Events

  • Brock art exhibition inspired by Canada Games mascot, local wildlife

    Fourth-year Brock Visual Arts student and research assistant Emily MacDonald examines the camera-less photographs created for the Small Movements exhibit.


    Originally published in The Brock News | FRIDAY, AUGUST 19, 2022 | by Charles Kim

    Many aspects of the Niagara 2022 Canada Summer Games have inspired projects across Brock University — and the event’s mascot, Shelly, is no exception.

    The turtle’s impact has gone beyond the Games to influence two Brock projects now being showcased as part of an ongoing exhibition.

    Presented by Brock’s Department of Visual Arts (VISA), in conjunction with the Games, Small Movements highlights the work of Associate Professors Amy Friend and Donna Szoke. The exhibition was funded by the University’s VPR Canada Games grants.

    Szoke’s work, which saw her collaborate with Grade 1 and 2 students at Jeanne Sauvé French Immersion Public School in St. Catharines, creates a connection between the 2022 Canada Games, the local community and turtle conservancy.

    As part of the project, students experienced a virtual field trip to the Ontario Turtle Conservation Centre (OTCC), where they learned about the organization’s important work and visited a hospital for recovering and resident turtles, as well as a nursery with eggs and hatchlings.

    Following their visit, students were given the opportunity to colour their own images of turtles, which were then scanned and animated by VISA fourth-year student Emily MacDonald and alumna Julie Luth (BA ’22). The scanned images were used to create an animation, which was then gifted back to the children, animators, the OTCC and the Canada Games.

    Painted Turtles from Donna Szoke on Vimeo.

    “The children’s approaches to drawing and painting are refreshing in their naiveté, gesture and palette,” says Szoke. “By inventing a platform for generating turtle images created by children, our research-creation team created a turtle animation meant to engage and inspire.”

    Meanwhile, Friend’s project investigates and bridges a connection between sports and Niagara’s regional ecosystems, with a specific focus on turtles. Also inspired by the Canada Games mascot, the project examines watersports that take place in habitats shared with turtles. It includes camera-less photographs, water samples from across the Niagara region, a sound component and digital photography.

    Friend used analogue photo practices to produce camera-less photographs with her creative research team, including research assistants Laurie Morrison and Sarah Martin (BA ’19). Morrison, a first-year VISA student, and Martin, a VISA alumna, worked on capturing and printing the project’s images. Morrison secured light-sensitive photo paper to a kayak, allowing an interaction to take place between paper and water, while Martin collected samples from local waterways and helped to edit and print images with Friend.

    Friend’s work also includes photos that were taken at the surface of the water with a digital camera.

    “The photographs were shot at the water’s surface, precisely where the paddles enter the water and where turtles swim,” she says. “My thought process for this approach was to establish a relationship between the act of paddling or rowing through the water and the movements made by turtles as they move through the water.”

    Research assistant and recent graduate Qiushuang Xia (BA ’22) took photographs across the region’s waterways. Xia also captured the sound component that accompanies the project, recording from some of the same sites that were explored to create the images in the exhibition.

    Small Movements is open now until Oct. 1 at the Marilyn I. Walker Visual Arts Gallery and Student Exhibition Space. There will be a reception with the artists on Wednesday, Sept. 14, from 4 to 7 p.m. All are welcome to attend. More information is available on the exhibit web page.

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  • Public invited to explore Brock’s downtown arts school Saturday

    Brock University’s Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts.


    Originally published in The Brock News | TUESDAY, AUG. 18, 2022 | by

    The Niagara community will have the chance to explore Brock University’s Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts (MIWSFPA) this weekend while learning about the building’s past and present.

    The downtown St. Catharines facility, which houses Brock’s Departments of Dramatic Arts, Music and Visual Arts as well as the Centre for Studies in Arts and Culture (STAC), will host a series of guided tours as part of Doors Open St. Catharines on Saturday, Aug. 20. Tours will take place at 10 and 11:30 a.m., and 1 and 2:30 p.m., with no registration required.

    Adapted from the historic Canada Hair Cloth Building, the MIWSFPA is a state-of-the-art learning facility that acts as a creative cultural hub for St. Catharines and surrounding areas.

