Amy Friend

Assistant Professor, Visual Arts Studio
Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine & Performing Arts

The third of our series is an interview with Amy Friend, Assistant Professor, Visual Arts Studio at the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine & Performing Arts. Her research interests include: contemporary art; studio practices; photography; experimental photography, photo history; and art and society, among others. Friend is one of 11 Brock University researchers and scholars to have received funding under the 2019-2020 round of the VPR Canada Games Grant program. Here, she discusses the research she’s conducting with her funding, titled: “Movement Across the Waterways.”

Please give a brief overview of your research project.

This creative research project will focus on kayak and canoe-based watersports. The purpose of this research is to investigate, and bridge, a connection between these sports and our regional ecosystems while highlighting one of our local and endangered inhabitants of these waterways, the turtle (the turtle is also an official mascot of the Canada Summer Games). This creative response proposes to instigate a closer look at how we traverse through and experience the natural world. What do we see and what do we overlook in our everyday encounters with specific ecosystems? What effect do we have on these ecosystems and what effect does it have on us? The research will incorporate experimental photography, digital photography, video and sound as a means of recording, and responding to the act of, kayaking and canoeing on location in our region.

What do you expect will be the outcome of your research? How will this contribute to knowledge, or understanding of, the Canada Summer Games?

Through a collaborative process of development, I anticipate this creative research will result in visual and aural material that will provide an audience with immersive perspectives of rowing and canoeing within our region. The specific creative output aims to present photographs that depict the movement of water through the act of rowing and paddling directly at the water’s surface. This close up perspective will provide the audience with a view that closely aligns with the actions performed by those participating in these sports during the Summer Games, while offering a view from the perspective of a turtle, a natural inhabitant of these waterways.

This research is meant to be a poetic response to the activity of sport. Here the focus shifts to details of action and place with a directed look at our human interaction with the environment.

How did you become interested in this research?

As an artist and educator, I aimed to consider how a creative question could result in a response related to sport without focusing strictly on the athlete’s body as is often seen in the media. I also thought it important to think about location and the Summer Games. What is important about location and what can we highlight through our interactions with place? What will an athlete understand about location, water currents, movement, wind and so on?

How do you plan on sharing your research?

This creative research will initially be presented as an exhibition at the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts Gallery.

Do you have any advice or tips on how colleagues in your Faculty can incorporate the Canada Games into their research?

I think there are abundant possibilities when it comes to incorporating the Canada Summer Games into research and education. Visual culture related to sport is fascinating and offers much fodder for consideration and dissemination. By understanding how sport exists through visual depictions, we can propose and research a plethora of questions.

Visual depictions of sport in the field of photography are highly influenced by technological advancements, history, culture and demographics. Considerations about how we, as a University, depict the culture of sport is also important as this imagery shapes an understanding of who we are as an institution. The direct and subtle messages of visual communication cannot be underscored; this field is rich with potential for research and education.