About Dianne Taylor-Gearing

Dianne Taylor-Gearing is the 21st President of NSCAD University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.

NSCAD blossoms in spring

What a wonderful time of the year it is for NSCAD — a time to celebrate. The last two weeks have been chockablock full of events and now it feels we can finally take a breath. That is, until Artist for a Day on May 13th!

Just to recap NSCAD’s spring so far: we had the Starfish Student Art Awards on April 20, the NSCAD Design Show on April 21, Dialect: the NSCAD Fashion Show on April 22, the NSCAD Film Screening Night on April 24, the 2017 Graduation Exhibition and Catalogue Launch and the GG Fête on April 27, and the 2017 Graduation Ceremony on April 28.

DTG

At the opening of the 2017 Graduation Exhibition and the launch of the 2017 Graduation Catalogue. Katherine Nakaska Photo.

All these events show the vibrancy of our university community—a community that students became a part of when they walk through the doors of our Port Campus on their first day at NSCAD.

As president of NSCAD, I would like to recognize the esteemed faculty, who have taught our students and challenged them to achieve their potential, and the staff who have supported them from day one through to graduation and beyond.

GG laureates

At the GG Fete, NSCAD Board Chair Jeff Somerville and myself pose with NSCAD’s Governor General’s Laureates: Landon Mackenzie, Sandra Brownlee, Pamela Ritchie, Jan Peacock and Kye Yeon Son. Katherine Nakaska Photo.

As I told the graduands at the ceremony on Friday, students and alumni will always have a connection to NSCAD through the people they met and the experiences they shared. Art school is a very special kind of experience. Long after graduating, former students may recall a conversation, a piece of advice or a suggestion offered during a critique and reflect on how it changed them and enriched their life.

For example, at the NSCAD fashion show on April 22, we heard the successful alumni Parris and Chloé Gordon say how the critiques at NSCAD influence their creative process today – that their fashion collections get international notice because of the quality of design and the thought and care they invest in each piece. Their holistic experience at NSCAD, including art history to contextualize their work and the creative community they tapped into, helped them to launch their fashion collections even before they graduated. They shared it was a humbling experience to return to Halifax and NSCAD.

Beaufille sisters

Chloe and Parris Gordon of the fashion brand Beaufille opened Dialect: the NSCAD Fashion Show by reflecting on how their NSCAD experience contributed to their success. Katie Nakaska Photo.

The power of a NSCAD education does not diminish over time. NSCAD alumni who graduated 20, 30 or 40 years ago are still processing their experiences and using them everyday in their art practice. Landon Mackenzie (BFA 1976), a 2017 Governor General’s Award Laureate in Visual and Media Arts, tells of the rigor and hard work demanded by the professors in the printmaking department when she attended NSCAD in the 1970s. Not only that, but when her exhibition Parallel Lines opened at the Dalhousie Art Gallery this January, those same professors – Ed Porter and Bob Rogers – attended the opening, cheering her on as always.

I was delighted to meet Landon last week when she was here to attend the GG Fête and give the 2017 Graduation address. Landon is a painter and influential professor at Emily Carr University of Art + Design.

starfish winner

Christiane Poulin, 2017 Starfish Student Art Award winner, is congratulated by finalists Ann McCosker, Julie Simmons and Tamsin Sloots. Katie Nakaska Photo.

There are many stories we can all share about why NSCAD is so special and 2016-17 has been an outstanding year of accolades. Here is one more to mention. My heartfelt congratulations to Christiane Poulin, the 2017 Starfish Student Art Award winner. Christiane graduated last week after beginning her NSCAD journey 40 years ago. She was here for a year, and then switched to science and went on to med school. After a career as a public health doctor and researcher, she returned to NSCAD to finish what she started. In her so-called retirement, she has never worked harder. And I don’t doubt it. For Christiane’s textile installation, Winds of Change: a Lace-Scape, Christiane wove by hand more than 40 metres of lace – a tangible demonstration of her commitment, dedication and passion.

Christiane Poulin and Lou Reznick stand with her art installation, Winds of Change: A Lace-scape. Katie Nakaska Photo.

Christiane Poulin and Lou Reznick stand with her art installation, Winds of Change: A Lace-scape. Katie Nakaska Photo.

Elsa and artwork

After meeting NSCAD student Elsa Brittin at NSCAD’s donor reception back in February, Halifax Mayor Mike Savage invited her to create an artwork for city hall. Here’s Elsa and I with Mayor Mike Savage (far left) and Deputy Mayor Steve Craig (at right).

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Through the summer, NSCAD’s creativity continues with the first summer semester officially beginning  on Tuesday, May 2, and continuing to June 19. A second session runs June 26 to August 15, and it’s still possible to register. Some of the classes in the second session include “Teaching Visual Art,” “Art and Culture of Comics” and “Photography and Colonialism,” among others. Head over to WebAdvisor to find out what’s on the books.

The spring session of classes offered through the School of Extended Studies is just getting going too. Some of the new adult classes on the books include “Drawing Botanicals for Beginners,” “Quilted Projects” and “Portraits in Oil.” There are also Saturday art classes for children ages five and up.

In the summer, NSCAD’s day-time camps are hugely popular. This year, NSCAD is collaborating with the Discovery Centre—new to Seaport neighbourhood—to create art camps with a specialized hands-on “field trip” at the Discovery Centre. Camps include all materials needed, a NSCAD T-shirt, lunch supervision, early drop-off and late pick-up.

Some of the camps offered include “Picasso and Cubism” for 5 to 8 year olds; “Sew Fun” for 9 to 11 year olds; “Comic Cave” for tweens ages 12 to 14; and “Animation” for older teenagers, ages 15 to 18. Take a look at the website for the full list of fun.

potters wheel

NSCAD opens the doors for Artist for a Day — it’s a full day of hands-on artmaking. Photo by Lianne Sarson.

