In the Media

  • Top Canadian authors coming to Niagara for Two Days of Canada conference

    (Source: The Brock News, Tuesday, October 11, 2016 | by )

    Award-winning authors from across Canada will be in downtown St. Catharines this week for the annual Two Days of Canada conference and the new Festival of Readers.

    Two Days of Canada is an annual conference hosted by Brock University’s Centre for Canadian Studies. The conference turns 30 this year, making it the longest-running Canadian Studies conference series in the country.

    This year’s theme is Concepts of Vancouver, which looks at Vancouver’s “unique confluence of art, politics, and cultural policy,” says Brock English professor Gregory Betts, who is a conference co-organizer. Brock PhD students Julia Polyck-O’Neill and Andrew McEwan, whose dissertations examine Vancouver’s arts and authors, are assisting in organizing the conference.

    More than 100 delegates from across Canada and around the world will listen to 40 presenters explore such topics as Indigenous rights in Vancouver and its region, that area’s unique openness to experimentation in the arts, and how Vancouver uses its class-consciousness to build inclusive urban communities.

    The conference and accompanying festival will feature authors who have won such prestigious awards as the Governor-General’s Award, the Griffin Prize and the Trillium Prize. Two poet laureates will also be in attendance.

    The keynote speaker for the event is George Bowering, the former Niagara resident who was Canada’s first Parliamentary Poet Laureate, and a two-time Governor-General’s Award winner. Since leaving Niagara, Bowering has lived mostly in Vancouver, where he has cultivated a world-class literary culture and become, as Betts says, “one of the giants of Canadian literature.”

    Authors Richard Cavell, Roy Miki, Lisa Robertson, Michael Turner and Rita Wong will also deliver plenary addresses.

    This year also sees the addition of the Festival of Readers to the conference, where award-winning authors will present their academic scholarship during conference sessions and share their literary work in the evenings.

    Festival of Readers events run from Thursday, Oct. 13 to Saturday, Oct. 15 and include a public lecture by Bowering, a poetry reading and poetry slam, and a story illustration workshop by Rodman Hall.

    Gary Barwin, who is on the 2016 Scotiabank Giller Prize shortlist, will be speaking at St. Catharines Public Library as part of the festival.

    There will also be a special screening of “Hard Core logo” at The Film House, with an introduction by the author Michael Turner.

    A complete guide can be found at http://www.festivalofreaders.com/the-festival-of-readers.

    Festival of Readers events are free and open to the public.

    Two Days of Canada: The Concept of Vancouver is being held at Brock University’s Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts and the nearby Niagara Artists Centre. Visit the conference website for more information.

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    Categories: Announcements, In the Media, News

  • Brock participating in Culture Days with events at Rodman Hall and MIWSFPA

    (Source: The Brock News, Wednesday, September 28, 2016 | by . Photo: Rodman Hall.)

    Brock University will be joining local artists and culture workers in a country-wide celebration of arts and culture this weekend.

    More than 900 communities across Canada are participating in Culture Days, a three-day celebration of arts and culture Sept. 30 to Oct. 2.

    Rodman Hall Art Centre is offering free family-friendly art activities all weekend. There will be a drop-in puppet workshop in collaboration with Carousel Players, tours of the historic house and a look at the new exhibition “Houses and Whispers,” by Gunilla Josephson. Rodman Hall will be open Friday from 5-8 p.m. and Saturday from noon to 4 p.m.

    The Marilyn I. Walker School for Fine and Performing Arts is also participating in Culture Days. Guests are welcome to tour the facility, view poster presentations of research from the Faculty of Humanities, and take in the exhibition of contemporary art in the MIWSFPA Art Gallery. MIWSFPA is open Sept. 30- Oct. 2, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The art gallery hours are noon to 4 p.m.

    Percussionist Devon Fornelli will perform citySounds in the walkway between the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre and MIWSFPA on Saturday from noon to 2 p.m. In case of rain, the performance will take place in the main lobby of MIWSFPA.

