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.

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.

***

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!

***

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.

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

The end-of-semester adrenaline rush

As an art school graduate who has a degree specializing in Fashion and Textiles (from Middlesex University, London), I find my thoughts turning to the senior students as they prepare to show their work on the runway at Epoch, the NSCAD 2016 fashion show.

It seems like yesterday when I worked 24/7 in the studio, designing, creating, sewing and hand finishing with beads and embroidery. It was as exciting as it was nerve wracking: all the dreams, ideas and fabric swatches that were pinned bulletin boards and filled sketchbook pages were coming to life.

In the art school tradition, students learn much more than how to draft patterns, drape and sew. Through classes offered in Textiles/Fashion, students acquire the skills not only to create designs, but to weave the cloth, dye the fabric, print it and adorn it. They learn how to manipulate fabric into three-dimensional sculptural forms.

To contextualize the development of creative designs, classes in art, craft and design history complement skills learned in the studio and give students knowledge of trends and art movements over time. That knowledge can then become inspiration for mood boards (the header image provides a glimpse of Elisha Huntley’s mood board) and help to shape individual expression.

Epoch, the NSCAD student fashion show, takes place Saturday, April 16, 7 pm at the Port Campus. We are thrilled to welcome Canadian fashion icon Jeanne Beker as our special guest for this sold-out show.

Congratulations to the participating students Cai Ripley, Chelsie Coles, Elisha Huntley, Emily Bjornson, Johana Cordero, Jodie Fox, Kaleigh Woodard, Kelly MacGillivrary, Leanne Hansen, Maggie MacCormick, Matthew Brown, Myfanwy Gover, Toban Ralston and Victoria Kristofic. And a big heartfelt thank you to Gary Markle, Leesa Hamilton and Adam MacKinnon for sharing the students’ work with the wider fashion-loving community. See you there!

***

As NSCAD students prepare for their final assessments and shows, I look forward to taking part in the celebrations of their achievements.

Celebrate with me! I have one VIP ticket for Epoch on Saturday evening on hold for the first person to get in touch. Simply send an email to the address universityrelations@nscad.ca with the subject line, “Epoch will be epic.”

Update: April 13, 10:30 am – That was fast! The ticket has been claimed.

A man in a blue kayak

It’s that time of year when we catch up with news from family, friends, former colleagues, students and acquaintances, some of whom come out of the blue like the story of a man in a kayak.

Well, it’s been quite a year! As December comes to a close. It’s hard to comprehend how much was truly accomplished in 2015.

Perhaps the most major accomplishment of the year is achieving collective agreements with our faculty and technician unions. These agreements were negotiated before the expiration of current agreements on Dec. 31, 2015, and herald a new spirit of cooperation at NSCAD. And that is good, because there is still much to discuss as we head into 2016, specifically as we prepare for our departure from the Fountain Campus in a few years’ time and reflect on the new academic plan now in development.

Another major accomplishment of 2015 is the approval of NSCAD’s Strategic Framework: 2015-2020. Much of the hard work on this document happened before I arrived at NSCAD in the summer of 2014. All that back story gives this plan and its pillars—Connect, Nurture, Curiosity and Steward—such richness and vitality. Moving forward, these words will continue to guide and inform our decision-making. I am so pleased with how the Strategic Framework was reflected in our 2014-15 Annual Report, truly a beautiful reflection of an art school on the rise and already receiving external recognition for positive change.

NSCAD is in a good place. As a community, we have overcome so much together that as we prepare to turn the page on 2015, we are resilient. Every day I gain strength from the amazing accomplishments of alumni, faculty, staff and students, who recognize NSCAD for inspiring, challenging and nurturing them. I think of Kyle Alden Martens’ address during our Donor Appreciation Reception at the end of November, and how, in his entertaining, round-about way, talked about how a NSCAD education opened doors, one after another, but that it’s up to each of us to take advantage of the gaps and fling open those opportunities ever wider. I think of Sydney Smith (Wordless book speaks volumes in the latest edition of VIVID) and how his professor’s support and belief in him made all the difference and was what he was thinking of the day he won a Governor General’s Literary Award.

Kyle Alden Martens

Kyle Alden Martens addressing a full house for NSCAD’s Donor Appreciation Reception on Nov. 26. (Photo by Steve Farmer)

We had a full house for NSCAD's Donor Appreciation Reception on Nov. 26, attended by donors and student scholarship recipients.

We had a full house for NSCAD’s Donor Appreciation Reception on Nov. 26, attended by donors and student scholarship recipients. (Photo by Steve Farmer)

design studio

An important part of the Donor Appreciation Reception was the chance to visit studios and meet faculty and students. Here, our guests meet professor Glen Hougan. (Photo by Steve Farmer)

Oh, about the man in the kayak … a former colleague and distinguished professor wrote in her holiday card message that she was on vacation in Florida staying at a friend’s lakeside home. A man in a blue kayak paddled by and was invited to join the party. He did just that and in conversation it was revealed he is a graphic designer – his favourite professor being my husband Colin Gearing from the 1990s. It just shows how our actions make a difference and will be recounted and cherished many years later.

