Walker Cultural Leaders Series

Beginning in 2011 the academic programs of the Marilyn I. Walker School have celebrated the legacy of Marilyn, her gift and her vision by programming the Walker Cultural Leaders (WCL) Series. The ongoing development and refinement of the WCL program facilitates invitations to recognized cultural leaders, top researchers, visiting artists, scholars, professionals, theatre companies, producing and presenting organizations, associations, and others to contribute to the intellectual and creative life of the School and the Niagara region.

Our guests will engage in professional activities such as public lectures, performances, exhibitions, workshops, laboratories, and demonstrations, and will participate in other pedagogical and creative activities including guest teaching, the professional mentoring of faculty and staff, critiques of student work, and community engagement activities.

In addition to generally intensifying the creative, scholarly and teaching cultures of the School, special emphasis is put on developing knowledge and familiarity of the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts as an incubator in the arts and culture sector of Niagara, exploring potential intersections of the School and the surrounding community/region, and promoting inter‐ and trans‐disciplinarity within the School and beyond.

Walker Cultural Leader Program for 2020-21:
please visit this page for updates

Birthe Piontek, artist and photographer

presented by the Department of Visual Arts
October 1, 2020
Presentation live at 11:00 am 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. 

Birtheis 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. 

See the event posting at the Department of Visual Arts.

John Fekner, street and multimedia artist

presented by the Department of Visual Arts
November 1, 2020
Presentation live on the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts
YouTube channel

John 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.

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.”

The Department of Dramatic Arts and the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre present:

Walker Cultural Leaders Series for 2020:

Theatre in The Era of Climate Crisis: A weekend of performances and discussion of the intersections between climate change, performing arts and activism

Brock University’s Department of Dramatic Arts (DART) has teamed up with the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre to offer online performances and virtual discussions that explore the intersection of performing arts and climate change as part of the Walker Cultural Leaders Series from
Friday 13 – Sunday 15 November 2020.

The weekend is convened by DART Professors David Fancy and Karen Fricker and will include the sharing of five commissioned performance provocations, a live-streamed performance of Broadleaf Theatre’s award-winning production The Chemical Valley Project, co-created by Kevin Matthew Wong and Julia Howman, and a panel discussion with contributing artists Kevin Matthew Wong (Broadleaf Theatre), Santee Smith (Kaha:wi Dance Theatre), and David Fancy.

As part of the Walker Cultural Leaders Series, Brock University commissioned 10 regional theatre artists to create short online presentations exploring the climate crisis in relation to any area of their interest. The first five performance provocations will be showcased as part of the November gathering and will include artists who are performers, devisors, designers, educators, and writers. These artists have explored a multitude of themes in relation to climate change including consumerism, feminism, colonialism, COVID-19, healing, ecological grief and more. Excerpts of these works in progress will be shown followed by a talk back.

“We’re committed to manifesting Marilyn Walker’s vision and legacy of cultural leadership by bringing creative and critical attention to the climate crisis,” said David Fancy. “We’re especially grateful to have the opportunity to collaborate with the PAC on this series of presentations.”

“The climate crisis is going to require our collective creativity to rise to its challenges,” said Annie Wilson, PAC’s Programming Supervisor. “We appreciate the opportunity to work alongside Brock’s Dramatic Arts Department to build this opportunity to reflect as a community on this most important issue.”

Friday 13 November 2020

5pm-6:30pm  

Walker Cultural Leaders Series Commissioned Artists
Dani Shae Barkley exploring the economy, globalization, ecological grief and the climate
Kelly Wolf exploring feminism and the climate
Iain Lidstone exploring the relationship between land and healing

Excerpts will be followed by a discussion chaired by Michelle Mohammed.
Livestreamed on both the PAC and MIWSFPA Facebook and YouTube pages. Content available for viewing until Sun 29 Nov.

7pm

The Chemical Valley Project by Broadleaf Theatre, co-created by Kevin Matthew Wong and Julia Howman
Livestreamed performance from Robertson Theatre at FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre. Presented by the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre in partnership with Brampton’s Rose Theatre, Kingston’s Grand Theatre and Oakville Centre for the Performing Arts. Supported by Ontario Presents and Ontario Arts Council.

