Articles tagged with: Visual Arts

  • Visual Arts podcast launches new season challenging ideas of western art

    Image caption: Co-hosts of Unboxing the Canon podcast, Associate Professor Linda Steer, left, and fourth-year Brock student Madeline Collins.

    Originally published FRIDAY, OCTOBER 01, 2021 in The Brock News | by 

    Unboxing the Canon has made its return with the goal of doing a deep, critical dive into the history of western art.

    The second season of the popular podcast from Linda Steer, Brock Associate Professor, History of Art and Visual Culture, is now live with new 20-minute episodes dropping monthly.

    Unboxing the Canon look at issues that are part of the history of western art, examining how those issues played out historically and how they connect to contemporary culture and thinking.

    The first episode dropped Sept. 17 and explores Orientalism and the Western Gaze. Upcoming episodes will address topics such as the representation of disability in western art, an art movement known as Primitivism connected to colonization, and the history of self-portraits, religion and landscape in paintings.

    According to Steer, who teaches first-year Art History, asking hard questions about these topics is important to developing a deeper understanding of the canon.

    “Students are hungry for a critical view of the western canon; they want to deal with the issues and unpack them and understand why they may be problematic,” Steer said. “When examining the long history of western art and its ties to imperialism, for example, we can ask important questions about iconic images that continue to have a tremendous impact on contemporary society.

    Steer says listeners don’t need any prior knowledge of western art to enjoy the podcast. She started the project last year as a way for students in her first-year VISA 1Q99: Introduction to the History of Western Art class to take a break from their screens and do a little extra learning while taking a walk or relaxing at home.

    Now, other instructors at the University and beyond are also using the podcast as a teaching tool. Each episode includes materials for further learning, including resources and websites where listeners can view the works of art being discussed.

    This continued engagement is an aspect of the project that Steer and fourth-year History of Art and Visual Culture student Madeline Collins are passionate about.

    Collins, who joined the podcast this season as a Research Assistant, said that images are not neutral and that there is a lot happening that viewers are not always aware of.

    “There is so much behind what we see. We need to look critically and realize how biased, gendered, racialized and colonized images are at the forefront of our cultural memory,” she said. “It has been a part of the story the whole time, and once you see it, it totally changes your perspective moving forward. That is my favourite part about this podcast.”

    In addition to co-hosting the podcast episodes, Collins is involved in all aspects of production, including conducting research, sound design and working closely with Steer on writing.

    The pair have been working together since July so Collins could learn the sound design and editing software gearing up for the season.

    Excited to be involved in the project, Collins, an avid fan of podcasts herself, said she has already learned so much from the experience.

    “I’ve always been interested in podcasts and the incredible ways in which we can communicate ideas through them, especially for those who learn better through listening,” Collins said. “I have never been a part of anything like this before, particularly learning all about microphones and sound editing, and I am loving the experience.”

    Unboxing the Canon is publicly available on all podcast services, including AppleGooglePodbean and Spotify. For updates and information on future episodes, follow Unboxing the Canon on Instagram and Twitter.

    The transcripts and sound files from each episode of Unboxing the Canon can be found in Brock’s digital repository.Visual Arts podcast launches new season challenging ideas of western art

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  • Celebrated Canadian artist Michael Snow’s contribution to Brock revisited in new documentary

    A still image from the new documentary short Timed Images premiering Friday, Aug. 20 at the Mighty Niagara Film Fest. The film was produced and researched by Lesley Bell with video work and direction by Tracy Van Oosten.

    WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 18, 2021 | The Brock News | by 

    The legacy and impact of artwork created for Brock University in 1972 by internationally regarded Canadian artist Michael Snow has been captured on film and is being premiered Friday, Aug. 20 at a local film festival.

    Part of the Mighty Niagara Film Fest presented by Niagara Artists Centre (NAC), Timed Images is a new documentary that intimately explores two works of public art created by Snow when he was engaged by Brock University and architect Raymond Moriyama during the construction of Brock’s Mackenzie Chown Complex in 1972. Snow holds an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Brock University received in 1974.

