Media Releases

  • Brock Mitacs award winner takes a closer look at online conspiracy theories

    Originally published in  The Brock News  FRIDAY, DECEMBER 11, 2020 | by 

    The images we encounter in everyday life have always had an important role to play in our lives. Now, as many daily activities have moved online, these images have the ability to reach a global audience thanks to digital technology.

    But how has this online shift affected the visual culture of conspiracy theories, and what are the implications for society during a pandemic?

    Brock University fourth-year student Ian Ball is examining these questions as part of his research on visual culture and online conspiracy theoriesBall is pursuing a double major in the History of Art and Visual Culture and Dramatic Arts and is a recipient of a Mitacs Research Training Award which he received in the summer.

    Guiding the research project is Linda Steer, Associate Professor in Visual Arts at the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts.

    In his research, Ball has been collecting and analyzing visual images associated with online conspiracy theories. His interest in the subject stems from his area of study, a deep interest in folklore as well as being a fan of the science fiction genre.

    Through the examination and analysis of the images used in relation to conspiracy theories on popular social networking sites, including Facebook and Reddit, Ball has discovered some of the effects these images have on viewers and the emotional responses produced.

    According to Ball, this is especially timely given the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting uncertainty people have been experiencing.

    “A world event that is disrupting the status quo, a lack of control socially, politically, intellectually or in our personal lives, all have the potential to make us feel uncertain,” says Ball. “Research has shown that these factors might play a significant role in conspiratorial beliefs.”

    Ball had originally considered writing an essay on this topic, but Steer suggested a blog because of the accessibility it offers readers.

    “It has been great to supervise Ian’s fascinating and timely research project,” Steer says. “In a world that feels unstable, where we are isolated and looking to social media for answers, images have a lot of power.”

    Ball’s research has uncovered themes relating conspiracy theories to collective experiences of fear, society’s want for protection, and the instinctual desire for control. His project is adding to the discourse on the visual culture of conspiratorial beliefs, a research area that Steer says is fairly new and still developing.

    “It is important that we understand how visual images create meaning: how and why they become attached to certain ideas and how those ideas circulate,” she says.

    Graduating in 2021, Ball plans to use this research project as a foundation for his master’s thesis, looking at the relationships between folklore, visual culture, social messaging, critical thinking and misinformation.

    Visit Ball’s research blog to learn more about the outcomes of his work.

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  • Visual Arts Professor’s short video presented in Photophobia

    Donna Szőke. Midst, single channel video loop, 2019 (Invisible Animals series, 2012-2019). (photo: D.Szőke)

    Professor Donna Szőke of the Department of Visual Arts is thrilled to announce that her new short video “Midst” screens online in the “Photophobia” festival the weekend of Friday August 7, at 7pm.

    Photophobia is an annual festival of short-format contemporary media, film, video and moving image hosted in partnership between the Art Gallery of Hamilton and Hamilton Artists Inc. Established in 1999, Photophobia is Hamilton’s first film and video festival dedicated to the development of experimental time-based media. Not confined by restrictions or themes, Photophobia is a free, juried festival that invites the community to experience a showcase of contemporary work that tests the boundaries of each medium.

    All three nights of the screening are free to watch online at 7 pm each night on August 6, 7 & 8 This year’s festival will be a virtual presentation. A link to view each program will be posted at the page below prior to each event.  Each program will be available to view online for a period of 72 hours after its initial screening. All three screenings will be free.

    See the complete program on the Photophobia website.  

    Installation view of Midst, part of the Industrial Niagara Exhibition at Rodman Hall Art Centre, Brock University, Spring 2020. (photo: D. Knight)

    Program 1: Thursday, August 6, 7:00 pm Online, Followed by a Live Q&A Conversation With the Filmmakers

    Program 2: Friday, August 7, 7:00 pm Online, Followed by a Live Q&A Conversation With the Filmmakers
    ***Donna Szőke (St. Catharines) – Midst, 2019 (4:00)***

    Program 3: Saturday, August 8, 7:00 pm Online, Followed by a Live Q&A Conversation With the Filmmakers 

    Szőke was an invited Walker Cultural Leader for the Centre for Studies in Arts and Culture for 2020.  In January she presented her Artist’s Talk “On Invisibility” at the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts.

     

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  • Assistant Professor in Visual Arts (Digital Media and Design): Candidate Research Presentations

    The Brock and wider community are warmly welcomed to attend the online presentations by the short list of candidates for this position.

    Each will give an hour-long presentation and engage in discussion about their current research interests and focus upon their contributions.

