Articles tagged with: VISA

  • New podcast challenges ideas of history of Western art

    (Including content published FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 11, 2020 | in The Brock News by 

    A new podcast hosted by Associate Professor of Visual Arts Linda Steer will guide listeners through the canon of Western art with provocative critiques.

    “Unboxing the Canon,” which launched Sept. 9, will connect the past to the present through critiques of the canon and explore what might not be immediately apparent in Western art.

    “We might be seduced by the pretty packaging, such as soft brush strokes, brilliant colours, grand gestures, expert carving, even traditional iconography of art,” says Steer. “But what happens when we take a deeper look? When we open the packaging and see what might have been invisible, or what is a cultural blind spot?”

    The podcast is part of Steer’s course material for VISA 1Q99: Introduction to the History of Western Art, but is also publicly available on AppleGooglePodbean and Spotify.

    The course contemplates big questions about art, such as the connections between museums and the history of Western colonization and imperialism, and who gets left out of the history of western art. Steer will be using the work of contemporary artists, such as Cree artist Kent Monkman and Black American artist Titus Kaphar, alongside traditional Western art to investigate themes of power, imperialism, race, gender and appropriation.

    Steer was concerned about the amount of time students may spend in front of their computer screens during remote learning.

    “The podcast provides students with a much needed break from computer screens,” she says. “A podcast is portable. Students can take a walk while listening. Moving away from the screen allows us to contemplate, a necessary activity when considering those big questions about course material.”

    The podcast will be included in Brock Library’s digital repository, along with episode notes and transcript, so it can be found through Google Scholar and OMNI search.

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

  • Welcome to the MIWSFPA: Orientation for 2020!

    Brock University is launching the first-ever Virtual Welcome Week.
    During this year of the pandemic the Orientation activities are all online.
    Watch the welcome below and visit the official Orientation page for all the details!

    (screenshot)


    The Department of Dramatic Arts, Music, Visual Arts, and the Centre for Studies in Arts and Culture are all part of the Faculty of Humanities.

    The Associate Dean, Dr. Neta Gordon, Professor of English, welcomes you to Brock University! She’s prepared an 11 minute video to introduce to you to the Faculty of Humanities:


    Michael Gicante is your Academic Advisor for studies at the MIWSFPA.
    He prepared this video for the April open House:


    Koreen McCullough is the Experiential Education Coordinator for the Faculty of Humanities.
    Watch her 3 minute presentation about Experiential Education opportunities at Brock University:


    The Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts

    Located at 15 Artists’ Common in downtown St. Catharines, the MIWSFPA is home to four academic programs. We are right next door to the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre on the main street of St. Catharines, St. Paul.

    Each program at the MIWSFPA is offering a special welcome to their students.  For example, if you are a beginning your studies as a major in Dramatic Arts, check out what that Department has scheduled for you and plan to join in the fun.  You are also welcome to join the activities of each program at the School even if you are only taking one course or beginning a minor program.  The activities and welcome messages from each program are listed below.

    Professor David Vivian, of the Department of Dramatic Arts (he teaches design and production for theatre), is the Director of the School:

    David will be hosting office hours on September 8, 2020, from 12-3:00 pm on Teams.
    Drop in and say hi! (click here)


    THE DEPARTMENT OF DRAMATIC ARTS (DART)

    Dr. David Fancy, Professor of Theatre Praxis, is the Chair of the Department:

    “I wish you a warm welcome to this new academic term, one that DART staff, faculty, and instructors have been carefully preparing for over the spring and summer. And now, with all of its adjustments and changes in delivery, this term is upon us.
    Please know that we are here to support you, to encourage you, and, perhaps most importantly: to collaborate with you to create contexts where much creativity, inquiry, and service will take place.
    Can’t wait to see you, virtually, and perhaps eventually otherwise, soon!
    Vive le théâtre!”

