Alumni

  • Museum in the Hallway / Boîte-en-valise

    Museum in the Hallway / Boîte-en-valise is a rotating exhibit of material culture in two display cases situated in the east alcove on the second floor between the theatre entrances of the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts. The program consists of five exhibits, including objects and evidence of course outcomes and workshops delivered by special guests (including a Walker Cultural Leader for 2022-23). “Boîte-en-valise” is an expression coined by avant-garde artist Marcel Duchamp to refer to the aesthetic value of collecting and assembling.

    The small thematic curated exhibitions will have a duration of 4-6 weeks up to 4 months duration. The onsite program will rotate to display cases of the James Gibson Library when possible and will be amplified and celebrated in related communication pieces and image galleries posted to the STAC website.

    Q: What-happened-Then

    A: This Happened: Stories and Masks

    Museum in the Hallway / Boîte-en-valise

    Sept 14, 2022 – Nov 20, 2022

    Second Floor East Alcove between Theatre Entrances

    The learning in, research about and presentation of material culture and curatorial practice is at the core of the academic program of the Centre for Studies in Arts and Culture and the activities of the Research Centre in Interdisciplinary Arts and Creative Culture (STAC). Courses in curatorial practice (STAC 3P40 and 3P41), writing and language about the arts (STAC 1P96, 1P97, 3P99), Critical Practice and Embodied Text: Art Beyond the Artifact (STAC 2P93, 2P94) are some of the scheduled learning opportunities in this subject field for students at STAC. This learning and research is part of all three Concentrations at STAC:  Concentration in Languages, Arts and Culture; Concentration in Cultural Transmission and Heritage Studies; and the Concentration in Cultural Management.

    Following upon the learning of STAC 3P42 (2021-22) where students explored the concepts of the ‘micro-museum’/vernacular curating/everyday museum(s) STAC proposes a project that would invite students to curate a small space, bi/weekly/monthly. This would allow students to engage with material culture (integrating with a courses in STAC and VISA/HAVC), as well as explore conceptual and oscillating notions of contemporary curating, while running as an ongoing and evolving project within the walls of the school – a sort of extension of the gallery, conceptually, and to offer students a small exploratory space. Students would explore objects/themes of interest, conceptual brainstorming and participate in a short exercise in writing. This would become a student experience to support professionalization of their learning and practice of curation, providing a ‘micro’ curated piece/project, associated with the school/department, to be added to their CV. Components of the student learning experience include assisting with the development of documentation/photographing their own tiny exhibitions, and assisting with creating content to share, and/or perhaps developing an Instagram page dedicated to this project, planning forward for a renewed annual project and incorporating a catalogue and related best practices.

    Photo Credit: Stephanie Dancer

    Stephanie Dancer

    I’ve been busy. My busyness is partially a learned behaviour, and it doubles as a coping mechanism for Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (CPTSD), a mental health condition that I’ve struggled with for fifteen years.

    I like to describe CPTSD as drowning with a straw in your mouth. If you stop struggling you can get a few wisps of air, but it’s never enough to stop the sensation of drowning so inevitably you begin to struggle and flail for more air again.

    In March 2020, when the COVID-19 lockdowns started in Ontario, I was already in poor mental health. A major relationship had ended months prior in a traumatic way and I was completely alone for the first time ever.

    At this time I was just returning from a frantic trip from the US back to Canada. I returned to an empty home and had to quarantine, followed by shutting down the business that I had worked so hard for. It remained closed for a year and a half. I was devastated.

    I then experienced one of the most interesting and disturbing experiences I have ever had, unregulated CPTSD symptoms. For the first time, I saw myself as myself. I had nothing and no one to use as a regulation tool and I was suddenly experiencing the unbridled waves of this condition.

    Along with intense flashbacks, extreme anxiety, and paranoia to name a few of the long list of symptoms this condition brings, dissociation is among the worst of them. Being in a dissociative state sometimes feels like just waking up from a dream or being far away and watching your life happen down a hallway. There are moments of lucidity but it’s mixed in with all of the other symptoms, so they are heartbreakingly fleeting.

    Time loss in these states is one of the most insidious parts. It feels like the panic you experience when you wake up and realize you’ve slept too long. Where did the time go? What did I do? How did that happen? I tried hard to not let that happen.

