100 Days of Listening and Learning

Textiles/Fashion Breakthrough

This is exciting news for NSCAD’s Fountain Campus. Textiles/Fashion students no longer have to climb a set of stairs, go outside, climb another set of stairs, go inside and then go down set of stairs to travel between the two areas. Textiles, on the Hollis Street side of the Fountain Campus, and Fashion, on the Granville Mall side, have been joined together. The two technicians, Anke Fox and Leesa Hamilton, came together for a symbolic ribbon cutting on the last day of classes for the fall term.


Anke Fox (textiles) and Leesa Hamilton (fashion) come together for a symbolic ribbon cutting. The two areas are now connected with a doorway and short hall on the second floor of the Fountain Campus. (Eliot Wright Photo)

Connecting with community

Playful art – Kudos to NSCAD student Catherine Laroche and Professor Rory MacDonald for the Barrington Blocks project.

“It’s been an incredible experience, a huge learning curve,” says Catherine, who decided to transfer from Concordia University to NSCAD after a campus visit, falling in love with the school and the city, its friendliness and creative vibe. “It’s one thing to make art for a class, but to make art like this in a real-world setting is amazing.”
Barrington Blocks comprises ceramic blocks in shades of blue-grey, orange, yellow and green that can be turned to create simple images or to spell out messages. Each block measures 3½” by 3½” and there are 384 altogether, arranged on aluminum poles.
Barrington Blocks

As a demonstration of NSCAD’s contribution to our community, Prof. Rory MacDonald and student Catherine LaRoche worked on the Barrington Blocks art commission — a lively interactive art project for the downtown.

Dine by Design East – This was a fabulous event created by a remarkable volunteer group, of which NSCAD Board Member Elizabeth Currie was a leading driver. I was able to attend the Thursday evening gala and the Friday fashion show. Proceeds from Dine by Design East will go to the Amber Harkins Memorial Fund; the first scholarship from the fund will be awarded to a design student for January 2015 semester.

Stephanie Beaumont of Sea and Be Scene dedicated an entire show to the event, and interviewed me as part of her report. I really appreciated the chance to talk about the university and what we offer.  Here is a link to the segment.

Attica dining room

A look at the dining room “Breaking Bread” designed by NSCAD alumni Suzanne Saul and Christopher Joyce of Attica Furnishings–complete with a portrait of pop star Miley Cyrus in toast!

Engagement with alumni – As part of my 100 Days of Listening and Learning, I have been delighted to meet with so many NSCAD alumni and discover the depth of passion they have for their university. My question when I meet them is “What can NSCAD do for you?” and I have heard from quite a few people. Just recently at the Progress Women of Excellence dinner, I was pleased to join in celebrating Stephanie Young, a recent alumnae honoured for her volunteer work at Laing House, and Peggy Issenman, the owner of Peggy & Co. Design.  My message of openness and listening was repeated in VIVID, the e-newsletter for alumni which was sent out recently.

Student Awards Reception – The Student Awards Reception was held on November 5th, the birthday of founder Anna Leonowens. The occasion brought together student award recipients and the donors that make those awards, scholarships and bursaries possible.  NSCAD student Julie Hall, a Scotiabank scholarship winner, was one of the two guest speakers.  Our other guest speaker was Gordon Brost, Scotiabank’s District Vice-President.  Mr. Brost announced at $150,000 gift as a renewed five-year commitment to NSCAD. As well as funding more scholarships in the future, Scotiabank is now the presenting sponsor of Artist for a Day, NSCAD’s community event in the spring.

We celebrated the Student Awards Reception with a slice of Anna Leonowens' birthday cake. Gordon Brost of Scotiabank joined us at the reception for a welcome announcment.

We celebrated the Student Awards Reception with a slice of Anna Leonowens’ birthday cake. Gordon Brost of Scotiabank joined us at the reception for a welcome announcment.

Pop-Up at the Christmas Shop – NSCAD’s newest initiative, “Pop-Up at the Christmas Shop,” was held Nov. 28 and 29 in the former Christmas By the Sea location, 1880 Hollis Street. More than 60 students took part by selling their own works: jewellery, prints, paintings, ceramics, textiles, fashion and more. When I arrived on Friday evening, it was already packed and super busy! I felt so proud to see what our students accomplished and have the community welcomed to our campus. I’m happy to say that all the proceeds, approximately $20,000*, went right back to the students.

