In the Media

  • Student art exhibition explores isolation, identity during a pandemic

    A word often used in the past year is taking on a different meaning for Visual Arts (VISA) students as they showcase their work in a new exhibition — “unprecedented.”

    In what has been a different academic year for Brock students and faculty, this newly mounted exhibition explores the art that VISA students have created at home during the pandemic.

    Located on the first floor of Brock’s Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts (MIWSFPA) downtown campus, the VISA Gallery is a teaching exhibition space showcasing the works of undergraduate VISA students. While the gallery remains closed to the public due to public health protocols, students have been able to present their works throughout April in the physical space and viewers will have the chance to experience the gallery online in the coming days.

    The concept for the exhibition was born of the challenges experienced by students practicing studio-based art from home.

    Brock Studio Arts graduate and VISA Gallery Assistant Sarah Martin (BA ’19) was inspired to create a digital space where students could share their work in the form of an Instagram page.

    “From some of the incredible Instagram submissions made by VISA students in their year of isolation, I put together pieces that explore themes of identity to display on-site in our MIWSFPA gallery.  This has given students an opportunity to present their work in a professional setting beyond their online classes,” she says.

    The result is “unprecedented” (spelled with a lower case “u” as an artistic choice), a new exhibition curated by Martin that features the work of students in their first to fourth year, ranging across all mediums reflecting the scope and diversity of the students’ art practices.

    For third-year Studio Art major Taylor Elliott, participating in the exhibition has been an honour and he is appreciative he has been able to share his work, even if the public cannot see it in person at this time.

    “I’m very grateful for opportunities to see and be seen in this unique way,” he says. “This is the first show of any kind I’ve submitted to since the pandemic started, and it is great to feel connected to the art community in such unprecedented times.”

    Cree Tylee, a fourth-year Studio Art major with a minor in History of Art and Visual Culture, agrees that continuing to show work and share creative ideas with peers is critical given the current climate of the world.

    “If there is ever a time where the need for artistic expression peaks, it is during times of unrest,” she says. “I feel it’s important to keep creating and viewing new work, and so I was happy to have an opportunity to share my work in a gallery space.”

    Drawing on themes of isolation, Tylee was inspired by returning home.

    “Through the collection of natural materials from that landscape, using acrylic and photographic mediums, I chose to allude to a metaphysical version of ‘home,’” she says of her work featured in unprecedented.

    While the student artists welcome the chance to get back to an in-person studio environment when it is safe to do so, participating in this exhibition has been a meaningful experience for them.

    “As someone trying to break into the art scene, even just at a local level, this exhibit means the world to me,” says Eden Rioux, a second-year Studio Art major whose pieces in unprecedented explore self-reflection and the notion of daydreaming. “It’s always an honour to have your work displayed alongside others. It is a cumulative experience working towards a larger impact.”

    Rioux also points out that many artists turn to their art as a coping mechanism, allowing them to share their thoughts and feelings beyond the spoken or written word. While isolation can be lonely, artistic discoveries can still be made, they add.

    “It’s really amazing to see what everyone else is struggling with, thriving with and creating with,” says Rioux.

    Elliott also acknowledges key lessons learned during the pandemic about the importance of community, and not taking it for granted.

    “I think when things open up again, people will be so much more ready to be active and involved in the art world — I know I will be,” he says.

    The unprecedented exhibition runs until Friday, April 30. While currently closed to the public, the VISA Gallery will take over the MIWSFPA Instagram “stories” starting Monday, April 26 so viewers can virtually explore the gallery space.

    The works in unprecedented (and other student works) are available to view on an ongoing basis by following the @brockvisagallery Instagram page.

    Follow the @MIWSFPA Instagram page to view the unprecedented exhibition takeover.

    To learn more about the VISA Gallery, please visit the web page here.

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  • Dramatic Arts spring mainstage production delivers comedy, whimsy and innovation in Zoom theatre

    Caption: A screenshot from the “Yellow Brick Road” scene in the DART 2021 spring Mainstage production of Fever/Dream, includes cast members (top row, from left) Jonah Pace, Emily Clegg, Jane Smith, (second row, from left) Violet Brown, Bianca Taylor, Joanna Tran, (third row, from left) Yasmine Agocs, Peter Herbert, Luca d’Amico, (bottom row, from left) Taj-Alexander Crozier, Lucas Irving and Matt Martin.

