Media Releases

  • Dramatic Arts instructor honoured at St. Catharines Arts Awards

    Image caption: Curtis Tye, winner of the Arts in Education Award at the 2021 St. Catharines Arts Awards. Photo credit: Alex Heidbuechel, BLVD. Photography, courtesy of the City of St. Catharines.

    Published in The Brock News | THURSDAY, DECEMBER 02, 2021 | by 

    Brock University Dramatic Arts instructor Curtis Tye was among the winners of the 2021 St. Catharines Arts Awards livestreamed from the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre (PAC) recently.

    At the ceremony held Sunday, Nov. 21, the Brock educator, arts facilitator and public speaking expert was named the recipient of the Arts in Education Award, which celebrates individuals and groups committed to engaging residents through arts education.

    For Tye, arts education is always a collective endeavour.

    “I like the idea of people learning in a community and partnering together. If people did not want to actively participate in learning, it wouldn’t happen in a successful way,” he said.

    Tye teaches DART 2P21 Drama in Education at Brock’s Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts (MIWSFPA). Along with teaching and a successful career as a corporate public speaking and leadership coach, he also serves as a committee member for Brock’s Social Justice Research Institute.

    Striving for an open and inclusive learning environment is a priority for him.

    “Both the students and my colleagues in Dramatic Arts are willing to take risks for what we think is important. This support and openness are key to a successful educational environment,” said Tye. “So many Brock folks understand how the arts can be used to study humanities and the human condition.”

    Tye’s passion for arts education extends to his work in the local arts community with Start Me Up Niagara, Willow Arts Community and past contributions as a former board member of Carousel Players.

    Other award winners from the Brock community included OPIRG Brock for the Making a Difference Award and Jean Bridge, retired Visual Arts faculty member and former professor of Digital Humanities for a Jury’s Pick Award.

    Watch the 2021 St. Catharines Arts Awards ceremony courtesy of the PAC and the City of St. Catharines below:

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

  • BIPOC theatre leaders to discuss new industry approaches at Brock event

    Theatre leaders participating in the upcoming Brock discussion panel include (top row, from left) Haui, Carmen Alatorre, (centre, from left) Shanna Miller, Samantha McCue, Wladimiro A. Woyno R., (bottom row, from left) Giselle Clarke-Trenaman and Kat Chin.

    Originally published in The Brock News Wednesday, | NOVEMBER 10, 2021 | by 

    Prominent Black, Indigenous and People of Colour (BIPOC) Canadian theatre production and design professionals will come together to discuss recent experiences in their fields and new strategies in production at an upcoming Brock University digital panel.

    This is the second event presented by the Department of Dramatic Arts (DART)  in a new series as part of the 2021-22 Walker Cultural Leader Series (WCL Series), “Transformation and Adaptation in Theatre Pedagogy and Training.” The series is organized by DART Professors Karen Fricker and David Vivian with longtime instructor Carolyn Mackenzie.

    “Industry Panel with BIPOC Canadian Theatre Artists” will take place Monday, Nov. 15 from 6:30 to 8 p.m. on Zoom. The Brock and wider community are invited to attend and asked to register ahead of time on the Zoom registration page.

    Moderating the panel is Giselle Clarke-Trenaman, Production Co-ordinator at Presentation House Theatre in North Vancouver and creator of Black History Matters, an educational program addressing gaps in Black history in elementary schools.

    Panelists include Haui, a mixed media director and designer working in theatre, opera and film; Samantha McCue, an Anishinaabekwe and Ned’u’ten theatre professional based in Ottawa; Carmen Alatorre, a Latinx artist and theatre designer based in Vancouver; Kat Chin, a Toronto-based stage manager who has worked across Canada, off-Broadway and at the Palace of Versailles; Shanna Miller, the Technical Director at Young Peoples Theatre; and Wladimiro A. Woyno R., a live performance designer and Assistant Professor of Theatre Production and Design at School for the Contemporary Arts, Simon Fraser University.

    The panel will cover a range of topics, from how to bring more BIPOC artists to the theatre industry and cultivate new audiences, to the use of technology and how the pandemic has affected the performing arts industry.

    “We’ve invited these important artists from diverse fields of Canadian theatre design and production to share their journeys of the past 20 months and to encourage our students with the vision and passion that informs their professional practice,” said Vivian.

    “Whether through the lens of anti-racism, decolonization, accessibility or the drive for professional and economic sustainability, this evening promises a vivid invitation to join progressive voices for change in live performance and theatre production in Canada.”

