Alumni

  • Virtual workshops for Brock Choral Ensembles open to the public

    Caption: The Brock University Chamber Choir directed by Rachel Rensink-Hoff gathers virtually to rehearse and attend Shared Perspectives, a new virtual workshop series offered by Brock’s Department of Music.

    Originally published in The Brock News THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 25, 2021 | by 

    Brock’s Choral Ensembles are getting front-row access to a diverse lineup of artists — and the public has been invited to tune in.

    Rachel Rensink-Hoff, Associate Professor of Music and Director of the Choral Ensembles at Brock University, launched a virtual workshop series called “Shared Perspectives: Live talks featuring guest conductors, composers and vocal choral specialists” in the fall. Funded by the Centre for Pedagogical Innovation (CPI) and the Walker Cultural Leaders Series presented by the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts (MIWSFPA), the series is continuing this semester, welcoming a guest speaker each week.

    The online presentations are hosted on Zoom, with some artists choosing to give a formal presentation and others engaging in an interview-style format. Time is always allotted for a question-and-answer period, enrichening the experience for all participants.

    “Any opportunity to hear more than one voice should be cherished,” says Rensink-Hoff. “Teaching online synchronously is challenging because there is always only one person talking. I knew in August that I needed to shake things up.”

    Rensink-Hoff has since brought in a diverse roster of guests, many of whom speak to issues relevant to today.

    “This semester, a number of our guest speakers will be engaging us in conversations around cultural appropriation and appreciation in the arts — and how we can navigate these pathways more respectfully and thoughtfully,” she says.

    Upcoming sessions include topics such as cultural appropriation and culture sharing in choral music; decolonizing the music curriculum; debunking myths around vocal health; and traditional South African music.

    Even in a fully online format, the Brock Choral Ensembles meet every week, rehearse online, and discuss musical elements. Rensink-Hoff believes that adding guest speakers in the mix has brought something unique to the “Zoom classroom.”

    “The opportunity to hear different perspectives on a wide variety of topics related to singing and choral music has been very rewarding. In normal circumstances, we would not have had such a rich display of voices in just one year,” she says. “The students are so fortunate to have been introduced to so many amazing artists.”

    The Shared Perspectives series is also open to the public, making this a valuable opportunity for Brock’s Music Department to connect with the local community. Past sessions have seen up to 20 community members in attendance, Rensink-Hoff says.

    The series continues Brock and the MIWSFPA’s strong history of community engagement in Niagara, enhancing vitality in the region and offering experiential opportunities for connection through the arts.

    While this initiative was always designed to be virtual, given its success and positive response, Rensink-Hoff plans to run the series again next year.

    “I hope to partner with other colleagues who want to bring in guests on a range of music related topics. Stay tuned for Shared Perspectives 2.0 next year.”

    To learn more about upcoming Shared Perspectives workshops, please visit ExperienceBU.

    To register for a free workshop, please email sing@brocku.ca

    More information available on the Sing! At Brock website. 

    Upcoming Shared Perspectives workshops

    • Wednesday, March 3, 2:30 p.m.: Rollo Dilworth — Cultural Appropriation and Culture Sharing in Choral Music
    • Monday, March 15, 12:30 p.m.: Cynthia Peyson Wahl — Decolonizing the Music Curriculum
    • Wednesday, March 17, 2:30 p.m.: Leanne Vida — A Spectrum of Sound: Vocal Resonance
    • Wednesday, March 24, 2:30 p.m.: Christianne Rushton — Fact or Fiction: Debunking the Myths Around Vocal Health
    • Monday, March 29, 12:30 p.m.: Ardelle Ries — The SingAble Society
    • Wednesday, March 31, 2:30 p.m.: Michael Barret — Traditional South African Music

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    Categories: Alumni, Announcements, Current Students, Department/Centre News, Events, Faculty & Instructors, Future Students, News, Uncategorised, Walker Cultural Leader Series

  • Brock students selected to participate in national Black theatre initiative

    Caption: Sid Malcolm (left), fourth year Dramatic Arts student with a minor in Music, and Soji Cole, second year PhD student in Interdisciplinary Humanities, are two of 21 students selected for “Seeding the Future”, a new initiative highlighting young Black voices. 

    Two Brock University students will be joining a historic group of Black theatre makers as part of the digital performance series “21 Black Futures.”

    Presented by Obsidian Theatre in partnership with CBC Arts, “21 Black Futures” has brought together 63 Black Canadian playwrights, actors and directors to create art during the pandemic and answer the question, “What is the future of Blackness?”

    The result is 21 filmed monodramas (theatre pieces featuring one person) that are currently premiering on CBC’s streaming channel, CBC Gem.

