Announcements

  • Virtual auditions for Brock University choirs now open to community

    Originally published in The Brock News | WEDNESDAY, JULY 14, 2021 | by 

    Image caption: Rachel Rensink-Hoff, Associate Professor of Music at Brock’s Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts and Artistic Director of Brock University Choral Activities, is excited for Brock choir auditions to get underway in advance of the fall 2021 season.

    Brock choirs are back this fall and singing a hopeful tune for a busy season of choral activities for the University and wider Niagara community.

    Choir auditions are now open and will be running online throughout the summer for two ensembles: University Choir and Sora Singers.

    University Choir is a mixed voice ensemble for soprano, alto, tenor and bass voices and is open to all members of the Brock community, including students, faculty and staff.

    Sora Singers (formerly the Brock Women’s Choir) is an upper-voice ensemble for anyone with a soprano or alto voice. Auditions for Sora Singers are open to the Brock community as well as the wider Niagara community.

    Rachel Rensink-Hoff, Associate Professor of Music at Brock’s Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts (MIWSFPA) and Artistic Director of Brock University Choral Activities, is hopeful that choir members will be able to sing together in person, pending public health and Brock University protocols.

    “It has been a really tough year and as singers, we are all feeling rusty,” she said. “Building our vocal technique will certainly be the top priority when we convene in the fall to rebuild our singing community.”

    While the past year posed challenges for Brock’s choirs, Rensink-Hoff feels there were key lessons learned through experimentation with digital platforms, which she hopes will be integrated into the program going forward.

    “Because we are all familiar with collaborative opportunities in online formats, this coming year we will be virtually welcoming several composers whose works we will be studying and performing,” she said.

    Diversity and inclusion are also top of mind for Rensink-Hoff as the she plans for the coming season.

    “I am committed to diversifying our performance repertoire and spending more intentional time together exploring the voices of under-represented composers and communities,” she said.

    All audition details and rehearsal times can be found on the Sing at Brock! website. The audition is a two-part process involving a singing recording followed by a meeting over Zoom. Students who are interested can enrol in a choir for credit as a Brock course elective.

    The last day to audition for both the University Choir and Sora Singers will be Monday, Sept. 13.

    Choir rehearsal and performance formats are subject to change and will be delivered in adherence with Brock and public health protocols.

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  • Students showcase video art in local film festival through work-integrated learning

    Image caption: The opening image of Wind Sky, directed by Xudanlei Liu. Liu’s original video art is part of the Advanced Video Art student online screenings at the upcoming Mighty Niagara Film Fest presented by the Niagara Artists Centre.

    Originally published in The Brock News | MONDAY, JULY 05, 2021 

    Brock students have captured their experiences during the pandemic on film and are sharing their insights with the community.

    Exploring themes of identity, isolation and using everyday objects to create art, the project was born from an innovative work-integrated learning course and will see students present their videos during a professional film festival online.

    In Advanced Video (VISA/ISAC/STAC 3P10), students build upon their creative, technical and critical skills for video art production, post-production and critical evaluation, and are introduced to a variety of forms and approaches to video art, emphasizing its creation and contextualization in contemporary art discourses.

    Led by Donna Szoke, Associate Professor of Visual Arts at Brock’s Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts (MIWSFPA), the project is funded in part by Co-operative Education and Work-Integrated Learning (CEWIL) Canada’s Innovation Hub (iHub), through the Government of Canada’s Innovative Work-Integrated Learning (IWIL) initiative, and supported by Niagara Artists Centre (NAC).

    Students created independent video art that is available online until Aug. 15 in affiliation with the NAC in downtown St. Catharines. The videos will also be presented as part of NAC’s Mighty Niagara Film Festival running Aug. 18 to 22. Both events are free to the public.

    This rich educational experience has allowed students to produce quality work in a professional setting while exploring their creativity.

    Thanks to the CEWIL grant awarded to Szoke for the course, students will be paid for their work being showcased in the festival. The project has also helped students to add valuable work to their portfolios and build their resumés for future opportunities.

    Minhal Enam, a third-year Interactive Arts and Science student in the Faculty of Humanities, is among those showcasing their video art.

    Enam said the past year has been difficult because of the pandemic and that participating in the film festival was a welcome and pleasant surprise.