    During a particularly intense bout of dissociation, I fell and broke my foot. I was ashamed of myself. My broken foot made everything harder. I have an eating disorder that requires proper maintenance and I struggled to shop for groceries and make food. Cleaning became an almost impossible task. My knees and back became increasingly sore from crawling my staircase and traversing my house.

    I am fortunate and privileged to have a psychotherapist. Luckily, she had the foresight to recommend triple the amount of therapy during this time. I am forever grateful for that.

    My life became a series of symptoms, pain, management, sprinkled with flecks of tiny improvements.

    The mask I have made represents the pain that I experienced during this time. I used straight pins to represent the depth of pain and sorrow I was experiencing internally. The pins penetrate the mask and create a bed of sharp ends, while the heads of the pins create a colourful mosaic that is appealing and unassuming for any person who would see me adorned in this mask. These pins rest on my face as I read this poem, threatening to cause me pain and some succeeding.

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  • First Studies in Arts and Culture certificate recipient making mark in industry

    Skye Rogers, the first recipient of Brock University’s Certificate in Arts and Culture Studies, will debut her project ‘PLAYGROUNDS: a joyful happening’ on Saturday, July 16 at In the Soil Arts Festival.


    Originally published in The Brock News | WEDNESDAY, JULY 13, 2022 | by 

    For the first recipient of Brock University’s Certificate in Arts and Culture Studies, the sky’s the limit.

    Skye Rogers, who received the first certificate from the Centre for Studies in Arts and Culture (STAC) this spring, has been using the knowledge she amassed at Brock to further her career.

    The one-year certificate program was a draw for the St. Catharines native, who returned to her hometown in spring 2021 upon completing her studies at Randolph College for the Performing Arts in Toronto.

    “It was a perfect time to get some more learning under my belt,” Rogers says. “The STAC program really allowed me to dive deeper into my interests in art history and the flexibility that I had in my course selection allowed me to continue my more hands-on learning in dramatic and visual arts.”

    Rogers says she found her time with STAC “academically enriching.”

    “The program set me up well with more of the entrepreneurial skills needed to be an artist,” she says. “Applying my knowledge was really significant for me and getting to research my own interests for our final project was crucial.”

    With her newly acquired skills and knowledge, Rogers is now flourishing professionally.

    “I’m so excited to be involved in some artist residencies this summer, including the Nest Residency with Suitcase in Point and In the Soil Arts Festival,” she says. “I’ve been developing a project called ‘PLAYGROUND: a joyful happening’ that’s centred around rekindling childlike joy, connecting with strangers, and reclaiming city spaces through play.”

    Her new project will debut at Nest Fest on Saturday, July 16 as part of the In the Soil Festival Summer Series. Nest Fest will also include participants from Suitcase in Point’s Electric Innovations Theatre Intensive. This two-week intensive theatre program will be hosted at Brock’s Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts in downtown St. Catharines.

    Reflecting on her studies, Rogers says it’s the connections she made during her time at Brock that she cherishes most.

    “All of my in-person group projects were especially profound. Art is all about connection for me, and that element must be kept sacred,” she says. “I could chat with a classmate, or even a professor, and develop a friendship with our shared interests.”

    More information on the Certificate in Arts and Culture Studies program is available on the STAC website.

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  • An Introduction to the Small Walker Press


    Watch this brief introduction and learn more about small press publishing
    at the Centre for Studies in Arts and Culture.

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  • STAC and VISA students explore curation with arts industry experts

    Brock University students from the Centre for Studies in Arts and Culture (STAC) and Visual Arts (VISA) at the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine & Performing Arts (MIWSFPA) are having important conversations with arts professionals around the curatorial function of museums, galleries, and cultural organizations.

    Students enrolled in STAC/VISA 3P42 Methods and Principles of Curating will be participating in a field trip to the Niagara-on-the-Lake Museum and upcoming classroom discussions with professionals from the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) and Yale University Art Gallery.

    The events are led by Instructor Sonya de Lazzer, Gallery Coordinator at the Visual Arts Gallery & Student Exhibition Space at the MIWSFPA. Sonya is an alumni of the Visual Arts Program at Brock (BA Honours). In 2013, she obtained her M.A. in Art History from University at Buffalo, The State University of New York and is currently completing her PhD in Art and Visual Culture at Western University. Sonya brings extensive experience from the museum and art gallery world, where she worked as a Programming and Curatorial Assistant at a local art gallery and museum for several years, developing her exhibition writing and installation skillsets.


