Articles tagged with: Department of Visual Arts

  • Students transform trash into treasure for new art exhibit

    (From The Brock News, June 24, 2019 | By: Sarah Ackles)

    In a world where both packaging and products are marketed as disposable, Brock Visual Arts students have been challenged to rethink the concept of materialism.

    As part of instructor Donna Akrey’s Sculpture VISA 2F05 course, students were tasked with collecting various everyday items to be used as the basis for their final art projects.

    Everything from Styrofoam packing material to masking tape was fair game as students sculpted their works, which are featured in the upcoming exhibition Material World, on view from Friday, June 28 to Friday, July 19.

    In the process of creating, experimenting and working with their hands, students questioned society’s relationship to disposable materials. They also explored the often-overlooked aesthetics of simple, everyday objects, while being conscious of how everyday “stuff” is treated.

    Artist Caroline Holroyd, for example, repurposed an old speaker and plastic hockey stick handle for one of her pieces.

    “It’s an important topic because there’s so much waste all around us,” she said of working with found objects for this exhibition. “We’re showing creative ways to reuse that waste in this exhibition, but there is still so much more that we can do to combat this serious issue of waste in our society.”

    The 67-year-old Visual Arts major has been completing her degree on a part-time basis and said that working on projects like Material World alongside other artists is one of her favourite parts of the program.

    “They make me feel young,” she said with a laugh.

    Other participating artists in the show include Lindsay Allen, Meagan Benner, Kendra Bosse, Peri Goodman, Erica Greshuk, Rea Kelly, Ang Li, Sarah Martin, Ami Okafor, Harvind Sekhon, Taylor Sorensen, Miles Stanley, Jamie Tomao-Martin and Jessica Turk.

    Material World runs from Friday, June 28 to Friday, July 19 in the VISA Gallery and Student Exhibition Space at the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts.

    An opening reception will take place Friday, June 28, from noon to 3 p.m.

    The exhibition and reception are free and open to the public.

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    Categories: Announcements, Current Students, Events, Exhibitions, News

  • First students to complete entire four-year degree at downtown MIWSFPA graduate June 14

    Brock’s Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts in downtown St. Catharines.


    The first group of students to have completed their entire four-year degree at the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts’ downtown St. Catharines facility crossed the stage at Spring Convocation on Friday, June 14.

    Sixty-three students from Brock’s Departments of Music, Visual Arts and Dramatic Arts graduated from the downtown arts school, which opened its doors in 2015. Nine students who minored in programs at the MIWSFPA will also graduate on Friday.

    The milestone is not lost on the 2019 graduating class.

    “It’s a cool honour to be part of Brock history and I’m grateful to have trained in such a professional environment,” said Emma McCormick, who completed a Bachelor of Arts in Dramatic Arts, Performance Concentration. “I feel that I’ve gained a lot of skills that will serve me in my career, specific to the learning I received at the MIWSFPA.”

    The London, Ont. native is the recipient of the Jean Harding Prize, which is awarded to the student who achieves the highest standing in fourth-year Dramatic Arts. She plans to remain in St. Catharines after graduation, where she will continue her studies in Brock’s Adult Education program and working in the performing arts sector.

    Providing students like McCormick with a purpose-built, state-of-the-art facility was the vision of the School’s namesake, the late Marilyn I. Walker.

    When the famed textile artist and philanthropist donated $15 million to Brock University in 2008, she envisioned the creation of an arts facility that would revitalize downtown St. Catharines and encourage students to study and practice the arts here in the Niagara region.

    Her generosity and foresight allowed for the historic Canada Hair Cloth Building to be converted into the new home for the Departments of Music, Dramatic Arts and Visual Arts, and the Centre for Studies in Arts and Culture, which had previously been housed at Brock’s main campus.

    The $45.5-million project also received a $26.2-million investment from the Ontario government, numerous private and corporate donors, and relied heavily on the insight and contributions of hundreds of partners such as then-Dean of Humanities, Rosemary Hale, and the City of St. Catharines.

    MIWSFPA Director Elizabeth Vlossak, who joined the School on an interim basis from the Department of History, said she has seen first-hand the impact the facility and its programming has on students.

    “Although the School is a cultural hub that acts as a living, breathing connection between the city’s past and future, it’s also so much more than that,” she said. “In my short time here, I have seen how these incredible facilities and engaged, passionate faculty benefit our students.”

    Graduand Alyssa Shanghavi, of St. Catharines, said she appreciated the availability of unique practice spaces on campus for music students like herself, which allowed her to focus on her studies and hone her skills on the trombone.