    “When I was creating this project, I didn’t think my work would ever be screened at a film festival,” he said. “This shows me that you never know what lies next in terms of opportunities and open doors.

    “As an international student, I am lucky to be involved in a project like this,” Enam said. “Being born and raised in Saudi Arabia, I never thought I would express my thoughts and passion as I am doing now. I am trusting my own journey, and this is just the beginning. I can’t wait to create more.”

    The CEWIL funding also allowed for established artists to virtually visit students throughout Winter Term, delivering presentations focused on their practices as Canadian video artists exhibiting in international film festivals. After receiving advice during the mentorship sessions, students selected their best work from the term for the two public screenings.

    Szoke said it’s important that young artists feel their work, time and creative skills have value.

    “They need to know what they do matters,” she said. “This is a chance to craft their ability to make artwork and grow faith in themselves as artists.”

    Stephen Remus, the Minister of Energy, Minds and Resources at the NAC, has been involved with the artist-run centre in various capacities for the past 15 years.

    “NAC is always interested in what young and emerging artists are creating at the Marilyn I. Walker School,” he said. “There’s a give and take. We learn what their interests and preoccupations are and, in turn, we’re able to introduce them to the NAC and artist-run culture.”

    Remus said Canada can “lay a unique claim to the establishment of a national artist-run network.”

    “It’s unlike anything else in the world. And the NAC is one of the earliest nodes on that network, now more than 50 years old.”

    From Winnipeg to Vancouver to St. Catharines, Szoke has a long history of collaborating with artist-run centres across the country. As a passionate artist who engages with experimental education programs and uses media art as a form of activism, she believes video as a medium occupies a dynamic and vital space in visual arts with great impacts on community.

    Community engagement is at the centre of the Advanced Video course, with a focus on giving students an opportunity to showcase their creative work in a professional setting while earning an industry-standard wage. Educating students about the standards of professional wages in the creative sector is an important piece of the project.

    “Community is the bridge to the future,” Szoke said. “If students can have significant experiences making meaningful work that people in the community value, this real-world labour can change all of our lives and have a big impact on students’ futures.”

    Even though the structure of the NAC is “anarchistic in the best ways,” the centre can be a leader in community and audience engagement, and prioritize support of living artists,” Remus said. “This includes informing students about the professional rates for the payment of artists.”

    The opinions and interpretations in this publication are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Government of Canada or Co-operative Education and Work-Integrated Learning Canada.

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  • Fine and Performing Arts grads poised to shape the future with creative skills

    Image caption: Soo Myung Oh, at her piano, will graduate with a Bachelor of Music and plans to perform professionally in addition to pursuing teaching performance after completing her degree at Brock’s Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts. Image credit: Photo by Shannon Peebles, Ventures & Vows Photography.

    Students graduating from Brock’s Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts (MIWSFPA) are ready to make their mark in the world.

    From creating innovative art in support of social justice causes, to utilizing professional art practices in the mental health field and pursuing careers in live performance bringing joy to audiences, MIWSFPA grads are drawing on their academic experiences and diverse skill sets to propel them forward on their career paths.

    For Ian Ball, who will graduate Friday, June 18 with a Bachelor of Arts in Dramatic Arts and History of Art and Visual Culture, continuing his creative work in digital media is a top priority.

    Music graduand Nick Braun will continue to write and record his own music after graduation.

    Ball is currently working with Toronto-based [elephants collective]’s Telethon Telethon! This collaborative project is a monthly digital performance experiment that aims to provide aid to various social justice causes and is currently supporting the Anishnawbe Health Foundation.

    Ball is looking forward to the easing of public health restrictions within the arts when it is safe to do so.

    “I’m hoping I’ll get a chance to develop a follow-up to work I co-created in 2019’s Nuit Blanche in Toronto,” he said.

    Combining his interests in dramatic arts and visual culture, Ball will be pursuing a master’s degree in Cultural Studies at Queen’s University in the fall, with hopes of one day completing a PhD and working in the cultural field.

    As Music graduand Soo Myung Oh looks to the future, she reflects on her time at Brock. The busy mother of three pursued her degree during the day, reserving her evenings for family time.

    “My four years in the Music program were about the process of identifying myself as a musician,” said Oh, who graduates Friday with a Bachelor of Music, Concentration in Music Education and Minor in Applied Linguistics. “Although I played piano for years in my youth, I was completely new to public performance and I had to learn how to play music and deliver it to audiences.”