Speaking of fun, NSCAD’s hugely popular Artist for a Day is set for Saturday, May 13, 10 am to 3 pm. More than 20 hands-on art-making activities are in the works, including some of the favorites—such as life drawing and fish printing—that draw people year after year.

Most of the action takes place at our Port Campus (1107 Marginal Road) although our Port neighbours are in on the fun too. Other sites for Artist for a Day include: Discovery Centre, 1215 Lower Water Street; Nova Scotia Centre for Craft and Design, 1096 Marginal Road; Mary E. Black Gallery, 1061 Marginal Road; Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21, 1055 Marginal Road; and Visual Arts Nova Scotia, 1113 Marginal Road. NSCAD is pumped to be a participant in I LOVE Local’s Open City, a full day celebration of local food, fun and shopping.

In NSCAD’s 130th anniversary year I am so proud of all our accomplishments and accolades. A welcome to ALL to come join us and experience the creativity and our community.

My very best,

Dianne

P.S. In the photo at the top of this blog post, models go down the runway at Dialect: A NSCAD Fashion Show wearing jewellery by Tamika Knutson (BFA 2017). Tamika, who just graduated, already has a solo exhibition coming up. Boreal Reverie: Coming Home will open May 17 and run to June 4 at SOVA Gallery at the Yukon School of Visual Arts in Dawson City, Yukon. Congratulations Tamika!

One week at NSCAD

NSCAD students welcomed guests into the studios for Portfolio Day. Meghan MacDonald Photo.

NSCAD students welcomed guests into the studios for Portfolio Day. Meghan MacDonald Photo.

NSCAD’s Winter Portfolio Day was a wonderful, well-attended and engaging event! We welcomed prospective students, parents, friends, supporters and the simply curious to NSCAD last Saturday for a full day of tours, talks, interactive workshops and portfolio reviews. After a snowy week, even the weather cooperated!

Applying to an art and design university involves a different process compared to applying to other universities—and that difference is the portfolio requirement. A portfolio is a visual record of an individual’s curiosity, explorations, skills and knowledge.

At NSCAD, we understand that the idea of assembling a portfolio can be stressful. Moreover, it takes courage to show your creative work to someone outside of family—it’s personal and from the heart.

But the reason why the portfolio is an important part of the application process at NSCAD is that it shows us your potential, general level of curiosity and serious commitment to creative exploration, which is what four or five years at NSCAD are all about: trying, testing, risking, exploring and perhaps scrapping it all and starting over. Believe me, after doing a degree at NSCAD, our students are well versed in creative problem solving!

The portfolio requirement is the main reason for NSCAD’s Portfolio Day, a kind of open house we hold twice a year. We sincerely want to help prospective students put their best work forward. Other ways we can help are through the Portfolio Prep classes offered through our School of Extended Studies (a new online class just started) and through the advice of our staff in the Admissions Office. Give them a call at 902-494-8259.

alumni panel

Members of our NSCAD alumni panel included Mimi Fautley, Melissa Townsend, Alison Knott, Mary Garoutte, Duane Jones, and Geordan Moore.

Before changing the topic from Portfolio Day, I want to say thank you to NSCAD alumna Alison Knott (BDes 2007), the Halifax freelance designer who organized and moderated the afternoon panel discussion “A Future in Art: Catching up with NSCAD Alumni.” I also want to thank the NSCAD alumni who contributed to the panel, including Mimi Fautley (BFA 1998), owner of The Loop, a yarn and modern fibre store; Melissa Townsend (BFA 2005), a painter; Duane Jones (BDes 2004), a records analyst for Dalhousie Medical School’s Dean’s Office and fashion designer of the line Art Pays Me; Mary Garoutte (BFA 2004), a painter and arts administrator at Zwicker’s Gallery in Halifax; and Geordan Moore (BDes 2007), silk screen printer, designer and owner of the Quarrelsome Yeti. The question Alison posed to the panel participants was “What can one do with a degree in art and design?” The answer, as articulated so thoughtfully and in different ways, is that earning a degree from NSCAD allows you to live your passion while giving you a career that is creative, thoughtful, enjoyable and entrepreneurial.

Feb 18  What a great discussion!

Feb 18 I had a great time! Thanks for the invitation

Feb 18 Portfolio Day panel was so powerful. Thx Melissa and Mary! Such insight!

Ruby Boutilier from the Admissions Office welcomes prospective students, parents, friends and supporters to NSCAD for Portfolio Day.

Ruby Boutilier from the Admissions Office welcomes prospective students, parents, friends and supporters to NSCAD for Portfolio Day.

A big thank you to the team who contributed to a successful Portfolio Day—Terry Bailey, Ruby Boutilier, Katherine Sharpe, Meghan MacDonald, Ken Rice, Eric Miller, Justine Somogyi, Kathryn Toope, Siobhan Cleary, James Barmby, Marilyn Smulders and media services. Also to our faculty members Anna Sprague, Adrian Fish, Sarah Hartland Rowe, Glen Hougan and Craig Leonard. Thank you all.

Remember, the application deadline for scholarship consideration is March 1.

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Pamela Ritchie

NSCAD Professor Pamela Ritchie is the winner of the 2017 Saidye Bronfman Award.