    GUSTAVO CERQUERA BENJUMEA

    WEDNESDAY, MAY 20TH, 2020
    Research Presentation 1:00pm (1:00 – 2:20pm)
    stream.lifesizecloud.com/extension/3327547/cf3bdaf1-eac4-4aa9-8116-3fdc308ebef8

    Gustavo Cerquera Benjumea is a Colombian Canadian Toronto-based digital media artist, animator, music video director, and teacher. He specializes in computer animation, video installation, and drawing. His work explores psychedelia, plant biology, and Latin American histories. His work has exhibited internationally including at: Slamdance Film Festival, Glas Animation Festival, Ottawa International Animation Festival, Art Spin Toronto, the Niagara Artist Centre, Summerworks Festival, Nuit Blanche Toronto, among others. He has directed music videos for Lido Pimienta and Chancha Via Circuito. He is the current programming chair at the Toronto Animated Image Society. Gustavo teaches at OCADU and Brock University.

    TROY DAVID OUELLETTE

    THURSDAY, MAY 21ST, 2020
    Research Presentation 1:00pm (1:00 – 2:20pm)
    stream.lifesizecloud.com/extension/3327527/6fd67857-4515-484b-9d04-9ea9ea756a71

    Troy David Ouellette is an artist/researcher specializing in Assemblage Theory. He received his PhD, in Visual Arts, from York University in 2014 and his M.F.A. from the University of Windsor in 2007. He has taught Design, Sculpture and undergraduate courses, at various universities and colleges, in Southern Ontario. From 1999 until 2005 he was the Sculpture Facilitator at the Banff Centre for the Arts. Ouellette is a founding member of the London Ontario Media Arts Association (LOMAA) and the sound art collective Audio Lodge. His work has been included in several solo and group exhibitions in Canada, Australia and  the United States. He resides in Hamilton, Ontario.

    GWEN MACGREGOR

    FRIDAY, MAY 22ND, 2020
    Research Presentation 1:00pm (1:00 – 2:20pm)
    stream.lifesizecloud.com/extension/3326867/e156311e-7437-4e53-a009-eada0c2fcfff

    Gwen MacGregor is a visual artist and geographer working across the disciplines of installation, video, photography, and geographic scholarship. She has artworks in collections such as the Art Gallery of Ontario, Oakville Galleries and the Royal Bank Collection. Recent exhibitions include The Robert McLaughlin Gallery in Oshawa, Ontario and Phoenix Projects Athens, Greece. She has exhibited extensively internationally and has also participated in numerous international art residencies including the International Studio Curatorial Program in New York. She is a Toronto Friends of the Visual Arts Award holder and is represented by MKG127 in Toronto. MacGregor is a PhD Candidate in Geography at The University of Toronto. Her dissertation explores the constructions and contestations of nationhood in contemporary art practices presented at art biennales.


    Please share and post this poster in your community.

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  • The MIWSFPA welcomes Landon Mackenzie to Niagara

    Signal (Red Star), 2017-2018. oil and synthetic polymer on linen, 82 1/2 x 126 in.

    Walker Cultural Leader Public Lecture and Artist Talk by Landon Mackenzie 

    March 12, 2020 at 7:30 p.m.

    Robertson Theatre, FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre, 250 St. Paul Street, St. Catharines, L2R 3M2

    reception: March 12th, 5 p.m. at the VISA Gallery and Student Exhibition Space, Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine & Performing Arts. (This is also the reception for the CrissCross exhibition, above.)

    Niagara welcomes one of Canada’s most celebrated painters!

    The Moon is the Message: A survey of works traversing over four decades.  A revealing personal exploration of creativity, painting and mapping.

    Landon Mackenzie is an acclaimed visual artist based in Vancouver. Her international exhibiting and teaching career has been awarded the inaugural Ian Wallace Award for Excellence in Teaching, the Golden Jubilee and Diamond Jubilee Queen Elizabeth II Medals for outstanding contribution to culture in British Columbia and Canada, and the Governor General’s Award in Visual and Media Arts (2017), among others.

    Blue Star / Red Light, 2018-2019. oil and synthetic polymer on linen, 82 1/2 x 126 in.

    This is a free community event. No tickets required. Join us for the reception at the MIWSFPA at 5 p.m. and then walk over to hear Landon talk about her work in the Robertson Theatre of the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre at 7:30 p.m.

    For more information about her work visit www.landonmackenzie.com


    Landon Mackenzie is an acclaimed visual artist based in Vancouver. The National Gallery of Canada, Vancouver Art Gallery, Art Gallery of Ontario, Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal, and Confederation Centre for the Arts are among the institutions that collect her paintings. As well, her large format works are in several Canadian embassies. Her works have been shown in over 100 exhibitions in Canada and internationally. Recent exhibitions include a 40-year touring survey of her works on paper, “Landon Mackenzie: Parallel Journey, (1975-2015)”, accompanied by a book by Black Dog publishers; “Landon Mackenzie: Nervous Centers” at the Esker Foundation in Calgary; “Emily Carr and Landon Mackenzie: Woodchopper and the Monkey” at the Vancouver Art Gallery; and “Tracing Mobility: Cartography in Networked Space” at HKW, Berlin.

