Here we go go

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The month of May was a whirlwind of activities and celebrations—a time filled with emotion for the NSCAD community. The sudden deaths of two long-serving staff members and a student in one week was devastating news. We came together for … Continue reading

The full sketchbook

In my first blog post back in August, I made reference to the beginning of a new academic year being like a blank page in a sketchbook.

It’s April now and that sketchbook is full to bursting. Together, we’ve made progress on so many fronts, including a vision for NSCAD through the Strategic Framework, and exciting developments for the enhancement of the student experience at the Fountain campus. Eugene Pieczonka, architect with Lydon Lynch, and Dean Ann-Barbara Graff presented the four scenarios developed through consultations with the NSCAD community at a Town Hall meeting this week. We are so grateful to Margaret and David Fountain for the $3 million donation that is making renovations possible. (For more details on this front, please see the page on the NSCAD website.)

There are so many end-of-term shows going on now, from the Ceramics Open House (April 14-18, Port Campus), Hot Prints, (April 16, Fountain Campus), Pinned, a design exposition by graduating interdisciplinary design students (April 17, Port Campus), Thaw, the senior students fashion show (April 18, Port Campus) and the NSCAD Film Screening Night (April 20, Park Lane). The roller coaster of events builds up to the Starfish Student Art Awards (April 29, Port Campus), Artist for a Day (May 9, Port Campus) and the 2015 Graduation Ceremony, which will include my own Installation as NSCAD’s 21st President (May 16, Cunard Centre).

Hold on everyone, because here we go!

Last Friday, I spent the morning at Halifax City Hall along with Immigration Minister Lena Diab and Mayor Mike Savage to see the presentations by NSCAD interdisciplinary design students. Professor May Chung is very good at seeking out complex, real-world projects in the community for her students to experience problem solving, and this term, her class worked with the Multicultural Association of Nova Scotia (MANS) on welcoming campaigns for Nova Scotia newcomers.

Newcomers like me! From the U.K., (maybe you can tell by my accent?) I arrived in Nova Scotia after driving across the country in a RV from Calgary with my husband Colin and rambunctious dog Trudy. I’ve had such a warm welcome, from meeting Mayor Savage in my first week to becoming better acquainted with all of you here at NSCAD and finding my way around.

I was so impressed with the students, who met with new residents to Nova Scotia, listened to them about their varied experiences, and went to work on their campaigns.

Students Foad Makki, Letitia Calver, Warren Jones and Sara Panchaud were inspired by group member Foad’s story of arriving in Nova Scotia four years ago on St. Patrick’s Day for their project, #thisismystoryNS. (That’s the four of them having a group hug at the top of this blog post.)

“In Saudi Arabia, we have National Day, which is a celebration of our lives as citizens of Saudi,” says Foad, whose story is told by the group on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. “The whole country is flooded with green—green lights, flags, clothes, banners, everything! When I arrived in Halifax on that day, everyone was running around, celebrating with green. My first thoughts were: Is everyone in Canada like this? Maybe they were welcoming me to my new home!”

The concept for their campaign is sharing the stories by Foad and other newcomers on social media platforms, as well as on chalkboard installations.

Other projects at a glance:

  • After a deep dive into the Ivany Report and talking to immigrants, Kayla Robb, Ashley Pincock and Melissa Harrish got bogged down in their research, finally emerging with a simple concept – the “Newcomer Network,” a kind of loose welcoming committee of Nova Scotians who would open their homes and businesses to immigrants through activities like potlucks, game nights and block parties.
  • Tang Xinwei and Elliot Creba developed “Far Away Flavours,” a map showing ethnic food stores as a very practical solution to connecting newcomers with the food they enjoy.
  • Nicholas Hanlon, Mikaela Barnett and Robin Richardson Dupuis created a logo of two linked hands forming a heart as a visual way to send out a message of welcome and community.
  • Julie O’Kruk, Brittany Hall and Jocelyn Lee asked “How Do You Hello?” after discovering that while language is an issue for newcomers, “saying hello is something everyone does, but does differently,” says Julie. Their campaign, geared to social media, includes a fun video of people saying hello in dozens of languages, from a simple “Hey” in English to “здравствуйте” in Russian and “ هتاف للترحيب`” in Arabic.

For more about the projects, please visit the NSCAD Interdisciplinary Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/pages/NSCAD-Interdisciplinary-Design/292228990908997).

Congratulations to all the students for such thoughtful and interesting work. I am impressed!

As classes end for this year, I would like to recognize the students as they make progress on their learning journeys here at NSCAD, and the faculty and staff who nurture and challenge each student along the way. It is a very special time of year that we can all be proud of and celebrate.

Taking time to celebrate

Well evidently March has come in like a lion, and is going out like one too! Can you believe it’s the first day of Spring on Friday?

After my last blog post, “Taking Time to Heal,” I was overwhelmed by feedback received from around the world, from Hong Kong, India, France, UK, USA and across Canada. I think the healing message resonated.

I would like to acknowledge the work of talented student Becky Gartner whose woven textiles headed the “Taking Time to Heal” blog post.

The very fact that I acknowledged challenges of the past and the need to take time to heal as we move forward has opened conversations around NSCAD by students, faculty and staff. Each person that has approached me to share what “Taking Time to Heal” means to them has explained in their own way a deep sense of belonging to this unique NSCAD community and a desire to contribute to its future success.

Nurture is one of our four strategic pillars and our collective wellbeing is recognized to be an important element. How we achieve this is up to all of us. I was so impressed with the therapy dogs visit to NSCAD Fountain Campus during Student Mental Health Week in February. This initiative received such high participation and positive feedback we are considering extending the pilot to have additional therapy dog visits on campus commencing in the Fall. Thank you to SUNSCAD executive for working with the Office of Student and Academic Services to organize these sessions and to administrative colleagues that supported the pilot program.

Moving on I do recognize we have a hectic time ahead as our graduating class prepares for final exhibitions and shows. It’s an opportunity for us to celebrate and invite family, friends and supporters to join our community. We have a full schedule of special events upcoming, including the Starfish Student Art Awards on Wednesday, April 29; Artist for a Day on Saturday, May 9th; The Friends and Family Night at the Graduation Exhibition on Friday, May 15th; and Graduation on Saturday, May 16th.

If you can keep a secret, I want to share with you that this year’s 2015 Graduation Ceremony on May 16 will not only honour our talented graduates but will include the installation of myself as NSCAD’s 21st President. We’ll also award five honorary degrees to accomplished recipients nominated by our faculty; Carole Condé and Karl Beveridge, Robert Frank, Gerhard Steidl and NSCAD alumna Tanya Tagaq.

Take care,

Dianne

P.S. Enjoy these photos by Eliot Wright of the Wearable and Performance Art Show–a fun night! Student organizer Jessica Lynn Wiebe did a great job!