    Upcoming class events (not open to the public):

    March 7 – Exploring Experiences: Conversations Around Curating
    Niagara-on-the-Lake Museum: Shawna Butts, Assistant Curator & Education Programming
    Students will be toured through the historical society and view current exhibitions and learn about the way in which these sites collect and care for their collection(s).

    March 21 – Exploring Experiences: Conversations Around Curating
    Nick Clemens, Preparator, Royal Ontario Museum
    Preparator and museum professional Nick Clemens will be joining the classroom to share his many experiences working with art/artefacts/objects at the Royal Ontario Museum. The class will explore the need for mindfulness and respect for the object as it relates to the curatorial practice, and the care that goes into curating and presenting a work to an audience.

    March 28 – Exploring Experiences: Conversations Around Curating
    Where Collections Live: Roksana Filipowska PhD, Wurtele Study Center Programs and Outreach Manager, Yale university Art Gallery
    Dr. Roksana Filipowska joins the classroom for a virtual exploration and conversation on open and visible storage. Filipowska works as Programs and Outreach Manager at the Wurtele Study Centre, Yale University Art Gallery. Students will engage in discussing the importance of collection visibility, as well as learn about the many challenges that many collections face regarding storage.

    These events are supported by an Experiential Education grant from the Co-op, Career & Experiential Education Office.

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  • Performing arts production professionals bring ‘real world’ experience to MIWSFPA students

    The MIWSFPA welcomes leaders in live performance production and company operations for two presentations about challenges and opportunities in the field, bringing ‘real world’ experience to STAC/DART 3P93 students.

    All are welcome to a maximum of 17 guests. Bring your questions!
    Please contact stac@brocku.ca if you wish to reserve a seat (walk-in’s welcome as capacity allows).

    EVENT INFORMATION:

     

    Site Selection and Development for a Performance Event
    Kathleen Ross, Director of Operations, FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre
    Tuesday, February 8, 2022
    9:30-10:30 a.m., MWS 156

     

     

    Kathleen will be discussing the topic of Site Selection and Development for a Performance Event, addressing such topics as: selecting a site; space requirements – production (staging layouts, technical requirements, load in/load out requirements, broadcasting, or other capabilities); audience capacity (seating capacity and layout, accessibility, parking, transit); front of house requirements (staffing, box office, food and beverage options and costs); legal and safety issues.

    Kathleen Ross is an experienced operations professional with a focus on the most valuable asset…our human capital. She has an extensive history of working in government administration and entertainment industries, and is skilled in Emergency Procedures, Human Resources Management, Disability Management, Special Events and Entertainment.

    The FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre (PAC) is a 95,000 square foot academic and  cultural complex, located in downtown St. Catharines, comprised of four performance venues:  Partridge Hall  (770 seats), Recital Hall (304 seats), Robertson Theatre (flexible black box space) and The Film House (199 seats). Located adjacent to the MIWSFPA, Brock University students attend courses and perform at the PAC.

     

     

    Production Priorities
    Kate Leathers, General Manager, Carousel Players.
    Tuesday, February 15, 2022
    9:30-10:30 a.m., MWS 156

     

     

     

    Kate will be discussing Production Priorities, including such topics such as: The roles and responsibilities associated with various productions; co-ordination of creative and production priorities and requirements; production planning, contracting, legal, safety and human resources issues; consideration of planning a safe event in re-opening theatres (Covid-19).

    Kate Leathers has worked in the cultural sector for more than 20 years. She has held a variety of roles ranging from administrator to production technician and worked at dozens of theatres including the Shaw Festival and more across Canada. She has an MBA in Strategic Marketing. Currently Kate is planning Carousel Players’ 50th Anniversary Festival that will take place regionally over three days.

    Carousel Players present inspiring and creative plays for children ages five to 15 in schools, community venues, and performing arts centres across Southern Ontario. The company has also toured nationally to theatres and festivals in Ottawa, Montreal, Winnipeg, Calgary, Saskatoon, and Vancouver, and as far away as England and Japan.