    As part of this weekend’s event, STAC will have a collection of publications on display by the Small Walker Press (SWP). SWP publishes collaborative work that brings together authors and artists from the Niagara region as well as from Canadian or international contexts.

    The works explore all disciplines and creative practices taught and researched at the MIWSFPA (arts and culture, visual arts, music and dramatic arts) as well as creative writing. For more information about the SWP and publications available at Doors Open St. Catharines, please visit the STAC website.

    A full list of places participating in Doors Open St. Catharines is available on the event’s website.

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  • Brock alumni, faculty take spotlight at Hamilton Fringe

    Rebekka Gondosh (right) worked with Spark Intensive participants during their rehearsals for their Hamilton Fringe Performance. (Photo Courtesy of Joginder Singh)


    Originally published in The Brock News | TUESDAY, AUG. 9, 2022 | by

    When the Hamilton Fringe Festival got underway last month, Brock alumni and faculty not only shared their talent on stage, but also used their knowledge to inspire the next generation of performers.

    Among the artists who participated in the theatre festival, which returned July 21 to 30 after a two-year pandemic hiatus, were Department of Dramatic Arts (DART) alumni Rebekka Gondosch (BA ’12), Diego Blanco (BA ’21), Holly Hebert (BA ’21) and Asenia Lyall (BA ’22), as well as DART Associate Professors Gyllian Raby and Danielle Wilson.

    A high school Dramatic Arts and English teacher with the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board, Gondosch led the festival’s Spark Teen Intensive — a performance program for youth ages 13 to 18 living or studying in Hamilton.

    Through Spark, participants learn practical devising skills, work with local guest artists in a variety of disciplines such as movement, poetry, storytelling, theatre and music, and create an original performance piece that is performed during Hamilton Fringe.

    In addition to teaching for the past six years, Gondosch has been busy working with Passing Through Theatre and Light Echo Theatre, sharing her poetry as part of Suitcase in Point’s In the Soil Festival and creating works of her own. She recognizes the growing need for arts and performance programs in youth education and is doing what she can to help nurture the arts locally.

    A woman with a clown nose

    Brock University Dramatic Arts Associate Professor Danielle Wilson performed in the production Stage Fright as part of Hamilton Fringe Festival.

    “A hope I have for the Spark program is that it might encourage young emerging artists to continue making art in Hamilton,” she says.

    Meanwhile, fellow Brock alumni Blanco, Hebert and Lyall produced an original one-act play, Thy Name is Woman, at Hamilton Fringe through their new self-producing company, Into The Abyss Theatre.

    “Several of DART’s upper-year classes provide students with devising and production skills, as well as encouragement to go out and voice their ideas,” says Raby. “We are proud to see these fine artists making their mark.”

    Also taking part in the Fringe Festivities was Raby, who partnered with Wilson on a new production of their own, Stage Fright. The dynamic duo looked to trigger and assuage performers’ worst fears while getting in a few laughs along the way.

    Stage Fright was built on playwright Wilson’s experiences through the COVID-19 pandemic, including attachment to technology, social media consumption and her newfound interest in the art of clown.

    Wilson makes it a point to indicate that clown goes beyond the archetype popularized by circus.

    “Clown is a state of creative play and a state of connection with the audience. You don’t know what the clown is going to do next — the clown comes from the person who is performing. It’s a state of openness to failure,” she says.

    Raby assisted Wilson with dramaturgy and direction, dissecting and exploring the multi-faceted elements of stage fright — a condition of psycho-physical paralysis experienced by most people.

    “Death, taxes and speaking in public are top fears,” Raby says.

    Wilson adds the little-known fact that since many performers are introverts, they are even more deeply affected by stage fright.

    “I was eager to get back on stage, since 2018 was my last performance,” Wilson says. “It’s important to stay in touch with all that it takes to perform, along with the fear that it takes.”

    Reflecting on the the existential humour of the show, Raby says: “How can something so terrifying, and so intellectually fascinating, be so light and funny?”

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  • Dramatic Arts criticism course returning to in-person theatre

    Image caption: Students in DART 3P94 Theatre Criticism will be experiencing a variety of live productions this summer after two years of digital offerings.