    Oh fondly remembers the experience of performing in the Recital Hall at the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre, adjacent to the MIWSFPA in downtown St. Catharines. Performing on a professional stage was a defining moment for the musician.

    “I can still recall the way the piano sounded as I played, and the interaction between the sound and the air in the hall on that special day. It was simply an amazing experience,” she said.

    After she graduates, Oh will continue to perform professionally and would like to eventually teach performance, inspired by her concentration in Music Education. Her current interest for further study is therapeutic recreation and gerontology.

    “Since my musical experience at Brock started from my own experience of retrieving memories, and my process for preparing my solo piano recital relied heavily on the cognitive process of music and brainwork, I became interested in the connection between the two and implications of aging,” Oh said.

    “My degree has allowed me to write music and produce my own recordings,” Braun said.Nick Braun, who will also graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in Music, is excited to continue writing music.

    His studies have given him a unique skill set “to make modern, unique and refreshing music,” he said, adding his style fits somewhere in the alternative rock realm.

    Braun will take some time after graduation to work locally, save money and continue to work on his personal music projects.

    “Between me and my network of friends in the music industry, I will be taking on opportunities to work with various people and explore our creative potential as young artists,” Braun said.

    Centre for Studies in Arts and Culture graduand Maya Meyerman is excited to continue her scholarly and creative work in the cultural field and will pursue a graduate certificate in the arts and culture sector at Humber College in September.

    Graduand Maya Meyerman, who will receive her Bachelor of Arts in Studies in Arts and Culture with a concentration in Cultural Management on Friday, discovered her career pathway through diverse experiences within the interdisciplinary program.

    Gaining a critical view of contemporary culture and connecting with the local arts scene led Meyerman to pursue a graduate certificate in Arts Administration and Cultural Management at Humber College.

    “I’m excited to pursue opportunities in Toronto and build upon my experience at Brock,” she said. “The MIWSFPA is such an inspiring place to learn and connect with the arts, and I have made deep connections with the arts community.”

    Meyerman recently produced an arts festival for youth ages 13 to 30 in Kingston and will be spending the summer preparing for next year’s edition.

    “As someone who didn’t want to study just one branch of the arts, the Centre for Studies in Arts and Culture and the MIWSFPA provided me with a creative and safe venue to explore my personal interests, introducing me to the many versions of what ‘the arts’ can be,” she said. “I know that it has prepared me to take on the next step towards my career in the arts industry.”

    Visual Arts (VISA) graduand Kendra Bosse has developed her art practice and realized her passion for photography as therapy.

    Bosse, who will graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in Studio Art and Psychology and Minor in Indigenous Studies, is committed to engaging with her art to positively impact individuals experiencing mental health issues and addiction.

    “After graduation, I will be attending Canadore College to study mental health and addictions counselling to gain experience in the field before pursuing graduate school,” she said.

    Bosse and fellow VISA graduand Cree Tylee are capping off their final year at Brock with a double exhibition “treasured | (A)part,” currently on view virtually in the VISA Gallery on the first floor of the MIWSFPA until Monday, July 5.

    Relationship as Deep as The Ocean, 2021, Cyanotype on Cotton (24 in x 36in) by Kendra Bosse as featured in the double exhibition “treasured” and “(A)part.”

    The bodies of work were developed under the supervision of Visual Arts Chair and Associate Professor Amy Friend for the students’ independent studies courses in the Visual Arts.

    “The double exhibition of treasured and (A)part was a cathartic way to finish the end of an unconventional graduating year,” said Tylee, who will graduate with her Bachelor of Arts in Studio Art and Minor in the History of Art and Visual Culture. “Working with Visual Arts Media Resource Co-ordinator Max Holten-Andersen to create a virtual exhibition for our show (including a 360 virtual tour) was an insightful experience that wouldn’t have happened under different circumstances.”

    Even though they were unable to have a traditional gallery opening, the ability to learn and become well-versed in the creation of virtual exhibits is a valuable skill the students will take with them, she said, calling it a “silver lining.”

    Title wall of Cree Tylee’s body of work entitled (A)part. Tylee describes this exhibition as a “very introspective and multi-faceted body of work with multiplicities of concepts I’ll be able to draw on for further graduate studies.”