    Originally published in The Brock News THURSDAY, APRIL 01, 2021 | by 

    A collapsing stock market, an eccentric billionaire and a roller-coaster ride of parody and the surreal are just the beginning of what audiences can expect from the upcoming production of Fever/Dream presented by Brock’s Department of Dramatic Arts (DART).

    The DART spring mainstage production runs from Wednesday, April 7 to Sunday, April 11 at 7:30 p.m. as free livestreamed performances viewable on the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts (MIWSFPA) YouTube channel.

    In mounting the production virtually, the resilient cast and crew have had their fair share of challenges creating theatre during a pandemic and have masterfully emerged with exciting theatre to share with audiences.

    Director Gyllian Raby, Associate Professor of Dramatic Arts, has much gratitude for the dedication of the production team and the participating students.

    “Collaborating during these times could not be done without a production team fanatically dedicated to beating the odds,” she says.

    To bring the play to life, props, costumes and lighting supplies had to be distributed to students all over Ontario.

    “Actors are working as their own technicians, and the student directors are confronting scenes demanding live acting and intimacy with zest and imagination,” Raby says. “With this group of fevered dreamers, I think Calderón de la Barca and Sheila Callaghan would both be proud.”

    Assistant Directors and Dramatic Arts students Dillon Bernier and Samantha Rideout share Raby’s enthusiasm for the work put into the show and anticipation for opening night.

    “Working on Fever/Dream has taught me so much, not only about myself as a director, but also how theatre can still bring people together, even in a digital form,” Bernier says. “We need theatre in our lives, whether that be in person or digitally.”

    Rideout echoes this sentiment, acknowledging the impact of the experience.

    Fever/Dream is the first opportunity I have had to take my knowledge as a performer and try my hand at assistant directing,” she says. “The past eight months developing this show have opened my eyes to the potential of theatre to transcend our current understanding of the art form.”

    The play itself touches on many themes, such as corporate greed, complicated family dynamics, white supremacy and the healing power of love — all delivered in a comedy meant to defy logic and challenge convention.

    “As theatre makers, we are trying to use our talents to create a piece that is current and contemporary and with a strong social message. We also want audiences to feel the whimsical romance of the story and the magic of theatre,” Bernier says.

    While the new digital stage is a departure from traditional live theatre, the assistant directors and cast members have fully embraced “Zoom theatre.”

    “The Zoom platform has challenged the cast, while also providing us with an important learning opportunity to explore and play outside of our comfort zones — and we have made bold discoveries,” Rideout says.

    The production is free to view, however space is limited. The public can make a reservation to watch the show on the MIWSFPA YouTube channel by booking through brocku.universitytickets.com

    In addition to being directed by Raby alongside Bernier and Rideout, Fever/Dream’s Scenic design is by David Vivian, costumes by Roberta Doylend, lighting design by Chris Malkowski, sound and projections design, videography and postproduction by James McCoy, choreography by Rachel Romanoski, and stage management by Diego Blanco and Alyssa Ruddock.

    The cast and crew have dedicated this production to dawn e crysler, Theatre Technician and beloved MIWSFPA staff member who sadly passed away before the show was completed. crysler, who preferred her name referred to in all lowercase, will be remembered by students, faculty and staff for her commitment to the show, her delight in the process, quiet moments shared with the cast during online rehearsals, her exuberant spirit and her dancing.

    As noted by the Fever/Dream team, it takes a village to put on a theatre show; crysler was not only an integral part of the creative process, but she was also the all-around motivator of the village.


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  • Brock community mourns the loss of theatre artist and MIWSFPA staff member, dawn e crysler

    dawn e crysler, celebrated MIWSFPA staff member and Theatre Technician, will be remembered for her creativity and dedication to her work.


    originally posted in The Brock News on WEDNESDAY, MARCH 24, 2021 | by 

    The Brock and local arts community is mourning the death of dawn e crysler, a theatre maker and artist who will be greatly missed by all who knew her. Faculty, staff and students at the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts (MIWSFPA) were deeply saddened to learn of crysler’s passing earlier this week.

    crysler (BA ’00), who preferred her name referred to in all lowercase, had been a Theatre Technician at Brock’s MIWSFPA since 2018. Working in the Department of Dramatic Arts (DART), the multi-talented artist played a pivotal role working with students and faculty to bring performances to life through her work as technician and scenic painter.