    The Bachelor of Music recipient said being around other artists all the time and in such close proximity to the downtown core was an invaluable complement to her education.

    Gianna Luisa Aceto, a graduand from Mississauga, said that as a painter, she “enjoyed and most definitely appreciated the space the MIWSFPA provided.”

    As well as making new friendships and plenty of memories, Aceto attributes the successful completion of her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Studio Art to the artistic identify she forged while studying at the School.

    “One of the biggest takeaways for me is finding my passion, my niche,” she said.
    “I struggled a lot in finding out what I wanted to create and the reasons for creating it. My time spent within the walls of the MIWSFPA allowed me to uncover that knowledge.”

    She also said she has an undeniable gratitude for her professors, and that “the drive they instilled in me has not gone unnoticed.”

    Faculty of Humanities Dean Carol Merriam said this milestone serves as time to reflect on the importance of the arts and its ability to create healthy and flourishing communities.

    “This first class of students to have spent their entire Brock careers in this splendid facility serve this mission in downtown St. Catharines and in the broader community, but they have also been a defining force within the MIWSFPA itself,” she said. “They have been largely responsible for creating the culture of the School as a place to learn, create and serve as a community. Their impact will last a very long time, and we are proud to see their graduation day.”

    Longstanding former MIWSFPA Director Derek Knight echoed Merriam’s sentiments.

    The Associate Professor said the class of 2019 should receive their degrees with pride having been part of an extraordinary university experience and contributing to the legacy of the arts, both at Brock and in the community.

    With the MIWSFPA’s fifth anniversary on the horizon, the School will continue to offer students unique teaching and learning experiences while honouring the spirit of its benefactor, he said.

    “What was interesting about Marilyn is that she was always very curious and engaged with how we, the faculty, envisioned the future,” Knight said. “She thought it was our job to rise to the challenge and define the potential of what she had given to us in the form of this extraordinary gift. I think, in many ways, we’ve done that.

    “Now, we are charged to think about not only what we will offer today, but in the long-term, and how we will define pedagogy and the School’s identity long into the future.”

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    Categories: Alumni, News

  • 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, Faculty & Instructors, News

  • Visual Arts students share creative Modus Operandi in new exhibition

    Connor Playfair, a Brock Visual Arts student in the 3M90 Advanced Art Practices course, will show his work on wood blocks at Modus Operandi, beginning Saturday, April 13 at the Niagara Artists Centre.


    (From The Brock News, Thursday, April 4, 2019 | By: Sarah Ackles)

    Under the mentorship of instructor Donna Akrey, Brock Visual Arts students spent the last semester working in the studio to hone their craft and develop their own unique artistic identities.

    The end result, and the process they underwent to get there, will be on display in their final exhibition, Modus Operandi, on view at the Niagara Artist Centre (NAC) from Saturday, April 13 to Wednesday, April 24.

    The contemporary art show features the work of students in the 3M90 Advanced Art Practices course at the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts (MIWSFPA).

    Brock Visual Arts student Zach White works away at the pieces he will be showing as part of Modus Operandi, a contemporary art show at the Niagara Artists Centre beginning Saturday, April 13.

    The artists tackle themes of environment, sexuality, mental health, identity and joy through a wide range of methods and materials such as wood, paper, installation, photography, zines, sculptured wire and clay, audio and research into optics via mirrors, virtual reality, video and performative work.

    Artist Lindsay Allen said she was “inspired by seeing everyone’s work together.”

    “Modus Operandi is a collection of hard work and progress made throughout the year, and each artist worked towards having a solid grasp on their subject matter and materials,” she added.  “It required a lot of research and experimentation, but I think we all learned a lot and have become better artists through this experience.”

    The course is structured, so the artists are given the autonomy to develop a mature and individual body of work with the end goal of producing a final exhibition for the public.

    For some students, such as Angelina Turner, this is the first time they have exhibited their work outside of the MIWSFPA.

    “I am very excited to get my work out there and to further my career,” she said.

    Fellow artist Connor Playfair agreed, adding the experience gives students a “real taste of having a professional art show.”

    “We are involved in every step of the planning and execution process and are making work that is without guidelines or restrictions using the skills that we have developed over our past four years at Brock,” he said.

    In addition to Allen, Turner and Playfair, artists featured in the exhibition include: Chelsea Dietrich, Amy Doan, Renz Baluyot, Alona Nyforovska, Lillianna Pagliaro, Curt Richard, Zach White and Evan Wiens.