    Originally published in The Brock News | MONDAY, APRIL 18, 2022 | by 

    After two years of viewing performances online, Brock University students learning the art of theatre criticism will experience indoor, in-person theatre at the celebrated Stratford Festival and Shaw Festival Theatre.

    DART 3P94 Theatre Criticism is an online intensive Summer Term course run between July 11 and 22, bolstered by field trips to see live productions at Canada’s leading theatre companies.

    Taught by Karen Fricker, Associate Professor of Dramatic Arts and theatre critic for The Toronto Star, the course introduces students to the practical craft of theatre criticism and dives into the theoretical background of the discipline.

    Fricker said that after two years of running the course during the pandemic and having students review digital theatre exclusively, it will be thrilling to view live productions again.

    “Both the Shaw and Stratford Festivals have full indoor seasons this year and I’m looking forward to bringing the course to shows there,” she said. “We’re setting up some post-show talks so that students will be able to ask questions about the productions they’ve seen with the artists who made them.”

    Stratford Festival is welcoming back audiences beginning in May with a season theme of ‘New Beginnings’ and featuring plays such as Hamlet and Little Women and the musical Chicago. The largest classical repertory theatre in North America celebrates a its milestone 70th year in 2022.

    Shaw Festival Theatre, in its 60th season, will feature 13 plays across three stages in Niagara-on-the-Lake. Productions include The Importance of Being EarnestEverybody and The Doctor’s Dilemma.

    After seeing productions, students will write and discuss responses to them and learn about alternative, digital, performative and visual forms of critical response, while engaging with theatre culture.

    Registration for Spring/Summer courses is now open through the Admissions website. Students interested in learning more about the course are encouraged to contact Fricker at kfricker@brocku.ca

    Learn more about the 2022 seasons at Stratford Festival and Shaw Festival Theatre online.

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  • Dramatic Arts students’ original play takes the stage Thursday

    Image caption: Little Raincoat Collective in rehearsal at the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts, including (back row, from) Brenley Charkow (co-director) with company members Celine Ayesha, Sammie Marett, Alex Sykes, Jonah Pace, Michael Cicchini, Asenia Lyall and (front row, from left) Julian Valentin, Alyssa Ruddock and Abby Etling.

    Originally published in The Brock News | MONDAY, APRIL 11, 2022 | by 

    A compelling collective creation from nine fourth-year Brock Dramatic Arts (DART) students is set to premiere this week at the Marilyn I. Walker Theatre.

    The new play, The Storm Left Behind, is presented by Little Raincoat Collective (DART 4F56 Advanced Studies in Theatre) and directed by instructors Colin B. Anthes and Brenley Charkow.

    The a coming-of-age tale is about finding lightness in the darkest of times. Following the story of a girl who is navigating her way through life, the play takes audiences on a journey that combines different forms of storytelling.

    The production runs Thursday, April 14 and Friday, April 15 at 7:30 p.m. at Brock’s Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts, 15 Artists’ Common in downtown St. Catharines.

    Tickets for the show, which is suitable for ages 15 and up, are $5 and can be purchased through Brock University Tickets.

    For more information about The Storm Left Behind, please visit the play’s website.


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  • Graduating art students mount Honours Thesis exhibition

    Pictured above: “Grand-Maman,” a Polaroid emulsion on mylar image by student artist Charelle St-Aubin will be included in the upcoming exhibition “Resurfacing.”

    Originally published in The Brock News |WEDNESDAY, APRIL 06, 2022 | by 

    An upcoming exhibition will showcase the artwork of seven graduating Brock University students, marking a significant milestone in their artistic careers.

    The Visual Arts (VISA) 4F06 Honours Thesis Exhibition, “Resurfacing,” will take place simultaneously at the Visual Arts Gallery and Student Exhibition Space at the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts (MIWSFPA) and Niagara Artists Centre in downtown St. Catharines from April 12 to May 12.

    “Resurfacing” explores diverse themes, including issues of identity and resiliency, expressed through various materials and approaches that comprise painting, photography, mixed media and sculpture.