    Other venues participating in this year’s Culture Days include the St. Catharines Kiwanis Aquatics Centre, 4Cats Arts Studio, Silver Spire United Church, Odd Fellows Hall, Mahtay Café, and the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre.

    Founded in 2009, Culture Days is a Canada-wide event held the last Friday of September. Hundreds of artists, cultural workers, and arts-related groups mobilize to offer free, hands-on activities that encourage art appreciation.

    Visit http://www.stcatharines.ca/en/experiencein/Culture-Days.asp to view the full list of local participants and to plan your culture days experience.

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    Categories: Announcements, In the Media, News

  • International philosophers coming to Brock

    (Source: The Brock NewsWednesday, September 21, 2016 | by )

    There will be some deep thinking coming to Niagara this week.

    From Thursday through Saturday, a prestigious international conference taking place at Brock University’s Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts will draw up to 60 of the world’s leading philosophers to downtown St. Catharines.

    The 41st edition of the annual Merleau-Ponty Circle, considered one of the most significant gatherings in Continental European thought, is being hosted by Brock’s Department of Philosophy. The conference director is associate professor Rajiv Kaushik, whose research on conference namesake Maurice Merleau-Ponty includes the 2011 book Art and Institution: Aesthetics in the Late Works of Merleau-Ponty and the 2013 book Art, Language and Figure in Merleau-Ponty: Excursions in Hyper-Dialectic.

    Brock had presented a proposal to host the annual conference when the 2014 event was held in Geneva. This week, scholars from as far away as China and Australia will be in Niagara for the 2016 Merleau-Ponty Circle.

    The conference theme this year is “Merleau-Ponty: Doing Philosophy from the Outside,” and seeks to open up the meaning of philosophy to other disciplines. The theme is a play on a series of 1948 radio lectures given by Merleau-Ponty titled “Man Seen from the Outside.” Merleau-Ponty was deeply engaged with a variety of fields apart from philosophy, and the conference aims to continue this approach to philosophy by encouraging connections between philosophy and other academic disciplines.

    The conference is scheduled in a way that allows all participants to attend all presentations. This, says Kaushik, gives scholars “the rare opportunity to engage in a deep and sustained way with the research of other presenters, who are generally internationally well-regarded scholars.”

    This year’s keynote speakers include:

    Rudolf Bernet, from the University of Leuven, Belgium, who has published hundreds of articles in psychoanalysis and phenomenology, and authored a number of widely-acclaimed books.

    Veronique Foti, a Professor of Philosophy Emeritus at Penn State University. She is a leading researcher in Merleau-Ponty scholarship and works in the areas of European, Continental and Ancient philosophies, as well as philosophy of art and literary theory.

    Edward S. Casey, from Stony Brook University in New York, was the president of the American Philosophical Association (Easter Division) 2009-2010 and works in the areas of phenomenology, aesthetics, philosophy of space and time, ethic, perception and psychoanalytic theory. His research investigates place and space, including landscape paintings and maps.

    The entire conference takes place at the Marilyn I. Walker School for Fine and Performing Arts and First Ontario Performing Arts Centre.

    More information can be found on the conference website.

    The public is welcome to view the conference art work in the MIWSFPA Visual Art Gallery during regular gallery hours.

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  • Vivian named director of Brock arts school

    (Source: Niagara Falls Review, Wednesday, May 11, 2016 | By John Law)

    The new director of Brock University’s Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts enjoys a “pinch me” moment every now and then.

    When David Vivian arrived in Niagara in 2004, culture was struggling and downtown St. Catharines felt stagnant. Now, both are generating national attention. “It’s a fantastic progression since 2004,” he says. “I can’t believe that we have both a new (Marilyn I. Walker) school facility and new performing arts centre downtown here.

    “That’s a huge jump in capacity for this city, to both hear the stories of others and to tell its own stories.”