    Join Dramatic Arts Faculty on Tuesday, September 8th from 12 noon to 1pm for a drop-in session about Dramatic Arts. Non-Majors are especially welcome. Dramatic Arts Chair, David Fancy and David Vivian, Director of the Marilyn I Walker School and DART Faculty, will talk informally about the Department. David Fancy will answer your questions about how to take courses as a non-Major and should you how to achieve a Minor in Dramatic Arts. Find us on Lifesize. (click here)

    All Major students are invited to JOIN US at the Annual DART Orientation!
    Tuesday, September 15, 6:00 – 7:15 PM

    Online at :  https://brocku-ca.zoom.us/j/83578938305

    Meeting ID: 835 7893 8305
    (also available via telephone and mobile! contact dvivian@brocku.ca for details)

    The DART community is cordially invited to our 2020 online departmental orientation. This invitation is especially extended to DART first year students: We look forward to seeing you at the Orientation so that you can meet faculty, staff, and fellow students, and learn about the many opportunities for engagement – from auditions to performances to clubs – at DART.

    First-year students who visit at least three of the DART Orientation Zoom breakout rooms will be entered into a draw to win a $50 Brock Campus Store gift card!

    Be it online or face-to-face, DART is a vibrant and welcoming community, and we can’t wait to see you on Tuesday, September 15.


    THE DEPARTMENT OF MUSIC (MUSI)

    Dr. Karin Di Bella, an accomplished pianist and educator, is the Chair of the Department:

    Dr. Di Bella will be holding office hours on September 8th from 2-3 pm on Teams.
    Drop-in and say hi! (click here)

    Reminders from your Music professors:

    • Check Sakai and your Brock email for info about your first class
    • Choir: if you still need to do your choir audition, please look here for more information:
      Sing at Brock!
    • Lessons: if you still need to set up your lesson, contact Dr. Di Bella kdibella@brocku.ca
    • For all other inquiries please contact the Music Office and we’ll be happy to direct you to the right place. nfedj@brocku.ca

    Classes start Wednesday, September 9th! Have fun! We are happy you’re here.

    PS. Our MUSI student yearly welcome/orientation for all new and returning MUSI students will take place on the first Tuesday@Noon.  Ask Professor Di Bella for details.


    The Department of Visual Arts (VISA)

    Welcome new VISA students to our asynchronous orientation video! It’s always nice to put a name to face, so we took some time to prepare this video, so that you can get acquainted with some of the awesome people in the Department of Visual Arts. We look forward to meeting you in person in the near future. Stay safe, VISA.

    Professor Shawn Serfas, Chair of the Department will be holding office hours on September 8th from 2-3 pm on Teams.
    Drop-in and say hi! (click here)


    The Centre for Studies in Arts and Culture (STAC)

    STAC Major student, Maya Meyerman has prepared this welcome message for you:

    Dr. Catherine Parayre, Director of the Centre, will be holding office hours on September 8th from 2-3 pm on Lifesize.
    Drop-in and say hi! (click here)

    Additional Office hours will be:

    • Tuesday 15 September, 3-4 pm
    • Wednesday 7 October, 2-3 pm
    • Tuesday 17 November, 3-4 pm
    • Wednesday 2 December, 1-2 pm

    Interiors, a curated virtual platform has been launched!  Interiors is the home of various creative projects by Affiliates of STAC’s Research Centre in Interdisciplinary Arts and Creative Culture, also with student exhibitions. Check out our Outreach Activities: participate and be published on the site!

    ti< is an online journal (ISSN 1929-4336) that publishes creative work combining text and image. It is primarily interested in 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. Next issue: March 2021. Submissions accepted until 15 February 2020. Please send to cparayre@brocku.ca https://journals.library.brocku.ca/index.php/ti

    Check out the Advising Letter for more news about exciting opportunities at the Centre for Studies in Arts and Culture!

    STAC Majors: more info and regular updates are available on Sakai on the tab titled… ‘STAC Majors’.  Add this tab to your Sakai courses.


    We all wish you a very successful year at the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts.

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    Categories: Announcements, Current Students, Department/Centre News, Events, Faculty & Instructors, Future Students, News, Uncategorised

  • Sacred Spaces: a student exhibition about mental health, at the MIWSFPA

    Sacred Spaces:Student Exhibition

    Feb. 6 to 29, 2020
    Opening reception: Feb. 12, 2020 — 5 to 8 p.m.

    VISA Art Gallery and Student Exhibition Space, MIWSFPA
    15 Artists’ Common, St. Catharines

    The gallery is open Tuesday to Saturday from 1 to 5 p.m.