    Now, 21 students from across the country will join the movement, including fourth-year Dramatic Arts student Sid Malcolm, and Soji Cole, a second-year PhD student in Interdisciplinary Humanities.

    From a national call that attracted more than 60 applicants, Malcolm and Cole have each been awarded a spot in “Seeding the Future,” which invites Black students to create theatre pieces in response to each of the 21 monodramas of “21 Black Futures.”

    “Seeding the Future” is a partnership between Brock University, York University, Obsidian Theatre and CBC Arts, and allows students to create spoken word poetry, audio recordings, video recordings or written responses.

    “As we work at Obsidian to develop and advance Black artists across the country, we also recognize the glaring lack of Black voices in arts criticism and journalism,” said Michael Sinclair, General Manager of Obsidian Theatre. “Black and other BIPOC artists deserve to have voices at the table from their own communities engaging in dialogue about their work. We can’t wait to see what these 21 Black students have to say.”

    For Malcolm and Cole, being a part of this creative response highlighting young Black voices is very meaningful.

    Malcolm said being part of the project gives her and a large group of Black theatre students the chance to have their voices heard.

    “This is a space specifically intended to cultivate young Black artists and help them express what their experience is, and how that shapes the future of Blackness,” she said. “As a young woman of colour, it is often extremely difficult to find pieces of theatre I am able to connect with. There’s often very little representation for People of Colour within the world of theatre. Being a POC in theatre is seen as a rarity and is often trivialized.”

    Cole is excited about the project, and said it speaks to him on many fronts.

    “As a Black person, a migrant and an international student, I have been involved in conversations on the theme of Blackness and racism since I came to Canada in 2019,” he said. “This is the first one that intersects with a discipline and profession that I have identified with all my life.

    “This means a lot to me, as I have always believed that beyond the rhetoric of racism, arts — and especially theatre — can be used as twine to bind community together and dismantle the boundary of segregation.”

    The 21 student responses, including those of Malcolm and Cole, will be released in three instalments, initially on the students’ own social media channels and then re-published on the CBC Arts website. The first group of responses are now live. Malcolm’s work will be published on Monday, March 1 and Cole’s will be published on Monday, March 8.

    Cole, who is a playwright, director and actor, anticipates using his creative and critical wits to respond.

    “As someone who has a deep interest in the sociology of arts, I might want to connect my response to the social implication of the performance,” he said.

    Malcolm anticipates she may draw on specific aspects of her artistic practice.

    “I have a recent reignited passion for poetic writing,” she said. “Typically, I enjoy weaving controversial topics into my writing, which often means critiquing the way that race is perceived around me today.”

    She is also intrigued by the marriage of critical thought and artistic expression.

    “The arts are a dialogue and having Black theatre students continue the conversation begun by “21 Black Futures” is a hugely exciting prospect,” said Karen Fricker, Associate Professor of Dramatic Arts and the co-ordinator of Brock’s participation in “Seeding the Future.” “I can’t wait to see and hear how they all respond.”

    David Fancy, Chair of Dramatic Arts at Brock’s Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts, said the Department is committed to “the ongoing labour of decolonization, Indigenization, and anti-racism. We are particularly pleased to be involved in such an important initiative,” he said.

    Malcolm is energized by the many conversations “Seeding the Future” ignites, noting the opportunity for discussion while fostering growth through shared experiences.

    “I think a large outcome from this project will be the amount of networking that is possible for young Black artists that would be difficult to do without this project,” she said.

    Cole acknowledges the significance and enduring nature of this project.

    “While this is not a policy project, the expectation is that it will strengthen our understanding of memory, redress, and inclusivity,” he said. “The outcome should be able to resonate with every community; it should generate a peculiar echo of its own that will resound in the heart and mind of everyone.”

    To read the entries in “Seeding the Future,” visit CBC Arts.

    To view the performances in “21 Black Futures,” visit CBC Gem.

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    Categories: Alumni, Announcements, Current Students, Department/Centre News, Events, Faculty & Instructors, Future Students, In the Media, Media Releases, News, Uncategorised

  • BIPOC Speaker Series explores anti-racist stage management practices in theatre

    Picture above: Narda E. Alcorn is the next speaker in the 2020-21 BIPOC Speaker Series presented by Brock University’s Department of Dramatic Arts and Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts.

    Originally published in The Brock News on WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 17, 2021 | by 

    Celebrated Professor and stage manager Narda E. Alcorn from Yale School of Drama will discuss anti-racist stage management practices during a virtual talk on Tuesday, Feb. 23.