    Both artists agree that bringing this final exhibition into fruition has been an enlightening process, acknowledging that completing a thesis under the supervision of Friend and having a final exhibition made their final year very fulfilling.After graduation, Tylee, recipient of the Distinguished Graduating Student Award in Visual Arts, will be taking an accelerated studio program in Ceramics at the Haliburton School of Art + Design while preparing for further graduate studies.

    The virtual exhibition and 360 gallery tour of treasured | (A)part can be viewed on the Visual Arts website.

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  • Humanities launches second season of Foreword podcast

    Image caption: Alison Innes, Social Media Co-ordinator for the Faculty of Humanities, produces and hosts Foreword, a podcast featuring Humanities faculty members and graduates.

    Originally published in The Brock News | MONDAY, JUNE 07, 2021 | by 

    After a successful first season, Foreword has returned to again connect listeners with researchers in Brock’s Faculty of Humanities.

    The podcast, which recently passed the 1,000-downloads mark, features interviews with professors and graduates from across the Faculty, exploring not only what they do, but also why they do it and why it matters.

    The second season returns with 11 episodes. Each one-hour episode is released each Wednesday until the end of August.

    Similar to a foreword in a book, the podcast acts as an introduction to the Humanities and the diverse and impactful research being conducted at Brock, said Alison Innes, the Faculty’s Social Media Co-ordinator, who produces and hosts the show.

    “I want to convey the forward momentum — how the humanities are relevant and important both today and as we move forward,” Innes said.

    Listeners can expect to dive into topics such as literary journalism, the connection between art and engineering, the need for a global perspective on the ongoing pandemic and the how societies have responded to plagues and unrest in the past.

    The season kicked off with a conversation with Nina Penner, Assistant Professor in the Department of Music, who specializes in opera, musical theatre and film music.

    In the June 2 episode, Penner helps to demystify the world of opera for listeners and shares how modern opera is responding to social justice movements such as Black Lives Matter.

    “You do not need to be an opera aficionado to appreciate the conversation,” Innes said. “All of the episodes are geared towards people who don’t necessarily have an academic background in these topics. They’re meant to feel accessible and be engaging.”

    The episodes, she said, are “made to sound as though we’re in a coffee shop and there’s me, the researcher and the listener at the table.”

    Foreword also aims to “pull back the curtain on the research and academic process,” Innes said.

    For instance, an upcoming episode features Modern Languages Associate Professor Cristina Santos and her work on the Argentinian disappearances from 1977 to 1983.

    “We talk about what it is like for researchers to deal with really difficult topics,” Innes said. “We talk about how, as a researcher, you examine a topic that’s traumatic without traumatizing yourself.”

    The podcast helps listeners to understand the role the Humanities play in society, said Faculty Dean Carol Merriam.

    “The research and creative activity practised in the Faculty of Humanities is central to all of the questions and issues that confront us today,” she said. “We’re asking and answering the crucial questions, and the world needs to hear about those questions and answers.”

    The podcast, Merriam said, is an “innovative way to take our work into the mainstream of people’s lives and thoughts.”

    “The impressive performance of the podcast, and the audience that it has reached, demonstrates the importance and vitality of the Humanities in today’s world.”

    Supported by the Dean’s Discretionary Fund, the podcast is also made possible by the sound-editing skills of first-year Interactive Arts and Science student Nicole Arnt.

    Arnt said the experience has taught her that Brock “offers opportunities for learning and connection beyond the obvious places,” and she was thrilled to get involved with the project.

    “This podcast highlights how professors are not only teachers but also learners,” she said. “It’s a good reminder that universities in general and Brock’s Faculty of Humanities specifically, are places to stimulate thought, discussion and curiosity.”

    Foreword is more than just a “transfer of knowledge,” she said, while encouraging her fellow students to tune in.

    “It allows listeners to get a sense of who some of the Humanities professors are outside the lecture hall: What motivates them, what they are concerned about and why they are passionate about a certain topic. It brings the humanity back to the Humanities and it will give us a connection point in class beyond marks and assignments.”

    New Foreword episodes are released every Wednesday on Apple PodcastsGoogle Podcasts and Spotify. Transcripts of the episodes are also available here.