Another highlight of last week was the announcement that two NSCAD alumni will receive Canada’s highest honour for the arts – the Governor General’s Award for Visual and Media Arts. Congratulations to NSCAD professor and jewellery artist Pamela Ritchie (BFA 1975, MFA 1982), the Saidye Bronfman Award for Excellence in Fine Craft Laureate, and painter Landon Mackenzie (BFA 1976) on receiving this prestigious recognition. The ceremony to confer the awards will take place at the Governor General’s residence, Rideau Hall, in Ottawa, on March 1. Other special events include “In Conversation with the GGArts Winners” at the National Gallery on Feb. 28, and the opening of a special exhibition at the Winnipeg Art Gallery on April 7.

The Saidye Bronfman Award is one of the eight Governor General’s Awards for Visual and Media Arts, specifically awarded for excellence in fine craft. This year, 2017, is an auspicious year for the award as it celebrates its 40th anniversary. In addition to Pamela Ritchie, many NSCAD alumni and faculty are among the exceptional artists to have received the Saidye Bronfman Award, namely jewellery artist Paul McClure (BFA 1989) in 2015; weaver and NSCAD teacher Sandra Brownlee (BEd, BFA 1971) in 2014; ceramic artist Greg Payce (MFA 1987) in 2013; goldsmith Charles Lewton-Brain (BFA 1978) in 2012; metalsmith and NSCAD professor Kye-Yeon Son in 2011; and ceramic artist and NSCAD professor emeritus Walter Ostrom in 2003.

All of us at NSCAD are so proud!

painting

Landon Mackenzie, a painter and professor at Emily Carr University, is a winner of the 2017 Governor General’s Award for Visual and Media Arts.

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One week at NSCAD holds a lot! Last week, we also held our Donor Appreciation Event, cheekily named Donors & Doughnuts. This event brings together donors to the school and the benefactors of their largesse—student scholarship and bursary recipients. Third-year ceramics student Elsa Brittin spoke about what receiving a scholarship meant to her and touched all of us with her gratitude and sincerity.

Even on a snowy Thursday evening, we had a full house, including Mayor Mike Savage and many members of the NSCAD Board of Governors. Our hosts for the evening were the students and faculty of the Ceramics Department at the Port Campus. Thanks to them for such a warm welcome.

Feb 16 The world needs more artists now more than ever. Always love visiting , great to meet students, scholarship winners tonight.

As befitting an event called Donors & Doughnuts, there were some excellent gourmet doughnuts! The salted caramel doughnuts were a particular delight.

Photos by NSCAD student Erica Flake.

An invitation to NSCAD

The NSCAD community is very special and we must be ever cognizant of our shared values of trust, respect, collegiality and pride. They couldn’t be more relevant than in these times of disruption in the world.

With these values in mind, NSCAD University is committed to join with OCAD University, Alberta College of Art and Design and Emily Carr University of Art and Design to welcome international art students affected by the U.S. President’s recent Executive Order on Refugees and Immigrants.

Deborah Obalil, President of the Association of Independent Colleges of Art & Design (AICAD), has issued a response to this discriminatory and deeply troubling policy, outlining that Canadian members of AICAD are prepared to accept students whose education has been disrupted. NSCAD is proud to be a member of AICAD, a consortium of the leading 42 specialized schools of visual art and design in the United States and Canada.

AICAD is able to act quickly because of long-established exchange programs in place among its member institutions. NSCAD, like the three other Canadian schools, will accept international students enrolled in our sister schools in the U.S. and transfer their credits.

As Deborah Obalil writes, “We stand united against policies that are counter to the principles of diversity, equity, inclusion and the global sharing of knowledge that are core to the educational missions of all our members.”

Diversity in our classrooms and studios makes all of us richer. The chance to understand an issue from another perspective adds to our knowledge and understanding. Making friendships with classmates from different countries expands our world.


Tour the campuses, meet current students and get feedback on your artwork during Portfolio Day. It takes place on Saturday, Feb. 18 at the Fountain Campus in the morning, and Port Campus in the afternoon.

Tour the campuses, meet current students and get feedback on your artwork during Winter Portfolio Day. It takes place on Saturday, Feb. 18 at the Fountain Campus in the morning, and Port Campus in the afternoon.

Speaking of a warm NSCAD welcome, we are getting ready to greet prospective students, parents, teachers, guidance counselors, college transfer students and members of the community for our upcoming Winter Portfolio Day.

Taking place on Saturday, February 18, Portfolio Day is the art school version of an open house. It’s a chance to show off our amazing studios and facilities and talk about the diverse programs we offer. As well, prospective students get an opportunity to get feedback on their portfolios from professors. Preparing a portfolio is an important part of the application process at NSCAD.

In addition to tours, information exchanges and portfolio reviews, we are sharing more immersive experiences throughout the day. Among the highlights are a panel discussion by NSCAD alumni with creative careers and hands-on art-making sessions such as screen printing and button making.

Portfolio Day isn’t only for prospective students from high school. Maybe you’re a student at another post-secondary institution who is considering a change. Maybe you’re established in your career and thinking of going back to school to follow your heart’s desire. Perhaps you’re in Grade 10 or Grade 11 and are exploring your options in advance of Grade 12. Or, maybe you’re just curious about NSCAD. Whatever your motivation, you are invited to attend NSCAD’s Portfolio Day.

Here’s a look at the schedule for the day:

  • 9:15 – 9:30 am – Meet at NSCAD’s Art Bar +Projects, 1873 Granville Street (Fountain Campus) for coffee and welcome.
  • 9:30 – 11:00 am – Tours of the Fountain Campus.
  • 11:00 am – 12:00 pm – Change locations to our Port Campus. Portfolio reviewees stop by the Registration Desk on the first floor to pick up Portfolio Day Kit.
  • 12:00 – 1:00 pm – Presentation on admissions procedures and the Portfolio Dos and Don’ts. 2nd Floor, Port Campus.
  • 1:00 pm – Welcome message from the President. 2nd Floor, Port Campus.
  • 1:15 pm – Portfolio reviews begin. 2nd Floor, Port Campus.
  • 1:30 pm – NSCAD Alumni Panel Discussion featuring Mary Garoutte (BFA 2004), Melissa Townsend (BFA 2005), Duane Jones (BDes 2004), Mimi Fautley (BFA 1998), Geordan Moore (BFA 2007). 2nd Floor, Port Campus.
  • 12 noon – NSCAD Sampler – screen-printing and button-making activities led by Extended Studies teachers. 2nd Floor, Port Campus.