    The third and final event in the DART WCL series is a daylong Casting and Audition workshop on Sunday, Nov. 28 for DART students, staff and faculty. This closing event will be led by Kimberley Rampersad, actor, choreographer, director and Associate Artistic Director of the Shaw Festival; and Marcel Stewart, actor, writer, director and arts educator.

    To learn more, please visit the WCL Series website.

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

  • Concepts of land and ownership in Canada at centre of upcoming Brock panel discussion

    Image caption: Artist and educator Adrian Blackwell (left) and architect David Fortin (right) will be co-moderating an upcoming online roundtable discussion about land ownership in Canada.

    WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 03, 2021 | by 

    An upcoming Brock University panel discussion will bring together distinguished Indigenous and other artists, designers and architects to reimagine Canadian cities towards a more inclusive future.

    Presented by the Centre for Studies in Arts and Culture (STAC) and Department of Visual Arts (VISA), “Rethinking Property in c\a\n\a\d\a” will be hosted as a Zoom webinar on Wednesday, Nov. 10 from 1:30 to 3 p.m. and is open to the Brock and wider community.

    The online event will be co-moderated by artist and educator Adrian Blackwell, Associate Professor, School of Architecture at the University of Waterloo, whose art practice spans photography, video, sculpture, urban theory and design; and David Fortin (Métis Nation of Ontario), a LEED-accredited professional and registered architect. Fortin is also a member of the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada (RAIC) Indigenous Task Force that seeks ways to foster and promote Indigenous design in Canada.

    The discussion will bring together a diverse group of panelists, including artist Bonnie Devine (Genaabaajing First Nation), Founding Chair of the Indigenous Visual Culture program at OCAD University and winner of the 2021 Governor General Award in Visual and Media Arts; landscape architect Tiffany Kaewen Dang, a territorial scholar from Treaty 6 Territory in Edmonton, Alta.; and Luugigyoo Patrick Reid Stewart (Nisga’a, B.C.), the first Indigenous president of an architectural association in Canada and the first Indigenous person in B.C. to own and operate an architectural firm.

    Rethinking Property in c\a\n\a\d\a is the first of four events in a series called Fictive Architecture presented by STAC. The series is funded through a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) Connection Grant, with matching funds from the Office of the Vice-President, Research at Brock University.

    Catherine Parayre, Associate Professor and Director of STAC’s Research Centre in Interdisciplinary Arts and Creative Culture, said these events will provide a creative and intellectual environment for all participants to express and debate views, sharing experiences that touch on personal perspectives or matters of social urgency.

    “This series is part of the activities of the Research Centre in Interdisciplinary Arts and Creative Culture, whose vision is predicated on the fact that researchers and creators, no matter their discipline, share a passion and drive for their subject in which creativity is often at the root of their unique vision or forms of inquiry.”

    The series is also connected to STAC’s Small Walker Press (SWP), a small innovative publishing house that produces two companion books each year as part of the Walker Cultural Leader Series. Blackwell is one of the artists (along with Landon Mackenzie) who will contribute to the 2022 SWP publications informed by the roundtable discussion.

    Derek Knight, Associate Professor, History of Art and Visual Culture and co-editor for the Small Walker Press, said this timely panel promises to be informative, far-reaching and will posit new, inclusive ways of re-imagining the land, concepts of ownership and shelter in Canada.

    “Blackwell is committed to thinking about new ways of interacting with our built environs, especially at this critical time in which decolonialization brings into focus the pressing need to resolve the challenge of unceded territories and respect the role of First Peoples as integral to how we re-envision Canada in the future,” Knight said.

    The webinar is free to attend, although registration is required through the Zoom event web page.

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  • Brock’s fall mainstage returns in person to explore fate of Judas Iscariot

    Image caption: Brock Dramatic Arts students and mainstage actors Celine Zamidar (left) and Simon Bell (right) rehearse a scene from The Last Days of Judas Iscariot with Guest Director Leighton Alexander Williams (centre).

    Originally published in The Brock News MONDAY, | OCTOBER 18, 2021 | by 

    Brock University’s fall mainstage production will make its much-anticipated return next week for the first live, in-person performance on the stage of the Marilyn I. Walker Theatre in more than a year and a half.

    Although the Department of Dramatic Arts (DART) did not let the COVID-19 pandemic stifle its creativity, hosting virtual mainstage productions when public health restrictions prevented in-person performances, the cast and crew of The Last Days of Judas Iscariot is eager to welcome their first live audience Friday, Oct. 29.   