    With a focus on mental health, an exhibition about understanding emotional vulnerability and self-reflection, while unpacking the human need for comfort. Featuring Visual Arts students Kaitlyn Roberts and Chardon Trimble-Kirk.

    Sacred Spaces – Artist Statement
    Kaitlyn Roberts and Chardon Trimble-Kirk

    Mental illnesses often destroy from the inside out. It is a sickness that is hidden through the action of covering oneself from the world, in fear of discovery. Doctors will prescribe medication in an attempt to cure mental illness; medication that comes with dizziness, fatigue, loss of appetite, bruising, sexual dysfunction, and countless other side effects. All of which to shut out the voices from inside one’s mind. Voices that proclaim that you are not good enough, you do not deserve to be happy, you do not deserve to eat. I would much rather stay in bed. If I stay in bed, the medication isn’t necessary. The demons and monsters can be let out and no one will ever know.

    When living with mental illness, it is living a double life. One must hide behind a mask, only finding true relief in the intimate space of the bedroom, amongst the comfort of bedding. Only within these spaces is one truly allowed to express the realities of mental illnesses, whilst finding safety in the sacred spaces of the bed.

    Each work represents the safety and intimacy found within these spaces, whilst offering a juxtaposition between the covering and uncovering realities of the illnesses. The uncovering comes from personal texts written across these spaces, as well as the exposure of the body, and curiously the covering of the eyes in each figurative work. The text which is a direct thought, and nude figures which are an indirect representation of vulnerability, invite viewers into the sacred spaces of one’s true thoughts. The vague figures and various text will resonate with viewers, bringing awareness to mental illness, its prevalence, and its resonance within many.

    The works aim to de-stigmatize some of the most serious and misunderstood mental illnesses, all within the sacred spaces of our beds.

    download poster

    Kaitlyn Roberts is currently in her fourth and final year at Brock University, achieving an Honours Bachelor of Arts with a major in Studio Art. Her artistic education birthed an attraction to explore autoethnography. Roberts’ studio practice, specifically, surveys the complexity of mental illness translated through visual art while highlighting how it affects both the artist and the viewer.

    Roberts is currently using her practice to investigate the relationship between the mind and the body, through the artistic process of ‘mapping’. This includes research into the connections between mental illnesses and the physical sicknesses that follow, including trauma.

    Roberts has shown her work in juried shows around Ontario including, St. Catharines City Hall’s Transformations, Niagara Artist Centre’s Fortune Favours, and the Visual Arts Centre of Clarington’s The VAC 39th Annual Juried Show where she was the only student, and youngest person to be accepted. Roberts has also shown her work in exhibitions including; Niagara Artist Centre’s Small Feats, Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine, and Performing Arts’ Art Block: BAC
    on the Block, as well as many exhibitions hosted by Mahtay Café.

    Roberts will be showing her thesis work titled, Dear Euodia, in April 2020 at Rodman Hall in St. Catharines, Ontario alongside co-artists Chardon Trimble-Kirk, Brianne Casey, Rachel McCartney, Zach White, Kira Pretty, Curt Richard, and Jess McClelland. Opening reception is Friday, April 3rd at 7 pm.

    Roberts is planning on pursuing a Master’s Degree in Fine Arts once she graduates from Brock University.

    Chardon Trimble-Kirk is a Canadian painter based in St. Catharines. Through the use of figuration and pattern making, themes of femininity and gender roles are explored within her work. In addition to this, Trimble-Kirk is interested in the themes of sexuality, vulnerability, repetition and mental health, and their intersections within femininity. Thematic and aesthetic contrasts are often included within the work, allowing viewers to interpret the work individually while also thinking critically about the concepts presented.

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  • Donna Szőke presents ‘On Invisibility’, January 21 at the MIWSFPA

    On 21 January, the Centre for Studies in Arts and Culture welcomes artist Donna Szőke, Chair of the Department of Visual Arts and a member of the recently created Research Centre in Interdisciplinary Arts and Creative Culture, as a Walker Cultural leader for 2020.

    Szőke will present an artists’ talk “On Invisibility” at 7:00 pm at the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts of Brock University (MIWSFPA). This is a free community event and everyone is welcome to attend.