    About STAC/DART 3P93 – Producing a Performance Event

    STAC/DART 3P93 introduces students to the commitment, hard work, and collaboration required to plan and execute a performance event. Students have the opportunity to bring their practical and leadership skills to work with their peers as a team to replicate a professional experience, including financial, organizational, communication and technical roles. In 2022 this course is taught by Jill Planche, PhD. Jill has a professional background in marketing and fundraising for theatre, opera, film and visual arts, including the Shaw Festival, TIFF and the McMichael Gallery.

    Please note: All Brock University COVID-19 protocols and vaccination policies apply. For more information, please visit Brock’s Coronavirus webpage.

     

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  • Much work to be done on live theatre’s road to recovery, says Brock prof

    Editor’s note: The following article tells about the challenges, enthusiasm for, and success in relaunching the performing arts in the Niagara Region, now 18 months into the pandemic. Students of the Centre for Studies in Arts and Culture may register for the course taught by Professor Fricker, DART 1P91 Introduction to Theatre and Performance, as part of their degree program.


    (above) Brock Dramatic Arts graduate Amanda McDonnell (BA ’15), who is part of the front of house team at the Shaw Festival, welcomed audiences back this summer.

    THURSDAY, AUGUST 26, 2021 | by 

    After 17 months, the live theatrical experience is slowly making its return — but not without challenges ahead, says Brock theatre expert Karen Fricker.

    “Amidst the adversity that live performing arts have been faced with through the pandemic, a wonderful thing has happened this summer: the return of live theatrical performance, because it has been able to be outside,” says the Associate Professor and Undergraduate Program Officer in Dramatic Arts (DART), who is an expert in theatre criticism, theatre theory and contemporary theatre.

    The Shaw and Stratford Festivals, two of Ontario’s most celebrated repertory companies, have been staging performances outdoors under canopies (tents with no walls) with mandatory masks for audiences in addition to capacity limits in accordance with provincial guidance. Both festivals are taking audience, artist and staff safety seriously, with COVID-19 protocols in place, says Fricker, who is also a theatre critic for the Toronto Star, writing about performances in the city as well as the Shaw and Stratford Festivals each summer.

    Although these outdoor performances do not come close to hosting the usual number of spectators, Fricker says this is a “big step in the right direction.”

    “Artists are being paid and creativity is happening,” she says, adding that while “innovative digital work has been heroic during the pandemic, experiencing live performances in a shared space is a joyous return.”

    Brock’s Dramatic Arts Department engages with the Shaw Festival in numerous ways, including the annual DART/Shaw internship and course-based experiences with Shaw artists and arts workers. A number of DART students and graduates work at the festival in front of house, producing and administration, and creative capacities.

    Seeing some of those familiar faces at Shaw this summer has been a particular highlight, Fricker says.

    While outdoor performances are a step in the right direction, Fricker says there is still more work to do. There will be limited live, in-person programming in the performing arts sector this fall, mainly due to unclear guidance from the provincial government around reopening, she says.

    In the early summer, the performing arts industry lobbied the government to address live performances in the official stages of reopening. Now that the performing arts have been included, companies have been able to plan. However, “you can’t just lift a theatre production off in a few weeks; you need a runway,” Fricker says.

    Colleen Smith, Executive Director of the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre (PAC) adjacent to Brock’s Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts, says the team at the PAC has experienced these challenges first-hand.

    “Never did any of us whose lives revolve around bringing together artists and audiences believe that we would witness the end of the age-old adage, ‘the show must go on,’” she says. “In fact, the show stopped for months at a time. It’s been an unbelievable period of disruption, heartache and loss of purpose for so many artists and arts workers.”

    Smith says that “buoyed by our partners at the City of St. Catharines and Brock University, as well as the support from our Board of Directors, we have used the first half of 2021 to develop a three-year recovery strategy that will place the PAC firmly within our community as a centre for creative and artistic experiences and learning.”

    The PAC is planning a gradual return, starting with the annual Celebration of Nations gathering, which will be in a hybrid format in September.

    Among the local theatre organizations taking important steps to make innovative work and engage the public in Niagara safely is the young people’s theatre company Carousel Players, which is focusing on new play development in August and September.

    “We are experimenting with a range of forms, including clown, puppetry and mask,” says Artistic Director and Brock graduate Monica Dufault (MA ’11). “We want to offer new pieces that are dynamic and theatrically alive when we meet our audiences again.”

    The company will present an outdoor performance, The Giant Puppet Party, for Culture Days in October, a new digital play for ages 12 to 17 called Meet Chloe starting in November, and a school touring production of The Velveteen Rabbit for ages four to seven in March 2022.

