In the Media

  • Brock students create innovative video art in the age of COVID-19

    Caption: Pictured above, Brock students create pandemic video art for class VISA/IASC 2PN7 “Video Art”. Clockwise from top left: Lindsay Liboiron, Isolation; Ama Okafor, A Little Adjustment; Christy Mitchell, Saudade; Jamie Wong, Screen Recording 2020-11-04 at 1.46.14PM.mp4

    As most learning this fall has happened through a screen, Brock arts students have picked up their cameras to explore the new look of video art during a pandemic.

    Students taking Video Art (VISA/IASC 2P97) are virtually screening their reflective and experiential videos in a new series entitled “Video Art in the Age of COVID-19” that can now be viewed on the Department of Visual Arts website and the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts (MIWSFPA) YouTube channel.

    This project is led by Donna Szoke, media artist and Associate Professor in Studio Art at the MIWSFPA and supported by an Experiential Education grant from the Centre of Pedagogical Innovation at Brock University.

    As part of the creative and academic process to create the videos, students considered how the pandemic has changed video art and how new visual interfaces have marked this shift. They critically examined the new video aesthetic of the COVID-19 era, and how this has changed perceptions of individuality and collectivity.

    To watch the student-created videos and learn more about their research, please visit the project webpage Video Art in the Age of COVID-19.

     

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  • Music@Noon concert series goes virtual

    Former Music students Gavino Oresta (left) and Eric Godfree perform their recitals during a previous Music@Noon Series event. This year, the concert series will be held online in accordance with public health guidelines.

    The RBC Foundation Music@Noon Series returns Tuesday, Nov. 17, albeit with a new format.

    The anticipated concert series will be held virtually this season, with Brock Music students recording solos from their own homes.

    In the past, performances have taken place live on the stage of the Recital Hall at the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre (PAC), adjacent to the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts (MIWSFPA). This year, the PAC and Brock’s Department of Music changed the format in accordance with public health guidelines.

    Self-recorded performances from the solo recital students will be streamed Tuesday through the MIWSFPA and PAC YouTube channels and Facebook pages, marking the first online presentation of the 2020-21 concert series.

    Generously sponsored by the RBC Foundation, the free concert series takes place most Tuesdays at noon throughout the academic year. The recitals are open to the public and feature Brock’s performance faculty and special guests, as well as talented students and alumni.

    For full event details, please visit the Music concert listings page.

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  • Bright future for Brock grad at leading Canadian arts festival

    Photo caption: Brock Graduate Dian Marie Bridge (BA ’99) appointed Associate Artistic Director of Luminato Festival Toronto.

    It’s no secret that 2020 was an incredibly challenging year for the arts, but for Dian Marie Bridge (BA ’99), there’s reason to celebrate.

    In September, Luminato Festival Toronto announced the appointment of Bridge as its new Associate Artistic Director.

    Based in Toronto, Bridge is an award-winning theatre creator and producer. A driving force in the local arts scene, Bridge graduated with a Bachelor of Arts, Major in Theatre from Brock University in 1999.

    Her excitement for the future is electric.

    “Luminato offers unparalleled arts programming for the city, and beyond,” said Bridge. “This festival is a major cultural draw, and it is so exciting to open the door for a lot of artists.”

    In her new role, Bridge will be drawing on personal and professional experiences in theatre and the performing arts gained over the past 30 years. Along the way, she has met many artists, joined important arts committees (including Toronto Arts Council) and worked on numerous grant applications. Bridge has been closely following current trends in theatre and critically examining how the arts community is moving forward. She has been living this reality, too.

    Bridge is ready to put what she has learned into play, especially given the global pandemic and its traumatic effects on the arts industry.

    “There is a shift happening – a real desire for community,” she said. “We want to be more than just spectators. We want to experience this thing together. People have done a virtual shift.”

    Bridge said Luminato was somewhat lucky in terms of timing of the first shut down announcement early in the COVID-19 pandemic.

    “It came at a time when we were able to shift planning, yet still ensure artist’s contracts were honoured,” she said. “We were able to pivot with digital programming at the right time.”