(* except for a small percentage on debit transactions)

pop-up shop

NSCAD’s Pop-up at the Christmas Shop attracted steady business to the Fountain Campus on Nov. 28 and 29.

University business

Provost and VP Academic and Research searchThe position is now posted. Our hope to achieve the appointment of Provost and VP Academic and Research by July 2015.

Budget Advisory Committee – As part of a commitment to deliver a balanced budget in 2015-2016, members of the Budget Advisory Committee joined a meeting of Chairs and Directors on November 24. The Vice-President of Finance and Administration invited ideas for budget reductions or revenue boosters using a risk-impact approach. The group met again earlier this week to do concentrated work on this important file.

Very best wishes for the holiday season!

Professor Dianne Taylor-Gearing

P.S. The image in the header shows one of the textiles on display during the textile Open House on the last day of classes, December 10th.

The end-of-term rush

The end of the academic year is coming and now everything seems to be moving at fast-forward speed. Let’s all take a collective breath as I report on recent developments at NSCAD.


Natasha Hope-Simpson with the prototype prosthetic that she helped design. (Eliot Wright Photo)

Last weekend, NSCAD’s Institute of Applied Creativity hosted the Seaport Maker Symposium. I was delighted to meet Natasha Hope-Simpson, the inspiring young NSCAD grad who gave the keynote address along with Kendall Joudrie and Jourdan Davok from Thinking Robot Studios in Truro and Mike Fanning from NovaCAD Systems. Natasha has been able to turn around a life-altering experience into something creative and energizing; she talked about her desire to design a prosthetic for her left leg that would be both functional and beautiful and the collaboration that made it possible.

Dr. Kenn Honeychurch and I recently visited the Nova Scotia Community College’s Leeds Campus to formalize new joint programs between our two institutions in film and photography. NSCC President Don Bureaux and I signed some paperwork, posed for photographs, and made it official. The two new jointly offered programs allow students to complete a two-year diploma program at NSCC and then finish a BFA at NSCAD in two more years.

These “two-plus-two” arrangements will make it easier for students to transfer from NSCC to NSCAD for a different, more flexible approach to post-secondary education that bridges the college and university systems. Dr. Honeychurch is already discussing other synergies between our two schools and we will also be making announcements soon regarding joint programming with other Halifax universities.

NSCC NSCAD signing

NSCC and NSCAD will offer “2+2″ programs in film and photography, in addition to the one already offered in design. Front row: NSCC president Don Bureaux, NSCAD president Dan O’Brien. Back row: Ian MacLeod, NSCC Acting Dean, Applied Arts and New Media, Rosalind Penfound, NSCC VP Academic, and Dr. Kenn Honeychurch, NSCAD VP Academic and Provost. (Matthew Madden Photo)

Finding alternate ways to enter NSCAD was one among many subjects discussed during the Strategic Planning Committee’s weekend retreat held recently in Lunenburg. I wasn’t able to attend myself, but I understand more than 40 people did and that it was an intensive and productive session. And now the dialogue continues. Coming up on Wednesday, April 9, members of your Board of Governors will be serving up fresh waffles to students, staff and faculty. At the same time, they’ll be open to your ideas for improving NSCAD –  so bring those ideas along with your appetite to the Port Campus, second floor, anytime between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. See you there. (FYI – I like my waffles slightly crispy, not overcooked, with fruit on the side.)

Discussions regarding the kind of NSCAD we all want and how we get there are also being raised as candidates for my successor are on campus this week. The process is still rather contained at this point, but suffice to say, key members of the NSCAD community are getting a chance to meet the candidates for NSCAD President and ask questions. Following the visits to campus by the candidates, the Presidential Search Committee will convene, consider feedback from those who met the candidates and make a recommendation to the Board of Governors. Stay tuned.