    Vivian, currently chairman of Brock’s Department of Dramatic Arts, begins a three-year term at the school July 1. The school opened in its new downtown location last September in a former 19th century textile factory at 15 Artists’ Common. With about 500 students, the $45 million building houses Brock’s visual arts, music, drama and culture programs.

    Vivian replaces Derek Knight, who helped oversee the new school’s construction and implementation through its first year of classes. Knight will be taking a oneyear sabbatical from Brock. With the building’s first year winding down, Vivian says there’s a “great foundation” to build on in Year Two.

    “We’ve got some excellent, first rate programs,” he says. “First on my list is to communicate these opportunities to future students here in the Niagara region, the GTA and internationally.”

    He will also strengthen the already crucial link with the nearby FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre, and increase the school’s role in the evolving downtown.

    “It’s about finding the right place for the school in the heart of the city,” he says. “We understand ourselves to be part of a larger project of the downtown revitalization. We’re all terribly proud of St. Catharines.”

    Vivian was recognized with the Humanities Faculty Award for Excellence in Teaching in 2009, and recognized by the city, province and country for his work as chairman of the St. Catharines Culture Committee in 2011. He studied art and art history at the University of Toronto and Sheridan College, and has an MA in fine arts from the University of British Columbia.

    Vivian is eager to import new students to help become the “cultural fabric” of the region.

    But he also wants to keep the school part of the Brock community, despite the space between them now.

    “We have a lot of relationship building to do with the rest of the university,” he says. “Bringing us from the main campus has broken an immediacy and a knowledge of each other.”

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  • Brock prof gets funding for project profiling women animal rights activists

    (Source: The Brock News, Monday, March 7, 2016 | by )

    While researching the history of animal rights, Brock visual arts professor Keri Cronin realized that women did much of the advocacy work in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

    She also noticed that, quite often, there was little information about these women. For example, it was common for a woman’s first name to be omitted from the record, with only her married name – Mrs. Smith, for example – being listed.

    That got Cronin and her friend, award-winning photographer Jo-Anne McArthur, thinking.

    “What we’ve noticed again and again is that it’s always women on the ground, raising the money, holding the bake sales, protesting, and it’s usually men at the head of the organizations,” says Cronin. “This is true today and obviously in the 19th century, too.”

    “We thought, ‘all these women are doing amazing work and they’re not getting credit, they’re not being celebrated.’ We want to change that.”

    So Cronin and McArthur created The Unbound Project: Women on the Front Lines of Animal Advocacy, to “recognize and celebrate women at the forefront of animal advocacy, in both a contemporary and historical context.”

    To help make it happen, the UK-based cosmetics company Lush recently granted the pair $20,000 from the company’s North American Charitable Giving Program. Cronin and McArthur have also received funding from the New England Anti-Vivisection Society, the Culture & Animals Foundation, and A Well-Fed World.

    To put together the multi-media and book project, Cronin and McArthur are travelling around the world interviewing, photographing and filming some 200 women in a wide range of professions and walks of life.

    We want to talk about how people in all kinds of careers are making a difference and that activism doesn’t just take one form.

    British primatologist Dr. Jane Goodall, with a long history of conducting pioneering chimpanzee research in Tanzania, is among the higher-profile women being featured.

    But Cronin and McArthur’s main focus is on “local grassroots women, unsung heroes who make the world a kinder, gentler place for animals,” says Cronin.

    “When people think of activism, they imagine a certain thing: they imagine someone out there protesting or chaining themselves to a fence,” says Cronin. “We actually want to change a bit of that story. We want to talk about how people in all kinds of careers are making a difference and that activism doesn’t just take one form.”

    Unbound has its roots in a long-term project, We Animals, that McArthur created to expose animal abuses around the world. As she did this, McArthur came across women working passionately and unceasingly to end such cruelty.