    “The entire DART community is shocked and saddened at the departure of this sensitive, observant and generous soul. As a former student of the program, dawn brought her many talents and insights to a wide range of theatrical activity at Brock and beyond,” says David Fancy, Professor and Chair of DART.

    crysler also worked as a theatre technician at the Shaw Festival and Carousel Players, and in Toronto on various film, TV and theatre projects. Most recently, she had been painting the Klingon ship on the set of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds (a spinoff series currently being filmed in Toronto).

    A Brock graduate, crysler conferred on June 9, 2000 with a Bachelor of Arts in Dramatic Literature and Theatre.

    Peter Feldman, retired Associate Professor and former Chair of DART taught crysler during her studies.

    “dawn was one of the most highly motivated students I had in my 20 years at Brock, working with distinction in almost every aspect of our program,” he says.

    Feldman also fondly recalls joining crysler and other former students in starting a St. Catharines-based fringe theatre group known as Stray Theatre in 2003. In addition to building and painting sets, crysler was a gifted actor, he says.

    “dawn played an astonishingly wide range of roles in drama and comedy, all beautifully, movingly and totally believably.”

    White Crow, drawn by Jana Bergsma, in honour of dawn e crysler. photo: Gavin Fearon.

    “All of us with whom she worked will remember dawn’s sunny personality, her always positive view of life, her gift for friendship, the enthusiasm she brought to everything she worked on, and her sense of wonder. ‘Awesome!’ must have been her favourite word,” Feldman says. “Altogether, dawn was one of the most remarkable young women I’ve known in the theatre.”

    David Vivian, Associate Professor, Scenographer and Director of the MIWSFPA, says hiring crysler felt like a puzzle piece falling into place.

    “When we hired dawn in 2018, it was as if she was coming home to the MIWSFPA. She was a celebrated member of the arts community and Brock graduate contributing to local arts and culture — it was so very right to have dawn join us here at the School,” he says.

    In addition to being a valued staff member and friend of Brock, crysler was a dedicated theatre artist with a strong presence in the Niagara arts scene. Born and raised on a farm in Pelham, crysler explored her roots though her artistry. She was a published playwright. Her play White Crow, which ran in November of 2012 mounted by Essential Collective Theatre, chronicled a family facing adversity on a Pelham farm.

    In 2013, crysler was nominated for the Emerging Artist Award for the eighth annual St. Catharines Arts Awards. She brought creativity and energy to cultural initiatives, such as In the Soil Arts Festival, where she held an interactive workshop entitled “Play!” that involved massive checker pieces, a giant Jenga set and oversized “pick-up sticks.”

    The flags in front of Brock’s Schmon Tower were lowered to half-mast on Friday, March 26 to commemorate crysler’s passing.

    MIWSFPA colleagues remember crysler for her energetic attitude and sense of play.

    Gyllian Raby, Associate Professor of Dramatic Arts, reflects on crysler’s bright personality and her professional talent and work ethic. Raby, along with other DART faculty and staff, were working closely with crysler on the spring Mainstage production.

    “Across the community she was known and loved for her infectious energy,” Raby says of crysler. “She was a beam of light, a roller-derby queen, a published playwright, cabaret performer, theatre-technician and maker-builder extraordinaire. She believed in art and was endlessly creative.”

    A space on the MIWSFPA website memorializing crysler will be created in the coming weeks, where colleagues, friends and family will be invited to share their memories.

     


    The obituary for dawn is available in the St. Catharines Standard.

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  • Online symposium celebrates new publication on theatre pedagogy and climate crisis

    Image caption:The Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts in downtown St. Catharines.

    An upcoming weekend of online events will explore the role that theatre education plays in relation to climate crisis.

    To launch the new Routledge publication Theatre Pedagogy in the Era of Climate Crisis, the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts (MIWSFPA) is hosting a two-day online symposium featuring historians, theatre practitioners, playwrights, designers, professors and activists.

    Presented as part of the 2020-21 Walker Cultural Leader’s Series program, the online symposium “Theatre Pedagogy in the Era of Climate Crisis” runs Saturday, March 20 and Sunday, March 21 and will be livestreamed free on the MIWSFPA YouTube channel.

