Articles tagged with: Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts

  • 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.

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  • Visual Arts podcast launches new season challenging ideas of western art

    Image caption: Co-hosts of Unboxing the Canon podcast, Associate Professor Linda Steer, left, and fourth-year Brock student Madeline Collins.

    Originally published FRIDAY, OCTOBER 01, 2021 in The Brock News | by 

    Unboxing the Canon has made its return with the goal of doing a deep, critical dive into the history of western art.

    The second season of the popular podcast from Linda Steer, Brock Associate Professor, History of Art and Visual Culture, is now live with new 20-minute episodes dropping monthly.

    Unboxing the Canon look at issues that are part of the history of western art, examining how those issues played out historically and how they connect to contemporary culture and thinking.

    The first episode dropped Sept. 17 and explores Orientalism and the Western Gaze. Upcoming episodes will address topics such as the representation of disability in western art, an art movement known as Primitivism connected to colonization, and the history of self-portraits, religion and landscape in paintings.

    According to Steer, who teaches first-year Art History, asking hard questions about these topics is important to developing a deeper understanding of the canon.

    “Students are hungry for a critical view of the western canon; they want to deal with the issues and unpack them and understand why they may be problematic,” Steer said. “When examining the long history of western art and its ties to imperialism, for example, we can ask important questions about iconic images that continue to have a tremendous impact on contemporary society.

    Steer says listeners don’t need any prior knowledge of western art to enjoy the podcast. She started the project last year as a way for students in her first-year VISA 1Q99: Introduction to the History of Western Art class to take a break from their screens and do a little extra learning while taking a walk or relaxing at home.

    Now, other instructors at the University and beyond are also using the podcast as a teaching tool. Each episode includes materials for further learning, including resources and websites where listeners can view the works of art being discussed.

    This continued engagement is an aspect of the project that Steer and fourth-year History of Art and Visual Culture student Madeline Collins are passionate about.

    Collins, who joined the podcast this season as a Research Assistant, said that images are not neutral and that there is a lot happening that viewers are not always aware of.

    “There is so much behind what we see. We need to look critically and realize how biased, gendered, racialized and colonized images are at the forefront of our cultural memory,” she said. “It has been a part of the story the whole time, and once you see it, it totally changes your perspective moving forward. That is my favourite part about this podcast.”

    In addition to co-hosting the podcast episodes, Collins is involved in all aspects of production, including conducting research, sound design and working closely with Steer on writing.

    The pair have been working together since July so Collins could learn the sound design and editing software gearing up for the season.

    Excited to be involved in the project, Collins, an avid fan of podcasts herself, said she has already learned so much from the experience.

    “I’ve always been interested in podcasts and the incredible ways in which we can communicate ideas through them, especially for those who learn better through listening,” Collins said. “I have never been a part of anything like this before, particularly learning all about microphones and sound editing, and I am loving the experience.”

    Unboxing the Canon is publicly available on all podcast services, including AppleGooglePodbean and Spotify. For updates and information on future episodes, follow Unboxing the Canon on Instagram and Twitter.

    The transcripts and sound files from each episode of Unboxing the Canon can be found in Brock’s digital repository.

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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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  • Visual Arts Prof Donna Szoke’s artwork featured on cover of new publication

    The artwork of Donna Szoke, Associate Professor of Visual Arts at the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts, is featured on the cover of a new publication from PUBLIC, an interdisciplinary journal from York University focusing on visual art.

    Entitled Exhibiting Digital Animalities, the publication is edited by Mathew Brower and includes sections from 12 artists, including a chapter on Szoke’s research-creation work drawing on her recent interview with Vanessa Bateman.

    The publication is now available for order online. To learn more about Donna Szoke and her work, please visit her website.

    About Exhibiting Digital Animalities:

    “How has digital technology reshaped our experiences and understandings of animals? Documenting two major international art exhibitions, Exhibiting Digital Animalities demonstrates the significance of contemporary art as a site for rethinking and restating human-animal relations. The twelve curated projects seek to broaden the range of artistic approaches to animals facilitated by digital technologies.