    “Sharing stories of inspiration and change not only gets people excited about taking part but gives them hope, something to hold onto, whereas my work on the brutal treatment of animals and factory farming can leave someone with a sense of paralysis,” says McArthur.

    “This project about women is going to do the opposite: it’s going to say, ‘here’s the problem, here are the wonderful people working on this problem, here’s how you can do this kind of thing as well.’”

    The duo is into the second year of their project, having already traveled to several continents and connecting with networks in North America and abroad.

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  • MIWSFPA awarded for its architecture

    miwsfpa-award-1050x658(Source: The Brock NewsWednesday, March 9, 2016 | by )

    Brock University students and staff aren’t the only ones who love the look and feel of the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts.

    Niagara Region recognized the school with an Adaptive Re-Use Award during the 2015 Niagara Community Design Awards on Friday.

    The MIWSFPA was completed in 2015, a $45.5-million redevelopment of the former Canada Hair Cloth Building, an iconic structure in downtown St. Catharines which has been transformed and expanded to include a 35,000-square-foot addition.

    “It is arguably one of the most beautifully designed buildings that captures the heritage of what it once was,” said St. Catharines Mayor Walter Sendzik. “It’s the juxtaposition between the modern and the heritage combined in one footprint.”

    The facility is the result of nearly a decade of hard work and commitment from hundreds of people.

    “The Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts is a legacy project and demonstrates the transformative capacity of imaginative approaches to architecture in the service of post-secondary education,” said MIWSFPA director Derek Knight. “Such commitment is a demonstration of the value the University places in conserving both the fabric of a magisterial 19th-century industrial structure and repurposing it as part of the revitalization of our core city.”

    The building wouldn’t have been possible without a $26.1-million investment from the Government of Ontario, and numerous corporate and private donors.

    Designed by the renowned Toronto firm Diamond Schmitt Architects and built by Bird Construction, the project was a joint venture with the City of St. Catharines to create a multi-use arts complex to connect the talent of Brock students with the needs of the community. The result is a 95,000-square-foot education facility showcasing the history of the original space combined with modern architecture and learning technology.

    University President Jack Lightstone said the MIWSFPA has been a huge hit with students and faculty.

    “This amazing downtown school happened because committed and generous people made it happen. As a result, we have all witnessed a dramatic change in our downtown core that is like very few transitions we will ever again see in our lifetimes,” Lightstone said.

    “For Brock, it provides another purpose-built facility serving the very specialized needs of the University and for Niagara, it is a landmark of what a university and a city government can achieve in close working partnership.”

    The Region said the project was noted for its integration with the community from its name to the linkages with the nearby performing arts centre, as well as creating a new landmark within the city and blending heritage elements with new construction.

    The school is named for the late Marilyn I. Walker, a fabric artist, Brock supporter and St. Catharines arts advocate.

    “The award reflects the vision of Marilyn I. Walker, Jack Lightstone and Dr. Rosemary Hale,” Sendzik said. “It acts as a catalysit for where we are going as a community.”
    He said the blend of old and new celebrates St. Catharines manufacturing history and its future as an arts and culture hub.

    “Brock University has made an extraordinary commitment to the next generations of students; not only is this important for sustaining our own community but for the vitality and interest this will generate beyond the Niagara Region,” Knight said.

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  • Brock Professor is the new theatre critic for the Toronto Star

    (Source: The Brock NewsThursday, March 3, 2016 | by )

    Professor Karen Fricker has spent the last three years training Brock University students to critique theatre.

    She will soon be practising what she teaches after landing the role of theatre critic for the Toronto Star, Canada’s largest, most-read newspaper.

    The Brock University Dramatic Arts assistant professor isn’t new to the theatre beat – her resume includes 25 years of experience for outlets including The Guardian and Variety. She was also the founding editor-in-chief of Irish Theatre Magazine, a publication that operated from 1998-2014.

    At the Star, Fricker will be reviewing major show openings in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Areas as well as writing feature articles.