    The short documentary is produced and researched by Lesley Bell, artist and retired support staff for the Department of Visual Arts (VISA) at Brock’s Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts (MIWSFPA), and directed by Brock graduate Tracy Van Oosten (BA ’10), artist, filmmaker and current VISA Instructor at the MIWSFPA.

    Bell, who managed Brock’s Fine Art Collection for 18 years, was drawn to Snow’s work and wanted to uncover the story behind his pieces and appreciate how they found their home in St. Catharines.

    Bell and Van Oosten, a filmmaker and artist who works with text, video and installations and explores moving images within immersive contexts, collaborated to create an artistic documentary that retraces Snow’s innovative art that delighted the University population in 1972.

    “In order to tell the story about these two artworks by Snow, I envisioned a video document. I had no understanding of the process,” Bell said. “With patience and skill, Tracy Van Oosten crafted the information that I found into an intelligent and visually stimulating artistic video work. This has been a satisfying collaboration.”

    Timed Images screens Friday, Aug. 20 at the RiverBrink Art Museum in Queenston, Niagara-on-the-Lake. Doors open at 8 p.m., with the screening scheduled to start at sunset. The documentary is part of an art-inspired program at NAC’s film fest called ‘An Ode to Escarpment School Films.

    For more information about Timed Images and to purchase tickets, visit the Mighty Niagara Film Fest website.

    This project is supported by David Vivian, the Director of the Centre for Studies in Arts and Culture, and Dean Carol Merriam of the Faculty of Humanities, through the Dean’s Discretionary Fund (2020). An installation for the public to view Timed Images at the MIWSFPA and online is currently in development.

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  • Visual Arts prof and photographer exhibits new work on international stage

    Sea, Salt, Moon, Air by Amy Friend, Associate Professor and department Chair of Visual Arts, is part of a new photography exhibition in Zurich, Switzerland.

    Originally published in The Brock News WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 11, 2021 | by 

    An exhibit showcasing the work of artist and Brock University Associate Professor and Chair of Visual Arts Amy Friend has gained international attention.

    Friend was one of eight artists from around the world invited to exhibit their photography at a summer show entitled Ocean at Bildhalle gallery in Zurich, Switzerland. Bildhalle, founded in 2013 by Mirjam Cavegn, is a highly respected art gallery presenting world class photography.

    The exhibition, which explores the motif of water through different aesthetics, was recently featured in the International Edition of The Guardian in their Art and Design section. The article displayed a selection of images from the exhibition and provided details on each artist and their work.

    Becoming 0.4% by Amy Friend from the international exhibition Ocean.

    In her artistic practice, the theme of water and ever-shifting seascapes is of great interest to Friend and is woven through much of her creative work. Due to the travel restrictions of the global pandemic, Friend found herself reflecting on past times at  the seaside during which she collected samples of water from across the world.

    Friend’s photographs featured in the Ocean exhibition came to fruition when she revisited 20 years worth of her photographs involving water and seascapes. Drawing on the notion that photography acts a as vault containing moments from the past, she fused her ideas together.

    “Looking at the abundant images of water in my personal collection, I began to consider my connection to these places and what it meant to take so many images like this,” said Friend. “I questioned what was possible to accomplish with this collection, given my stationary position due to COVID.”

    After selecting a series of the photographs, Friend printed them and then soaked them in the salt water she had collected during previous travels.

    “Over time, the sea water evaporated, leaving a residue of salt on the print,” Friend said.

    She said her pieces Tiny Tears Fill the Ocean (2020) and Endothelium Waves (2020) examine the connection between the body and the ocean.

    “The interplay between the salt content of water and the salt content of our bodies, including our tears, is of particular interest,” she said. “Our bodily connection to place is something that continues to resurface in my practice.”