    Invisibility is this year’s theme at The Small Walker Press, a small press valuing interdisciplinary cooperation and the exploration of image and text, homed in the Centre for Studies in Arts and Culture (STAC) at the MIWSFPA.

    Szőke creates expanded animation, media art, video, drawing, and collaborations. She investigates immanence, embodied perception, and the fluidity of lived experience.

    In her artist’s talk, she will present her work and her current book project The Dark Redacted in cooperation with author Gary Barwin, to be published in April 2020 by the Small Walker Press.

    In an excerpt from the forthcoming volume, editors Catherine Parayre and Derek Knight write:

    Donna Szőke thoughtfully investigates the fluidity of meaning and presence. Rather than elucidating a concept or an experience, she proposes a semi-abstract perusal of collective or intimate issues. Offering a reflection on the evocative instability of the biographical and the personal, and opting for an approach close to autofiction, her work constellates subtle possibilities and its scope defies the limitations of certainty. The artist is a compelling storyteller for whom the quest for meaning and the vagrancies of that search are more significant than plain facts. For The Dark Redacted Szőke proposes traces of a fragile story and never-faltering endurance. Her sequence of images alternates beautifully detailed natural life – a buffalo, intricate vegetation – and minimally sketched-out human presence and personal objects. As a result, her work addresses the viewers’ intuition and sensitivity to the environment.

    The event is presented by the Centre for Studies in Arts and Culture for the Walker Cultural Leader Series, generously founded by Marilyn I. Walker. The Walker Cultural Leader series brings leading artists, performers, practitioners and academics to the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts at Brock University. Engaging, lively and erudite, these sessions celebrate professional achievement, artistic endeavour and the indelible role of culture in our society.

    Join us on January 21, 2020 at 7-8:30 pm.  The presentation takes place in the Art & Val Fleming Smart Classroom (MWS 156), located on the lower level of the MIWSFPA.  Limited parking is available at the MIWSFPA, with additional parking nearby at the Garden Park/Carlisle Street Parking garage and adjacent lots.

    Centre for Studies in Arts and Culture: Walker Cultural Leader Artist’s talk
    ‘On Invisibility’, with Donna Szőke
    21 January 2020, 7-8:30 pm, MWS 156

    download the poster

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

  • Visual Art professor’s work chosen for prestigious U.K. exhibition

    “Wayfinding in Cold Light from the Multi-Verse Series” by Amy Friend, an Assistant Professor in Brock’s Department of Visual Arts, is one of just 55 photographs included in this year’s Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery in London, U.K.

    (published in The Brock News TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 05, 2019 | by  )

    Nearly 4,000 portraits by more than 1,000 photographers from 70 countries were submitted, but only 55 were chosen for this year’s Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Exhibition in the United Kingdom.

    One of those portraits is by Amy Friend, an Assistant Professor of Visual Arts at Brock’s Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Art.

    The Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize is a prestigious annual award that attracts amateur and professional photographers alike. Only 55 of the 3,700 submissions were chosen for the exhibition. Three photos are shortlisted for the top award of £15,000 (approximately $25,000 CAD).

    “Having my work included in the Taylor Wessing Portrait Exhibition is an exciting adventure in my creative practice,” said Friend. “I had been working on this long-term project for several years, so it is uplifting to see this new work recognized. The piece has personal connections, which extends this recognition in a meaningful way.”

    Friend’s series Multi-Verse draws on her own and found photographs featuring diverse subject matter and imagery from across several time periods to explore the idea of a multi-verse. The series references both the idea of alternate realities and the numerous stories or ‘verses’ the viewer encounters in the photographs.

    She uses experimental photographic methods and manual manipulation to alter photos. While they are not overtly political photographs, her works references darker elements such as floodwaters and images of soldiers.

    “I reference the past, the here and now, the visible and invisible, literally and poetically, albeit not through overtly political photographs,” said Friend. “The medium of photography has always had a currency of possibility. In this series I work to find meaning in the chaos, to be with it and to look for an alternate story from where we are — a multiverse.”

    The exhibition opens at the National Portrait Gallery in London, U.K., on Tuesday, Nov. 5 and carries through to February 2020. The exhibition will then go on tour throughout the U.K.