    “It just feels like an un-dreamed-of privilege to get to have a platform like this at this point in my career,” she says. “Toronto is a really exciting and mature theatre market.”

    The theatre scene in the GTHA is rich with plenty of interesting things happening – from major musicals to performance art to original Canadian plays in storefront theatres.

    Fricker can’t wait to see them all and share her observations and critiques with Canadians.

    And, she’s looking forward to sharing her excitement with students, whose critiques are published  on Brock’s DARTcritics.com blog. She started the blog in 2013 to offer students an avenue to be published and edited.

    She plans to make sure her students benefit from the work she’s doing for the Star.

    “Students will gain a strong sense of connection and understanding of how professional arts criticism works,” she says.
    “They will have the opportunity to see their professor go through the same exercises they do and maybe even give her some feedback.”

    Fricker says she’s grateful to be working at Brock both because it’s an exciting time in the arts with the opening of the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts and because it’s a university that encourages professors to pursue their creative interests.

    “Being a creator, being an artist, has equal standing to being a scholar and producing peer-reviewed research,” she says.

    Fricker says the Star opportunity fits her creative and research interests of questioning arts criticism in the digital age.

    “I consider this a part of my research,” she says. “It’s a time of extraordinary possibility and growth for criticism.”

    DARTcritics.com is a response to that research interest and the question of how to turn an earnest blog into trusted criticism. The site has grown from a space for outstanding reviews by third-year students as part of their coursework to include reviews and features by students and recent graduates who are paid for their work. Fricker hopes that the site will continue to blossom into a year-round source of quality arts criticism in Niagara.

    Fricker’s role with the Star was announced Thursday. She’s looking forward to reviewing her first production for the paper this month.

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  • Brock instructor’s work one of Time’s top 10 magazine covers of the year

    (Source: The Brock NewsThursday, December 10, 2015 | by )

    Time Magazine has recognized the photographic work of Brock University visual arts instructor Amy Friend. A photograph created by Friend for the cover of The California Sunday Magazine’s April 5 edition is one of Time’s Top 10 covers of the year.

    “Our selection of the top 10 covers of 2015 displays an exquisite use of photography,” writes Kira Pollack in Time’s online article announcing the best covers. “With this unranked selection, we’ve witnessed that the cover still holds the power to be iconic and, at the very least, move and delight us.”

    Other covers on the list include the Vanity Fair image of Caitlyn Jenner shot by famous photographer Annie Leibovitz, New York Magazine’s issue featuring black and white images of 35 women who claim to be victims of Bill Cosby and a Harper’s Bazaar photo of singer Rihanna in the mouth of a shark.

    Friend said she is thrilled her work is included in a collection of so many amazing images.

    “It gives a boost to the aspects I really believe in regarding photography and its ability to reach a certain and specific sentiment with people,” she said. “When you are struck by an image, it remains with you.”

    As a fine arts photographer, Friend works with light.

    In her photographic series Dare alla Luce, she uses light to re-make vintage photographs.

    “We loved the work of Canadian artist Amy Friend, specifically her series Dare alla Luce, in which she manipulates archival photographs with a needle and then projects light through the images,” said the magazine’s creative director Leo Jung.

    More and more, artists are being approached to work with mainstream media.

    The California Sunday Magazine cover is inspired by that series and shows the silhouette of a woman with spots of light shining through, giving it a poignant quality. John von Pamer took the picture of the woman and Friend applied her technique on it and then re-photographed it. It goes with the story Death, Re-Designed.

    “The resulting image has an otherworldly, ethereal quality – a perfect metaphor for this story,” said Jacqueline Bates, photography director.

    Friend said it’s not unusual for artists to work in editorial realms.

    “More and more, artists are being approached to work with mainstream media,” she said, noting that’s opening even more doors for her students at the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts.

    “There’s fertile ground between the fine arts stream and with editorial based work,” she said.