    Taught by Assistant Professor of Visual Arts Troy David Ouellette, with guest curator and writer Shannon Anderson, the fourth-year course is the culmination of two semesters of creative and academic work for students. Participating artists include Rabia Choudhary, Naomi Egbunike, Sarah Formosa, Julie Luth, Kimberley Rogers, Cherilynn Tilley and Charelle St-Aubin.

    The public is invited to attend the opening reception at both gallery locations on Tuesday, April 12 from 5 to 7 p.m. with opening remarks at the MIWSFPA beginning at 5 p.m.

    For more information, please visit the VISA 4F06 Current Exhibit web page.

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  • Visual Arts Department creates perfect pairing with local winery, gallery

    Image caption: A new partnership between Brock University and 13th Street Gallery (pictured above) will see Brock Visual Arts students showcasing their work in an upcoming exhibition beginning Saturday, April 2.

    Originally published in The Brock News |  TUESDAY, MARCH 29, 2022 | by 

    A new partnership between Brock’s Department of Visual Arts and 13th Street Winery and Gallery is creating new scholarship and exhibition opportunities for students.

    The pairing’s first collaborative event is set to kick off this weekend, with a selection of work from Visual Arts (VISA) students graduating this spring on show at the 13th Street Gallery, 1776 Fourth Ave. in St. Catharines. The exhibition will run from April 2 to 30, with an artists’ reception taking place Saturday, April 16 between 2 and 5 p.m. that will allow the public to meet the artists and view their work.

    Additionally, 13th Street Winery and Gallery has announced it will provide an annual scholarship to a Visual Arts student to further their artistic practice. The first 13th Street Gallery and Winery Scholarship award winner will be announced at the April 16 reception.

    The gallery specializes in Canadian historical and contemporary fine art. Experiencing compelling art in a gallery setting has always been part of the vision for the premier local winery, which produces premium VQA wines.

    As galleries across the province open their doors after closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic, exhibiting work in a professional setting presents an exciting opportunity for students to broaden their audiences and gain hands-on exposure to the arts industry.

    Amy Friend, Chair and Associate Professor of Visual Arts at Brock’s Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts, said she’s pleased to begin this collaboration with 13th Street Gallery.

    “Having the work students are doing here at the Marilyn out in the community is wonderful,” she said.

    “We are thrilled to have this growing partnership with Brock University and glad to be able to provide the space for the students,” said John Mann, owner and director of 13th Street Gallery.

    In May, VISA faculty members and alumni have been invited to exhibit their work at the gallery.

    The 13th Street Gallery is open Tuesday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. or by appointment. For more gallery information and upcoming exhibition details, please visit the 13th Street Gallery website.

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  • Visual Arts prof commissioned for New York Times Magazine

    Image caption: A process image by Amy Friend, part of her body of work commissioned by The New York Times Magazine in 2021.

    Originally published in The Brock News | WEDNESDAY, MARCH 23, 2022 | by 

    When artist and Brock University Professor Amy Friend was contacted by the deputy art director for The New York Times Magazine inviting her to collaborate on an article, she was immediately intrigued.

    Friend, Chair and Associate Professor of Visual Arts (VISA), was struck by the enduring nature of the theme of the piece — focused on loss — written by author Meg Bernhard, and was thrilled to be commissioned for her photography by the weekly publication boasting 4.4 million print readers and a digital readership of 7.7 million. 

    The article “What if There’s No Such Thing as Closure” discusses the work of social scientist and academic Pauline Boss surrounding various types of loss. Specifically, the 87-year-old scholar is well known for her theory of ‘ambiguous loss’ developed in the 1970s with roots in family psychology.

    Boss’s academic research on the subject has seen a resurgence in relevance and popularity given the world events of the past few years, most notably the COVID-19 global pandemic and associated trauma and loss experienced by many, often without the ability to grieve and mourn as was previously done in many cultures. 

    Friend said the framework of ‘ambiguous loss’ resonated with her because of her recent inability to communicate with her father after he had a stroke.

    A slightly blurred photograph with a man lifting a young child wearing swim trunks up in the air while the child waves his right arm. They are standing against a backdrop of trees and dramatic white lines strike through the image from top to bottom.