On Wednesday night after class (my wife Valerie and I are auditing Survey of 19th Century Art), I was able to catch the reception at Attica for all the folks involved in last fall’s very successful Dine by Design East event. Through the design showcase and gala event, $20,000 was raised to create a scholarship fund at NSCAD in memory of Amber Harkins, a former editor and creative director at East Coast Living magazine. On behalf of NSCAD, I would like to express my appreciation for this significant gift which is a wonderful tribute to Ms. Harkins’ creative spirit. Dine by Design East will be held again this fall and build on last year’s success.  Mark your calendar: the Dine by Design East Gala is set for October 9, with public viewings October 10 to 12 at Olympic Gardens.

Dine by Design

Proceeds from last fall’s Dine by Design East event went to create a scholarship fund for design students at NSCAD. Here, Patty Baxter, publisher of East Coast Living magazine, gives Michael LeBlanc, chair of the Design Division, the cheque for $20,000. Also pictured are Dine by Design East founders Suzanne Saul and Jonathan Legate.

Here are more events coming as we charge toward the end of term:

  • NSCAD Public Lecture Series with artist Spencer Finch. Friday, April 4, 7 p.m. in the Bell Auditorium.
  • In the Offing, an exhibition of NSCAD Foundation student art work, at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic. Opening reception, Tuesday, April 8, 5- p.m. (The image used above of the Peggy’s Cove lighthouse is by NSCAD student Janeva Faircloth.)
  • Keen, the NSCAD Interdisciplinary Design Show. Friday, April 11, 7 p.m. at NSCAD’s Institute of Applied Creativity.
  • The Master of Design Exposition. Monday, April 14, 5 p.m. in N400, North Block, Granville campus.
  • End-of-term film screenings. For Film 1 & Film 2 – Monday, April 14, 6 p.m. at Park Lane. For Film 3 & 4 – Thursday, April 17, 6 p.m. Both at Park Lane. Admission by donation.
  • NSACSW/NSCAD Poster Design Project in support of Women’s History Month. Tuesday, April 15, 11 a.m. at NSCAD’s Institute of Applied Creativity.
  • Wearable Art Show. Thursday, April 17, 8 p.m. at the Marquee Ballroom. Admission $10.
  • NSCAD Fashion Show. Saturday, April 19, 8 p.m. at the Port Campus. Tickets $15, $10.
  • Starfish Student Art Awards Gala. Thursday, May 1, 7 p.m. at the Port Campus. Tickets $75.

Fall into fall

Now that the new academic year is well underway with the inevitable whirl of start-up activities behind us I thought I would take to my blog to bring you up to date on recent happenings.

First, here’s a recap of September’s special events. My office has been involved in the following events: Welcome event for new students; welcome reception for new international students; faculty and staff long service ceremony; external meetings with the Council of Nova Scotia University Presidents, Association of Atlantic Universities, MOU meeting with NS University Presidents and the Provincial Government.

I also attended the announcement of the finalists for the Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia’s Masterworks Art Award—congratulations to the three finalists: Steve Higgins, NSCAD part-time faculty, for his sculpture, Beyond the Terminating Vista; Jason Buxton, NSCAD alumnus, for his feature film Blackbird; and 2b Theatre for the play When It Rains. You will recall that NSCAD professor Kim Morgan was the winner of this prestigious award last year.

I also attended two major fund- and friend-raising event. The first, ROAR: An Art Auction for NSCAD, was entirely organized by our dedicated folks in University Relations. I will not repeat the details on the event, as you have already received full debriefings from communications, except to say this was a premier event which exceeded our expectations in every way. All around it was a great evening for NSCAD. Thanks again to the folks in University Relations, the artists and the cast of volunteers who gave generously of their time and talent to showcase the university.

Karen Koppernaes’ body language demonstrates the excitement of live bidding during ROAR: An Art Auction for NSCAD. (Steve Farmer Photo)

The second event was also special—a dining and design extravaganza called Dine By Design East. This event, which encompassed both public viewings and a gala evening, selected NSCAD as the benefactor for the event in memory of Amber Harkins, the former creative director at Metro Guide Publishing. NSCAD’s room “Unravelled” was curated by recent NSCAD graduate Heath Simpson and featured the President’s Dinnerware Collection, a set of eight different place settings made by eight prominent NSCAD ceramics alumni. For the gala, NSCAD was paired with the restaurant Gio and chef David Woodley; Gio served “unravelled” versions of comfort food staples—wieners and beans, peanut butter and jam sandwiches, grilled cheese and Neapolitan dessert— as you’ve never tasted them before. Spectacular! The food was served on small ceramic tasting dishes that Heath and friends made especially for the evening.