    Friend said Brock visual arts students are exposed to both digital and analogue photography thanks to the MIWSFPA’s brand new darkroom.

    “It’s what really sets us apart from many other universities, which are mainly concentrating on digital,” she said.

    As a photographer, she knows the value of a well-rounded education in the art form.

    “Every time a student develops a photo in the darkroom, it’s a completely magical experience,” she said.

    In her photography, Friend said she concentrates on elements of history, time, memory and impermanence.

    “Despite photography’s traditional connection with the real, I am less concerned with capturing a ‘concrete’ reality, and instead aim to use and explore photography as a medium yet focus on what lies beyond its immediate visual representations,” she said.

    In much of her work, Friend uses found images and vintage pictures.

    Dare Alla Luce has been published in book form by photolucida.org and one of the images featured hangs in the new FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre in St. Catharines.

    Friend’s recent work will be on display at Rodman Hall from Jan. 29-May 1 in a show called Assorted Boxes of Ordinary Life, curated by Marcie Bronson.

    An opening reception will be held Jan. 28 at 7 p.m.

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  • New video about the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts released

    vlcsnap-2015-11-30-17h40m00s251_thSee this introduction to the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts at Brock University in St. Catharines ON, with scenes from the events of the official opening of the new facility on September 18, 2015.

     

     

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  • St. Catharines celebrates opening of ‘transformative’ downtown arts school

    Brock University ambassadors provided a tour of the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts following the grand opening proceedings.

    Brock University ambassadors provided a tour of the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts following the grand opening proceedings.

    (Source: Niagara This Week, September 21, 2015 | By Mike Zettel)

    ST. CATHARINES – There was excitement in the air Friday in front of the former Canada Hair Cloth building as hundreds gathered under and around a large tent to celebrate a new purpose for the 19th century textile factory.

    The culmination of a work begun more than eight years ago, Brock University and the City of St. Catharines officially opened the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts. The building, which, skillfully designed by Diamond Schmitt Architects, incorporates much of the former factory, including its brick, wooden and steel beams and large windows, while adding state-of-the-art elements.

    It houses the dramatic arts, music, and visual arts departments, as well as the Centre for Studies in Arts and Culture. In all, 50 full-time faculty members, part-time instructors and staff will join about 500 students in the $45.5-million facility.

    Brock president Jack Lightstone traced the path leading to last week’s opening, saying it began with a vision by former chancellor Ray Moriyama and former dean of humanities Rosemary Hale, who say the potential for the old industrial site located right in the heart of the downtown.

    The school complements the soon opening FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre, with students going back and forth between the two adjacent facilities.

    Lightstone said the decision to move downtown was made at Brock under the condition the university would not be making a standalone building but rather one that works within a new vision for the downtown as a hub of arts, culture, entertainment and digital media.

    “Right from the very beginning it was conceived we would use each other’s buildings in a symbiotic and dynamic way,” he said.

    The beginnings of the project were also accompanied by an inevitable skepticism, Lightstone said, noting he was reminded all too often of the many failed plans for revitalizing the downtown.

    Those voices were largely silenced, though, he said, by the generous and “transformative” gift by Norris and Marilyn I. Walker of $15 million to establish the school.

    “When they made that commitment, everyone knew we had no choice but to make it happen,” he said, calling it a “catalytic moment.”

    MPP Jim Bradley, who Lightstone referred to as the minister of Niagara and Brock, said the school has added to a new feeling of optimism for downtown St. Catharines.

    “Today it stands as a testament to our manufacturing past and as an example of our economic renewal and creative spirit in our community,” he said.

    Mayor Walter Sendzik noted there were many who made the vision for the school a reality, and he singled out the previous council under former Mayor Brian McMullan for ensuring the building, which had to be expropriated, was available for Brock.

    However, he said three people, Lightstone, Hale and Walker, were crucial to its success.

    “Take one of those involved out of the equation, and I don’t think we’re standing here today,” he said.

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