    In 2017, a portrait by Finnish artist Maija Tammi, who studied under Friend, won third place in the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize.

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  • Visual Arts students get creative career advice from international artists

    Visual Arts students in Assistant Professor Amy Friend’s Introduction to Digital Photography class were given the chance to interview six successful, creative professionals from around the world thanks to an Experiential Education Teaching and Learning Innovation Grant. The class is pictured engaged in discussion with Dornith Doherty, a Texas professor who documents and collages seeds and tissue samples.


    (From The Brock News, April 25, 2019 | By: Sarah Ackles)

    What’s it like to create a photographic archive of plant seeds and tissue samples that could one day ensure humanity’s very survival?

    What about travelling the world to capture award-winning images of the rapidly melting polar ice caps or soldiers in conflict zones?

    Students in Brock’s Introduction to Digital Photography class learned all of this and more, directly from creative professionals this past semester.

    Thanks to an Experiential Education Teaching and Learning Innovation Grant, Assistant Professor Amy Friend was able to invite six professionals in the field of photography from around the world to visit her class via video chat.

    British-American artist Phillip Toledano, pictured on screen, was one of six artists who participated in student-conducted interviews as part of Assistant Professor Amy Friend’s Introduction to Digital Photography class. The Visual Arts students were given the opportunity to interact with these creative professionals thanks to an Experiential Education Teaching and Learning Innovation Grant.

    Visual Arts students researched and subsequently interviewed guest speakers one-on-one, before ending each session with a group discussion.

    The exercise provided valuable insight into the artistic process and the challenges involved with working in different areas of photography, Friend said.

    “The students responded quite well; you could see a sense of excitement,” she said. “They heard interesting stories about how artists work through their processes and different insights about how and why specific choices are made, and the methods used to get this work out into the world.”

    Participating artists included Dornith Doherty, a professor and Guggenheim Foundation Fellow from North Texas who documents and collages plant seeds and tissue samples in her Archiving Eden project; Cig Harvey, an artist whose work has been exhibited at major museums and collections in the United States and Europe;  Spanish artist Alfonso Almedros; award-winning photojournalist Louie Palu, whose work has been featured in National Geographic and numerous international collections; Jacqueline Bates, Photography Director of The California Sunday Magazine; and British-American mixed-media artist and author Phillip Toledano.

    Fourth-year Visual Arts student Rachel McCartney was tasked with interviewing Toledano, whose work is similar to what she aspires to create herself one day.

    “Interacting with visiting artists in a classroom setting was an extremely useful and gratifying experience,” she said. “It allowed for direct one-on-one communication and to dissect the brain of someone who is a successful future version of what I aspire to be.”

    The grant was one of 18 that were awarded in 2018-19 to support the development of new experiential learning courses and experiential opportunities within existing courses.

    The Teaching and Learning Innovation Grants were supported financially by Experiential Education at Brock and external funding through the province’s Career Ready Fund.

    Sandy Howe, Associate Director, Experiential Education, said the new interview series went “above and beyond” expectations and offered a “highly impactful” experiential learning opportunity for participating students.

    “It’s always amazing to me to see faculty members trying something new in their courses and how this impacts their own learning and engagement with their teaching,” she added. “This is an excellent example of how different types of experiences can be used to improve both teaching and learning.”

    Friend said the calibre and range of artists who participated also exposed students to the range of career opportunities that exist for someone with a Fine Arts and Photography background.

    “It was one of the best things I’ve ever experienced in my teaching strategies,” she said. “I was stunned by how much information the students were able to learn in a short period of time.”

    For McCartney, the experience armed her with more confidence as an artist and a wealth of advice for ensuring success in her future career.

    “I find it really important that we constantly look for new ways to teach and learn because it promotes better student engagement,” she said. “Actively changing the curriculum to integrate new ways of learning creates a more personalized education that is beneficial to students. I’m very thankful to the artists who participated and immensely thankful for Professor Friend for organizing this experience.”

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    Categories: Current Students, Department/Centre News, Faculty & Instructors, News

  • MIWSFPA faculty, alumni nominated for 2019 St. Catharines Arts Awards

    Visual Arts alumna Kylie Haveron (BA ’18) is among the nominees selected for the Emerging Artist category for the 2019 City of St. Catharines Arts Awards.