The Gio chefs are kept busy during the gala evening for Dine by Design East on Thursday, Oct. 3 at the Olympic Community Centre. (Marilyn Smulders Photo)

You will know from previous blog posts that we are still awaiting the final completion of the Affiliation Study. Since I wrote last we have finally come to terms with the consulting firm on the work remaining to be done. The completion date is January 31. The space study is complete and will be reviewed by the Board of Governors at a special meeting to be held in early November.

Also on the planning front, the Strategic Planning Committee under the lead of Vice Chair Julia Rivard Dexter has selected the firm Novita, a very experienced group with loads of experience working in the arts and culture fields, to lead the process. Early planning is underway and you should expect more detailed information on the approach which will be used. Briefly, the approach will contain numerous opportunities for input and advice from our various stakeholder groups as we attempt to fashion our future vision together. All combined, we have a very busy fall planned so stay tuned.

On the staffing front I am happy to report that our Academic Dean Dr. Christine Holzer Hunt has returned from sick leave and is easing back to full duties. Welcome back Christine. Jason Blackburn, with the Office of Research Services, remains out on sick leave as does Linda Hutchison, director of University Relations, who only recently became ill. We wish Jason and Linda speedy recoveries.

Finally, we have been advised recently that Fran Cameron, Senior Secretary for Governance will be retiring at the end of October. While her announcement came as a surprise I am sure everyone will join me in wishing Fran, a major player at NSCAD, our very best wishes.

Talk soon,


Hello September

Welcome back everyone! Though there have been summer classes, it’s been fairly subdued this summer at NSCAD and I’m looking forward to having the hallways full of students again and Sam’s back in the cafeteria.

I always look forward to this time of the year—it’s a time of fresh beginnings, a new academic year, new challenges, a fresh page in the sketchbook. We at NSCAD begin the term with optimism. Enrollments are looking good in terms of new and returning students. And, we’ll embark shortly on a strategic visioning exercise to give concentrated thought about how we define ourselves and goals for the future.

Beyond the Garage Doors - A highlight of the summer was attending the end of year exhibition at the NSCAD-Lunenburg Community Studio Residency. Craig Budovitch, Hangama Amiri and Andrew Maize talked animatedly about their experiences living in Lunenburg.

While it’s been quiet, we’ve been busy. We have seen early drafts of the space utilization and affiliation studies and I expect to be able to report on them soon.

The folks in University Relations are getting ready for two major fundraisers that are on the horizon this fall. The first is called ROAR: An Art Auction for NSCAD; the name is inspired by the stone lions on Granville Mall. The auction takes place Friday, September 27, 6:30 p.m. at the Port Campus. There will be ceramics, jewellery, paintings, prints, sculpture, textiles, and even a conceptual art piece that you can bid on. This is an event for anyone who loves art or anyone who loves NSCAD—preferably both! Funds raised from the auction will go to NSCAD’s Annual Fund.

To find out more about ROAR: An Art Auction for NSCAD, please check the website at www.nscad.ca/roar. If you don’t see anything that strikes your fancy, check back. New works are being added all the time.

The second fundraiser is quite unique. Presented by the magazine East Coast LivingDine by Design East is a showcase of 10 dining rooms by 10 design teams, including NSCAD. There will be public viewings of the rooms at the Olympic Community Hall, 2304 Hunter Street, from October 2 to 6. Then, on October 3, there will be a special gala evening during which you can sample gourmet creations that have been inspired by the room designs.

Credit for bringing the Dine by Design concept to Halifax goes to Jonathan Legate of Jonathan Legate Interior Consultation and Suzanne Saul (BFA 1987) of Attica Furnishings. Proceeds from the event will go to support design education in the name of Amber Harkins, a former editor of East Coast Living.

So that’s it from me for now. I hope to see you in person for the Welcome Reception on Wednesday, September 11 at the Port Campus.


P.S. A note about the beautiful painting at the top of this post. Ocean Wave is by Craig Budovitch, one of the three artists with the NSCAD-Lunenburg Community Studio Residency. Craig, along with Hangama Amiri and Andrew Maize, recently took part in an end-of-year show at the Lunenburg studio.