    Bridge’s time at Brock University had a profound impact on her career path and helped her articulate her creative voice. While pursuing her theatre degree, she did a third-year exchange program at the University of Minnesota. There, she worked on her first professional production at the illustrious Guthrie Theatre in Minneapolis.

    It was a memorable year her as she lived and learned in the heart of a robust arts scene and attended some 40 productions. The exchange program shaped her artistic self and widened her perspective on theatre and performance, she said.

    During her time in Minneapolis, Bridge was taught directing by Lou Bellamy, Founder and then-Artistic Director of Penumbra Theatre. Located in the neighbouring twin city of Saint Paul, Penumbra Theatre continues to create timely and high-quality productions through the lens of the African American experience. At the time of Bridge’s exchange, Penumbra premiered works of American playwright August Wilson, and Wilson himself gave a private master class for her third-year directing course. Her introduction to Black American theatre was through watching three of Wilson’s professional productions.

    Bridge was one of four racialized students in the Theatre department during her time at Brock, but often the only one in certain classes.

    Reflecting on how different the political climate was then she said as a young person in the 1990s, “it was all so new.”

    “We did not have the language around racial injustices,” she said. “This was right after Rodney King’s trial. There was understanding that things were not fair, but the critical thinking around how racial injustice works, and how to fight it, was still new to me.”

    Now, students have much more understanding of racial issues and are more politically activated, said Bridge.

    “We can challenge hierarchy and authority and understand the limitations of other’s education.”

    When the creative job market falls on hard times, as happened during COVID, she said it’s easy for decision makers to go with obvious choices.

    “This leads to trouble in terms of representation. Now we are demanding better from the people who contract artists, challenging our own bias, and putting in the work to get more diversity in theatre spaces,” she said.

    At Luminato, Bridge will lead the Artists in Residence program, offering artists an opportunity to envision and actualize their work on a larger scale. She’s motivated to highlight creative work that has developed in the margins.

    “The Artist in Residence program is currently only focused on established and senior artists, as there is a lack of support for this group of professionals,” she said. “There is a lot of focus on supporting emerging artists, but for racialized folks, once you go beyond emerging, the opportunity for work becomes thin in terms of the companies you can work for, or the projects that you choose to work on.”

    To the next generation of students, creators, artists and theatre-makers, Bridge said collaboration is key.

    “Create art collectives, meet the dancers, meet the actors, meet the mathematicians. We are all living in the same world, yet our experiences are so different. Art is often born out of the issues of the time. What does this say about us?”

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  • Dramatic Arts rewrites script for online learning with Shaw Festival

    Pictured above: Shaw Festival Theatre actors Jonathan Tan, left, and Olivia Sinclair-Brisbane coached Brock students online in DART 1F01: Acting for Non-Majors. (Photos by David Cooper)

    Originally published FRIDAY, OCTOBER 23, 2020 | by 

    Brock Dramatic Arts students got a virtual backstage pass to the revered Shaw Festival Theatre this summer.

    An innovative teaching initiative gave students taking DART 1F01: Acting for Non-Majors the opportunity to connect online with and receive personalized coaching from professional actors Jonathan Tan and Olivia Sinclair-Brisbane from the Shaw Festival Theatre permanent company.

    For third-year student Jordan Henderson, the virtual experience was both valuable and uplifting.

    “Jonathan Tan had many wise words that really helped me build confidence in my acting skills,” he said. “He also helped me to understand that what I might consider a mistake, audiences may interpret as something completely different.”

    David Fancy, Professor and Chair in the Department of Dramatic Arts at Brock’s Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts, developed the course’s online teaching material with the future in mind and produced 700 minutes of lessons over 70 separate videos.

    This foundational acting course, which Fancy describes as “extreme monologuing,” is designed to help students discover the underlying principles of acting. Students explore the actor’s process, including awareness, stimulus, impulse, intention and action.

    “We’re making some exciting changes to DART 1F01,” Fancy said. “We’re using this opportunity to build a course that we can also share with students who have to work remotely in the future.”