I’ll be there and I’m eager to meet you. Make sure to let us know you’re coming by registering.

For more information and to register >>


Monotype

Maria Doering is teaching two printmaking classes through Extended Studies — monotype printing (shown above) and screen printing. Hurry to register! Classes start Feb. 7 and 8.

Speaking of portfolios, NSCAD’s School of Extended Studies is offering a new class, Portfolio Prep Online. As the class is being offered online, the beauty is that you don’t have to live in Halifax to get top advice from NSCAD faculty members on how to prepare your portfolio.

This course focuses on improving the overall quality of portfolios required for application to accredited visual arts programs. Topics are based on portfolio requirements for NSCAD University and other national art schools and include: writing an admissions essay, documenting artwork, and evaluating portfolio content. Studio exercises are process driven, experimental and will help to strengthen problem-solving and observational drawing skills.

The class runs from February 21 to April 19 and is taught by two of NSCAD’s extraordinary teachers, Anna Sprague and Charley Young. (For more information about the class, please click here and scroll to the bottom of the page.)

Besides Portfolio Prep Online, there is more than 50 other classes on offer through our School of Extended Studies for children, teenagers and adults. Don’t delay–some classes have already started.

Reflections on the season of giving

In this season of festive cheer, my thoughts turn to giving and the impact it can make. For me, the old adage rings true: It really is better to give than to receive. Small gifts given big-heartedly make a world of difference.

To illustrate, let me introduce you to Megan Kyak-Monteith.  Born and raised in Pond Inlet, Nunavut, Megan didn’t know how she would fund a post-secondary education when she was accepted to NSCAD. That is, until she heard word that she received a renewable scholarship, the Creative Innovators of Tomorrow Award, which would entirely cover her tuition.

Self-portrait by Megan Kyak-Monteith.

Self-portrait by Megan Kyak-Monteith. Fall 2016.

“Before receiving this award, I was not looking forward to university,” confesses Megan, now in her second year at NSCAD. “Because of the heavy cost of supplies, tuition, housing and food, my focus was not on being educated but on desperately finding the money in order to be educated … I would like to thank the donors for shifting my perspective.”

Megan’s scholarship has allowed the young artist to attend NSCAD where she is developing her painting and illustration skills as she explores her Inuit roots and pushes herself in ways she never anticipated. Last summer, for example, she took herself out of her comfort zone by participating in Halifax’s Art Battle. She ended up winning the regional contest which qualified her to represent Nova Scotia at a national competition. “It’s really energizing and your heart beats super fast,” she says. Participants have just 20 minutes to create a painting and work in front of a large audience.

This summer, Megan will return to Nunavut in the summer to live with her grandparents (her parents are now in Antigonish, Nova Scotia) and work as an illustrator at an Iqaluit-based movie and book company. “Having the scholarship is such a huge lift. It allows me not to have to worry about having a job during school. I can really delve into my assignments and I’m learning so much—I see improvements from one week to another.”

Drawing by Megan Kyak-Monteith.

Drawing by Megan Kyak-Monteith. Fall 2016.

By donating to NSCAD’s Annual Fund, you are giving exceptional students like Megan the chance to shine. Their artistic passions are ignited by NSCAD’s rich and diverse academic programs, interdisciplinarity and vibrant, nurturing community.

There is still time to give to NSCAD’s Annual Fund, which is dedicated to bursary and scholarship support for students. It doesn’t matter how much you give – even little gifts are deeply appreciated.

If you make a donation before year-end, you’ll receive a charitable tax receipt for 2016. And, as if by magic, immediately you’ll receive a glimpse of what makes NSCAD so special—I guarantee that you’ll be touched by what comes your way.

In appreciation and happy holidays! Here is your invitation to give.

Dianne

PS – See more of Megan Kyak-Monteith’s artwork below and in the header image.

megan2

megan7

Thank you DHX Media!

It’s such a proud day at NSCAD University! We are pleased and grateful to have received a $600,000 donation from DHX Media, the world’s leading independent, pure-play children’s content company.

The donation was announced by David Regan, Executive Vice President, Strategy and Corporate Development for DHX Media at the Academy Campus today (Friday, Nov. 25). The donation, to be received over six years, is substantial and means a great deal to us. NSCAD’s Academic Plan: Toward 2020 (2016-20) speaks to the need to increase formal experiential learning opportunities “beyond the classroom” through internships, practica, work-study and exchanges. This support allows NSCAD to do just that.

We are also appreciative of the Province of Nova Scotia’s recent funding support for experiential learning that will complement this industry investment by DHX Media. We were honored to have the Honourable Kelly Regan, Minister of Labour and Advanced Education, and Duff Montgomery, Deputy Minister of LAE, in attendance for the announcement.

We will be directing DHX Media’s donation in three ways to enhance the student experience at NSCAD.

