Articles tagged with: humanities

  • 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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    Categories: Alumni, Announcements, Current Students, Events, Faculty & Instructors, Future Students, In the Media, Media Releases, News, Uncategorised

  • Walker Cultural Leaders Series: John Fekner, street and multimedia artist

    Next up in the 2020-21 Walker Cultural Leaders Series is famed street and multimedia artist, John Fekner.

    WALKER CUlTURAL LEADER: John Fekner

    • Sunday, Nov. 1, 2020
    • Presentation live at 7:00 p.m. on the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts YouTube channel

    The Department of Visual Arts (VISA) is thrilled to present this compelling conversation between Fekner and Denise St. Marie. Fekner is a street and multimedia artist, who created hundreds of environmental, social, political, and conceptual works consisting of stenciled words, symbols, dates, and icons painted outdoors around the world. Since 1968, Fekner has addressed issues involving concepts of perception and transformation, as well as specific environmental and sociological concerns such as urban decay, greed, chemical pollution, mass media, and tributes to North America Indigenous Peoples. 

    “The social injustice and environmental issues we face today have roots in the civil rights and protests movements of the 60s’. As an undergraduate college student in New York (1968-1972), I participated in student demonstrations and peaceful moratoriums against the war in Vietnam. The SDS (Students for a Democratic Society) spread through university and college campuses throughout the United States and the entire world”, Fekner says. “Grassroots organizations always do the footwork, shining the light of truth through the thick hedge of falsehoods and lies in our mainstream political dialogue. Most importantly, the solutions they seek are not expedient but are foundational in improving conditions for generations to come. In every instance, they challenge the fabricated narratives of the powers that be.”   

    More information about the Walker Cultural Leaders available online.

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    Categories: Announcements, Current Students, Events, Faculty & Instructors, Future Students, In the Media, News, Walker Cultural Leader

  • New podcast challenges ideas of history of Western art

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    Categories: Announcements, Faculty & Instructors, News, Podcast, Uncategorised

  • Rodman Hall readying for two exhibition openings

    The work of Brock alumna Natalie Hunter will be featured in one of two exhibitions opening Jan. 31 at Rodman Hall. Hunter’s Staring into the Sun runs until March. (Image: Natalie Hunter, “Songs of May” (detail), 2018, Giclée prints on transparent film.)


    (From The Brock News, January 28, 2019 | By: Alison Innes)

    Two powerful exhibitions featuring the work of clients from Start Me Up Niagara (SMUN) and Brock alumna Natalie Hunter, respectively, will open at Rodman Hall Art Centre Thursday, Jan. 31 at 7 p.m.

    The first of two new Rodman Hall offerings, the Art Me Up Niagara group show is a play on the name of the organization that works with individuals facing significant life challenges, such as poverty, addiction, homelessness, mental illness and unemployment.

    SMUN participants have created artwork in response to Rodman Hall’s current Northern Oracle installation, which aims to inspire people to share their message, whatever it might be, with the world and have their voice heard.

    “In developing the public programs activating this installation, I was guided by inquiry into why this work might be important to the Niagara community, and homelessness immediately arose as a critical issue,” says Elizabeth Chitty, Interim Grants and Programming Officer at Rodman Hall. “We will all benefit from seeing and listening to the artistic voices of those with lived experiences of homelessness in St. Catharines.”

    The second exhibition, Hunter’s “Staring into the Sun,” features photo-based sculptures and installations that explore the relationship between memory and physical space.

    Hunter (BA ’11) uses vibrant colour filters and multiple photographic exposures in her creation process. The works are printed on translucent films that hang, ripple and drape to interact with architectural features of the exhibition space.

    Each viewer’s experience of the pieces, which allude to enduring routines and the passage of time, shifts with subtle changes in light.

    Hunter will give a public talk about her work on Thursday, March 28 at 7 p.m. at Rodman Hall.

    In addition to the launch of the Art Me Up Niagara showcase, another event will be held this week related to the Northern Oracle exhibition. Rodman Hall is partnering with the American Sign Language Community of Niagara to present a public lecture by deaf Bahamian photographer and graphic designer Will Henfield at the art centre on Friday, Feb. 1 at 6:30 p.m.

    A full list of community events related to the ongoing “Northern Oracle” exhibition by Heather Hart can be found on the Rodman Hall website.

    The Art Me Up Niagara and Staring into the Sun exhibitions run until Feb. 10 and April 28, respectively.

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  • Visual Arts prof named new Associate Dean of Humanities

    Keri Cronin, Associate Professor in the Department of Visual Arts, will take on the role of Associate Dean, Research and Graduate Studies for the Faculty of Humanities starting July 1. (Photo credit Jo-Anne McArthur/We Animals.)