    In the virtual coaching sessions, students rehearsed monologues they’d written themselves with the Shaw actors, soaking in their expertise and knowledge.

    Second-year student Benoit St-Aubin gained unique perspective on the acting world, and it left him craving more.

    “I absolutely loved the session that I had with Olivia. We had the opportunity to run through our monologues with her and she gave us great tips to improve them,” he said. “I didn’t realize how much I missed being in class, but this meeting really made me want to go back in September.”

    Fourth-year student Alexandra Hunter was able to immerse herself in the story of her monologue, giving her a deeper connection and understanding of her character and the creative process.

    “I learned so much from Olivia,” Hunter said. “She helped me illustrate the emotions in a strong way so that I knew how to perform them and react accordingly.”

    This opportunity to leverage technology and connect students to professional actors was co-ordinated by Fancy and Dramatic Arts instructor Carolyn Mackenzie in partnership with the Shaw Festival. They worked alongside Shaw’s Senior Manager for Education Suzanne Merriam, Education Assistant Melissa Domingos and Education Co-ordinator Megan Gilchrist.

    This course is just one of the ways Brock’s Department of Dramatic Arts is using innovative thinking and a creative approach to lead the charge on the future of performing arts. This fall, audiences can expect riveting new work, pushing the boundaries of live theatre with the Dramatic Arts mainstage production Scenes from an Execution by Howard Barker.

    More details on the Department of Dramatic Arts and the fall mainstage virtual production are available online.

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  • Health Sciences students learn to confront personal biases

    Though she may have appeared to be relaxing on a bench, Larissa DellaVentura was hard at work trying to see the world through the eyes of those around her.

    The third-year Medical Sciences student recently completed an observation exercise where she evaluated the behaviours of people while sitting in a public space and maintaining physical distancing. However, her preparation to complete the exercise started a few days earlier from the comfort of her home office.

    To become accustomed to observing the actions of others while also factoring in circumstances that are not initially obvious, DellaVentura and her Health in Canadian Society class completed an online experiential learning activity designed to heighten their perception of people’s body language as well as their own unintentional biases.

    In order to ensure the activity was completed in a physically distanced manner, local theatre company Mirror Theatre, which is mostly comprised of Dramatic Arts students and alumni, led the class through a virtual exercise that involved analyzing prepared photos and the body language of participants, while also attempting to make assumptions based only on what they had seen.

    “It really demonstrated how we have our own biases and our own unique perspectives,” said DellaVentura of the exercise. “Even as we were looking at the same pose on our screen, some interpreted it as embarrassed, while others believed the person was praying.”

    The course’s instructor, Assistant Professor Valerie Michaelson, said the lessons of empathy and self-reflection the exercise promoted are critical for aspiring health professionals.

    “When we are in professions in the health and medical sciences and don’t take the time to examine our biases, it can very literally be deadly,” she said. “This observation assignment also helps us to see how easy it is to make assumptions about why people have the health experiences they do. When we start to really pay attention, we see that some neighbourhoods have access to safe parks and fresh, affordable produce, but others just don’t. We start to consider how health is about a lot more than self-discipline, and that some of the most important health choices we make are often shaped by matters that are outside our control.”

    In addition to the broadened perspectives experienced by students taking part, those leading the exercise were also able to participate and grow.

    “We successfully accomplished our goal to assist us all in playfully and critically exploring our implicit perspectives on how we read the world,” said Mirror Theatre Artistic Director and Brock Professor of Drama in Education and Applied Theatre Joe Norris. “Feedback from a number of participants indicated that they became more aware of the assumptions that they make.”

    Mirror Theatre member and Brock graduate Bernadette Kahnert (BA, BEd ’19) said her team learned valuable lessons about their own assumptions when it came to online instruction.

    “The workshop was very informative of what can be done online,” she said. “It showed me that remote learning can open up doors I would not have in a traditional face-to-face atmosphere and has given me hope that I can still deliver an in-depth, reflective and educational experience.”