    Some upcoming episodes of Foreword include:

    • June 9: Associate Professor Rob Alexander (English) — “Literary Journalism”
    • June 23: Associate Professor Elizabeth Vlossak (History) — “History Beyond the Classroom”
    • June 30: Alumna April Pett (French) — “April in Paris”
    • July 7: Professor Christine Daigle (Interdisciplinary Humanities PhD) — “Entangled Humans”

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  • Visual Arts students, alumni unite for collaborative exhibition

    Image caption: Artwork from CODA artists Lillian Pasqua, Curt Richards, Aidan Frenette displayed in the Visual Arts (VISA) 4F06 Honours Exhibition at Rodman Hall Arts Centre.

    Brock’s fourth-year student artists and Visual Arts (VISA) graduates are showcasing their contemporary artwork in a new collaborative exhibition entitled CODA.

    CODA not only features the work of current students, but of VISA alumni who were unable to present their final works to the public due to pandemic-related event closures last spring.

    Through the bodies of work of 14 artists, CODA is an overarching contemporary exploration of individual voices and visual languages. The exhibition considers the engagement of traditional material with unconventional installation.

    Mounted at the Rodman Hall Arts Centre (RHAC), CODA is now available to view virtually through a 360 gallery tour and virtual exhibition. The show is curated by Shawn Serfas, Associate Professor of Studio Art and Chair of VISA and Sarah Martin (BA ’19), Gallery Assistant at the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts (MIWSFPA) gallery.

    As no in-person exhibitions were held in the MIWSFPA gallery this past year, Martin understands first-hand the devasatting effects that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on the arts community.

    “Being able to make this show a reality for these students was about celebrating their work and sharing that as much as possible,” she said.

    The capstone studio arts course culminates in a public, professional exhibition historically featured at RHAC. In 2020, Brock University announced the sale of the RHAC property and the formation of a community-based group (RHAC Inc.) whose stewardship has ensured the art collection remains a community asset with a sustainable future.

    Martin acknowledges the significance of CODA being the final exhibition to be held in the space.

    “Having shown my own work in an Honours Exhibition at Rodman Hall, it is easy to say that it was the highlight of my experience at Brock. Now, being able to help put this show together feels very special and fulfilling for me,” she says.

    Student Aidan Frenette expressed how meaningful it is to have her work be part of the collaborative exhibition.

    “Like many of my fellow students and alumni, the VISA 4F06 culminating exhibition means a great deal to me,” she says. “The opportunity to display a year’s worth of hard work within a renowned gallery is a rewarding experience in and of itself. However, to have the privilege of participating in the final show held at Rodman Hall is an honour.”

    Zachary White, an alumnus and CODA participating artist, appreciates the opportunity to engage with his art in a professional setting.

    His involvement in the exhibition had him thinking critically about the production of his work.

    “I had to consider the curation process, installation of the work and how to connect pieces together in a cohesive way to let each piece of art shine individually — and as part of a collection,” he said.

    White added that throughout the studio art program at Brock, he worked through different styles and mediums to build his ‘artistic toolbox.’

    “This exhibition gave me the opportunity to let everything I learned speak through a style that is unique to me,” he said. “Ultimately, this show does more than just exhibit work; it highlights a culmination of the studio art program and provides a bridge between the student and the professional art experience.”

    CODA ran from May 12 to 26 at RHAC (closed to the public) but can be viewed virtually through the VISA website.

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  • STAC’s journal “ti<"​ publishes 10th issue this year (2021)

    The creative journal from the Centre for Studies in Arts and Culture has recently published the latest issue. Published on May 25, 2021 this issue of ti< is the 10th for the journal showcasing  creative work combining text and image.

    The issue includes the catalogue of Soft Walls​, the not yet opened exhibition of STAC/VISA students at St. Catharines City Hall; imaginary letters written by students in French Studies to fictional characters in 19th-c. novels; and a short short story by a student in the English department. Follow the link below, and enjoy!

    View the latest issue of ti< here.

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  • Fall/Winter 2021 timetable is live, undergrad registration starts July 6

    Originally published in The Brock News |  TUESDAY, MAY 25, 2021 

    Brock University last week reiterated its hope that students will be welcomed back onto campus starting this fall and today, Tuesday, May 25, the Fall/Winter 2021 timetable went live.

    In it, students will see a course calendar that reflects a significant return to on-campus instruction with a majority of classes being offered in person, while still having many classes offered in a hybrid online format.