    (From The Brock News, January 24, 2019 | By: Alison Innes)

    Keri Cronin has always been invested in sharing the research of Brock’s Faculty of Humanities in far-reaching ways. And in her new role as Associate Dean, Research and Graduate Studies, she intends to continue down that path.

    “There is so much great work being done here in the Humanities,” says Cronin, Associate Professor with the Department of Visual Arts.

    “A lot of people hold misperceptions about what it is we do and the value and relevance of this work to the ‘real world.’ Using public platforms to highlight our stories and the excellent research being done here is, I believe, more important than ever.”

    Cronin, whose position as Associate Dean in the Faculty of Humanities begins July 1, values making academic research accessible to a wide and diverse audience.

    “I look forward to supporting faculty and graduate students in developing knowledge mobilization plans that make sense for their areas of expertise,” she says.

    Cronin’s own research trajectory has been a blend of the traditional and the non-traditional. In addition to her academic publications, including the 2018 publication of Art for Animals, Cronin has embraced online opportunities to share her research.

    The Unbound Project, a multimedia initiative Cronin co-created with Jo-Anne McArthur of We Animals, uses video, photography, interviews and social media to tell the stories of women who are working in animal advocacy.

    The Unbound Project has a very large and international reach,” Cronin says. “Using our website and social media channels, we are able to share these women’s stories widely.”

    Cronin has also curated an online exhibition for the National Museum of Animals & Society. Be Kind: A Visual History of Humane Education was launched in 2012 and is used by teachers and professors in classrooms around the world.

    Social justice and transdisciplinary work are key for Cronin. She is a faculty member in the Social Justice and Equity Studies graduate program and was a founding member of Brock’s Social Justice Research Institute, where she worked to showcase Humanities-based approaches to social justice work.

    “Dr. Cronin is an accomplished scholar and teacher, with an excellent record of service to the University and the Faculty already,” says Dean of Humanities Carol Merriam.

    “I’m very pleased that she will now put her skills and talents available to her colleagues in this new role. She is a fitting successor to Dr. Michael Carter, who has done very good work in the role since 2016.

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  • New year brings Brock Talks back to St. Catharines library

    Visual Arts Associate Professor Donna Szoke will talk about her work when Brock Talks returns to the St. Catharines Public Library Jan. 15. (Image courtesy Donna Szoke; Shot / Counter Shot: Self-portrait as mother. Grimsby Art Gallery Commission, Digital print on Hahnemuhle, Editioned print, 47 x 61 cm. 2018.).


    (From The Brock News, January 9, 2018 | By: Alison Innes)

    Gladiators of Pompeii, the planet’s artistic inspiration and the invisible history of radioactive mice will be highlighted by Brock experts during an upcoming public lecture series.

    Brock Talks returns to the St. Catharines Public Library on Tuesday, Jan. 15. The free series connects scholars in Brock’s Faculty of Humanities with the local community.

    The January talk, “Invisible Animals,” features Associate Professor Donna Szoke, whose work examines the human relationship to animals through prints, videos, art installations and media artwork. Szoke contributed to a Toronto exhibition on Digital Animalities this past November.

    Her work includes a free app mapping nuclear waste at a Niagara Falls, N.Y., storage site, where more than 270,000 mice used in radioactive experiments have been buried. Her most recent piece, Midst, uses video projectors and fog machines to create animations of large animals on a wall of fog to explore issues of encroachment of cities into wild space.

    Szoke will talk about her work as “research-creation” and explore how making art is a form of doing research and creating new knowledge.

    The Second Brock Talks session of the year will take place Feb. 27 and feature Earth Sciences Professor Francine McCarthy. In her presentation, “Scientific Insights from Poets, Painters and Philosophers,” McCarthy will explore research as a creative endeavour and look at how artists interpret and draw inspiration from the natural world.

    The final Brock Talks event this season takes place March 12, when Classics Instructor Nadine Brundrett will speak on “Spectacular Games in Ancient Pompeii.” Brundrett will share how the destruction and preservation of the city of Pompeii in 79 CE by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius offers insight into the daily lives of ancient Romans, including diverse spectacles used to provide entertainment. In addition to gladiatorial combat, bull fighting, boxing, Greek athletics and even pantomime acting were common practice.

    Brock Talks is a collaboration between the Faculty of Humanities and the St. Catharines Public Library. The series connects community members with current Humanities scholarship at Brock.

    All talks are held at 7 p.m. in the Mills Room, Central Library and are free.