Thank you to everyone for making NSCAD an adventure, a challenge, a delight. I extend my best wishes for the holiday season and look forward to seeing you back at NSCAD in 2016.

Happiest of holidays to you,

Dianne

A note about the image in the header: This exquisite artwork was woven from strips of second-hand clothing by interdisciplinary artist John Monteith in Intro to Weaving, taught by Lesley Armstrong. It was used as the main image in NSCAD’s holiday card.

 

NSCAD Proud

These are exciting days for NSCAD University! This week we are rejoicing in some wonderful news:

  • Alumnus Sydney Smith  (BFA 2006) and Jon Arno Lawson won a Governor General’s Literary Award for Children’s Literature (Illustrated Books), for the book Sidewalk Flowers. (The image at the top of this blog post is from the cover of Sidewalk Flowers.)
  • Sandra Meigs (BFA 1975) won the $50,000 Gershon Iskowitz Prize – and that’s in addition to her Governor General’s Award in Visual and Media Arts received earlier this year.
  • M.E. Sparks (BFA 2013) won the Juror’s Choice Award, worth $1,000 at the inaugural Salt Spring National Art Prize, an initiative of the Salt Springs Arts Council.
  • Lisa Lipton (BFA 2003) was named one of the four finalists for the Sobey Art Award, receiving a $10,000 prize. Her work is on display in the Sobey Art Award Shortlist Exhibition at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia to January 3.

And, we have yet to hear about NSCAD faculty member and alumna Sara Hartland-Rowe (BFA 1990) who is nominated for a 2015 Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia Masterworks Arts Award for her work, Travellers. The award will be announced at a gala on Saturday, Nov. 7, at Halifax Central Library. Also being recognized at the gala are retired NSCAD professor Suzanne Gauthier and NSCAD alumna Susan Tooke (BFA 1980), both of whom will receive 2015 Established Artists Recognition Awards.

What can I say but I am proud to serve as NSCAD’s 21st President for such a distinguished institution and proud to host the 2015 Conference of the Universities Art Association of Canada (UAAC-AAUC).  I know it will be an incredible conference, full of discussion and debate on a wide range of topics.

The conference officially opens on Thursday afternoon. The conference welcome reception and registration takes place from 5 to 7 pm. in the Port Loggia Gallery. The reception will serve as the opening of the Curating Parallels, a group exhibition featuring NSCAD faculty (Sarah Maloney, Bruce Barber, Sara Hartland Rowe, Craig Leonard and Ericka Walker) organized by students in Carla Taunton’s Museums and Curatorial Studies seminar class. There will also be two book launches: Shooting from the East: Filmmaking on the Canadian Atlantic (McGill-Queen’s University Press) a major work of film scholarship by Darrell Varga, chair of the Art History and Critical Studies Department at NSCAD; and What We’re Doing to Stay Afloat, a book of poetry by Karin Cope, a professor also in Art History and Critical Studies.

With six sessions going on concurrently throughout the day on Friday, Nov. 6 and Saturday, Nov. 7, the only difficulty will be in deciding what to attend: “Craft and Architecture: Creating Critical Spaces” or “Art/Work: Labour in Modern and Contemporary Art”? “Stitching the Self: Exploring the Power of the Needle” or “Art Publishing in Canada”? So many decisions!

Many of our professors are involved as facilitators and presenters, including: Sandra Alfoldy, Rudi Meyer, Michael LeBlanc, Christopher Kaltenbach, Robert Bean, Barbara Lounder, Robin Muller, Karin Cope, Bruce Barber, Craig Leonard, Carla Taunton, Paul Mahar, Anna Sprague, Ericka Walker, Mathew Reichertz, Sara Hartland-Rowe, David Clark, Jayne Wark, and Susan Surette, postdoctoral fellow.  I am delighted to see the return of so many of our alumni, who are involved as presenting academics from other institutions. Welcome back to NSCAD!

On Friday evening, Jeff Thomas, an artist and curator, will give the keynote address, “Our Future: From Residential Schools to Reconciliation.” It takes place from 7 to 8:30 pm at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic, which is a short walk down the Halifax waterfront from our Port Campus.

Just a note: The conference’s sessions are open to all NSCAD students, but the keynote and other conference events are restricted to registrants and volunteers. I hope NSCAD students will take advantage of having this conference in our own backyard by attending.

In other news, I’d like to share the story, NSCAD: The Inside Scoop at Canada’s East Coast Visual Arts University, written by Mollie Cronin and published in Maclean’s Magazine. She really captures how close-knit and engaged our students are–and I’m definitely very proud of that!

Enjoy the conference!

Dianne

Here we go go

Gallery

This gallery contains 12 photos.

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.