    This is the fall scenario Brock is working towards, but the University will be ready to quickly pivot, should the public health situation require it.

    Course registration opens on the student portal at my.brocku.ca on Tuesday, July 6 for first-year undergraduates. Those with 15 or more credits may register starting July 9; 10 or more credits on July 12; five or more credits on July 14; fewer than five credits on July 15. There are a number of other key registration dates that can be found at brocku.ca/guides-and-timetables/dates

    The University realizes students will have questions as they prepare for registration to open on Tuesday, July 6. More information and the answers to many of these questions can be found at brocku.ca/fall and brocku.ca/coronavirus

    These websites are regularly updated with the latest information about the 2021-22 academic plans and the University’s pandemic response.

    Brock is preparing for the upcoming academic year with cautious optimism and with the knowledge all adults in Ontario who wish to be vaccinated against COVID-19 are now eligible to receive their first shot.

    Today’s release of the Fall/Winter 2021 timetable is the next step in that preparation.


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  • Brock grad raising awareness of trans identities through film

    Image caption: Roy Wol (BA ’06), former student in the Departments of Communication, Popular Culture and Film and Dramatic Arts, at the South by Southwest premiere of The Garden Left Behind, a film he recently brought to a Brock audience.

    Originally posted in The Brock News MONDAY, MAY 17, 2021 | Written by

    Brock alumnus and award-winning filmmaker Roy Wol (BA ’06) is starting important conversations about trans identities through his work.

    And earlier this spring, he brought that meaningful discussion virtually to the Brock community.

    In March, Brock’s Pride Week kicked off with a special screening of Wol’s film, The Garden Left Behind. The 2019 release won the Audience Choice Award when it premiered at South by Southwest (SXSW) and has gone on to screen at more than 70 festivals and 50 community events.

    The Brock screening was followed by a panel discussion, which can be viewed online here, featuring Wol, the film’s producer, alongside actresses Carlie Guevara and Ivana Black.

    The event was sponsored by Gender and Sexual Violence Support and Education, Human Rights and Equity (HRE), the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts and the Faculty of Social Sciences.

    The Garden Left Behind tells the story of Tina (played by Guevara), a Mexican trans woman, and her grandmother, both living as undocumented immigrants in New York City (NYC).

    Wol, a former double-major in Film Studies and Dramatic Arts (DART), describes bringing the film and industry panel to Brock as “the greatest feeling ever.”

    He was encouraged by the interest in the film he experienced right from his initial meeting with event organizers.

    Carlie Guevara, who stars in The Garden Left Behind, recently participated in a virtual Brock discussion panel.

    “I was expecting only to meet with a single person, but I found myself meeting seven people from different departments asking about the film and chatting about possibilities,” Wol says. “Personally, I felt so welcomed but more importantly, I felt that Brock saw the mission of the film. The impact was aligned — I feel and see the hunger for these types of projects at Brock and I was so honoured to share our work with the Brock audience.”

    Guevara also enjoyed participating in the panel.

    “I’m thankful I was able to enjoy a Friday evening with Brock,” she says. “University communities are super interesting for me, because the audience is within my peer group and I’m exposed to new ideas and experiences whilst sharing my stories.”

    Guevara felt “immediately akin” to Tina’s character after first reading the script, noting there is much to unpack about her story and the themes it touches on.

    “I was drawn by the story and the badass transness of it all,” she says. “I felt happy to read a script and be a part of a film that gave depth, light and breadth to a trans-POC(Person of Colour)-immigrant-NYC narrative.”

    Supporting actress Ivana Black says spending time with the Brock community was “freeing.” She emphasizes that the film requires its audience members to consider their own responsibility.

    “I am hopeful the conversation will open minds and help people see the history of trans identities as a positive and important part of the Two-Spirit, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex and asexual (2SLGBTQQIA+) history,” says Black. “I think the film has reinforced the plight that trans women have and still face, and it questions how far the community has moved when one part of the community is still suffering.”

    Mackenzie Rockbrune, one of the event organizers from HRE and a co-host of the panel discussion, says the team wanted to “create an event to bring awareness to the trans community and the intersectional issues they face every day.”

    Showing a film made by a Brock grad, she adds, made it all the more special.