    Written by award-winning American playwright Stephen Adly Guirgis, the play is an exploration of sin and unconditional love and speaks to all about guilt, regret and redemption.

    Set in a satirical version of a contemporary American courtroom, The Last Days of Judas Iscariot sees a host of saints and villains (including Mother Theresa and Satan) convene to determine the fate of Judas Iscariot after he has been stuck in purgatory for a few thousand years.

    Emerging Ontario director Leighton Alexander Williams is the Brock production’s Guest Director, with assistant direction by DART student Michael Cicchini.

    Based in Toronto, Williams is a stage and screen actor, writer, director and producer and is co-founder of Big Dreamers Brotherhood Productions Inc., a company of seven black male artists committed to telling provocative stories. With an academic background in drama and English and an interest in education, Williams is thrilled to be guest directing the production.

    “It’s no secret that the COVID-19 pandemic has made a lot of us experience feelings of isolation and being ‘stuck’ — two things Judas experiences throughout this story,” Williams said. “I felt it was important to set this play in the here and now.”

    Williams added that because of a recent boost in the popularity of the science fiction genre, the production’s version of purgatory is set in a cosmic void.

    “The intersectionality of religion and science makes for a fresh take on a classic tale,” he said.

    The show runs Oct. 29, 30 and Nov. 5 and 6 at 7:30 p.m. and Oct. 31 at 2 p.m. There will be a matinee performance on Nov. 5 at 11:30 a.m. for DART students and faculty.

    The MIW Theatre, in the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts (MIWSFPA) in downtown St. Catharines, is operating at a reduced capacity, with 100 seats available for each performance in the interest of student and audience member safety.

    Tickets are $20 for the general public and $16 for youth and seniors. Tickets may be purchased through Brock University Tickets. All provincial and Brock University COVID-19 protocols are in effect for the performances, including mandatory vaccination and masks for all audience members visiting the MIWSFPA.

    See the feature article by DART alumna Holly Hebert and featuring the voices of some of the students involved in the show, photos by VISA student Julie Luth and DART’s own Edgar Harris at dartcritics.com/2021/10/29/from-purgatory-to-purgatory-welcome-the-last-days-of-judas-iscariot/

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  • Popular Brock concert series back on stage for 2021-22 season

    Image caption: The Walker String Quartet rehearses on stage at the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre for the 2021-22 performance season. Photo by Max Holten-Andersen.

    Originally published FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 24, 2021 in The Brock News | by 

    After a year of performing from their homes, musicians featured in Brock University’s RBC Foundation Music@Noon series will return to the stage at the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre (PAC) for the 2021-22 season.

    Although there will be no live audience this fall, performances will be livestreamed for the Brock and wider community to enjoy online.

    Presented by the Music Department at the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts (MIWSFPA) and sponsored by the RBC Foundation, the free concert series takes places most Tuesdays at noon throughout the academic year and features the department’s performance faculty, special guests, Brock students and alumni.

    In partnership with the PAC , the Music@Noon season opens Tuesday, Sept. 28 with the musical stylings of the John Sherwood Trio. Featuring John Sherwood on piano, Kieran Overs on bass and Terry Clarke and drums, the trio will delight audiences with selections from the Great American Songbook.

    With concerts booked for most Tuesdays until the holiday season, the fall program will feature faculty performances as well as recitals from Music students later in the year. The livestream concerts can be viewed on the Facebook pages and YouTube channels of the MIWSFPA and PAC, as well as on the PAC website.

    A  return to in-person concerts may be possible in January, depending on Brock University and provincial protocols for COVID-19 mitigation strategies.

    For a full listing of upcoming concerts and to check for live audience updates, please visit the Music@Noon website.

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  • PROJECT: Soundscape, presented by the Centre for Studies in Arts and Culture, on exhibit September 24

    IMAGE CREDIT: REINHARD REITZENSTEIN

    Music, Noise, and Soundscape: Gayle Young and Ryan Bruce in Conversation

    Created in 2021, Music, Noise, and Soundscape: Gayle Young and Ryan Bruce in Conversation is a virtual project of the Research Centre in Interdisciplinary Arts and Creative Culture homed in the Centre for Studies in Arts and Culture (STAC) at the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts, Brock University. It includes an interview, performances and demonstrations, as well as an outreach activity.

    Gayle Young is a composer and musician based in the Niagara region who creates her own instruments and performs music for them, often employing unusual tunings. She has also performed and recorded works by John Cage and Yoko Ono. Gayle composes works for voice and chamber instruments and creates electronic sound for film and visual art installation. Many of her compositions include environmental sounds recorded through tuned resonators that she invented to integrate harmony and soundscape.