    What: Brock Talks, a free public lecture series
    When: Jan. 15, Feb. 27 and March 12
    Where: St. Catharines Public Library, Central Branch, 54 Church St., St. Catharines

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  • Community voices expressed through Brock art exhibitions

    Curt Richard, a student in VISA 3M90, surveys the exhibition that he and 52 other students have completed over the course of the semester. Manifestos in a Room is a collaboration between students in French, Visual Arts, and Studies in Art and Culture. It will be on display at Rodman Hall Art Centre until Dec. 30.


    (From The Brock News, Friday, Dec. 7, 2018 | By: Alison Innes)

    Two Brock art exhibitions now on display are working to celebrate and amplify community voices.

    Manifestos in a Room and Sauti za Afrika/African Voices/Voix Africaines were each created to engage with Northern Oracle, an exhibition by Heather Hart currently being featured at Rodman Hall Art Centre.

    Through the exhibition, which includes an indoor rooftop installation, Hart asks visitors what they want to say to the world and advises them to shout it from the rooftop.

    Reflecting on Northern Oracle, 53 students in Visual Arts, Studies in Arts and Culture, and French came together to create their own statements, whether poetic, absurd or political. The expressions — in both English and French — were used to create Manifestos in a Room, on display in Rodman Hall’s Studio Gallery.

    Students worked throughout the fall semester to bring the exhibition, curated by Associate Professor Catherine Parayre and instructor Donna Akrey, to life.

    Jean Ntakirutimana, Chair of the Department of Modern Languages, Literatures and Cultures, demonstrates the talking drum used to send messages over long distances in Cameroon. With careful training, a person could use the different tones produced by the drum to send messages. The drum is just one of the items on display in Sauti za Afrika/ African Voices/ Voix Africaines, an exhibition celebrating voices of Niagara’s African diaspora community.

    “It really helps to collaborate in one’s art practice,” said Akrey, whose art students were involved in the project.

    “We also did an assembly line production to create some of the work, which was fun and rewarding. I was impressed with how the 3M90 students embraced this project and made sense of it for the viewing public.”

    For the participating French students, the exhibition was a “great opportunity to practice writing constraints for fun,” said Parayre. “Students produced facetious manifestos, writing eloquently on a light-hearted topic. It allowed all of us to put our creative forces together and share a common space.”

    The exhibition includes a visual component as well as a three-minute audio track created by the students.

    Over at Brock’s main campus, the Department of Modern Languages, Literatures and Cultures (MLLC) is hosting Sauti za Afrika/African Voices/Voix Africaines, an exhibition meant to amplify the voices of the African diaspora in Niagara. Featuring 12 different languages, the exhibition combines modern writing with ancient traditions of communication.

    The display features instruments and figurines used for communication, such as a conch shell, similar to the one used to call for revolution in Haiti, and miniature replicas of Burundi drums used by royalty to communicate with their people.

    Also included is an intricately carved cow horn used to call people to come and hear the chief speak in certain regions of Africa, said Department Chair and Associate Professor Jean Ntakirutimana.

    Ntakirutimana worked with members of Niagara’s African diaspora and Sofifran (Solidarité des femmes et familles immigrantes francophones du Niagara) to collect people’s hopes, dreams and concerns to include in the display. Members have also loaned their personal objects for the exhibition.

    The display is a precursor to an event by the same name coming up in February. Co-hosted by Sofifran, MLLC and Studies in Arts and Culture, the event will be held at Rodman Hall and will also engage with Northern Oracle.

    Sauti za Afrika/African Voices/Voix Africaines is a part of the Museum in the Hallway project, curated by Parayre. Located in the Department of Modern Languages, Literatures and Cultures (Mackenzie Chown A-block), the project features rotating monthly displays.

    Both African Voices and Manifestos in A Room will be on display until the end of December. Northern Oracle will be at Rodman Hall until March 3.

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    Categories: Current Students, Events, Exhibitions, Faculty & Instructors, News

  • Second-year student Erin Grayley shares her experience as History of Art and Visual Culture (HAVC) student

    (From: Learning to Look at Visual Culture; The Brock University Humanities Blog | Written by: Erin Grayley. Published by:Alison Innes)


    Erin Grayley is a second year student in the History of Art and Visual Culture (HAVC) and a volunteer with the Faculty of Humanities’ Social Media Ambassador program. In this blog post, she demystifies what History of Art and Visual Culture is all about and answers some of your questions.

    As a second year History of Art and Visual Culture major, I find people are often confused about what I do or what my program even is.

    I don’t actually create physical art in class nor do I have any studio-based work but I am considered an art student.