    Suitcase in Point, another St. Catharines-based theatre company, recently announced the launch of a reimagined In the Soil Arts Festival running Friday, Aug. 27 to Saturday, Sept. 25. The festival includes opportunities to see live, original theatre, new music, comedy acts, installations and participatory workshops. All-inclusive festival passes are available for purchase online.

    DART graduate Deanna Jones (BA ’02), the Artistic Director of Suitcase in Point and In the Soil, says the limits of the last 17 months have been a “unique test on our arts organization and the arts community at large.”

    “We knew this 13th edition of our annual In the Soil Arts Festival would be different, and we were determined to find inspired ways to get off of our screens and offer artists and audiences safe ways to connect — in person.”

    During In the Soil, artists from Essential Collective Theatre will be set up on James and St. Paul Street interviewing community members about their pandemic experiences. Working on this initiative are DART graduates Jordine de Guzman (BA ’20), Kristina Ojaperv (BA ’19) and Ren Reid (BA ’20). The project will culminate in the Pandemic Stories Project, a new play to be read at St. Catharines’ Culture Days in early October.

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  • Celebrated Canadian artist Michael Snow’s contribution to Brock revisited in new documentary

    A still image from the new documentary short Timed Images premiering Friday, Aug. 20 at the Mighty Niagara Film Fest. The film was produced and researched by Lesley Bell with video work and direction by Tracy Van Oosten.

    WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 18, 2021 | The Brock News | by 

    The legacy and impact of artwork created for Brock University in 1972 by internationally regarded Canadian artist Michael Snow has been captured on film and is being premiered Friday, Aug. 20 at a local film festival.

    Part of the Mighty Niagara Film Fest presented by Niagara Artists Centre (NAC), Timed Images is a new documentary that intimately explores two works of public art created by Snow when he was engaged by Brock University and architect Raymond Moriyama during the construction of Brock’s Mackenzie Chown Complex in 1972. Snow holds an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Brock University received in 1974.

    The short documentary is produced and researched by Lesley Bell, artist and retired support staff for the Department of Visual Arts (VISA) at Brock’s Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts (MIWSFPA), and directed by Brock graduate Tracy Van Oosten (BA ’10), artist, filmmaker and current VISA Instructor at the MIWSFPA.

    Bell, who managed Brock’s Fine Art Collection for 18 years, was drawn to Snow’s work and wanted to uncover the story behind his pieces and appreciate how they found their home in St. Catharines.

    Bell and Van Oosten, a filmmaker and artist who works with text, video and installations and explores moving images within immersive contexts, collaborated to create an artistic documentary that retraces Snow’s innovative art that delighted the University population in 1972.

    “In order to tell the story about these two artworks by Snow, I envisioned a video document. I had no understanding of the process,” Bell said. “With patience and skill, Tracy Van Oosten crafted the information that I found into an intelligent and visually stimulating artistic video work. This has been a satisfying collaboration.”

    Timed Images screens Friday, Aug. 20 at the RiverBrink Art Museum in Queenston, Niagara-on-the-Lake. Doors open at 8 p.m., with the screening scheduled to start at sunset. The documentary is part of an art-inspired program at NAC’s film fest called ‘An Ode to Escarpment School Films.

    For more information about Timed Images and to purchase tickets, visit the Mighty Niagara Film Fest website.

    This project is supported by David Vivian, the Director of the Centre for Studies in Arts and Culture, and Dean Carol Merriam of the Faculty of Humanities, through the Dean’s Discretionary Fund (2020). An installation for the public to view Timed Images at the MIWSFPA and online is currently in development.


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  • Small Walker Press launches publications exploring music, choreography

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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  • Art residency “A River Rises” now on view

    Caption: Brown Homestead (Photo by Shawn Serfas)

    STAC’s Research Centre in Interdisciplinary Arts and Creative Culture presents “A River Rises,” a collective investigation of a creative-writing piece, resulting in the creation of photography work, a recorded performance, an inverted sculpture, an experimental book, and more fiction writing. The project also documents the Brown Homestead, in close proximity of Short Hills Provincial Park and the oldest building in St. Catharines.

    View A River Rises here.

    To learn more about the Centre for Studies in Arts and Culture, please visit the STAC website.

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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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