    Alcorn will lead the next instalment of the 2020-21 BIPOC Speaker Series, conversations in which Black, Indigenous and People of Colour theatre leaders address issues of interest to the theatre community. The series is presented by Brock’s Department of Dramatic Arts and Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts and supported by the Faculty of Humanities.

    The Feb. 23 event takes place on Zoom from 7 to 8:30 p.m. and is open to the Brock and theatre community as well as the general public.

    Alcorn, who has worked on Broadway, off-Broadway, regionally and internationally, will share her evolving anti-racist stage management practice, placing it in the context of her career, experience and point of view. She will offer ideas and steps that others can take to cultivate anti-racist practice and pedagogy.

    In 2019, Alcorn was appointed Chair of the Stage Management Department at Yale School of Drama. She co-authored Stage Management Theory as a Guide to Practice: Cultivating a Creative Approach with Lisa Porter.

    To register for the free event, please visit Brock University Tickets.

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  • Art kits allow VISA students to hone skills at home

    Caption: The VISA Art Stores at Brock University has been providing access to course materials to students for more than 37 years.

    Half the battle in creating a beautiful piece of art is finding a spark of creativity and having the skills to bring it to life. The other half, however, is having access to the right materials and equipment to turn that vision into reality.

    Aspiring artists and scholars studying Visual Arts (VISA) at Brock University have continued to hone their skills despite the pandemic thanks not only to dedication to their disciplines, but also to staff and faculty who have made it possible.

    Studio Art instructors at Brock’s Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts (MIWSFPA) have been challenged to reimagine drawing, painting, sound and video courses to suit an online setting. That has also meant ensuring students have access to the materials and equipment necessary to continue their studies.

    The results have been overwhelmingly positive, resulting in experiences that might not have been encountered by students in a pre-pandemic semester.

    The extensive efforts of the VISA faculty have been supported by two key players: Max Holten-Andersen, Instructor, Media Resource Co-ordinator, and co-ordinator of the VISA Equipment Kiosk, and Arnold McBay, Instructor and VISA Department Facilities Technician, who manages the VISA Art Stores.

    Central to the course work of Visual Arts students, the VISA Art Stores have provided Brock students access to art materials related to drawing, painting and sculpture courses since the mid-1980s. The Equipment Kiosk, established in 2015 after the move to the current MIWSFPA downtown campus, provides students with access to digital and analogue photography, sound and video equipment.

    Both outlets are usually staffed by student assistants during the day and evening, six days a week. Students visit for their materials and equipment needs, as well as for advice and mentorship from the managers, who are also both VISA instructors.

    With the switch to online course delivery, McBay and Holten-Andersen were met with the challenge of facilitating materials and equipment support for students in a manner that met provincial and Brock pandemic protocols, and without the students being on site.

    Fourth-year student Rea Kelly knows first-hand how important access to creative tools are for her degree.

    “Having the VISA Art Stores at the MIWSFPA has become a necessity for my four years at Brock as a Studio Art major,” she says. “I cannot count the number of times myself or my peers have run out of paint or drawing materials mid-class and have had to run to the art store for materials. I can’t imagine the school without it.”

    Answering the call for a solution, McBay developed kits in consultation with faculty that include all of the art supplies and materials students require to complete their course work and develop their art practice.

    The kits are available for convenient curbside pick up for local students and are shipped to those outside of the Niagara region. For students wishing to remain in their hometowns while continuing their educational experience, the kits have been essential.

    Similarly, Holten-Andersen, aware of the necessity of audiovisual equipment for supporting photography, sound and video courses, has added to the initiative.

    McBay and Holten-Andersen have established a central distribution point in the MWS151 Foundation Studio at the MIWSFPA. The room is large enough to allow for required physical distancing and is staffed by one student monitor during weekdays.

    Access to the room is limited to one student at a time using all pandemic protocols including required personal protective equipment. As a result, students can safely visit the distribution centre and access art materials and digital equipment, all in one place.

    “Despite the limitations of not being able to access the usual range of materials available in the VISA Art Stores and Equipment Kiosk, students have been able to meet all their project objectives through the distribution of materials kits at the pickup centre,” McBay says.

    Students have had to get creative with the supplies they have available to them.

    “These are real-life challenges that artists might face in their career, and circumstances students would not usually encounter in an academic experience prior to the pandemic,” McBay says.

    For audiovisual equipment, students are able to submit online equipment requests that are fulfilled within 24 hours, using MWS151 as the pickup hub where items get loaned out and returned. This method has shifted the equipment consultations from an in-person approach to a remote approach via email, phone or video conferencing.

    “At times, consultations are extremely necessary as I am able to provide expertise on what is the most suitable equipment for a production; and most importantly, what accessories are needed to properly support a production,” Holten-Andersen says.