    “The event had a wide range of attendees from the 2SLGBTQ+ community and Roy Wol’s former departments,” says Rockbrune. “The film allowed for an entry point for students to join the conversation about intersectionality and transgender rights, and inspired students by highlighting an alumnus who used his degree to cultivate activism.”

    Hamed Karaghi, also an organizing committee member and panel co-host, says the intersectionality of the film made it an ideal way to kick off Brock Pride Week.

    “Our audience was informed of the many sacrifices the trans community have made so that queer people can experience liberty and freedom here in North America,” says Karaghi. “The movie was especially valuable for Applied Health Sciences students at Brock, since we got an overview of the challenges that trans people experience while navigating the health-care system to get their gender confirmation surgery.”

    According to Wol, community screenings like the one at Brock have laid bare a great need for conversation and sharing.

    “At some point, we had seven simultaneous community screenings with our team spread around the globe as representatives creating opportunity for discussions,” he says. “The film became larger than itself, a catalyst to share our wounds with each other — it provided a platform to bridge communities.”

    Ivana Black, a supporting actress in The Garden Left Behind, recently participated in a virtual Brock discussion panel.

    Wol says he makes film because he wants to learn about life. With The Garden Left Behind, he learned not only from the film’s main character, but also from the community building that went into both the making and the marketing of the film.

    He notes that some 48 people from the trans community worked on the film, and more from the broader 2SLGBTQQIA+ rounded out the cast and crew. For many, it was their first job in film — but not their last.

    “More than a handful have since landed jobs at HBO, New York Film Festival Lincoln Center’s Artist Academy, POSE creator Ryan Murphy’s Half Initiative directing fellowship, and jobs in commercials and plays,” says Wol. “I am proud to say we were at the forefront of the trans representation movement in cinema, giving maximum visibility to the community behind and in front of the camera as actors, producers and crew staff.”

    Wol, who came to Brock as an international student and a third-culture kid (an individual raised in a culture other than their parents’), says his experiences at Brock gave him the courage to become his best self.

    “In the DART department, I was encouraged to be playful, to experiment with my art, and in Film Studies, the course options were fundamentally very inspiring and helped me narrow down what I wanted to pursue,” he says. “Communication, Popular Culture and Film courses and instructors made me question everything beyond film — my existence and how narratives impact our lives.”

    Wol says he spent a long time finding his own voice and navigating the challenges of being a “serial immigrant” unable to access government funding through bodies like Telefilm or to work on union productions, which were limited to permanent residents of Canada.

    “This pushed me to be completely independent and create my projects outside of the insular industry, which was a blessing in disguise,” he says. “Within the film industry there are many pockets of sub-industries, and I got in and out of most of them, which gave me a good understanding of the overall picture and grew my network.”

    Wol believes that “storytellers can create bridging opportunities instead of parallel universes,” and builds his art around this belief.

    “We are as good as our community is,” he Wol. “It is more important than ever to do our best to tolerate and create a dialogue with people from experiences that might be conflicting with our core beliefs.”

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    Categories: Alumni, Announcements, Events, Media Releases, News, Uncategorised

  • Visual Arts grad catches the eye of WIRED magazine

    Image caption: “Three Polaroids” is a piece from Amber Lee Williams’ collection “Tethered” that uses a Polaroid emulsion lift technique. “Through self-portraits, photos of my own children and other mothers with their children, “Tethered” is part observation and part documentation of daily life,” Williams says.

    Originally published in The Brock News FRIDAY, MAY 07, 2021 | by 

    While the look of a classic Polaroid picture is familiar to most people, interdisciplinary artist Amber Lee Williams (BA ’20) is challenging that standard and garnering international attention with her creative use of the iconic medium.

    Among those captivated by the St. Catharines’ artist’s compelling work is WIRED magazine, which recently commissioned Williams’ art for an article about adoption. The international publication reaches 30 million readers each month.

    Originally interested in painting, Williams, who graduated from Brock’s Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts (MIWSFPA) last year with a Bachelor of Arts in Studio Art,  discovered a passion for experimental photography when introduced to the darkroom in her second-year Analogue Photography class.

    Williams developed her art practice during her degree based on a technique called Polaroid emulsion lifts. In this treatment, the top layer of a Polaroid photo (known as the emulsion layer) is separated from the physical print by soaking it in water. After the separation of the emulsion image has occurred, it is often transferred to other surfaces such as watercolour paper or hard surfaces like rocks.