    Gayle wrote The Sackbut Blues, the biography of pioneering electronic instrument inventor Hugh Le Caine (1914-1977), who invented several instruments for electronic music, including the Sackbut, an innovative touch-sensitive keyboard instrument first recorded in 1946. As editor of Musicworks Magazine for over two decades, she presented an inclusive gaze on the world of experimental music.

    Ryan Bruce is an ethnomusicologist, jazz historian and saxophonist. His research concentrates on the transition of jazz styles from the 1950s–1960s (bop and the jazz avant-garde) with investigations in jazz historiography, improvisation, musical analysis, and interdisciplinary comparisons to other avant-garde art forms. His work includes special focus on collaborating with performers to create digital resources for teaching jazz history, improvisation, and world music traditions.

    Ryan holds a PhD in Music from York University and has published articles on jazz criticism, musical analysis, and specific musicians for the current Grove Dictionary of American Music. He is also an active teacher and performer of jazz and free improvisation on saxophone.In 2021, Ryan is teaching STAC 2P93 Critical Practice in the Fine and Performing Arts.

    Experience the ‘Soundscape’ exhibition by visiting the Brock University Digital Scholarship Lab

    Please note the virtual exhibition is best viewed on a laptop or desktop computer. Headphones are recommended.

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  • Brock community members nominated for St. Catharines Arts Awards

    Image caption: Artists and Instructors from Brock’s Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts Curtis Tye (left) and Barbara Worthy (right) are among the nominees for the 2021 St. Catharines Arts Awards.

    Originally published in The Brock News WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 22, 2021 | by 

    The City of St. Catharines is gearing up to celebrate the local arts scene and those who champion it — including members of the Brock community.

    Among the City’s recently released nominees for the 2021 St. Catharines Arts Awards are several individuals and one group who are connected to the University.

    Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts (MIWSFPA) instructors Curtis Tye and Barbara Worthy were nominated for the Arts in Education Award and Making a Difference Award, respectively.

    Other Brock nominees include alumna and musician Kathryn Sinopoli (BA ’13, BEd ’13), who received the nod for the Emerging Artist Award, and social, economic and environmental justice organization OPIRG Brock and retired Visual Arts faculty member Jean Bridge, who were both nominated for the Making a Difference Award.

    Tye, who has been an Instructor with the Department of Dramatic Arts (DART) since 2013, is honoured to be nominated for the second year in a row in for the Arts in Education Award, which celebrates individuals and groups committed to engaging residents through arts education.

    “I have always believed learning through the arts is a collective endeavour — there is no single individual that makes that successful,” he said. “I am someone who helps facilitate group and collective success, and I believe in a common goal for learning.”

    Tye currently teaches DART 2P21 Drama in Education II and DART IP95 Creative Play for Education. Along with teaching and a successful career as a corporate public speaking and leadership coach, Tye also serves as a committee member for Brock’s Social Justice Research Institute.

    Worthy, a MIWSFPA Instructor famous for her energetic class warm-ups and always having her little white dog at her side, has taught in DART since 2006 and teaches at the Centre for Studies in Arts and Culture. Currently, Worthy is teaching DART 3P92 Scriptwriting, to students in the Dramatic Arts, English and Creative Writing, Film and GAME programs. An experienced creative producer and writer, Worthy is also thrilled to be a part of the awards celebration.

    A former longtime producer for CBC Toronto and former actor with Shaw Festival, Worthy’s teaching philosophy is informed by her professional career in the arts and a strong belief in the importance of experiential learning.

    “What truly makes a difference to communities everywhere is the power of art, the power of drama and the power of the written word,” Worthy said. “Making a difference to me means providing students with access to the real world, specifically their local communities, where they can truly experience the arts for themselves.”

    The St. Catharines Arts Awards will be presented online Sunday, Nov. 21, livestreamed from the stage of the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre (PAC).

    “The city’s cultural and artistic community has exploded in recent years — there are so many diverse voices and visions out there,” said Kathleen Powell, the City’s Acting Supervisor of Cultural Services. “These nominees represent some of the best our community has to offer, world-class talents who call St. Catharines home and step up to build a community we can all be proud of.”

    For more information about the arts awards and how to view the celebration, visit the City of St. Catharines website.

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  • Virtual auditions for Brock University choirs now open to community

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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  • Brock grad raising awareness of trans identities through film

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Guevara also enjoyed participating in the panel.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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  • Visual Arts grad catches the eye of WIRED magazine

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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