    Furthering the exploration started by the exhibitions, Exhibiting Digital Animalities brings together scholars from a range of disciplines to interview the artists and artist collectives. These probing conversations explore digital technology’s reconfiguration of human-animal relations, making work in response to the Anthropocene, the ethics of animal art, and the affordances of digital technology for art practice.”  (Source from http://www.publicjournal.ca/exhibiting-digital-animalities/)

     

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

    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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  • Visual Arts prof and photographer exhibits new work on international stage

    Sea, Salt, Moon, Air by Amy Friend, Associate Professor and department Chair of Visual Arts, is part of a new photography exhibition in Zurich, Switzerland.

    Originally published in The Brock News WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 11, 2021 | by 

    An exhibit showcasing the work of artist and Brock University Associate Professor and Chair of Visual Arts Amy Friend has gained international attention.

    Friend was one of eight artists from around the world invited to exhibit their photography at a summer show entitled Ocean at Bildhalle gallery in Zurich, Switzerland. Bildhalle, founded in 2013 by Mirjam Cavegn, is a highly respected art gallery presenting world class photography.

    The exhibition, which explores the motif of water through different aesthetics, was recently featured in the International Edition of The Guardian in their Art and Design section. The article displayed a selection of images from the exhibition and provided details on each artist and their work.

    Becoming 0.4% by Amy Friend from the international exhibition Ocean.

    In her artistic practice, the theme of water and ever-shifting seascapes is of great interest to Friend and is woven through much of her creative work. Due to the travel restrictions of the global pandemic, Friend found herself reflecting on past times at  the seaside during which she collected samples of water from across the world.

    Friend’s photographs featured in the Ocean exhibition came to fruition when she revisited 20 years worth of her photographs involving water and seascapes. Drawing on the notion that photography acts a as vault containing moments from the past, she fused her ideas together.

    “Looking at the abundant images of water in my personal collection, I began to consider my connection to these places and what it meant to take so many images like this,” said Friend. “I questioned what was possible to accomplish with this collection, given my stationary position due to COVID.”

    After selecting a series of the photographs, Friend printed them and then soaked them in the salt water she had collected during previous travels.

    “Over time, the sea water evaporated, leaving a residue of salt on the print,” Friend said.

    She said her pieces Tiny Tears Fill the Ocean (2020) and Endothelium Waves (2020) examine the connection between the body and the ocean.

    “The interplay between the salt content of water and the salt content of our bodies, including our tears, is of particular interest,” she said. “Our bodily connection to place is something that continues to resurface in my practice.”

    Through the exploration of themes of tears and loss, there is an environmental aspect to the work. Although the photographs are not specifically about the effects of climate change, Friend said “it is important to reflect on loss from an environmental standpoint when viewing these works.”

    With the exhibition running into the fall, Friend is looking forward to sharing the details of her experience with her students.

    “It is important that they see others actively engaging within a creative community. By sharing my experience with them, I hope to provide a bit of real-world insight related to the planning and trouble-shooting involved when preparing for exhibitions,” she said.

    To view the exhibition Ocean, visit the Bildhalle 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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  • Students showcase video art in local film festival through work-integrated learning

    Image caption: The opening image of Wind Sky, directed by Xudanlei Liu. Liu’s original video art is part of the Advanced Video Art student online screenings at the upcoming Mighty Niagara Film Fest presented by the Niagara Artists Centre.

    Originally published in The Brock News | MONDAY, JULY 05, 2021 

    Brock students have captured their experiences during the pandemic on film and are sharing their insights with the community.

    Exploring themes of identity, isolation and using everyday objects to create art, the project was born from an innovative work-integrated learning course and will see students present their videos during a professional film festival online.

    In Advanced Video (VISA/ISAC/STAC 3P10), students build upon their creative, technical and critical skills for video art production, post-production and critical evaluation, and are introduced to a variety of forms and approaches to video art, emphasizing its creation and contextualization in contemporary art discourses.

    Led by Donna Szoke, Associate Professor of Visual Arts at Brock’s Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts (MIWSFPA), the project is funded in part by Co-operative Education and Work-Integrated Learning (CEWIL) Canada’s Innovation Hub (iHub), through the Government of Canada’s Innovative Work-Integrated Learning (IWIL) initiative, and supported by Niagara Artists Centre (NAC).