    The way I like to describe it is, in the history of art and visual culture program (or as we lovingly refer to it, HAVC) we study the theory behind the art. Just as musicians study musical theory, we study artistic theory.

    In HAVC, we focus on many different aspects of images and their effects. Aside from the art history side of things, which dives into art through the ages and work/artists that changed the face of art, visual culture focuses on skills and tools to help understand images and think critically about how we process information though images and art in everyday life.

    The question of “what is visual culture” is not easily answered. Visual culture looks at the different ways we can think about visual imagery and how that imagery affects things like society, politics, life today and history, as well as how we interact with the world and the people around us.

    In visual culture, we focus on a concept of “the viewer makes meaning” in relation to images and art. The importance of the viewer and how a viewer visually and contextually analyzes an image are important tools. We learn very early in the program how to visually and contextually analyze images and artwork. These skills are the foundation of HAVC and will help students during their program and in many different careers.

    HAVC is not strictly related to art, either. It crosses many disciplines and is used by everyone, everyday (sometimes without even realizing it). We are exposed to visual culture everywhere we look. Having the skills to properly articulate ideas about images and critically think about what we are seeing is an important skill for students in any discipline.

    I wanted to know what people outside of the HAVC community had to say so I took to Instagram and asked my friends and followers to send me questions about my program and visual culture in general. I’ve picked some of the most asked questions and answered them for you here! The response was amazing and I was so glad so many people took interest in learning more about HAVC.

     

    What’s your favourite class?

    It’s hard to pin point which is my favourite, as so many of my classes are interesting and innovative in different ways! However, Visual Culture and the Human Body (VISA 3P52) and Introduction to Contemporary Art (VISA 2P88) are among the most fascinating for me this semester.

    What classes are you looking forward to in your program?

    As a third year student next year, I will be able to take an independent study course (VISA 3F99) where I will be able to advance my studies in an area of mutual interest with a professor in the Department of Visual Arts. This course allows me to further my research in a specific context that interests me!

    How can a student get into studying History of Art and Visual Culture?

    The first courses that start you in this major would be VISA 1Q98 (Introduction to Visual Culture) and VISA 1Q99 (Introduction to History of Art). These will give you the resources and prerequisites to take your studies in many different directions within the History of Art and Visual Culture program.

    Are there opportunities for abroad studying?

    YES! there are many different opportunities to study abroad in this program! Depending on the year, there are different destinations for study, such as Italy and the Mediterranean! Learn more about exchange opportunities on the Brock International website.

    What is your favourite part of History of Art and Visual Culture?

    My favourite part of the program is definitely the visual culture side. From starting first year not really understanding what visual culture was, to now critically thinking about imagery and how visual images and art can shape the ways we think about the world and others is inspiring! I love what I am able to learn and accomplish in this program. I am inspired to research and create in new ways every day and the endless opportunities I am presented with motivate me to continue studying HAVC!

    What possible careers can you pursue with this major?

    There are many possibilities with a major in History of Art and Visual Culture. Since this area of study can cross through many disciplines, it can manifest into anything you want it to be. Professions include curatorial work in galleries, arts administration, law, teaching, and writing and publication.

    You can find more information about HAVC at Brock on the Department of Visual Arts website.

    If you have any further questions or want to speak to a faculty member in HAVC, you can contact Keri Cronin, an Associate Professor in the Department of Visual Arts, at 905 688 5550 x5306 or keri.cronin@brocku.ca.

    << Read the full post by Erin Grayley and other posts by Alison Innes on the Humanities blog. >>

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  • Exploring family history through art

    Chidera Onyegbule and Osaze Usuanlele make cyanotypes, an early type of archival photography, using images from their families’ histories. Fifteen youth aged 14 to 18 have been participating in the week-long workshop, which is a partnership between Rodman Hall Art Centre, the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts, and the City of St. Catharines.


    (From The Brock News, Wednesday, June 20, 2018 | by Alison Innes)

    Old family photos were given new life during a special Brock workshop held last week.

    Fifteen young artists from St. Catharines spent the week working with Visual Arts Professor Amy Friend to explore their family history and create new works of art.

    During the workshop organized by Rodman Hall Art Centre, participants used camera-less photography techniques on their familial documents as they conceptualized, planned and executed their artwork.

    “The program takes key ideas from Rodman Hall’s summer exhibition Carry Forward, such as how social and political biases get carried forward into how history is recorded, into the everyday lives of youth living in Niagara,” says Elizabeth Chitty, Rodman Hall Programming Officer.

    Chitty worked with community organizations and teachers to invite young artists from culturally diverse backgrounds to participate.