    Modus Operandi will run from Saturday, April 13 to Wednesday, April 24 at the Niagara Artists Centre, 354 St. Paul St. in St. Catharines.

    There will be an opening reception Saturday, April 13 from 7 to 9 p.m.

    Visit the Niagara Artists Centre website for additional gallery hours.

    Eleven visual artists in Brock’s 3M90 Advanced Art Practices course will have their work on view at a show titled Modus Operandi, hosted at the Niagara Artists Centre in St. Catharines beginning Saturday, April 13.

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    Categories: Current Students, Events, Exhibitions, News

  • New art exhibition the product of student collaboration

    Quality Family Time (and Space), a piece by Brock alumna Emily Andrews (BA ’11), is part of the new Erasures exhibit that will run from April 2 to 27 in the VISA Art Gallery and Student Exhibition Space at the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts. An opening reception is set for Thursday, April 4 from 5 to 8 p.m.


    (From The Brock News, March 27, 2019 | By: Jaquelyn Bezaire)

    While they’re known for correcting errors, erasures are signs of progress and an expanding imagination.

    Students in Brock’s Visual Arts (VISA) and Studies in Arts and Culture (STAC) programs will explore this theme in a new collaborative art exhibit on view from Tuesday, April 2 to Saturday, April 27.

    The exhibit, Erasures, will be open to the public in the VISA Art Gallery and Student Exhibition Space at the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts (MIWSFPA) in downtown St. Catharines.

    An opening reception will be held in the gallery on Thursday, April 4, from 5 to 8 p.m.

    Led by Shawn Serfas, Associate Professor of Visual Arts, and Catherine Parayre, Director of the Centre for Studies in Arts and Culture, students enrolled in VISA 4P03/4P04 and STAC 3P01 worked together to create a show that features paintings and text that thematize different types of erasures.

    The work ranges from the exploration of scenes lacking important elements, simplified adaptations of existing artworks and abstracted forms of figurative objects.

    Short written statements commenting on well-known recent artworks accompany the paintings to provide further context.

    Serfas and Parayre frequently bring students from different backgrounds together to collaborate on creative endeavours.

    “It has been an enriching learning experience, for both the students and the instructors,” Parayre said of working with the students on Erasures.

    The exhibition evokes transformations and process, an important theme in both Serfas’ senior studio courses and Parayre’s Media Transformations in the Creative Arts course.

    Whether in visual expressions or in texts, Parayre added, erasures are invitations to scrutinize, read and interpret, which is exactly what the public is encouraged to do at the upcoming exhibition.

    Erasures runs from April 2 to 27 in the VISA Art Gallery and Student Exhibition Space at the MIWSFPA in downtown St. Catharines. The gallery is open to the public Tuesdays to Saturdays from 1 to 5 p.m.

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    Categories: Current Students, Events, Exhibitions, News

  • Rescheduled sculpture-making workshop to be held March 27

    Brock Visual Arts student Emma Mary Sked will lead attendees in a free, fabric sculpture-making workshop that has been rescheduled to Wednesday, March 27 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. in ST231 of the Library’s Matheson Learning Commons.


    (From The Brock News, March 22, 2019)

    After inclement weather put a halt to the third event in the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts (MIWSFPA) Wellness Series last month, students and community members alike will be able to unwind and explore their inner creativity at a new time.

    Participants in an upcoming MIWSFPA Wellness Series workshop will learn to make sculptures from scrap fabric.

    Brock Visual Arts student Emma Mary Sked will lead attendees in a free, guided workshop on Wednesday, March 27 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. in ST231 of the Library’s Matheson Learning Commons.

    The event was rescheduled after a winter storm hit Niagara earlier last month.Brock Visual Arts student Emma Mary Sked will lead attendees in a free, guided workshop on Wednesday, March 27 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. in ST231 of the Library’s Matheson Learning Commons.

    For this workshop, participants will learn how to transform scrap textiles into sculptures of their choosing.

    The Wellness Series, which is hosted by the MIWSFPA, features free monthly activities that promote well-being and the benefits of engaging in the arts.

    No previous art experience is required and all necessary materials will be supplied.

    The event is free, but registration is required at ExperienceBU or by contacting sackles@brocku.ca

    For more information about the event and others in the series, visit the MIWSFPA Wellness Series web page

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    Categories: Current Students, Events, News

  • Term to culminate in student art exhibitions at Rodman Hall

    Visual Arts students, from left, Gianna Aceto, Emma Mary Sked, Amber Williams, Cynthia Richards, Teresa Badgley and Sarah Martin will have their exhibitions on view in two back-to-back exhibitions beginning Friday, March 22 at Rodman Hall Art Centre.