    (From The Brock News, January 31, 2019 | By: Sarah Ackles)

    Congratulations are in order for the numerous faculty members and alumni of Brock’s Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts (MIWSFPA) nominated for the 2019 City of St. Catharines Arts Awards.

    The awards recognize and celebrate excellence in all areas of artistic creation and seek to increase the visibility of St. Catharines’ artists and cultural industries, honour cultural leaders and their achievements and cultivate financial and volunteer support for the arts sector.

    Visual Arts alumna Kylie Haveron (BA ’18) is among the nominees selected for the Emerging Artist category, while Dramatic Arts Chair Joe Norris and Assistant Theatre Professor Danielle Wilson were both nominated for the Arts in Education award.

    Nominated in the Established Artist category are Wayne Corlis (BA ’05, MA ’12), who majored in Visual Arts and earned a master’s in Studies in Comparative Literatures and Arts, and Colin Anthes (BA ’14, MA ’16), who completed a combined Psychology/Dramatic Arts degree with a minor in Philosophy and a master’s degree in Philosophy. Anthes currently works as a part-time instructor in Brock’s Department of Dramatic Arts.

    Nominated in the Making a Difference category is alumna Emma German (BA ’14), who majored in Visual Arts and worked as a curator at the City of St. Catharines and Brock’s Rodman Hall Art Centre.

    Also nominated in the same category is the Willow Arts Community, a non-profit arts organization based at Rodman Hall that provides free artistic training and exhibition opportunities to community members with lived experience of mental health and addiction.

    The recipients of the City of St. Catharines Arts Awards will be recognized at a reception on Friday, May 3 at the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre. Tickets will be available in March.

    A full list of nominees is available online.

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    Categories: Alumni, Faculty & Instructors, News

  • Artistic alumni to host vacation-themed exhibition downtown

    Brock grads Katie Mazi (BA ’16), Jenn Judson (BA ’16), Matt Caldwell (BA ’16), Ben Mosher (BA ’15) and Alex Muresan (BA ’16) make up the art collective Permanent Vacation. The artists will be exhibiting new work in All Expenses Paid, opening on Thursday, Jan. 31.


    (From The Brock News, January 29, 2019 | By: Sarah Ackles)

    The Permanent Vacation art collective is inviting the public to experience the sights and sounds of a tropical getaway – without spending a cent.

    The group, made up of Brock alumni, is presenting its second exhibition, All Expenses Paid, at the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts (MIWSFPA) beginning Thursday, Jan. 31. An opening reception for the showcase will be held Thursday, Feb. 7 from 5 to 8 p.m.

    All Expenses Paid is a multimedia exhibition featuring photographs, videos, an installation and a zine. The artists will also create a studio space inside the exhibition, where emerging local artists can work if they cannot access their own studio space due to economic barriers.

    The collective, which includes artists Katie Mazi (BA ’16), Jenn Judson (BA ’16), Matt Caldwell (BA ’16), Ben Mosher (BA ’15) and Alex Muresan (BA ’16), were all Studio Art majors at Brock who first worked together to restructure the Brock Art Club into the current Brock Art Collective.

    The name Permanent Vacation stems from the idea that you don’t need to ‘vacate’ an area to find work and fulfilment. The collective’s goal is to create working space for emerging Niagara-based makers in a way that promotes seeing home anew.

    “The exciting part about this exhibition is that it is fully collaborative within our collective and interactive with local artists and community members,” said Mazi.

    The artists encourage visitors to embrace the theme and wear their best vacation attire to the opening, where they can expect to find themselves surrounded by inner tubes and piña coladas.

    “It’s practically a vacation,” said Judson.

    Permanent Vacation’s All Expenses Paid is on from Jan. 31 to Feb. 28 at the VISA Gallery and Student Exhibition Space within the MIWSFPA. The opening reception, also at the gallery, takes place Feb. 7 from 5 to 8 p.m. The gallery is open Tuesday to Saturday from 1 to 5 p.m.

    If you would like to book studio time during the exhibition, please email the artists to make advance arrangements at permanentvacationcanada@gmail.com

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    Categories: Alumni, Events, News

  • Join us for an Artist Talk with Phil Irish Jan. 30

    Artist Phil Irish


    The Department of Visual Arts is pleased to welcome Phil Irish to the MIWSFPA for an artist talk on Jan. 30.