    Although students have gained new experiences from the current circumstances, the two instructors look forward to resuming their previous mode of operation once it is safe to do so as per University and public health protocols.

    While the new system is working, Holten-Andersen says conversations had during in-person occurrences of the past are simply irreplaceable and certainly missed.

    “It is a precious moment to notice the realization in a student’s eye as they tap on the creative opportunities that professional equipment can grant,” he says.

    McBay echoes this sentiment.

    “We very much look forward to when the VISA spaces come back to life with the vigour, curiosity and vibrance students bring into our campus.”

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  • Art residency “A River Rises” now on view

    Caption: Brown Homestead (Photo by Shawn Serfas)

    STAC’s Research Centre in Interdisciplinary Arts and Creative Culture presents “A River Rises,” a collective investigation of a creative-writing piece, resulting in the creation of photography work, a recorded performance, an inverted sculpture, an experimental book, and more fiction writing. The project also documents the Brown Homestead, in close proximity of Short Hills Provincial Park and the oldest building in St. Catharines.

    View A River Rises here.

    To learn more about the Centre for Studies in Arts and Culture, please visit the STAC website.

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  • Jan. 18, 2021: Walker Cultural Leaders Series features artists Jamelie Hassan & Ron Benner

    The Walker Cultural Leader Series continues in 2021, beginning with an engaging talk from artists Jamelie Hassan and Ron Benner on Monday, Jan. 18. The series continues in a virtual format for the 2021 season.

    Monday, Jan. 18, 2021 at 7 p.m.

    View the presentation premiere and join in the chat on the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts YouTube channel.

    Jamelie Hassan, born in London, Ontario, of Arabic background, is a visual artist and long-time member of CARFAC who is also active as a lecturer, writer, and independent curator. She has organized both national and international programs including Orientalism and Ephemera, a national touring exhibition, originally presented at Art Metropole, Toronto and most recently Dar’a/Full Circle for Artcite Inc. Windsor, ON. She was one of the founders of two artist-run centres in London, Ontario: the Forest City Gallery (1973-present) and the Embassy Cultural House (1983-1990). Her work is represented in numerous public collections in Canada and internationally, including the National Gallery of Canada, the Morris & Helen Belkin Art Gallery, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC ; and the Library of Alexandria ,Alexandria, Egypt. Other recent projects and group exhibitions where her works have been featured include, Here: Contemporary Canadian Art, curated by Swapnaa Tamhane, Aga Khan Museum (2017); Toronto: Tributes + Tributaries, 1971 -1989, curated by Wanda Nanibush, Art Gallery of Ontario (2016 – 2017); In Order to Join: the Political in a Historical Moment, organized by Museum Abteilberg in Monchengladbach, Germany (2013-14) and Mumbai, India (2015). Receipient of numerous awards, in  2001 she received the Govenor General’s Award in Visual Arts and in 2018 an honorary doctorate from OCAD University, Toronto. For more information visit:www.jameliehassan.ca 

    Ron Benner is an internationally recognized, London, Ontario – based artist whose longstanding practice investigates the history and political economy of food cultures. Benner originally studied agriculture engineering at the University of Guelph 1969/70. Finding himself ethically opposed to industrial agriculture and bioengineering, he began to travel and research the politics of food. In 1995, he began working with Rural Advancement Foundation International, Ottawa (RAFI). In 2000 he was awarded the Canada Council Studio in Paris. In 2005 he participated in Art, Geography and Invisibility at an international geography symposium in Olot, Catalonia, the University of Barcelona, Spain. In 2010 he was appointed Adjunct Research Professor in the Visual Arts Department, Western University, London, ON. Ron Benner’s mixed media installation works, including commissions of  photographic-garden installations, have been shown in solo and group exhibitions at Museum London, the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, Western University, London, Ontario, Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo, Ontario and many other galleries, museums and cultural institutions in Canada and internationally. His work is included in numerous public collections both in Canada and internationally including the National Gallery of Canada and the Art Gallery of Ontario. He has recently been appointed artist in residence in the Department of Environmental Science at the University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario, 2020-2023.
    For more information, please visit: www.ronbenner.ca

    For more information on upcoming Walker Cultural Leader Series events, please visit the webpage.