    Through creative and scholarly exploration undertaken by Williams during her time in the Visual Arts program, she reimagined the Polaroid emulsion lift technique by capturing digital images of the emulsion lift in process. She was excited by how the images looked floating in water and found them to have an “ephemeral quality.”

    Brock alumna and local artist Amber Lee Williams was recently commissioned by WIRED magazine for her innovative work with Polaroid images.

    In her current work, Williams continues to explore the interplay between analogue and digital media, weaving this theme through her pieces.

    “My time at Brock put me on a very experimental path. My professors encouraged me to use unconventional materials, or to invent new ways to use materials. I was never told ‘this wasn’t the assignment’ — even when I handed in some weird stuff,” she said with a smile.

    Associate Professor of Visual Arts Amy Friend, who taught Williams’ Analogue Photography class, said that Williams consistently challenged her studio assignments, and with each critique, brought in a plethora of work that demonstrated a clear commitment to pushing process and result.

    “Her unique approach of blending alternate materials within the folds of photographic practice wonderfully represents the explorative nature of studio-based courses and the progression of her practice as an artist,” Friend said.

    Opportunity called in December 2020 when a senior editor of WIRED reached out to Williams — a connection made through Friend — to commission her Polaroid works for an upcoming article. With that, Williams embarked on her first big job in the creative sector.

    Fuelled by excitement and a touch of nervousness, she began her creative work for Adoption Moved to Facebook and a War Began written by Samantha M. Shapiro.

    “First, photographer Juan Diego Reyes took some photos using colour film of the family featured in the adoption article. The film was developed, scanned and sent to me to print as Polaroids to turn into lifts,” Williams explained.

    The lead image of the article created as a result is one of her favourite images that she has ever made.

    “The way Reyes photographed the family — with these big shadows cast behind them — felt so symbolic of what the story was all about, which was this dark side of adoption,” she said.

    Williams also created her own still life images featuring children’s items. With a toddler and seven-year-old at home, she had what she needed on hand to create original images for the rest of the article.

    Creating original images took her out of her comfort zone and posed an exciting challenge, Williams said.

    “I’m usually just making art about myself (or my own family), and for myself. Trying to make the work fit someone else’s ideas was very different than what I’m used to.”

    Williams, who recently completed her second term in the Master of Fine Arts (MFA) program at the University of Waterloo, hasn’t slowed since graduating from Brock. The busy mother of two looks forward to what the future holds.

    “I didn’t think I would be doing my MFA mostly online with my kids home, but here we are. I got through the first year and now I’ll have the summer to make more work and enjoy some time with my family,” she said.

    Williams hopes to showcase her work, “Tethered,” this fall at an exhibition in St. Catharines pending public health protocols.

    As she continues her schooling, she is contemplating what her next moves will be.

    “What I know now is that I just want to make art, and help other people make art,” she said.

    Williams’ art portfolio can be found on her website, amberleeart.com, and on her Instagram page.

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

  • Small Walker Press launches publications exploring music, choreography

    Image caption: The Small Walker Press has announced two new spring publications: Arc, a choreographed poem and Improvising Places / Improvising Time.

    Originally published in The Brock News on TUESDAY, MAY 04, 2021 | by 

    The Small Walker Press (SWP) is announcing two new spring publications with an online book launch page.

    With in-person book launches still on hold due to public health restrictions, the innovative publishing house within Brock’s Centre for Studies in Arts and Culture at the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts (MIWSFPA) opted for a virtual celebration.

    The online launch page features two new books: Arc, a choreographed poem written by Paul Savoie with accompanying choreography by Mélanie Mesager, and Improvising Places / Improvising Time with music notation by Devon Fornelli, creative writing by Thomas Ayouti and essays by Derek Knight and Matthew Royal. Graphic design for both publications was done by Bernhard Cella.

    The concept for the books, “music and choreography,” was outlined by Small Walker Press editors Catherine Parayre, Associate Professor and Director of the Centre for Studies in Arts and Culture, and Derek Knight, Associate Professor of Visual Arts. The creative texts were inspired by these themes, drawing on inspiration from participating artists incorporating dance, music and creative writing.

    The book launch page features excerpts from the publications as well as notes from both SWP editors.

    To learn more about The Small Walker Press, please visit the website.

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