    A process image by Amy Friend, part of her body of work
    commissioned by The New York Times Magazine in 2021.

    “This commission bridged with my personal experience given that loss is not necessarily death-specific,” she said.

    Friend worked with the art director in a collaborative manner and greatly enjoyed the creative editorial process.

    “This was particularly engaging for me, as creating art can sometimes be a solitary process,” she said. “I thought through the conversations and responded to the feedback from the NYT Magazine team.”

    Engaging with this type of professional process relates back to the classroom for Friend, as such collaborations introduce students to the possibilities of how fine arts practice integrates with mainstream media. It also demonstrates to aspiring student artists the importance of being paid for the creative work they do.

    “Creative practice enters the world through multiple avenues. It folds into the cultural sector, holds a place in the economy and is a vital component of societal interaction,” said Friend.

    In addition to The New York Times Magazine, Friend recently had her work featured in Aesthetica Magazine from her bodies of work “Tiny Tears Fill An Ocean and Multi-verse,” and Musee Magazine, a photography magazine with a section focusing on women in photography.

    Friend has international exhibitions coming up this spring in Paris at In Camera Gallery and at Bildhalle Gallery in Amsterdam. In June (pending travel restrictions), her work will be shown Ricami Gallery in Trapani, Sicily, where she has been invited to give an artist’s talk to local communities. This would not be her first introduction to the Sicilian culture; she has artwork in the permanent collection in the Foundation Orestiadi in Gibellina.

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  • Brock Mainstage production to take audiences on magical bike ride

    Image caption: Dramatic Arts Mainstage actor Yasmine Agocs rehearses a scene from the upcoming production of Red Bike by Caridad Svich, opening Friday, March 4 at the Marilyn I. Walker Theatre.

    Originally published MONDAY, FEBRUARY 28, 2022 in The Brock News | by 

    Through an epic journey on a beloved red bicycle, an 11-year-old girl reflects on the small town she sees before her, taking audiences along for the ride. Venturing to the outer edges of town and encountering challenges unlike any she has ever experienced, she must face her fears to see the world in a new way.

    The Brock University spring 2022 Mainstage production of Red Bike brings the poetic words of celebrated playwright Caridad Svich to life with an exhilarating performance exploring movement, physical theatre and puppetry.

    Dramatic Arts student and Red Bike cast member Arnelle Douglas in
    rehearsal at the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts.

    The show runs March 4, 5, 11 and 12 at 7:30 p.m. and March 6 and 12 at 2 p.m. at the Marilyn I. Walker Theatre at Brock’s Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts (MIWSFPA).

    The production’s unique style of fractured storytelling explores diverse themes as seen through the eyes of a child, including capitalism, consumerism, gentrification, globalization, immigration and isolation. Director and Dramatic Arts Instructor Mike Griffin was drawn to the play because of its whimsical nature.

    “While reading the play, I became a kid again; running out of the house to go on adventures down the street. Red Bike is the perfect balance of getting lost in imagination while reflecting on society,” he said.

    One of six actors in the all-female cast, fourth-year Dramatic Arts student Asenia Lyall said the unique script and dialogue provided her with a valuable opportunity to explore her creativity.

    “Being a part of Red Bike meant working with a small cast to tell a complicated and wonderful story in an unconventional way,” she said. “Learning how to perform this kind of script is a great opportunity for me as an actor. Embracing the abstraction and surrealism of the piece is something I’ve learned from.” While the cast and crew faced various challenges mounting the show during a pandemic, both the director and actors feel there was a silver lining.

    “We have bonded together as a community to create something fantastic,” Griffin said. “For me, the community that emerges out of the creative process is the reason that I keep doing theatre.”
    Lyall agreed, adding that creating theatre during the pandemic has taught her how to be flexible as an artist.

    “There is a real sense of humanity in this play, with a lot of exciting moments and big reveals that I think audiences will enjoy,” she said.

    The MIWSFPA will welcome a live audience for the production to the Marilyn I. Walker Theatre at the downtown arts campus in St. Catharines. In the interest of student and audience member safety, the theatre is operating at a reduced capacity with 120 seats available for each performance.