    Students created independent video art that is available online until Aug. 15 in affiliation with the NAC in downtown St. Catharines. The videos will also be presented as part of NAC’s Mighty Niagara Film Festival running Aug. 18 to 22. Both events are free to the public.

    This rich educational experience has allowed students to produce quality work in a professional setting while exploring their creativity.

    Thanks to the CEWIL grant awarded to Szoke for the course, students will be paid for their work being showcased in the festival. The project has also helped students to add valuable work to their portfolios and build their resumés for future opportunities.

    Minhal Enam, a third-year Interactive Arts and Science student in the Faculty of Humanities, is among those showcasing their video art.

    Enam said the past year has been difficult because of the pandemic and that participating in the film festival was a welcome and pleasant surprise.

    “When I was creating this project, I didn’t think my work would ever be screened at a film festival,” he said. “This shows me that you never know what lies next in terms of opportunities and open doors.

    “As an international student, I am lucky to be involved in a project like this,” Enam said. “Being born and raised in Saudi Arabia, I never thought I would express my thoughts and passion as I am doing now. I am trusting my own journey, and this is just the beginning. I can’t wait to create more.”

    The CEWIL funding also allowed for established artists to virtually visit students throughout Winter Term, delivering presentations focused on their practices as Canadian video artists exhibiting in international film festivals. After receiving advice during the mentorship sessions, students selected their best work from the term for the two public screenings.

    Szoke said it’s important that young artists feel their work, time and creative skills have value.

    “They need to know what they do matters,” she said. “This is a chance to craft their ability to make artwork and grow faith in themselves as artists.”

    Stephen Remus, the Minister of Energy, Minds and Resources at the NAC, has been involved with the artist-run centre in various capacities for the past 15 years.

    “NAC is always interested in what young and emerging artists are creating at the Marilyn I. Walker School,” he said. “There’s a give and take. We learn what their interests and preoccupations are and, in turn, we’re able to introduce them to the NAC and artist-run culture.”

    Remus said Canada can “lay a unique claim to the establishment of a national artist-run network.”

    “It’s unlike anything else in the world. And the NAC is one of the earliest nodes on that network, now more than 50 years old.”

    From Winnipeg to Vancouver to St. Catharines, Szoke has a long history of collaborating with artist-run centres across the country. As a passionate artist who engages with experimental education programs and uses media art as a form of activism, she believes video as a medium occupies a dynamic and vital space in visual arts with great impacts on community.

    Community engagement is at the centre of the Advanced Video course, with a focus on giving students an opportunity to showcase their creative work in a professional setting while earning an industry-standard wage. Educating students about the standards of professional wages in the creative sector is an important piece of the project.

    “Community is the bridge to the future,” Szoke said. “If students can have significant experiences making meaningful work that people in the community value, this real-world labour can change all of our lives and have a big impact on students’ futures.”

    Even though the structure of the NAC is “anarchistic in the best ways,” the centre can be a leader in community and audience engagement, and prioritize support of living artists,” Remus said. “This includes informing students about the professional rates for the payment of artists.”

    The opinions and interpretations in this publication are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Government of Canada or Co-operative Education and Work-Integrated Learning Canada.

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  • Dramatic Arts grad receives textile award for creative work in costuming

    Dramatic Arts graduate Avery Delaney was honoured with the Marilyn I. Walker Textile Art Award for 2021 for her outstanding, creative use of textiles.

    Originally published in The Brock News on FRIDAY, JUNE 25, 2021 | by 

    When Dramatic Arts (DART) graduate Avery Delaney began her studies at Brock, she never dreamed she would find her calling behind the scenes in wardrobe — especially in theatrical cobblery.

    But that’s where Delany, who graduated June 18 during Brock’s Virtual Spring Convocation, found her stride.

    She was recently recognized with the 2021 Marilyn I. Walker Textile Art Award for her creative talent and skilled use of textiles. Presented to a graduating student at the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts (MIWSFPA) who shows outstanding work in textiles for artistic expression, the annual award provides recipients with financial support for continuing education or professional development.