    Through the exploration of themes of tears and loss, there is an environmental aspect to the work. Although the photographs are not specifically about the effects of climate change, Friend said “it is important to reflect on loss from an environmental standpoint when viewing these works.”

    With the exhibition running into the fall, Friend is looking forward to sharing the details of her experience with her students.

    “It is important that they see others actively engaging within a creative community. By sharing my experience with them, I hope to provide a bit of real-world insight related to the planning and trouble-shooting involved when preparing for exhibitions,” she said.

    To view the exhibition Ocean, visit the Bildhalle website.

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  • Students showcase video art in local film festival through work-integrated learning

    Image caption: The opening image of Wind Sky, directed by Xudanlei Liu. Liu’s original video art is part of the Advanced Video Art student online screenings at the upcoming Mighty Niagara Film Fest presented by the Niagara Artists Centre.

    Originally published in The Brock News | MONDAY, JULY 05, 2021 

    Brock students have captured their experiences during the pandemic on film and are sharing their insights with the community.

    Exploring themes of identity, isolation and using everyday objects to create art, the project was born from an innovative work-integrated learning course and will see students present their videos during a professional film festival online.

    In Advanced Video (VISA/ISAC/STAC 3P10), students build upon their creative, technical and critical skills for video art production, post-production and critical evaluation, and are introduced to a variety of forms and approaches to video art, emphasizing its creation and contextualization in contemporary art discourses.

    Led by Donna Szoke, Associate Professor of Visual Arts at Brock’s Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts (MIWSFPA), the project is funded in part by Co-operative Education and Work-Integrated Learning (CEWIL) Canada’s Innovation Hub (iHub), through the Government of Canada’s Innovative Work-Integrated Learning (IWIL) initiative, and supported by Niagara Artists Centre (NAC).

    Students created independent video art that is available online until Aug. 15 in affiliation with the NAC in downtown St. Catharines. The videos will also be presented as part of NAC’s Mighty Niagara Film Festival running Aug. 18 to 22. Both events are free to the public.

    This rich educational experience has allowed students to produce quality work in a professional setting while exploring their creativity.

    Thanks to the CEWIL grant awarded to Szoke for the course, students will be paid for their work being showcased in the festival. The project has also helped students to add valuable work to their portfolios and build their resumés for future opportunities.

    Minhal Enam, a third-year Interactive Arts and Science student in the Faculty of Humanities, is among those showcasing their video art.

    Enam said the past year has been difficult because of the pandemic and that participating in the film festival was a welcome and pleasant surprise.

    “When I was creating this project, I didn’t think my work would ever be screened at a film festival,” he said. “This shows me that you never know what lies next in terms of opportunities and open doors.

    “As an international student, I am lucky to be involved in a project like this,” Enam said. “Being born and raised in Saudi Arabia, I never thought I would express my thoughts and passion as I am doing now. I am trusting my own journey, and this is just the beginning. I can’t wait to create more.”

    The CEWIL funding also allowed for established artists to virtually visit students throughout Winter Term, delivering presentations focused on their practices as Canadian video artists exhibiting in international film festivals. After receiving advice during the mentorship sessions, students selected their best work from the term for the two public screenings.

    Szoke said it’s important that young artists feel their work, time and creative skills have value.

    “They need to know what they do matters,” she said. “This is a chance to craft their ability to make artwork and grow faith in themselves as artists.”

    Stephen Remus, the Minister of Energy, Minds and Resources at the NAC, has been involved with the artist-run centre in various capacities for the past 15 years.

    “NAC is always interested in what young and emerging artists are creating at the Marilyn I. Walker School,” he said. “There’s a give and take. We learn what their interests and preoccupations are and, in turn, we’re able to introduce them to the NAC and artist-run culture.”

    Remus said Canada can “lay a unique claim to the establishment of a national artist-run network.”

    “It’s unlike anything else in the world. And the NAC is one of the earliest nodes on that network, now more than 50 years old.”

