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.

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