  • First, this gift will be dedicated to expanding experiential learning opportunities for NSCAD students in the Division of Media Arts. Funds will be used to develop internship opportunities for upper-year media arts students in film, animation and intermedia, allowing them to gain valuable work experience at the same time as earning course credit. On-the-job training is incredibly valuable and gives our students a definite advantage as they graduate.
  • Secondly, funds will be used to support the creation of thesis film projects of our senior undergraduate students, giving them the financial support they need to complete a film in their final year at NSCAD. As anyone who works in film knows, it’s an expensive art form and a lot for students to take on by themselves. It’s also a truly collaborative art form. As well as directing their own films, the students work on the films of other students to gain experience in other capacities, as cinematographers, art directors and production managers—just to name a few of the jobs—giving them a well-rounded, immersive experience in film making.
  • Thirdly, the DHX donation will go to the further development of the Animation Lab at NSCAD’s Academy Campus. We’ll be able to keep this facility updated with industry-relevant software and other equipment purchases. This is a constant concern at our school like ours, and we’ve been able to make a number of updates at the Academy Campus in recent years with the help of the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) and Nova Scotia Research and Innovation Trust. For example, this funding has outfitted our new sound studio, completed earlier this year, and supported the research of Professor Darrell Varga as Canada Research Chair in Contemporary Film and Media Studies.

We so appreciate this donation by DHX Media. It’s a vote of confidence in NSCAD by an industry leader now, and in 2004, when the company—or its predecessor—donated the building for our Academy Campus allowing our Media Arts program and the Cineflux research centre to grow and flourish.

Chelsea Innes, whose third-year student film Little Keys is racking up honors, spoke on behalf of students to thank DHX Media.

Chelsea Innes, whose third-year student film Little Keys is racking up honors at various film festivals, spoke on behalf of students to thank DHX Media. Chelsea will beginning work on her thesis film project next semester.

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Have you started your holiday shopping? I’m heading to the NSCAD Holiday Pop-Up today. It’s a wonderful opportunity to pick up unique, handmade gifts and support student artists at the same time. More than 70 students are taking part.

Because it’s so large, you’ll find the Pop-Up in a couple of different locations: in the retail space at 1869 Granville Street, Art Bar + Projects (both sides), the entrance to Granville Mall, the hallway behind the NSCAD Art Supply Store, and the Hollis Street entrance to Fountain Campus. There will be original prints, paintings, jewellery, ceramics, textiles, letterpress, and much more besides. See you there!

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To our students, we’re in the home stretch of the fall semester. Best of luck as you write essays and finish projects. I know you will be taking advantage of NSCAD’s 24/7 access!

Feeling thankful and proud

Autumn seems to have arrived suddenly this year. Sometimes it’s dark by the time I leave the campus and the salt air is cool and fresh. Thanksgiving is here already—a perfect time to reflect and express gratitude.

NSCAD University is in a good place and for that I am thankful. As I like to say, it seems we’ve been sprinkled with pixie dust with all the good news coming our way. But of course, it’s not magic at all but evidence of the excellent education provided at NSCAD and the alumni whose achievements reflect so well on the university.

To give a few examples:

unknown-1While on Canadian tour, the Duchess of Cambridge was spotted wearing earrings made by Shelley MacDonald, a 2011 Jewellery and Metalsmithing grad now based in the Yukon. Shelley had recently struck out on her own as an independent jewellery designer and goldsmith, balancing her business with her passion for teaching. In the wake of the “Kate Effect,” she’s been deluged with orders—validation for taking the risk as an entrepreneur. As she basked in the spotlight, Shelley wanted to share the light with NSCAD. She says NSCAD’s advantages are its emphasis on fine craftsmanship and the emphasis on handmade, the support of the professors—“they have so much to give”—and NSCAD’s 24 hour access. Shelley’s good fortune was covered extensively. Here are a few of the stories:

> CBC – “Nova Scotia jeweller sees orders spike after Kate Middleton wears her earrings”
> LocalXPress – “Antigonish jeweller shocked to see her earrings on Kate Middleton”
> New York Times – “Kate Middleton’s Tour of Canada: a Designer Scorecard”

photowally_sparksThe Canadian fashion label Beaufille has been getting a lot of attention since its debut at New York Fashion Week in the spring. And now that excitement has spilled over to fall when sisters Parris and Chloe Gordon returned to New York to present their spring 2017 line. Canadian fashion icon Jeanne Beker profiled the NSCAD alumni in a full page spread in The Globe and Mail on Saturday.
> Here’s the story: “Meet the Canadian sisters behind Beaufille, fall’s hottest fashion label”

Groundwood Logos SpineNSCAD alumnus Sydney Smith (BFA 2006) is a finalist for a Governor General’s Award for Young People’s Literature – Illustrated Books, this time for the book The White Cat and the Monk, written by Jo Ellen Bogart. Sydney won this prestigious award last year for Sidewalk Flowers, an exquisite wordless book about a little girl who notices what others don’t see, like flowers growing in the cracks of sidewalks. In a story posted to the NSCAD website shortly after his win, I was struck by how moved Sydney was by a casual encounter with one of his teachers, printmaker Dan O’Neill, in the NSCAD cafeteria. Dan handed him a pamphlet of Governor General Award-nominated books with the remark “that could be you one day.” Sydney says that moment challenged him to think big and have confidence in his abilities. “That kind of support makes such a difference and means a great deal. It says: ‘I think you’re good enough this’ and it shaped my direction.”
> The story: “Wordless book speaks volumes” 

Besides these stories about amazing alumni, there are other reasons for optimism. New first year students to NSCAD have increased by 12 per cent this year. I’ve already seen many of them out with cameras as they commence their Foundation studies! An exciting time.

Lots of action at the Pecha Kucha event on NSCAD research. Erica Flake Photo.

Lots of action at the Pecha Kucha event on NSCAD research. Erica Flake Photo.