    Students spent several days at Rodman Hall exploring the ideas presented in Carry Forward, such as the complex history of documentation and power relations, engaging with colonialism, propaganda and authenticity.

    Participants were asked to consider how Rodman Hall itself is an archive, Friend says.

    “Students were encouraged to think about what an archive is, what it means to look at documents related to their own lives and how to use the archive as an art form to explore histories not well known.”

    Fifteen young artists from St. Catharines spent the week working with Visual Arts Professor Amy Friend to explore their family history and create new works of art.

    Working in the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts darkroom as well as outside, the young artists used cyanotypes, silver gelatin prints and mixed media to engage with their own histories.

    Ness Griffin never met her grandparents or her extended family. Her family’s connection with their Haudenosaunee culture was cut in the Sixties Scoop.

    Working with reproductions of family photos that she made during the workshop, Griffin scratches out faces to represent her loss of connections with extended family.

    “It was a hard decision to make to cut up the photograph because it is deeply personal,” she said.

    Chimera Onyegbule also worked with photos of family she never met. Her great grandfather was born to a British father and Nigerian mother in the colonial era in Nigeria.

    “I call this piece The White Flag,” she says. “He’s like the white flag in a war between two sides.”

    The Grade 11 student at Holy Cross Catholic High School recently visited an aunt in London, England, where she learned more about her great grandfather.

    “I’ve always wanted to know more about my family history,” she says. “It’s important to keep stuff like this alive.”

    The pieces created through the special program will be featured during a public exhibition that will run until Sept. 2 in The Film House lobby of the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre.

    The public is invited to attend the exhibition’s opening on Tuesday, July 17 from 5:45 to 6:45 p.m.

    Carry Forward is on at Rodman Hall Art Centre until Sept. 2.

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  • New grad honoured for textile artwork

    Victoria Reid was recently honoured for her artwork, which was on display at Rodman Hall Art Centre as part of the Turnin’ this Car Around exhibition in April.

    (From The Brock News, Wednesday, June 20, 2018 | by Alison Innes)

    The eye-catching pieces were hard to miss.

    Made from everyday materials, the headless human forms could be seen cascaded down a wall within Rodman Hall Art Centre, drawing attention and sparking conversations among visitors.

    Created by Victoria Reid, the pieces were featured during the VISA 4F06 Honours exhibition, Turnin’ this Car Around, in April, but continue to earn the young artist praise.

    Visual arts graduate Victoria Reid has been awarded the inaugural Marilyn I. Walker Textile Art Award. (Photo: Jimmy Limit)

     

     

    The June graduate was chosen to receive the inaugural Marilyn I. Walker Textile Art Award for her work. The honour is given to a graduating student for a piece of textile art and is intended to support the student’s continued artistic development.

    Reid’s figures, made from yarn, fabric scraps, plaster and packing tape, challenge the viewer to see bodies as objects taking up space.

    “The bodies are not human without their contents,” says Reid. “These sculptures embrace the oddity and the awkwardness of the human body, focusing on the fact that we are weird masses of matter and, together with soul, we become beings.”

    Reid says for as long as she can remember, she has been intrigued by textiles.

    “They have so much personality and can be handled with a variety of different methods to morph them into something new,” she says.

    It was her grandmother who taught her how to weave, stitch, sew, knit and crochet at an early age.

    Reid applied these more traditional ways of working with textiles to new ideas to create her award-winning work and cites Walker’s own work as inspiration.

    “Marilyn I. Walker’s piece in the first floor hall inspired me greatly this year with the variety in colour and texture, and the stitching together of different fabric patterns and materials,” she says.

    Reid’s pieces are cast from her own body and lend drama to the philosophical question of the mind-body dichotomy, writes Associate Professor Derek Knight in the exhibition catalogue.

    “References to the human body are rarely benign and Reid is no different when she describes her plaster figures as symbolizing the existential dilemma between spiritual life and physical existence,” he writes.

    Reid will be continuing her arts education this fall at the University of Western Ontario, where she is enrolled in a Master of Library and Information Science program to study Collections and Archive Management.

    “I want my future career to work with, influence and inform my art practice,” says Reid, who continues to create, show and sell her art. She is also working with Brock Visual Resources Librarian Lesley Bell for the summer.

    “Being awarded the Marilyn I Walker Textile art award means so much to me,” Reid says. “Working with textiles in my art is what I do and being awarded for something that I have worked hard on and put so much energy into is a great feeling. It makes me feel not only proud of myself, but thankful for all of the friends, family, peers and instructors who have helped and supported me along the way.”

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