Tickets for The Chemical Valley Project are pay-what-you-can and are available on the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre website at www.FirstOntarioPAC.ca. Content available for viewing with PWYC ticket purchase until Sun 29 Nov.

Saturday 14 November 2020

2pm

The Chemical Valley Project by Broadleaf Theatre, co-created by Kevin Matthew Wong and Julia Howman

Livestreamed performance from Robertson Theatre at FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre. Presented by the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre in partnership with Brampton’s Rose Theatre, Kingston’s Grand Theatre and Oakville Centre for the Performing Arts. Supported by Ontario Presents and Ontario Arts Council.

Tickets for The Chemical Valley Project are pay-what-you-can and are available on the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre website at www.FirstOntarioPAC.ca. Content available for viewing with PWYC ticket purchase until Sun 29 Nov.

Sunday 15 November 2020

1pm 

Land, Water, Activism, Performance: A talkback and discussion panel featuring Kevin Matthew Wong of Broadleaf Theatre; Santee Smith, Artistic Director of Kaha:wi Dance Theatre; and DART Professor David Fancy, moderated by Karen Fricker.

Topics will include Broadleaf Theatre’s commitment to climate-focused dramaturgy; Kaha:wi Dance Theatre’s Indigenous futurist dance production Skén:nen; and the upcoming Theatre Training in the Era of Climate Crisis volume and conference co-edited and organized by David Fancy.

Livestreamed on both the PAC and MIWSFPA Facebook and YouTube pages.

2pm-3:30pm

Walker Cultural Leaders Series Commissioned Artists
James McCoy exploring fatigue and the climate; the emotional response to climate change
Adrienne Smoke presenting Rona: exploring colonialism, COVID-19 and the climate

Excerpts will be followed by a discussion chaired by Michelle Mohammed.
Livestreamed on both the PAC and MIWSFPA Facebook and YouTube pages. Content available for viewing until Sun 29 Nov.

Tickets for The Chemical Valley Project are pay-what-you-can and are available on the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre website at www.FirstOntarioPAC.ca. There are no tickets required for The Walker Cultural Leader Series Commissioned Artists and Land, Water, Activism, Performance: A talkback and discussion panel. These events will be livestreamed on both the PAC and MIWSFPA Facebook and YouTube pages. Content available for viewing until Sun 29 Nov.

ABOUT THE WALKER CULTURAL LEADERS SERIES:

Beginning in 2011 the academic programs of the Marilyn I. Walker School have celebrated the legacy of Marilyn, her gift and her vision by programming the Walker Cultural Leaders (WCL) Series. The ongoing development and refinement of the WCL program facilitates invitations to recognized cultural leaders, top researchers, visiting artists, scholars, professionals, theatre companies, producing and presenting organizations, associations, and others to contribute to the intellectual and creative life of the School and the Niagara region.

ABOUT THE FIRSTONTARIO PERFORMING ARTS CENTRE:

The FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre is located in downtown St. Catharines, Ontario on the shared traditional lands of the Haudenosaunee, Anishinaabe, Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation, the Neutral Peoples and many other Indigenous people from across Turtle Island. We offer our sincere gratitude and respect to the original and continued stewards of this land. We also acknowledge Black, Indigenous, People of Colour, and 2SLGBTQQAI+ that have been marginalized for centuries and more – and our collective responsibility to take action for a better world free from oppression, discrimination and racism. The PAC aims to provide meaningful opportunities to bring our community together in a place of mutual understanding, empathy, and respect through the arts.

Designed by Diamond Schmitt Architects, the 95,000 square foot cultural complex opened in November 2105 and is comprised of four state-of-the-art performance venues which hosts international, national and local artists alongside community members and organizations.

The FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre acknowledges the Department of Canadian Heritage, the Canada Council for the Arts, the City of St. Catharines and our long time partnership with Brock University for their ongoing support.