    Once the online portion wrapped up, DellaVentura put the reflective skills she learned to the test in a north-end St. Catharines plaza.

    As an aspiring physician, she said the exercise has encouraged her to look within herself while also being more aware of the circumstances of those around her.

    “We all have our own implicit biases that we may not even be aware of,” she said. “As a health-care professional, it’s important that we confront those biases and not let them influence our decisions.”

    Along with DellaVentura, some members of the class have chosen to safely visit outdoor public spaces, while others have decided to observe from their windows or through other means.

    Regardless of where they chose to conduct their observation, Michaelson is confident that the exercise will have a lasting effect.

    “These exercises light a flame in people, and it grows into something that is long-lasting and transformative,” she said. “We want our students to be leaders in the health-care system who have the skills to identify inequities so that they can then participate in the urgent work of dismantling them.”

    To learn more about Brock’s experiential education programs and in-class workshops, visit the Experiential Education website.

    Mirror Theatre is recruiting new participants from the Brock community with an online orientation meeting on Wednesday, October 7 from 5:15 to 6:45 p.m. Anyone interested in participating is asked to contact Norris at jnorris@brocku.ca for login instructions.

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  • Dramatic Arts graduate’s web series selected for digital innovation grant

    Image:Department of Dramatic Arts (DART) graduate Marley Kajan (BA ’14) and Connor Ferris, co-creators of new web series Like Comment Subscribe.

    (Originally FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 25, 2020 | by 

    Marley Kajan (BA ’14), who majored in Dramatic Arts during her time at Brock University’s Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts, has good reason to celebrate.

    Last week, it was announced that the web series she co-created, Like Comment Subscribe, has been selected for the Canada Council for the Arts and CBC Digital Originals initiative. Kajan noted she and her co-creator, Connor Ferris, are honoured to be recipients of the grant and are excited to kick-off production of their pilot.

    Like Comment Subscribe follows millennial influencers and BFF’s Meaghan and Avery, who seem to have it all: fortune, fame and followers,” said Kajan. “But when COVID-19 sends their lives into lockdown, the impact begins to reveal the people behind the profiles.”

    In addition to co-creating and co-writing the web series, Kajan, alongside Ferris, will play the two leading roles. In partnership with the CBC, the series will be produced by Hamilton and Toronto-based production company Dei Gratia Pictures.

    Kajan, a bright talent in the Canadian dramatic arts scene, originally hails from Welland. Graduating with a concentration in Performance, she achieved First Class Standing. She was recently invited by the Department of Dramatic Arts to virtually perform for this year’s orientation, inspiring the next generation of students for what promises to be a historic year ahead for the arts.

    “The CBC’s Digital Originals initiative funded by the Canada Council aims to assist artists as they pivot their work, or create new original work, for online distribution as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic,” writes the Canada Council for the Arts. “While many artists are discovering new performance platforms, the creative team behind Like Comment Subscribe will certainly help forge the path to bring compelling stories to audiences across Canada, and beyond.”

    This story was written by Gillian Minaker.

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  • Upcoming: The Department of Music virtually attends Royal Conservatory of Music College & University Music Fair 2020

    The Department of Music at the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts at Brock University is excited to virtually host future musicians at their online booth! The Royal Conservatory College & University Fair is going virtual this year. Set for October 3, 2020, registration is FREE. It has never been easier for future students to learn about the programs offered, admission requirements and much, much more. See you there!

    Register for free: https://bit.ly/2ZS1cLR

    To learn more about the programs offered through the Department of Music at the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts, drop by our degree programs page.  

     

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  • Visual Arts Professor’s short video presented in Photophobia

    Donna Szőke. Midst, single channel video loop, 2019 (Invisible Animals series, 2012-2019). (photo: D.Szőke)

    Professor Donna Szőke of the Department of Visual Arts is thrilled to announce that her new short video “Midst” screens online in the “Photophobia” festival the weekend of Friday August 7, at 7pm.