    Mackenzie is a passionate educator starting at Concordia University followed by 33 years at Emily Carr University of Art + Design in Vancouver where she was appointed the university’s first full Professor. She has been a visiting artist at over 75 universities, art departments and galleries in Canada, US, UK, Europe and China. She has served on many juries including the Canada Council for the Arts, VIVA, BMO 1st, and RBC Painting Award. She has been a trustee of the Vancouver Art Gallery, Royal Canadian Academy of Arts and Joseph Plaskett Foundation. Her work is represented by Art 45 and Nicholas Metivier Gallery.

    Mackenzie holds a BFA from NSCAD and an MFA from Concordia University. Her work has been extensively written about and she has received many awards including the inaugural Ian Wallace Award for Excellence in Teaching, both the Golden and Diamond Jubilee Queen Elizabeth II Medals for outstanding contribution to culture in British Columbia and Canada and the Governor General’s Award in Visual and Media Arts (2017).

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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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  • 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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  • NCDSB’s Young Artists Gallery on view until June 23

    The Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts proudly hosted the opening evening of the Niagara Catholic District School Board’s Young Artists Gallery on June 6th. 80 student artists were chosen to display their work in an exhibit at the school and celebrate their accomplishments with their families, teachers and friends. Mayor Walter Sendzik and NCDSB Director Jon Crocco addressed the crowd before awards were distributed to recognized students.

    The exhibit will be on display at the MIWSFPA until June 23rd. The gallery will be open to the public Wednesdays-Saturdays from 1pm-5pm for viewing.

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  • New book explores the art of animal advocacy

    Associate Professor of Visual Arts Keri Cronin examines the role of visual images, such as Edward Landseer’s A Distinguished Member of the Humane Society (exhibited 1838), in animal activism in her new book,  Art for Animals: Visual Culture and Animal Advocacy, 1870-1914.

    (Source: The Brock NewsTuesday, May 22, 2018 | by )

    It was while searching for a set of lantern slides many years ago that Keri Cronin inadvertently found inspiration for her latest book.

    The slides never materialized but what Cronin, an associate professor in Brock’s Department of Visual Arts, did find was an abundance of material on animal advocacy.

    That material has helped to form her latest publication, Art for Animals: Visual Culture and Animal Advocacy, 1870-1914, which explores the use of visual art material in campaigns for animal advocacy.

    Art for Animals cover

    Art for Animals: Visual Culture and Animal Advocacy, 1870-1914 is the latest book by by Associate Professor Keri Cronin.

    Influenced in part by authors who looked at visual culture in other social justice movements, such as suffrage and civil rights, Cronin’s book explores how animal advocacy images were created, circulated and consumed, and the impact that had on ideas about the humane treatment of animals.

    “Visual culture played an important role in defining campaign goals, recruiting membership, raising funds, and, ultimately, sustaining and challenging dominant ideas about nonhuman animals,” writes Cronin.

    Her biggest challenge has been locating archival material to piece together the stories of animal advocacy.

    “For so long, the history of human-animal relationships was not a particularly valued area of research, and archival collections often reflect this,” says Cronin, who hopes the book will lead people to recognize relevant print material they might have in their own collections.

    The cheap, mass-produced pamphlets created and distributed by animal advocacy groups in the late 19th and early 20th century often weren’t considered valuable enough to save.

    The field of animal-human relations, however, has recently seen an explosion of interest both within the University and the broader public. Cronin notes that although her book deals with historical material, many of the key points have relevance for how images are used in animal advocacy today.

    “It is high time we turn our attention to how animals have always been part of our stories, histories, labour and societies,” she says.

    Art for Animals asks us to think about the ways in which visual images can both shape and challenge dominant narratives about non-human animals.”

    A public book launch will be held for Art for Animals on Wednesday, May 23 from 4 to 6 p.m. at Mahtay Café, 241 St. Paul St. in St. Catharines.

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  • Brock prof unveils civic art

    (Source: Brock NewsMonday, May 07, 2018 | by Alison Innes)

    Visual Arts Professor Amy Friend’s piece “Vestiges” was unveiled at the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre on Wednesday, May 2. The work, a photograph on fabric, was commissioned by the City of St. Catharines for its civic art collection and hangs in the lobby of the PAC. Friend is flanked by Kathleen Powell, Acting Supervisor of Cultural Services, left, and Olivia Hope, Culture Co-ordinator, right.

    Below, Vestiges, 2018, by Amy Friend, in the Algoma Central Lobby of the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre.

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