The academic year kicked off strongly at the Anna Leonowens Gallery, with some outstanding shows including the Lunenburg Community Studio Residency 10th Anniversary Exhibition, Commons Threads: the Textiles/Fashion Department Survey Show, and The Starfish Student Art Awards Exhibition. I’m looking forward to experiencing Alan Syliboy’s upcoming exhibition The Thundermaker, which will be featured at the gallery for Nocturne, along with Jaime Black’s REDress Project and Becka Barker’s Place Holder III. Alan, a NSCAD alumnus, presented a public lecture to a full house at the Halifax Central Library, talking about how he draws on his Mi’kmaq culture for his art practice. The lecture was absorbing and well attended.

We had a great turnout for the opening of the NSCAD Lunenburg Community Studio Residency 10th Anniversary Exhibition and Common Threads, the Textiles/Fashion Department show.

We had a great turnout for the opening of the NSCAD Lunenburg Community Studio Residency 10th Anniversary Exhibition and Common Threads, the Textiles/Fashion Department show. Erica Flake Photo.

Things have been hopping at NSCAD’s Art Bar + Projects too, with a good crowd for NSCAD Research Day and the Pecha Kucha 21: Research Showcase. Several of our professors have been successful in securing research funds through the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council for projects ranging from Indigenous media and performance art, art and money, and a symposium on the Halifax Explosion.

Yes, indeed, there’s a lot to be grateful for. I wish everyone a happy and restful Thanksgiving break!

Dianne

September’s new beginnings

Fall brings a sense of new beginnings: a brand new sketchbook, a page full of possibilities, an eagerness to splash some color on the white!

There is an exciting vibe around NSCAD as new students from all parts of the globe arrive and many others return, embracing friends with inquiries about their summer adventures. We exchange our experiences of travel far and wide, of NSCAD acquaintances encountered in unexpected places.

For those of us in academia, fall is the true start of a new year. Although NSCAD has two sessions of classes throughout the summer, it’s quieter than rest of the school year and so it’s wonderful to see the hallways and classrooms full again. The schedule of events at the Anna Leonowens Gallery and the Art Bar are set; the Atlantic Film Festival and Nocturne are around the corner; and my calendar is full to bursting with openings and special events. There is so much to do here at NSCAD. I personally invite you to participate.

Link: This fall at the Anna

The fall schedule at the Anna Leonowens Gallery opens on Monday, Sept. 12 with the Lunenburg Residency 10th Anniversary Exhibition. I’ll get a sneak peek of that exhibition tonight (Tuesday, Sept. 6) when it opens first at the Lunenburg studio with Senator Wilfred Moore, Lunenburg Mayor Rachel Bailey and alumni of the program in attendance. The exhibition is comprised of artworks from Senator Moore’s personal collection, including a work from each and every Lunenburg resident over those 10 years.

NSCAD alumni aboard tall ship

Some alumni of the NSCAD-Lunenburg Community Studio Residency Program: Andrew Maize, Nadia Gemeinhardt, Lynette de Montreuil, Kat Frick Miller, Jason Skinner and Rebecca Roher. Marilyn Smulders Photo.

Link: Celebrating 10 years in Lunenburg

September marks the changing of the guard at our residency programs. In Lunenburg, Julie Wagner, Lux Habrich and Marley Johnson have moved out of the three-bay studio of the former Lunenburg fire hall, while Selina LaTour, Denirée Isabel Mendoza and Norma Jean MacLean are moving in. At the MacPhee Centre for Creative Learning in Dartmouth, Caitlin McGuire and Kelsey Pearson have finished their residencies, while Cinthia Arias Auz, Jessica Lynn Wiebe and Luis Figero are just starting.

With new beginnings, there are always endings. I’d like to extend my heartfelt thanks to Professors Frances Dorsey, Robin Muller and Alvin Comiter, who’ve retired from teaching after many, many years at NSCAD. At the same time, we welcome our newest faculty members: art educator April Mandrona in Art History and Critical Studies, professors Elena Brebenel and Jennifer Green in Textiles/Fashion, and Marcia Connolly in Film. As well, Dr. James Barmby is our new Associate Vice President, Student Experience and Registrar, and Paul Maher, is our new Director of Teaching and Learning.

Frances Dorsey Robin Muller

Retired professors Frances Dorsey and Robin Muller pose in front of their work at a retrospective exhibition held earlier in the summer at the Anna Leonowens Gallery. Photo courtesy of Tim Krochak, Local XPress

Links:

Speaking of Paul, he and NSCAD librarian Rebecca Young have helped facilitate in the creation of NSCAD’s Learning Commons, which you can find on the second floor of the Fountain Campus (third floor of the NSCAD Library). This airy, bright space promises to be a new gathering space at NSCAD. Take a moment to stop by and check it out.

nscad learning commons

NSCAD’s new Learning Commons – a comfortable “collision space.” Marilyn Smulders Photo.

To everyone at NSCAD – faculty, staff, students, alumni – I propose a toast (let’s make it apple cider). Cheers to fall and new beginnings!

Dianne

P.S. The quintessentially summery picture at the top of this blog is by Erica Flake, one of the students who camped at Kejimkujik National Park in August as part of the class, Parks Canada: Keji, taught by Anna Sprague.

From school to success

On June 21, the Transition Task Force released From School to Success: Clearing the Path.  The report contains 15 recommendations to help youth get the training and education they need to find meaningful employment in Nova Scotia.

Appointed by Education and Early Childhood Education Minister Karen Casey and Labour and Advanced Education Minister Kelly Regan last fall, the Transition Task Force is made up of educators, business and youth representatives—myself included. (See the photo of task force members in the header above.)