    Delaney always had a desire to pursue teaching and performance, but a second-year course in stage production and crewing changed the course of her academic journey when she began working in the MIWSFPA costume shop under the guidance of Roberta Doylend, Head of Wardrobe.

    Inspired by her love of fashion and design, Delaney began working on costumes for the 2018 DART fall mainstage production of the Greek tragedy Antigone. She assisted Doylend with building and repairing costumes for the production which premiered in the Marilyn I. Walker Theatre.

    Antigone was such a physically demanding show that there were many problems with the actor’s shoes,” Delany said. “Roberta and I had to figure out a solution, and I took on the task of working on the shoes.”

    Gaining “confidence by doing,” Delaney discovered her love of theatrical cobblery and the costume shop environment. In her third-year, she got a job working with Doylend assisting with DART productions. During this time, Delaney’s creative exploration with textiles blossomed as she experimented with new materials and methods.

    Delaney came to view cobblery and working on shoes as her own creative world with the space to try out new techniques and take chances.

    “MIWSFPA staff did an incredible job facilitating this kind of hands-on learning,” she said.

    Doylend explained how Marilyn I. Walker created the award to celebrate a student’s passion for art and creativity.

    “Watching Avery thrive in the costume shop and find her love of theatrical cobbling in her four years at the MIWSFPA makes her the perfect candidate to have received this award,” Doylend said.

    Delaney continued her costuming work on the DART mainstages, building and repairing costumes for the various shows. She began experimenting with painting leather and working with new textiles to create different types of shoes and boots.

    As part of her coursework, she was the Head Dresser on Orlando, the 2019 fall mainstage production. She co-ordinated all the footwear for the show, made a costume for Sasha (played by fellow DART student Sid Malcolm) and assisted the second-year production students during the build of the show.

    “Following our pivot to remote collaboration and online transmission during the past year of the pandemic, I commend Avery for her perseverance and excellent work for the two graduating students’ productions: as Costume Designer for Concord Floral and Head of Wardrobe for Ouroboros,” said Associate Professor, Scenographer and DART Acting Chair David Vivian. “These polished online productions were a vivid testament to the deep skills of creative collaboration and technical production that our graduates are carrying forth into their post-graduation futures.”

    In addition to her studies at the MIWSFPA, Delaney spent time working with the Boot and Shoe Specialist at the Shaw Festival Theatre, Brock DART alumna Sadie Ducroix (BA ’10). Delaney shadowed the professional cobbler as she worked on the Shaw’s 2019 production of Brigadoon, and even painted some of the shoes herself.

    Delaney’s acting and costuming skills collided when she both performed in and worked on Perdita or The Winter’s Tale, an adaptation of Shakespeare’s classic (adapted by Gyllian Raby) performed in spring 2020. Delaney played Florizel and worked in wardrobe helping with bouquets and dresses for the show.

    As a designer and actor, she was able to draw on her knowledge of both disciplines to understand the best materials and comfort for costumes and shoes.

    “One interest informs the other,” Delaney said. “By allowing my passions to bleed together, I was constantly learning new things.

    “The passion I have now, I am grateful to Roberta for. It has been life-changing; I have discovered what I want to pursue as a career and unleashed my passion for this craft,” she said.

    “I am happy to have been here to spark her interest and help her follow her dream,” Doylend said. “Now that she has graduated, Avery is continuing her study of this very specialized field and will love her career in theatre as an integral part of a costume team.”

    Supported by the Department of Dramatic Arts, Vivian and Doylend, Delaney is set to attend a four-day intensive shoemaking course this fall at Off the Wall at the Stratford Artists Alliance, a centre for excellence in theatre production arts education in Stratford, Ont.

    Next year, Delaney will attend a boot and shoemaking course at the Banff Centre for the Arts. She will continue to study her craft as she embarks on her professional career in costuming with a specialization in cobblery, but notes that she still aspires to be on stage.

    Performing will always be important to Delaney and she would like to find a healthy balance of her passions.

    “My love of performance informs my work in costuming and shoemaking. I have an appreciation for both sides of it, on and off the stage,” she said.

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