    From Winnipeg to Vancouver to St. Catharines, Szoke has a long history of collaborating with artist-run centres across the country. As a passionate artist who engages with experimental education programs and uses media art as a form of activism, she believes video as a medium occupies a dynamic and vital space in visual arts with great impacts on community.

    Community engagement is at the centre of the Advanced Video course, with a focus on giving students an opportunity to showcase their creative work in a professional setting while earning an industry-standard wage. Educating students about the standards of professional wages in the creative sector is an important piece of the project.

    “Community is the bridge to the future,” Szoke said. “If students can have significant experiences making meaningful work that people in the community value, this real-world labour can change all of our lives and have a big impact on students’ futures.”

    Even though the structure of the NAC is “anarchistic in the best ways,” the centre can be a leader in community and audience engagement, and prioritize support of living artists,” Remus said. “This includes informing students about the professional rates for the payment of artists.”

    The opinions and interpretations in this publication are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Government of Canada or Co-operative Education and Work-Integrated Learning Canada.

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  • Visual Arts grad catches the eye of WIRED magazine

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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  • Student art exhibition explores isolation, identity during a pandemic

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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  • Celebrated artist Birthe Piontek opens 2020-21 Walker Cultural Leader Series

    The Department of Visual Arts (VISA) is excited to announce the first offering of the 2020-21 Walker Cultural Leader Series (WCL). Artist and accomplished photographer Birthe Piontek will take the WCL virtual spotlight on an easily accessible digital platform:

    Walker Cutural leader: Birthe Piontek

    • Thursday, October 1, 2020
    • Presentation live at 11:00am on the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts YouTube channel

    Born and raised in Germany, Birthemoved to Canada in 2005 after receiving her MFA from the Folkwang University of the Arts in Essen, Germany. Birthe’s art practice explores the relationship between memory and identity, with a particular interest in the topic of female identity and its representation in our society. Her primary focus is photography, but she also utilizes other art forms like installation, sculpture and collage to investigate to what degree our complex identities can be visualized. 

    Her work has been exhibited internationally, in both solo and group shows, and is featured in many private and public collections such as the Museum of Contemporary Photography in Chicago and the Museum of Applied Arts in Gera, Germany. 

    Birthe’s project The Idea of North won the Critical Mass Book Award 2009 and was published as a monograph in 2011. Her most recent work, Abendlied, received the Edward Burtynsky Grant in 2018 and was nominated by Time Magazine as one of the best photo books in 2019. 

    Birthe is an Assistant Professor of Photography in the Audain Faculty of Art at  Emily Carr University of Art and Design in Vancouver and a member of the  Cake Collective. 

    For this year’s WCL Series, Birthe is joined by an inspiring list of artists, innovators and cultural influencers who will be sharing their perspectives. For more information on the event details, please visit the full WCL Series listing. 

    Department of Visual Arts upcoming WCL virtual events:

    • John Fekner – November 1, 2020
    • Jamelie Hassan & Ron Benner – January 11, 2021
    • Johnathan Forrest – February 1, 2021

     

     

     

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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 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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  • FACULTY FOCUS: Amy Friend on the art of visual storytelling

    Amy Friend, associate professor in the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts, works hands-on to experiment with both digital and analogue images. She poses beside her piece Our Little Dancing Girl, Evelyn, Age 9 at the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre.

    (Published TUESDAY, MAY 12, 2020| by The Brock News {Michelle Pressé})

    Note: Faculty Focus is a monthly series that highlights faculty whose compelling passions, innovative ideas, and various areas of expertise help weave together the fabric of Brock University’s vibrant community. For more from the series, click here.

    It’s not often that Amy Friend goes out and photographs what she calls ‘the real world.’

    Instead, the associate professor in the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts works hands-on to interrogate a medium, experimenting with both digital and analogue images.

    One of Friend’s signature styles is hand-manipulating vintage photographs in a way that rescues and revives them, exploring what’s visible and what isn’t, such as in her series Dare alla Luce. She likes to think of photography as a material that is alive with possibility.