Recommendations from the task force include:

  • providing relevant career information to youth earlier
  • creating an entrepreneurial culture within schools, colleges and universities
  • helping more apprentices, college and university students complete their education and training, and to do so more quickly

I was honored to serve on the Transition Task Force that addressed some key issues in education that I am passionately committed to. Through the task force, I found a table of like-minded people engaged in discussing challenges and making recommendations of what can be done to provide enhanced opportunities for Nova Scotian youth.

I know first-hand how NSCAD, as a world renowned art school, can be accessible to young people coming from high school or transferring from other universities and the Nova Scotia Community College (NSCC) (through our innovative 2 + 2 programs). Sometimes debt adverseness can prevent some very talented students from considering a degree in art or design, but there is financial support available. NSCAD awards more than $311,000 in student support annually through bursaries and scholarships and also offers diverse employment opportunities for students on campus.

I believe one of the most important task force recommendations is to reach parents and students with financial planning information earlier so that they understand post-secondary education is worth the investment and remains the clearest path to a rewarding and good paying job. For example, the Nova Scotia government provides bursaries of approximately $1,200 a year for university students from Nova Scotia—although this significant direct tuition deduction is generally not well known.The task force also called for a review of current sources of financial assistance to students (from governments, universities, colleges, families and students themselves) and an assessment of what changes could be made to close the gap between costs and available resources.

Education and Early Childhood Development Minister Karen Casey and Labour and Advanced Education Minister Kelly Regan accepted the report and thanked the task force members for our work.

“Our government is committed to seeing more young people find meaningful work here at home,” said Minister Regan. “Our budget this year is investing more than $12 million in programs that provide the skills, training and experience needed to connect young people to a career here in Nova Scotia.”

The province will report on progress throughout the year, as action is undertaken. The ministers also agreed to reconvene task force members in fall 2017 for a round table session to review and discuss progress.

The Transition Task Force was established as part of Nova Scotia’s Action Plan for Education. Ensuring youth have the best possible chance for a successful future in Nova Scotia is supported by the ONE Nova Scotia Coalition.

To close, I would like to share some profiles from the  Class of 2016. Read what NSCAD grads say about their art school experience and how it changed their lives.

NSCAD Pride and Kudos!

Dianne

Celebrating in style

These past few weeks NSCAD celebrated student achievement in style and tradition with outstanding exhibitions, a pop-up shop, well attended events, the 2016 graduation show and catalogue launch and convocation ceremony.

For me, the highlight of the Spring had to be the 2016 Graduation Ceremony, held on April 29 at the Cunard Centre. Members of the Class of 2016 successfully graduated and were welcomed to the NSCAD alumni family. It was a time of pride in all that we believe in and collectively accomplish, a time of celebration with family, friends and supporters from near and far. I heard nothing but accolades and joy at every event.

photo booth

2016 Graduates load into the Photo Booth after the ceremony. Did you notice the image of NSCAD founder Anna Leonowens in the background?

We were pleased to welcome internationally acclaimed architect Todd Saunders (BDes 1992) back to his alma mater as our 2016 Honorary Degree recipient. Commissioned by the Shorefast Foundation and the Fogo Island Arts Corporation to design the iconic Fogo Island Inn and artists’ studios, Todd’s work is featured in the documentary film, Strange & Familiar: Architecture on Fogo Island. His overall message to the Graduating Class of 2016 was “Don’t be complacent.”

NSCAD grads are everywhere

I’m pleased to be invited as a presenter at the upcoming conference, Cape Breton Partnership: Growing a Creative Economy, on May 19 and 20 in Sydney. I will be speaking as part of the panel “Keeping Them Here – The NextGen Creative Workforce” (facilitated by Mary Elizabeth Luka (BFA 1997), alumni rep on the NSCAD Board of Governors).

If your ears are burning, it may be because I’m talking about you. My presentation will be filled with examples of young NSCAD alumni who’ve built a career and made a viable home in Nova Scotia following their graduation. Kat Frick Miller, Andrew Maize, Kara Highfield, and Erin Robison, for example, stayed in the Lunenburg area after doing the NSCAD-Lunenburg Community Studio Residency. Jimy Sloan and Brianne Williams, both of whom did the residency program in New Glasgow, have robust artistic practices. Jimy just had a solo exhibition at Studio 21 Fine Art Gallery and Brianne along with Joan Bruneau are the featured artists in a Nova Scotia tourism video for Destination Canada.

Speaking of NSCAD alumni, let’s have a round of applause—oh, let’s make it a standing ovation—for these alumni and their accomplishments:

  • Evan Rensch (MFA 2015) was the recipient of the 2016 Gold Academic Medal. It was accepted on his behalf at graduation by Prof. Robert Bean, who presented the award to Evan a week later at the Scotiabank Photography Award in Toronto.
  • Katherine Nakaska (BFA 2015) was awarded the 2016 Silver Academic Medal for top achievement at the undergraduate level at NSCAD.
gov general medal

Prof. Robert Bean presents Evan Rensch with the Governor General’s Gold Medal at the 2016 Scotiabank Prize. Also in the photo: Ann Thomas, Curator of Photography, National Gallery of Canada; Angela Grauerholz, winner of 2015 Scotiabank Photography Award; and photographer Ed Burtynsky.

  • Stephen Reynolds (BFA 1984) won a daytime Emmy Award for direction on the children’s series, Odd Squad.
  • Chloe and Parris Gordon’s Fall 2016 Ready to Wear collection for Beaufille got the notice of Vogue Magazine.
fashion

From Beaufille’s 2016 Ready-to-Wear collection, as shown on Vogue’s website.