    Irish, from Elora, Ontario, makes paintings that are both fierce and beautiful. He is known for cutting paintings into fragments, and installing those pieces to make architecturally scaled collages that engage your senses and your mind.  His new work is influenced by his time on an icebreaker in the Canadian arctic, with Canada C3, a 150-day expedition from Toronto to Victoria via the Northwest Passage that took place from June 1 to Oct. 28, 2017.

    He has shown in commercial galleries, artist-run centres, and public galleries, including the National Gallery of Canada, Art Gallery of Guelph, Tom Thomson Memorial Art Gallery, Whyte Museum, Lonsdale Gallery and Angell Gallery, and was twice shortlisted for the Kingston Portrait Prize.

    He holds degrees from Guelph (BA) and York (MFA) and teaches studio at Redeemer University College.

    Irish will present at 1 p.m. on Jan. 30 in room 416 of the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts.

    The talk is free and open to the public.

    Registration is not required, but space is limited and available on a first-come, first-served basis.

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  • New research shows empathy can shape drug policy

    Brock Visual Arts Professor Linda Steer’s research on drug photography has been published in the March edition of the International Journal of Drug Policy.


    In 2016, Ohio police released a photo of an American couple overdosing in their vehicle while a young child sat in the back. The image quickly went viral and attracted international attention.

    The predominantly negative conversation surrounding the image, and others like it, left Brock Visual Arts Professor Linda Steer wondering if viewing these photographs with more empathy could be key to changing discourse on drug users and altering drug policy in North America.

    Chosen for publication in the International Journal of Drug Policy, Steer’s article “Entangled empathy, drug use, and photographs of suffering” examines contemporary drug photography in the hopes of encouraging people to think outside of the box about drug use and users.

    “This research is very timely because every day we’re seeing a news story about the dangers of fentanyl or some other opiate,” said Steer, who teaches art history at the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts (MIWSFPA). “There is a lack of understanding about what people that use drugs go through, and about drugs in general. It’s a kind of hysteria.”

    In the article, Steer examines the work of two contemporary photographers: Chris Arnade and Tony Fouhse. Both are middle-aged, white men, who photographed female drug users they met on the street.

    Steer looked at the artists’ work through the lens of ‘entangled empathy,’ a concept developed by American Philosophy Professor Lori Gruen. To Gruen, empathy is about more than simply being understanding and compassionate about another’s situation. Rather, it entails being responsive and responsible to that person in a way that promotes agency and positive change.

    Drawing from that idea, Steer studied how Arnade‘s and Fouhse’s photographs were created, circulated and received by viewers and compared how different settings, locations or mediums impacted the viewer’s engagement with empathy.

    “I found photographs with captions or text that worked to create a narrative had a better chance of creating empathy,” she said. “I also found that we can still have empathy when the power dynamics are quite uneven and that photographs shared on Facebook can sometimes provoke people to engage with their own experience of addiction in relation to the photograph.”

    Steer hopes the article will create dialogue about the role photographs of drug use play in shaping public opinion, and the opinion of policy-makers and government agencies.

    “Overall, photographic projects that show drug use have the potential to engage viewers with empathy and can be very useful in creating drug policy,” she said. “Policy-makers might see these kinds of photographs and notice how they can elicit empathy for people who are misunderstood or maligned. That can have a positive impact on policy.”

    Steer said having her work published in the journal is especially meaningful as this marks her first peer-reviewed article in a new field of research. The interdisciplinarity of her work is also important, she noted, as the journal typically publishes research from science-based disciplines.

    “I was really honoured for this work to be chosen as I think it speaks to how important photographs are and that we need to look more closely at the relationship between science and culture,” she explained. “Even scientific research is culture – so we’re bridging the gap between humanities and the sciences with this type of work.”

    She added that this research also showed her that “a lot more work has to be done” in this field of study.

    “Not just on empathy,” she added, “but on how it is related to politics, policy and how images create ideas about how we see others.”

    “Entangled empathy, drug use and photographs of suffering” is currently available for free download on the International Journal of Drug Policy website.

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