Bumping into Dante and Virgil at NSCAD

You may know that I’m a big believer in “collision spaces,” those informal physical gathering places, corridors and hubs on campus where people bump into each other and interact. Well, let me share with you an experience I had the other day…

I was on my way from the President’s Office to the business office, and along the way caught a glimpse of Professor David Howard’s lecture taking place in the Bell Auditorium. He was talking so passionately about Barque of Dante, the first major painting by the French artist Delacroix. The scene shows Dante on a “poetic visit” to hell, guided by Virgil.

For a moment, I was taken right back to when I was an art student, thirsty for knowledge. How incredible it was to discover myself as an artist at the same time as I gained an understanding of the progression of art, craft and design over the centuries. Today, I can’t see a red scarf without thinking about Dante’s fiery red cowl.

Barque of Dante

Delacroix’s 1822 painting, Barque of Dante, is part of the collection at the Louvre.

That’s what makes art school such a remarkable place to be: students get to contextualize their own artistic practice as informed by critical and historical studies.

It reminds me of the old motto for this school: Head and Heart and Hand. One of my predecessors, Elizabeth Styring Nutt, came up with the motto and it appeared on the school crest in 1928. It certainly articulates how intellect, talent and passion come together at NSCAD.

historic crest

NSCAD’s crest in 1928, back when the school was known as the Nova Scotia College of Art.

We’re in the midst of exciting times at NSCAD! If you know of someone who would enjoy the amazing experiences we can offer or who is interested in learning more, encourage them to attend Portfolio Day on Saturday, February 20th, 9:30 am to 4 pm. It’s the prospective student’s ultimate chance to learn about our programs, tour facilities and see the work that students do here. It’s also a chance for prospective students to get feedback on their work and tips on how to prepare a portfolio for admission.

Please join us. I’d love to meet you and share my passion for this university—look for me, I’ll be wearing red. You can register online and, if you have any questions, please email Ken Rice in the Office of Admissions at krice@nscad.ca.