Articles tagged with: visa

  • Art kits allow VISA students to hone skills at home

    Caption: The VISA Art Stores at Brock University has been providing access to course materials to students for more than 37 years.

    Half the battle in creating a beautiful piece of art is finding a spark of creativity and having the skills to bring it to life. The other half, however, is having access to the right materials and equipment to turn that vision into reality.

    Aspiring artists and scholars studying Visual Arts (VISA) at Brock University have continued to hone their skills despite the pandemic thanks not only to dedication to their disciplines, but also to staff and faculty who have made it possible.

    Studio Art instructors at Brock’s Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts (MIWSFPA) have been challenged to reimagine drawing, painting, sound and video courses to suit an online setting. That has also meant ensuring students have access to the materials and equipment necessary to continue their studies.

    The results have been overwhelmingly positive, resulting in experiences that might not have been encountered by students in a pre-pandemic semester.

    The extensive efforts of the VISA faculty have been supported by two key players: Max Holten-Andersen, Instructor, Media Resource Co-ordinator, and co-ordinator of the VISA Equipment Kiosk, and Arnold McBay, Instructor and VISA Department Facilities Technician, who manages the VISA Art Stores.

    Central to the course work of Visual Arts students, the VISA Art Stores have provided Brock students access to art materials related to drawing, painting and sculpture courses since the mid-1980s. The Equipment Kiosk, established in 2015 after the move to the current MIWSFPA downtown campus, provides students with access to digital and analogue photography, sound and video equipment.

    Both outlets are usually staffed by student assistants during the day and evening, six days a week. Students visit for their materials and equipment needs, as well as for advice and mentorship from the managers, who are also both VISA instructors.

    With the switch to online course delivery, McBay and Holten-Andersen were met with the challenge of facilitating materials and equipment support for students in a manner that met provincial and Brock pandemic protocols, and without the students being on site.

    Fourth-year student Rea Kelly knows first-hand how important access to creative tools are for her degree.

    “Having the VISA Art Stores at the MIWSFPA has become a necessity for my four years at Brock as a Studio Art major,” she says. “I cannot count the number of times myself or my peers have run out of paint or drawing materials mid-class and have had to run to the art store for materials. I can’t imagine the school without it.”

    Answering the call for a solution, McBay developed kits in consultation with faculty that include all of the art supplies and materials students require to complete their course work and develop their art practice.

    The kits are available for convenient curbside pick up for local students and are shipped to those outside of the Niagara region. For students wishing to remain in their hometowns while continuing their educational experience, the kits have been essential.

    Similarly, Holten-Andersen, aware of the necessity of audiovisual equipment for supporting photography, sound and video courses, has added to the initiative.

    McBay and Holten-Andersen have established a central distribution point in the MWS151 Foundation Studio at the MIWSFPA. The room is large enough to allow for required physical distancing and is staffed by one student monitor during weekdays.

    Access to the room is limited to one student at a time using all pandemic protocols including required personal protective equipment. As a result, students can safely visit the distribution centre and access art materials and digital equipment, all in one place.

    “Despite the limitations of not being able to access the usual range of materials available in the VISA Art Stores and Equipment Kiosk, students have been able to meet all their project objectives through the distribution of materials kits at the pickup centre,” McBay says.

    Students have had to get creative with the supplies they have available to them.

    “These are real-life challenges that artists might face in their career, and circumstances students would not usually encounter in an academic experience prior to the pandemic,” McBay says.

    For audiovisual equipment, students are able to submit online equipment requests that are fulfilled within 24 hours, using MWS151 as the pickup hub where items get loaned out and returned. This method has shifted the equipment consultations from an in-person approach to a remote approach via email, phone or video conferencing.

    “At times, consultations are extremely necessary as I am able to provide expertise on what is the most suitable equipment for a production; and most importantly, what accessories are needed to properly support a production,” Holten-Andersen says.

    Although students have gained new experiences from the current circumstances, the two instructors look forward to resuming their previous mode of operation once it is safe to do so as per University and public health protocols.

    While the new system is working, Holten-Andersen says conversations had during in-person occurrences of the past are simply irreplaceable and certainly missed.

    “It is a precious moment to notice the realization in a student’s eye as they tap on the creative opportunities that professional equipment can grant,” he says.

    McBay echoes this sentiment.

    “We very much look forward to when the VISA spaces come back to life with the vigour, curiosity and vibrance students bring into our campus.”

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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • New podcast challenges ideas of history of Western art

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  • Welcome to Visual Arts: Orientation for 2020!

    (a screen shot from the welcome by Professor Shawn Serfas. Watch the video below.)


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


    The Department of Visual Arts (VISA)

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

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


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

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


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


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


    The Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts

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

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

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

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


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

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  • Visual Arts and Interactive Arts and Science grad wins Daytime Emmy

    Karlee Morse (BA ’11) has been recognized with an Emmy for her special effects makeup on the children’s program Dino Dana.

    (Published WEDNESDAY, JULY 29, 2020 | in the The Brock News by )

    Karlee Morse (BA ’11) wasn’t sure at first what she wanted to do when she graduated from Brock University.

    But the Brock alumna has clearly found her calling having won a Daytime Emmy last month for Outstanding Special Effects Costume, Makeup and Hairstyling for her work on an episode of the children’s show Dino Dana.

    Morse worked with a team of three artists to transform four actors into dinosaurs for the episode of Dino Dana. Working from CGI illustrations and the costume design by Christine Toye, Morse seamlessly transformed the actors.

    “It’s just amazing,” she said of her win. “Truthfully it was really hard. It was a lot of work.”

    Morse started her career in film and television as an assistant for the art department on a production called Android produced by Sinking Ship, the same company that produced Dino Dana.

    “From there, I just made connections and once I started focussing on prosthetic work, they brought me in to do some specific episodes,” she said.

    Morse didn’t plan on working in special effects make up while she was completing her combined major in Visual Arts and Interactive Arts and Science.

    “I kind of fell into it,” she said. “I wanted to do concept work for video games, but I realized I’m not content working on the computer for more than an hour. I thought about it and the happiest I was when I was working in the studio.”

    Morse said she loved working in Brock’s painting studio and sculpture classes.

    “I’m so thrilled for Karlee,” said Donna Szoke, Associate Professor of Visual Arts, who taught Morse at Brock. “She has always had a deep love of drawing. Film makeup and special effects makeup is such a wonderful continuation of her lifelong pursuit of drawing and sculpting.”

    After her time at the University, Morse went on to do Sheridan’s special effects makeup program, where she now teaches.

    “I didn’t realize this was a career at all,” she said. “It’s like painting, but on people’s faces. It’s like sculpting, but on a living model.”

    Morse finds herself working in the video game industry from a different perspective than she had originally thought. As a makeup artist, she does life casting— making casts of actors’ body parts — and placing motion capture markers on actors for game giant Ubisoft.

    Morse has worked on Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, Far Cry 5, and the newly released Far Cry 6.

    “My favourite part of this career is that every day is vastly different,” said Morse. “I usually have multiple things on the go and it’s just fun. I get to go to cool places, meet people and do cool things.”

    Morse has stayed connected with her passion for sculpture and is currently working on some custom sculptures for a corporate client. She sculpts in oil-based clay, then makes a silicon mold and casts the sculpture in resin.

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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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