    Convened by volume co-editors David Fancy, Professor and Chair of the Department of Dramatic Arts at Brock University, and Conrad Alexandrowicz, Associate Professor of Theatre at the University of Victoria, the event features four online panel discussions with contributing authors of the volume, each a theatre scholar and/or practitioner.

    Through these panel discussions, volume contributors will answer the question of how theatre pedagogy can be transformed in response to the global climate crisis. Panelists are purposely divided into groups that mix their different expertise, encouraging a rich and invigorating discussion.

    “Nothing could be more pressing than understanding how to evolve our theatre training and pedagogy to address the climate crisis,” says Fancy.

    The volume’s authors, he adds, also “unpack how supremacy thinking informing the climate crisis — that humans are more important than nature — is echoed across racial and gendered violence in contemporary societies.”

    Each panel is based on a theme in the anthology: Intersectionality and the Body of the Earth; Eco-Aesthetics in Performance and Design; Eco-literacies in Teaching Theatre; and Theatre Pedagogy and the Climate Crisis.

    A summary of the volume can be found in a manifesto signed by all contributing authors in the epilogue of the book.

    Upcoming Walker Cultural Leaders events:

    Saturday, March 20

    1 to 2:15 p.m. — Theatre Pedagogy and the Climate Crisis
    Moderated by David Fancy with Lara Aysal, Derek Davidson, Katrina Dunn and Beth Osnes.
    Watch the livestream.

    3 to 4:15 p.m. – Eco-Aesthetics in Performance and in Design
    Moderated Conrad Alexandrowicz with Tanja Beer, Rachel Bowditch, Joan Lipkin and David Vivian.
    Watch the livestream.

    Sunday, March 21

    1 to 2:15 p.m. – Eco-Literacies in Teaching Theatre
    Moderated by Sasha Kovacs with Mary Anderson, Dennis Gupa and David Fancy.
    Watch the livestream.

    3 to 4:15 p.m. – Intersectionality, Solidarity and the Body of the Earth
    Moderated by Rachel Rhoades with Gloria Akayi Asoloko, Soji Cole and Conrad Alexandrowicz.
    Watch the livestream.

    More event information, including full biographies of each panelist, can be found online at brocku.ca/tpcc

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  • 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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  • 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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  • Call for Student Participants: 21 Black Futures, Seeding the Future

    Call for Student Participants
    21 Black Futures
    Seeding the Future
    A partnership between Obsidian Theatre Company, CBC Arts, York University, Brock University

    **

    As part of Obsidian Theatre Company’s 21 Black Futures season, we are seeking 21 Black theatre students from across Canada to offer creative responses to 21 monodramas written, directed, and performed by Black artists responding to the question “What is the future of Blackness?” The monodramas will premiere exclusively on CBC Gem in three parts, on February 12, 19, and 26.

    Participants will receive a $150 honorarium and direct mentorship from a Black journalist, scholar, or artist. Your responses can take the form of a 300-400 word written response, a TikTok or IG video, or an audio recording (two minutes maximum). You will post your response on social media using the project’s hashtags. All of the responses will be posted on the CBC Arts website and a selection of them will be published in the Toronto Star.

    The ambitious, nationwide 21 Black Futures project celebrates the 21st birthday of Obsidian, Canada’s leading culturally specific theatre company, and is the brainchild of its new artistic director, Mumbi Tindyebwa Otu. Mumbi took over the company last year in the middle both of the Covid pandemic and the global outcry against anti-Black racism was at the forefront of cultural and political discussions. “I felt an urgent need to respond to the moment we’re in and to create an opportunity for artists to respond,” says Mumbi.

    A full list of the 63 Black writers, directors, and performers participating in this project is here – this is an amazing group of creative, outspoken, and innovative artists who are at the heart of Canada’s cultural life.

    What’s missing from this project is YOU – Black university and college-age students, who are part of the present and will be the future of Black theatre in Canada, and of the country itself! Please consider sharing your creativity and voice in this project: We want and need to hear you.

    How to apply

    Please send your name, a statement (one paragraph maximum) about why you want to be involved in this project, an idea of what form you’d like your response to take (which can be subject to change), and contact information for a reference to 21StudentVoices@gmail.com.

    DEADLINE: FEBRUARY 8, 2021

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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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