    Tickets are $20 for the public, $16 for youth and seniors and $15 for Brock students. Tickets may be purchased through Brock University Tickets. All provincial and Brock University COVID-19 protocols are in effect for the performances, including mandatory vaccination and masks for all audience members visiting the MIWSFPA.

    All visitors to Brock University and MIWSFPA must complete the Brock University Self-Screening Tool.

    The all-female cast of the upcoming Brock University production of Red Bike by Caridad Svich includes (from left) Asenia Lyall, Arnelle Douglas, Yasmine Agocs, Joanna Tran, Abby Malcolm and Sarah RowBrock Mainstage production to take audiences on magical bike ride

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  • 19th century Niagara revisited through new online exhibits

    Originally posted in The Brock News | MONDAY, DECEMBER 20, 2021 | by 

    Image caption: “Admiring tourists viewing the falls, from Prospect Point, Niagara, USA.,” Niagara Falls Stereo Cards Collection, RG 599, Brock University Archives and Special Collections.

    Brock University students have journeyed to the past collecting images of Niagara in the 1800s and are showcasing their findings in digital exhibits now on view for the community to enjoy.

    Throughout the Fall Term, students enrolled in VISA 2P90 Art in Revolution: Nineteenth-Century Visual Culture took a deep dive into the visual culture of 19th century Niagara while learning how to use CollectionBuilder, Open Source software used by museums, galleries and libraries around the world to build digital collections.

    Led by Keri Cronin, Associate Professor, History of Art and Visual Culture at Brock’s Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts, the idea to build online exhibitions with students was sparked by the Digital Scholarship Institute workshop in May offered by Brock’s Digital Scholarship Lab (DSL).

    Cronin attended the Digital Scholarship Institute and learned to use the software herself to build online exhibits using basic coding and metadata. She knew the skills would be extremely useful to students.

    “In this contemporary climate, knowing how to build an online presence for an exhibit is a vital, professional skill for students on their career path,” Cronin said. “This is important experiential education — future employers will be impressed.”

    Cronin said bringing the project to fruition was a team effort. The class worked in close collaboration with Digital Scholarship Librarian Tim Ribaric, who supported their technical training on CollectionBuilder. The DSL is the centre of digital scholarship at the University.

    Students also worked with David Sharron, Head of Archives and Special Collections in the Brock University Library, who provided access to the archives for students to research and collect materials from Brock’s digitized collection.

    Sharron said the Library has been digitizing parts of the collections for more than 15 years and when Cronin wanted to develop a major assignment based on these records, it was a quick ‘yes.’

    “There are millions of records that represent Niagara and its history in Archives and Special Collections. It is always a thrill to see what subjects and materials appeal to the modern student and what they can do with them,” said Sharron. “Projects like this bring these historical materials into the digital world in new and exciting ways.”

    Cronin agreed, saying that “traditionally we look at Europe, not Niagara. Students loved engaging with the local history. It gave them an opportunity to learn about key themes relating to 19th century life, art and visual culture.”

    Student Madeline Collins created an online exhibition entitled Modernizing the Landscape – Industrialization at Niagara Falls and called the project unique and illuminating.

    “I’ve never done anything like it,” she said. “Metadata and archival research are kind of like the behind-the-scenes of art history, so it was amazing to get a detailed, hands-on opportunity to try it out.”

    Other examples of student exhibits include Hydroelectric Power Niagara Falls by Ella Sexton examining the relationship between hydroelectricity and Niagara Falls; The Tipped Inkwell by Rachel Stangl looking at 19th century penmanship; A Fond Sigh of Friendship by Abigail Leeder displaying imagery and literature found in a ‘Friendship Journal’; and Don’t Slip and Niagara Fall by Riley Cuddy-Colbon, a collection of images of past extreme winters in Niagara Falls.

    Cronin commended the students for sticking with the project, admitting that CollectionBuilder is a tough platform to use and has its challenges.

    “The students worked through the learning curves, trusted the process, and have created something very special that they will use in their portfolios moving forward.”

    To view all of the student digital exhibits, please visit Cronin’s website.

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