  • Ambera Wellman (BFA 2011) is 2016 winner of the $25,000 Joseph Plaskett Award. Ambera is now completing her MFA at the University of Guelph.
  • M.E. Sparks (BFA 2013) was awarded the Nancy Petry Prize, administered through the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts and the Joseph Plaskett Foundation. M.E. (BFA 2013) is completing her Master of Applied Art at Emily Carr University of Art + Design.
  • Students in Andrea Ward’s (MFA 1991) art classes at Highfield Junior School in Etobicoke were recognized by the National Film Board no less for the stop-motion animation shorts they made.
  • Yalitsa Riden’s (BFA 2016) film Shoreline was a big winner at the 49th Houston International Film Festival, claiming the Gold Remi Award in the student film and video category.
  • NSCAD students Laura Admussen, Jennifer Kobler and Tamara Oake were named 2016 finalists for the Waxman Textile Prize, competing against students at the Tokyo Zokei University School of Art & Design, LUCA School of Arts, Ghent, Royal Academy of Fine Arts, Antwerp, among others.
  • SCALE 1:1, founded by designer David Winston (BFA 1994), has won the Architizer A+ Award for best product design for two products: the Nomad sport conference table (a three-in-one product that works as a conference table, a ping pong table and a mobile marker board) and Tete-a-Tete, a double desk for colleagues working collaboratively.

Congratulations all!

NSCAD is small and mighty, nimble and fleet-of-foot

By working together the NSCAD community celebrated many events over these past weeks at the same time as dealing with competing priorities. Nevertheless, something quite remarkable happened: the complete alignment of NSCAD’s planning documents and tools, including the Strategic Framework, Academic Plan and Strategic Research Plan. Over the past year of working together we not only achieved a balanced operating budget but have developed robust and ambitious plans for the future.

Thank you to all in our community for contributing to this remarkable accomplishment.

Dianne

Bursting with NSCAD pride

The projects are finished, the essays and exams are written and the final marks are in. It’s time for all of us at NSCAD to take a collective breath as the 2016 Graduation Ceremony approaches.

This is a wonderful time of the year and I have never been more proud. Those of us who work at NSCAD know how amazing our students are, so when their accomplishments reach a more public stage, we are thrilled that members of our community can witness this too. Such was the case during EPOCH, the runway show which featured the work of 14 student fashion designers, and the Starfish Student Art Awards, a showcase for the artwork of 10 student finalists. Speaking of Starfish, congratulations to 2016 winner Sydney McKenna. I’m delighted that her exquisite print, Play, has found a home in the President’s Office, alongside View from Chebucto Head by Arthur Lismer, the principal of NSCAD a century ago, and John Baldessari’s iconic print I Will Not Make Any More Boring Art.

relief print by Sydney McKenna

Sydney McKenna, Play, 2015. Relief print, 116.84 x 81.28 cm.

On Thursday, there are two special events to mention. The first is the screening of Strange & Familiar: the Architecture of Fogo Island, which will take place at 2 pm in Paul O’Regan Hall of Halifax Central Library. This stunning film, which I had a chance to see during the Atlantic Film Festival last September, documents a bold architecture project on remote Fogo Island that embraces contemporary design and the excitement of living on the edge in relation to nature. The filmmakers of Strange & Familiar are all NSCAD alumni—Marcia Connolly, Katherine Knight and David Craig. Marcia, the co-director and cinematographer, will be at the screening for the Q&A which follows, along with architect Todd Saunders, also a NSCAD alumnus. We are delighted to welcome Todd from Norway for the screening and graduation on Friday when Todd will be awarded NSCAD’s highest honour, an Honorary Doctorate of Fine Art.

artist studio fogo

One of the artist studios designed by Todd Saunders on Fogo Island, Newfoundland. The image in the header shows the iconic Fogo Island Inn.

After the screening, it’s off to the Anna Leonowens Gallery for the opening of the 2016 Graduation Exhibition and the launch of the 2016 Graduation Catalogue. This is always such a fantastic event with so many family and friends in attendance. It’s a chance to recognize the two student interns – this year curator Brea McAllister and designer Grace Laemmler – who pour heart and soul into presenting the work of their peers. Thanks to the donation by Margaret and David Fountain, the gallery is newly renovated and a fitting showcase for the exhibition of more than 100 artworks.

Later in the evening, there will be a party at NSCAD’s very own Art Bar, just a few doors down from the gallery on Granville Street.

The next day, Friday, April 29, it’s graduation. The ceremony takes place at 2 pm at the Cunard Centre, 961 Marginal Road—just a short walk from our Port Campus. NSCAD’s Graduation Ceremony is like none other and I’m very much looking forward to celebrating the achievements of the Graduating Class of 2016.

In closing, I’d like to tell you about another highlight of the last two weeks: the signing of the collective agreement for FUNSCAD Unit I representing faculty members and FUNSCAD Unit II representing technicians. This is a huge accomplishment that was made possible with a wholehearted commitment to NSCAD on the part of everyone involved. FUNSCAD President, Professor Alvin Comiter, who has been involved with 12 collective agreements over his 42 years at NSCAD, said an agreement reached without having to go to the bargaining table has never happened at NSCAD before. The process was amicable and without rancor, achieved through dialogue and mutual respect. Thank you to all those who worked so hard to make the agreement happen and to the NSCAD Board of Governors for its ratification.

group shot

Members of FUNSCAD and the NSCAD administration shared the pen to make the collective agreement official. In photo: Melanie Colosimo, director of the Anna Leonowens Gallery, Dr. Ann-Barbara Graff, Vice President Academic & Research, NSCAD President Dianne Taylor-Gearing, Dr. Jayne Wark, Professor of Art History, Alvin Comiter, Professor, Photography, and Sharon Johnson-Legere, Vice President Finance and Administration.