    Her work has been selected three times as one of the top 50 photographs in the juried Critical Mass International Photography Competition, and she’s exhibited in more than a dozen countries, including Spain, Greece, and Korea.

    The inspiration for her Vestiges series can be traced to being surrounded by family possessions, the outcome of being from an immigrant family who lived through the Great Depression, and threw nothing away.

    “The deceased occupied a place in our home and everything had a story,” Friend wrote in her artist statement for Vestiges, a hauntingly beautiful photograph on the fabric of her grandmother’s — to her, nonna’s — nightgown in the Algoma Central Lobby of the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre (PAC).

    Friend looks on at Vestiges, which was inspired by a lifetime of being surrounded by precious family possessions.

    Her grandfather’s (nonno’s) dreams of becoming a professional dancer never materialized due to life’s circumstances, instead of working in construction to help provide for his family, who left northern Italy for Canada. Her family history and the stories passed among them is a reoccurring source of inspiration.

    “The nightgown appears to be dancing, so I found it suitable for the space,” says Friend of Vestiges in the downtown St. Catharines location. “I think of this space as a makerspace of stories. My grandparents danced together; this was a small part of their history, so I touched on that secret history. Theirs is one little story among many in the space.”

    She says one of the most fulfilling things about her work is developing pieces for specific locations. A particularly rewarding experience has been Rodman Hall, where she experimented with new materials, including a 40-foot long photograph on silk.

    That work became part of the stage design for musician Diana Krall’s world tour.

    “Having the intimate setting of Rodman Hall and working with curator Marcie Bronson provided fertile ground for this artwork to develop, which ended up on the world stage,” says Friend. “This creative process in your own community format says something about where seeds start and offers a spotlight to what we are doing as artists here in Niagara.”

    Another one of her pieces, Our Little Dancing Girl, Evelyn, Age 9, is the product of collecting photographs on the internet that strangers pawn off for next to nothing. The photograph had “Our little dancing girl, Evelyn, Age 9” scrawled on the back, evoking curiosity about an unknown, individual history.

    “Even though I wouldn’t say my images tell a concrete story, they are constantly referencing things we don’t know,” she says. “It’s the unknown aspects of making an image that directly intrigues me.”

    Amy Friend poses outside of the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre in downtown St. Catharines.

    “In this series, I’m not only interested in making artwork, but making and thinking about what it means to take a photograph, to lose a photograph; an image that belonged to someone else,” says Friend. “It’s a conversation I’m constantly having through photography: making and investigating what it can and cannot express.”

    Another thing Friend considers paramount to her work as an artist is teaching.

    “I’m engaging with the idea of creative practice and getting students to dig into the act of play,” she says. “It gets us out of what I call the treadmill of production. Some of my best work has come out of completely screwing things up.”

    While she loves seeing her students succeed, the most important lesson she hopes they learn is to embrace “epically failing.” Without it, Friend says, we lose the imperative experience of disappointment and working to solve creative problems.

    “My experience at Brock has been wonderful,” says Friend. “I’ve had incredible opportunities. We continue to have a vision in what the School could and should be, and the potential is incredible.”

    One of the biggest changes with working she’s noticed isn’t just within Brock, but the art of photography itself.

    “It’s much more immediate,” says Friend on integrating photography into our everyday lives. “We always have images close by. We scroll through photos on phones and other devices. There is a different type of interaction. It still has a place in our lives.”

    One thing that will never change is the human ability to respond to art in a unique way. She was reminded of this in February when taking her young daughter to the PAC for Family Day, which included various activities, such as crafts and therapy dogs.

    “I pointed to Vestiges and said, ‘You know, your mama made that,’ and she glanced at it and said, ‘Yeah, okay. Where are the dogs?’ It was humbling and funny, but there was also a sweetness to her response,” says Friend. “Maybe at some point this image will be significant to her and maybe it won’t. We all have reactions to art and each is a unique interaction that tells us something about ourselves and who we are at that moment.”

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