Exhibitions

  • Visual Arts grad catches the eye of WIRED magazine

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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  • Student art exhibition explores isolation, identity during a pandemic

    A word often used in the past year is taking on a different meaning for Visual Arts (VISA) students as they showcase their work in a new exhibition — “unprecedented.”

    In what has been a different academic year for Brock students and faculty, this newly mounted exhibition explores the art that VISA students have created at home during the pandemic.

    Located on the first floor of Brock’s Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts (MIWSFPA) downtown campus, the VISA Gallery is a teaching exhibition space showcasing the works of undergraduate VISA students. While the gallery remains closed to the public due to public health protocols, students have been able to present their works throughout April in the physical space and viewers will have the chance to experience the gallery online in the coming days.

    The concept for the exhibition was born of the challenges experienced by students practicing studio-based art from home.

    Brock Studio Arts graduate and VISA Gallery Assistant Sarah Martin (BA ’19) was inspired to create a digital space where students could share their work in the form of an Instagram page.

    “From some of the incredible Instagram submissions made by VISA students in their year of isolation, I put together pieces that explore themes of identity to display on-site in our MIWSFPA gallery.  This has given students an opportunity to present their work in a professional setting beyond their online classes,” she says.

    The result is “unprecedented” (spelled with a lower case “u” as an artistic choice), a new exhibition curated by Martin that features the work of students in their first to fourth year, ranging across all mediums reflecting the scope and diversity of the students’ art practices.

    For third-year Studio Art major Taylor Elliott, participating in the exhibition has been an honour and he is appreciative he has been able to share his work, even if the public cannot see it in person at this time.

    “I’m very grateful for opportunities to see and be seen in this unique way,” he says. “This is the first show of any kind I’ve submitted to since the pandemic started, and it is great to feel connected to the art community in such unprecedented times.”

    Cree Tylee, a fourth-year Studio Art major with a minor in History of Art and Visual Culture, agrees that continuing to show work and share creative ideas with peers is critical given the current climate of the world.

    “If there is ever a time where the need for artistic expression peaks, it is during times of unrest,” she says. “I feel it’s important to keep creating and viewing new work, and so I was happy to have an opportunity to share my work in a gallery space.”

    Drawing on themes of isolation, Tylee was inspired by returning home.

    “Through the collection of natural materials from that landscape, using acrylic and photographic mediums, I chose to allude to a metaphysical version of ‘home,’” she says of her work featured in unprecedented.

    While the student artists welcome the chance to get back to an in-person studio environment when it is safe to do so, participating in this exhibition has been a meaningful experience for them.

    “As someone trying to break into the art scene, even just at a local level, this exhibit means the world to me,” says Eden Rioux, a second-year Studio Art major whose pieces in unprecedented explore self-reflection and the notion of daydreaming. “It’s always an honour to have your work displayed alongside others. It is a cumulative experience working towards a larger impact.”

    Rioux also points out that many artists turn to their art as a coping mechanism, allowing them to share their thoughts and feelings beyond the spoken or written word. While isolation can be lonely, artistic discoveries can still be made, they add.

    “It’s really amazing to see what everyone else is struggling with, thriving with and creating with,” says Rioux.

    Elliott also acknowledges key lessons learned during the pandemic about the importance of community, and not taking it for granted.

    “I think when things open up again, people will be so much more ready to be active and involved in the art world — I know I will be,” he says.

    The unprecedented exhibition runs until Friday, April 30. While currently closed to the public, the VISA Gallery will take over the MIWSFPA Instagram “stories” starting Monday, April 26 so viewers can virtually explore the gallery space.

    The works in unprecedented (and other student works) are available to view on an ongoing basis by following the @brockvisagallery Instagram page.

    Follow the @MIWSFPA Instagram page to view the unprecedented exhibition takeover.

    To learn more about the VISA Gallery, please visit the web page here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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  • New for 2020: Advanced Art Practices presents their capstone exhibition online.

    NOTHING HAPPENS
    UNTIL SOMETHING MOVES
    Launch: Wednesday April 8 at 7pm
    visa3m90.wordpress.com

    Join the students of VISA 3M90 Advanced Art Practices for the launch of their final exhibition on Wednesday, April 8 at 7 pm.

    This year-end presentation features new work from a multi-disciplinary course where cross-pollination is key. During the academic year the students investigate artistic research and creation from the perspective of project oriented, independent production.  They have been mentored by instructor Donna Akrey in the development of artistic practices emphasizing concept through to realization processes.

    In this Spring of COVID-19 the students will show their work online: physically distant, but not socially.

