki Niagara and with the Niagara Youth Orchestra. He has also been a featured performer across North America.

Danielle Wilson, a Brock dramatic arts professor, has also been nominated. Wilson has worked across Canada as an actor, director, and voice and acting teacher. She is also the co-founder and co-artistic director of Stolen Theatre Collective. The collective was founded in 2007 and is committed to the creation of original material and experimentation with different theatrical styles.

Gregory Betts, a poet and professor with the Department of English Language and Literature, is a tireless advocate for literature in St. Catharines. He is the artistic director and founder of the Festival of Readers. The festival is an annual event held each fall and designed to build a literary culture in the Niagara region.

Marcie Bronson, acting director and curator at Rodman Hall Art Centre, has been nominated for her central role in the transformation of Rodman Hall into a nationally recognized institution of excellence that supports local artists.

Rodman Hall Art Centre has also been nominated in the Arts in Education category.

The Arts Awards were first presented in 2005 to celebrate St. Catharines’ artists and supporters and to cultivate support for the arts sector. Awards are given out in five categories: Arts in Education, Emerging Artist, Established Artist, Making a Difference, and Patron of the Arts.

This year’s recipients will be announced at an evening of performances and celebration on Monday, June 5, at First Ontario Performing Arts Centre. Tickets are available from the performing arts centre box office 1-855-515-0722.

An earlier version of this post appeared in Brock News.


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Social Media Coordinator, Faculty of Humanities, Brock University

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