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  • Department of Music Virtual Ensembles – The Show Zooms On

    Brock Music ensembles have gone virtual for the 2020-21 performance season! The Department of Music Virtual Ensembles present a virtual concert series The Show Zooms On featuring:

    The University Wind Ensemble, Zoltan Kalman, Conductor
    The Choral Ensemble, Rachel Rensink-Hoff, Conductor
    The University String Orchestra, George Cleland, Conductor
    The University Jazz Ensemble, Zoltan Kalman, Conductor

    The first virtual performance premieres Friday, Jan. 15, 2021 with the Wind Ensemble:

    January 15, 2021 – 7 p.m.
    Wind Ensemble, Zoltan Kalman, Director
    View the YouTube Premiere

    View the Wind Ensemble January 15 program here.

    For the 2020-21 season, the performances will be broadcasted virtually on the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts YouTube channel. Please visit our Concerts page for more information.

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  • BIPOC Speaker Series welcomes Tanisha Taitt

    The DART/MIWSFPA 2020-21 BIPOC Speaker Series presents:

    CONSCIOUSNESS IN COLOUR: INTERCULTURAL SCENE STUDY FOR CONTEMPORARY CLASSROOMS WITH TANISHA TAITT

    Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021
    7 to 8:30 p.m.
    Via Zoom
    To register and receive Zoom details, please RSVP via ExperienceBU: experiencebu.brocku.ca/event/172561

    Tanisha Taitt is Artistic Director of Cahoots Theatre and a director/actor/playwright, musical artist, accidental essayist, and audiobook director with Penguin Random House Canada. In this talk she will focus on her work as a theatre and anti-racism educator.

    Supported by the Centre for Pedagogical Innovation at Brock University in partnership with Niagara Community Foundations.

    2020-21 BIPOC Speaker Series
    Conversations in which Black, Indigenous, and people of colour theatre leaders address issues of interest to the theatre community, and beyond. For more information and upcoming speaker announcements, please visit the BIPOC Speaker Series webpage.

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  • STAC’s journal ti< listed on Mir@bel

    STAC’s online, free-access journal ti< A JOURNAL OF TEXT-AND-IMAGE CRITICISM/CREATION – UN JOURNAL DE CRITIQUE/CREATION TEXTE-ET-IMAGE publishes creative work by students, their instructors, as well as by artists and writers whose work combines literature and the visual arts.

    All languages are welcome, including endangered languages. No translation is needed.

    ti< has recently been included in the Mir@bel database, an initiative by top higher-education institutions in France and Europe, such as Sciences Po and ENA.

    To submit work, please consult the website of the journal: https://journals.library.brocku.ca/index.php/ti/index

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  • Brock Mitacs award winner takes a closer look at online conspiracy theories

    Originally published in The Brock News FRIDAY, DECEMBER 11, 2020 | by Gillian Minaker

    The images we encounter in everyday life have always had an important role to play in our lives. Now, as many daily activities have moved online, these images have the ability to reach a global audience thanks to digital technology.

    But how has this online shift affected the visual culture of conspiracy theories, and what are the implications for society during a pandemic?

    Brock University fourth-year student Ian Ball is examining these questions as part of his research on visual culture and online conspiracy theoriesBall is pursuing a double major in the History of Art and Visual Culture and Dramatic Arts and is a recipient of a Mitacs Research Training Award which he received in the summer.

    Guiding the research project is Linda Steer, Associate Professor in Visual Arts at the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts.

    In his research, Ball has been collecting and analyzing visual images associated with online conspiracy theories. His interest in the subject stems from his area of study, a deep interest in folklore as well as being a fan of the science fiction genre.

    Through the examination and analysis of the images used in relation to conspiracy theories on popular social networking sites, including Facebook and Reddit, Ball has discovered some of the effects these images have on viewers and the emotional responses produced.

    According to Ball, this is especially timely given the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting uncertainty people have been experiencing.

    “A world event that is disrupting the status quo, a lack of control socially, politically, intellectually or in our personal lives, all have the potential to make us feel uncertain,” says Ball. “Research has shown that these factors might play a significant role in conspiratorial beliefs.”

    Ball had originally considered writing an essay on this topic, but Steer suggested a blog because of the accessibility it offers readers.

    “It has been great to supervise Ian’s fascinating and timely research project,” Steer says. “In a world that feels unstable, where we are isolated and looking to social media for answers, images have a lot of power.”

    Ball’s research has uncovered themes relating conspiracy theories to collective experiences of fear, society’s want for protection, and the instinctual desire for control. His project is adding to the discourse on the visual culture of conspiratorial beliefs, a research area that Steer says is fairly new and still developing.

    “It is important that we understand how visual images create meaning: how and why they become attached to certain ideas and how those ideas circulate,” she says.

    Graduating in 2021, Ball plans to use this research project as a foundation for his master’s thesis, looking at the relationships between folklore, visual culture, social messaging, critical thinking and misinformation.

    Visit Ball’s research blog to learn more about the outcomes of his work.

     

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