    The featured artists include:

    download the poster

    KENDRA BOSSE
    TERI LYNN DITZEL
    PERI GOODMAN
    I.J.IROGBENACHI
    GABRIELLA JONES
    UGO MADUKA
    LAUREN MARCO
    JESS MCCLELLAND
    AMA OKAFOR
    SOPHIA STRACHAN
    CHARLOTTE TARR

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  • CrissCross, a new student exhibition at the MIWSFPA

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

    CrissCross, a new student exhibition at the MIWSFPA

    March 5 – 28
    opening reception: March 12th, 5 p.m.
    (This is also the reception for the Artist Talk by the Walker Cultural Leader, Landon Mackenzie.)

    VISA Gallery and Student Exhibition Space, Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine & Performing Arts, 15 Artists’ Common, St. Catharines, L2R 0B5.

    The gallery is open Tuesday-Saturday, 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
    An exhibition by students from the Studies in Arts and Culture and Visual Arts programs. Our hybrid assemblages celebrate incongruity and unfettered associations. Whether abstract or figurative, paintings, or texts, they are intended to trigger reactions, prompt comparisons, and challenge the usual. Beyond the immediate effect of surprise, they provoke, their apparent disparateness nevertheless generates, on closer view, a semblance of overall coherence.

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  • 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.

    see the review in The Sound by Bart Gazzola.

    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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  • Imagined Urban Gardens opens at Rodman Hall Art Centre

    Imagined Urban Gardens: Student Exhibition
    Jan. 30 – March 1, 2020

    download the poster

    Rodman Hall Art Centre
    109 St. Paul Crescent, St. Catharines, ON

    Responding to the explorations of urban architecture and its materials in Teresa Carlesimo and Michael DiRisio: more light than heat (on exhibition at the Rodman Hall Art Centre), Imagined Urban Gardens also reflects on today’s global warming and how we could live in the future.

    We dream of green spaces and pleasantly warm cities.
    Students in Visual Arts and Studies in Arts and Culture envision in text and image what could be in a livable world.

    See the YourTV Niagara video spotlight about this exhibition, featuring interviews with the artists and curators.

    Read the article by Bart Gazzola in The Sound STC.

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  • Translations, an invitational photography exhibition to begin the new decade

    image: Sarah Martin

    Translations

    An exhibition of photography by visual arts students.
    A reception will be held on January 15, 2019 – 5 p.m to 8 p.m.
    Presented in the VISA Art gallery and Student Exhibition Space of the Marilyn I Walker School of Fine & Performing Arts, 15 Artists’ Common in downtown St. Catharines.

    Translations is a curated show consisting of photographs created with analogue, experimental and digital processes.  The combination of the photographs is intended to instigate a reflection on the practice of creativity and what it means to make photographs.  It is also an exhibition that contemplates what a photograph is and how we each see and experience photographs. The students were individually invited, and work was individually selected for the exhibition by Professor Amy Friend of the Department of Dramatic Arts.

    Work in the exhibition includes photographs by students  from the Department of Visual Arts and other programs at Brock University.

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

    Click on the images to download the posters.

    see the short video produced by YourTV Niagara

    The participating artists include:

    Tabitha Holloway, Bachelor of Arts (Honours) Studio Art
    Chance Mutuku, Bachelor of Kinesiology
    Sarah Martin, Bachelor of Arts (Honours) Studio Art With First-Class Standing
    Amber Lee Williams, Bachelor of Arts (Honours) Studio Art
    Kaitlyn Roberts, Bachelor of Arts (Honours) Studio Art, Minor in French Studies

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  • 300 MINUTES: A One Night Exhibition on Nov. 27th!

    300 MINUTES is a public show brought to you by the VISA 3M90: Advanced Art Practice students. The collection of self-directed works by 3rd/4th year students are comprised of paintings, sculpting, drawings, installation work, performative work, sound and video displays. As viewers we value your thoughts, questions and opinions about the works, therefore open critique forms will be provided at each work site to capture your input which is greatly appreciated.

    300 MINUTES, the time length of the exhibition, is being held during the ‘new moon’ lunar phase. This phase, the first of its many phases, depicts the moon positioned between the sun and moon at the 12:00 o’clock beginning station. This lunar anecdote relates to the students and their first public exhibition which will provide inspiration as they move through their artistic phases like the hands of a lunar clock.

    The exhibition is a mid-year event for the class, which will lead the students towards their final show at the Marilyn I. Walker Gallery in April. Hope to see you there as well.

    DATE: November 27, 2019
    TIME: 4:00PM – 9:00PM
    WHERE: Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts building
    15 Artists’ Common, St. Catharines

    COST: Free

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  • 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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