Jamelie Hassan & Ron Benner, artists

presented by the Department of Visual Arts
January 11, 2021 *note the date due to holidays
Presentation live on the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts
YouTube channel

Jamelie Hassan, born in London, Ontario, of Arabic background, is a visual artist and long-time member of CARFAC who is also active as a lecturer, writer, and independent curator. She has organized both national and international programs including Orientalism and Ephemera, a national touring exhibition, originally presented at Art Metropole, Toronto and most recently Dar’a/Full Circle for Artcite Inc. Windsor, ON. She was one of the founders of two artist-run centres in London, Ontario: the Forest City Gallery (1973-present) and the Embassy Cultural House (1983-1990). Her work is represented in numerous public collections in Canada and internationally, including the National Gallery of Canada, the Morris & Helen Belkin Art Gallery, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC ; and the Library of Alexandria ,Alexandria, Egypt. Other recent projects and group exhibitions where her works have been featured include, Here: Contemporary Canadian Art, curated by Swapnaa Tamhane, Aga Khan Museum (2017); Toronto: Tributes + Tributaries, 1971 -1989, curated by Wanda Nanibush, Art Gallery of Ontario (2016 – 2017); In Order to Join: the Political in a Historical Moment, organized by Museum Abteilberg in Monchengladbach, Germany (2013-14) and Mumbai, India (2015). Receipient of numerous awards, in 2001 she received the Govenor General’s Award in Visual Arts and in 2018 an honorary doctorate from OCAD University, Toronto. For more information visit: www.jameliehassan.ca

Ron Benner is an internationally recognized, London, Ontario – based artist whose longstanding practice investigates the history and political economy of food cultures. Benner originally studied agriculture engineering at the University of Guelph 1969/70. Finding himself ethically opposed to industrial agriculture and bioengineering, he began to travel and research the politics of food. In 1995, he began working with Rural Advancement Foundation International, Ottawa (RAFI). In 2000 he was awarded the Canada Council Studio in Paris. In 2005 he participated in Art, Geography and Invisibility at an international geography symposium in Olot, Catalonia, the University of Barcelona, Spain. In 2010 he was appointed Adjunct Research Professor in the Visual Arts Department, Western University, London, ON. Ron Benner’s mixed media installation works, including commissions of photographic-garden installations, have been shown in solo and group exhibitions at Museum London, the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, Western University, London, Ontario, Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo, Ontario and many other galleries, museums and cultural institutions in Canada and internationally. His work is included in numerous public collections both in Canada and internationally including the National Gallery of Canada and the Art Gallery of Ontario. He has recently been appointed artist in residence in the Department of Environmental Science at the University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario, 2020-2023.

Johnathan Forrest, abstract painter

presented by the Department of Visual Arts
February 1, 2021
Presentation live on the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts
YouTube channel

Jonathan Forrest is an abstract painter based on Vancouver Island, British Columbia. He divides his studio time between Vancouver Island and small town Saskatchewan. He was born in Edinburgh, Scotland and immigrated with his family to Canada in 1977.
Forrest studied at the University of Saskatchewan receiving his BFA in 1983 and his MFA in 1991. Jonathan has participated in several artists’ workshops including The Emma Lake Artists’ Workshop (1985, 1988, 1991, 2001, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2009, and 2012), The “Saskatchewan Invitational artists’ workshop”, Emma Lake (2000), and Triangle Artists’ Workshop, Brooklyn, NY (2002).
His work has been shown in Western Canada in museums including the Mendel Art Gallery, Saskatoon, The Edmonton Art Gallery and The Dunlop Art Gallery, Regina. He has an upcoming survey exhibition at the Art Gallery of Swift Current in 2021 and the Moose Jaw Museum and Art Gallery (2022).
Public collections include the Art Gallery of Alberta, Canada Council / Art Bank, Dunlop Art Gallery, Glenbow Museum, Mackenzie Art Gallery, Nordstroms, Remai Modern, Robert McLaughlin Gallery, Saskatchewan Arts Board, University of Lethbridge and the University of Saskatchewan.