    Photophobia is an annual festival of short-format contemporary media, film, video and moving image hosted in partnership between the Art Gallery of Hamilton and Hamilton Artists Inc. Established in 1999, Photophobia is Hamilton’s first film and video festival dedicated to the development of experimental time-based media. Not confined by restrictions or themes, Photophobia is a free, juried festival that invites the community to experience a showcase of contemporary work that tests the boundaries of each medium.

    All three nights of the screening are free to watch online at 7 pm each night on August 6, 7 & 8 This year’s festival will be a virtual presentation. A link to view each program will be posted at the page below prior to each event.  Each program will be available to view online for a period of 72 hours after its initial screening. All three screenings will be free.

    See the complete program on the Photophobia website.  

    Installation view of Midst, part of the Industrial Niagara Exhibition at Rodman Hall Art Centre, Brock University, Spring 2020. (photo: D. Knight)

    Program 1: Thursday, August 6, 7:00 pm Online, Followed by a Live Q&A Conversation With the Filmmakers

    Program 2: Friday, August 7, 7:00 pm Online, Followed by a Live Q&A Conversation With the Filmmakers
    ***Donna Szőke (St. Catharines) – Midst, 2019 (4:00)***

    Program 3: Saturday, August 8, 7:00 pm Online, Followed by a Live Q&A Conversation With the Filmmakers 

    Szőke was an invited Walker Cultural Leader for the Centre for Studies in Arts and Culture for 2020.  In January she presented her Artist’s Talk “On Invisibility” at the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts.

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  • Assistant Professor in Visual Arts (Digital Media and Design): Candidate Research Presentations

    The Brock and wider community are warmly welcomed to attend the online presentations by the short list of candidates for this position.

    Each will give an hour-long presentation and engage in discussion about their current research interests and focus upon their contributions.

    GUSTAVO CERQUERA BENJUMEA

    WEDNESDAY, MAY 20TH, 2020
    Research Presentation 1:00pm (1:00 – 2:20pm)
    stream.lifesizecloud.com/extension/3327547/cf3bdaf1-eac4-4aa9-8116-3fdc308ebef8

    Gustavo Cerquera Benjumea is a Colombian Canadian Toronto-based digital media artist, animator, music video director, and teacher. He specializes in computer animation, video installation, and drawing. His work explores psychedelia, plant biology, and Latin American histories. His work has exhibited internationally including at: Slamdance Film Festival, Glas Animation Festival, Ottawa International Animation Festival, Art Spin Toronto, the Niagara Artist Centre, Summerworks Festival, Nuit Blanche Toronto, among others. He has directed music videos for Lido Pimienta and Chancha Via Circuito. He is the current programming chair at the Toronto Animated Image Society. Gustavo teaches at OCADU and Brock University.

    TROY DAVID OUELLETTE

    THURSDAY, MAY 21ST, 2020
    Research Presentation 1:00pm (1:00 – 2:20pm)
    stream.lifesizecloud.com/extension/3327527/6fd67857-4515-484b-9d04-9ea9ea756a71

    Troy David Ouellette is an artist/researcher specializing in Assemblage Theory. He received his PhD, in Visual Arts, from York University in 2014 and his M.F.A. from the University of Windsor in 2007. He has taught Design, Sculpture and undergraduate courses, at various universities and colleges, in Southern Ontario. From 1999 until 2005 he was the Sculpture Facilitator at the Banff Centre for the Arts. Ouellette is a founding member of the London Ontario Media Arts Association (LOMAA) and the sound art collective Audio Lodge. His work has been included in several solo and group exhibitions in Canada, Australia and  the United States. He resides in Hamilton, Ontario.