    (From The Brock News, March 20, 2019 | by Sarah Ackles)

    After spending a semester immersed in studio practice, six Brock Visual Arts students are bringing two unique exhibitions to Rodman Hall Art Centre.

    At the Bottom of Everything runs from Saturday, March 23 to April 7 and features the work of Cynthia Richards, Emma Mary Sked and Amber Lee Williams. There will be an opening reception for the exhibition on Friday, March 22 at 7 p.m.

    The second exhibition, oh, that’s nice, features Gianna Aceto, Teresa Badgley and Sarah Martin. It will be on view from Saturday, April 13 to 28, with the opening reception taking place on Friday, April 12 at 7 p.m.

    The two exhibitions are the culmination of the VISA 4F06 Honours Studio course, where students engage in the entire process of art making, from concept and creation to exhibition.

    The course is a unique experiential learning opportunity that gives artists access to a dedicated studio space with professional mentors. The students learn the value of their individual work in a collaborative event and, upon graduation, become practising artists with practical experience putting on a show in a professional art gallery.

    Students in the course were mentored by Visual Arts Associate Professors Donna Szőke and Shawn Serfas.

    The students were also visited in studio by Acting Director and Curator Marcie Bronson, of Rodman Hall; Associate Professors Derek Knight and Amy Friend; Adjunct Professors Donna Akrey and Candace Couse; professional artists Alejandro Cartagena and Heather Hart; and Brock alumni Bruce Thompson (BA ’11) and Natalie Hunter (BA ’11), who all provided critique and insight to help students fine-tune and focus their work.

    Rodman Hall’s Administrative Assistant Danny Custodio and Installation Assistant Lauren Regier (BA ’14) also offered support and guidance.

    Exhibitions like these are a key part of the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts’ mandate to build connections between the community and the breadth of talent and creativity at Brock University.

    “If collectively their goal is to develop a focused body of work from concept to public exhibition, then these two unique exhibits capture the exceptional vitality and daring of the emerging artist,” Knight said.

    Both exhibitions and opening receptions take place at Rodman Hall Art Centre, 109 St. Paul Cres. in St. Catharines.

    Gallery hours are Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Saturdays and Sundays from noon to 5 p.m.

    For more information, visit the Rodman Hall Art Centre website.

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    Categories: 4F06 Honours Exhibition, Alumni, Current Students, Events, News

  • Figure drawing class visited by professional dancer

    On Thursday, March 7, Visual Arts students in instructor Candace Couse’s Figure Drawing course welcomed Brock instructor and professional dancer Heryka Miranda Pellecer (pictured) into their studio at the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts. While Pellecer danced and moved around the studio, the students focused on capturing her body in motion in paper and engaging in experimental drawing. The course has welcomed a variety of alternative models this semester (including therapy dog Tequilla), to allow students a wide variety of subjects as their honed their skills.

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    Categories: News

  • Brock alumna returns to speak with VISA students

    Brock alumna, Natalie Hunter, spent the afternoon with VISA 4F06 students as they discussed their upcoming exhibitions. Back row from left: Teresa Badgley, Amber Williams, Shawn Serfas, Sarah Martin
    Front row from left: Gianna Aceto, Emma Hutchison-Hounsell, Cynthia Richards, Natalie Hunter


    On Feb. 7, Brock Visual Arts students in the VISA 4F06 Honours course were visited by Brock alumna Natalie Hunter (BA ’11) to discuss their upcoming exhibitions that begin in March. Hunter and the students discussed the pieces they are working on and how to move forward in order to create a cohesive exhibition. During each student’s session, they received a small piece of translucent film that Hunter used in her exhibition, Staring into the Sun, which is currently on view at Rodman Hall Art Centre.

    During her time at Brock, Hunter was part of the VISA 4F06 Honours course, where students work all year to put together an exhibition in Rodman Hall. Staring into the Sun features photo-based sculptures and installations that explore the relationship between memory and physical space. The exhibition runs until April 28.

    At the Bottom of Everything, the first of two Visual Arts Honours exhibitions, runs from March 23 to April 7, with the opening reception on Friday, March 22 at 7 p.m. at Rodman Hall.

    The second exhibition runs from April 13 to 28, with the opening reception on Friday, April 12 at 7 p.m. at Rodman Hall. More details to come.

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    Categories: 4F06 Honours Exhibition, Alumni, Current Students, Events, 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, Exhibitions, News