    GWEN MACGREGOR

    FRIDAY, MAY 22ND, 2020
    Research Presentation 1:00pm (1:00 – 2:20pm)
    stream.lifesizecloud.com/extension/3326867/e156311e-7437-4e53-a009-eada0c2fcfff

    Gwen MacGregor is a visual artist and geographer working across the disciplines of installation, video, photography, and geographic scholarship. She has artworks in collections such as the Art Gallery of Ontario, Oakville Galleries and the Royal Bank Collection. Recent exhibitions include The Robert McLaughlin Gallery in Oshawa, Ontario and Phoenix Projects Athens, Greece. She has exhibited extensively internationally and has also participated in numerous international art residencies including the International Studio Curatorial Program in New York. She is a Toronto Friends of the Visual Arts Award holder and is represented by MKG127 in Toronto. MacGregor is a PhD Candidate in Geography at The University of Toronto. Her dissertation explores the constructions and contestations of nationhood in contemporary art practices presented at art biennales.


    Please share and post this poster in your community.

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  • Industrial Niagara, a new exhibition at Rodman Hall Arts Centre

    (image: Shawn Serfas)

    EDITOR’S NOTE: This exhibition is unavailable for viewing until further notice. It is closed as part of Brock University’s ongoing efforts to protect the health and safety of students, faculty, staff and the community in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Please check here again.

    Industrial Niagara
    March 7-22, 2020, Rodman Hall Art Centre, Brock University
    Saturday, March 14, 2-4 p.m. Speaker Series

    Industrial Niagara, an exhibition, brings together key works by members of the Research Centre, Studies in Arts and Culture, Brock University.

    Visual artists Candace Couse, Catherine Parayre, Shawn Serfas, Donna Szőke, and ARTIndustria share their insights by responding to the natural environs and the features that distinguish the presence, loss or history of industry in Niagara’s landscape. A combination of hinterland, cataract and escarpment, waterways and canals, hydro-electric generators and high tension wires, manufacturing facilities, factories, subdivisions and farmland, this is the first of a series of reflections or aesthetic interpretations on the meaning of locale (genius loci).

    download poster

    Curated by Derek J.J. Knight, with a speaker series programmed by Catherine Parayre, on Saturday, March 14.

    Visit the Industrial Niagara Virtual Gallery.

    See the video produced by YourTV Niagara, on March 16, 2020.

    EDITOR’S NOTE: The below event has been cancelled as part of Brock University’s ongoing efforts to protect the health and safety of students, faculty, staff and the community in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

    Rodman Hall Art Centre will host a cultural event on Saturday, March 14, 2-4 p.m. featuring readings by award-winning authors Natalee Caple and Adam Dickinson as well as short reflections by Niagara residents on their observations, research or experience, from the impact of the Welland Canal to the generation of hydro-electric power: Clark Bernat, Derek Knight, Reinhard Reitzenstein, David Sharron, Penelope Stewart, and David Vivian.

    Open to members of the public this event is organized as part of the Research Centre’s outreach and to encourage future partnerships in an ongoing series of thematic projects.

    download the program for Industrial Niagara

    The Research Centre in Interdisciplinary Arts and Creative Culture acknowledges the support of Brock University: Centre for Studies in Arts and Cultures, Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts, Studies in Comparative Literature and Arts, Dean’s Office in Humanities, Research Services, and Rodman Hall Art Centre.

    New research centre fosters interdisciplinary approach to arts and culture
    [brocknews, alison innes. MONDAY, MARCH 02, 2020]

    The Research Centre in Interdisciplinary Arts and Creative Culture (RCIACC) establishes a network of researchers and creators across Faculties at Brock and beyond the University. The research centre is part of the Centre for Studies in Arts and Culture (STAC).

    “STAC has an established reputation as an interdisciplinary academic centre and it was therefore logical to home an interdisciplinary research centre in the unit,” says Associate Professor Catherine Parayre, who led the initiative with Associate Professor Derek Knight and is the Centre’s new director.

    The Centre will engage with a broad range of creative expression, including visual arts, dramatic arts, music, creative writing and translation, book and graphic design, cultural heritage, and photography.The Centre includes faculty from Arts and Culture, Visual Arts, Dramatic Arts, Music, Curatorial Studies, French Studies, English Literature, Digital Humanities, and Education.

    The centre will be doing outreach at Rodman Hall Art Centre through exhibitions and talks and in collaboration with the Willow Arts Community.

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