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.

A fond farewell

As this is my last blog post before I take my leave, I thought it fitting to recount the many changes at NSCAD over the past couple of years as we collectively addressed our financial management and enrolment challenges. If I had to list in order of importance the accomplishments we have shared the list would look something like this:

1. Virtual elimination of operating deficit – This was made even more significant as our move toward gaining financial stability occurred during a time when provincial grants decreased by 10 per cent and tuition revenue decreased by an almost similar amount.
2. Debt Reduction – We were able to allay concerns over the size of our debt by demonstrating that by simply servicing our debt it reduces by $1 million per year. Simple tables projecting debt reduction for several years forward provided the Province with the evidence we were making progress.
3. Government relations – By demonstrating good stewardship in reducing our annual deficit; by meeting all report requirements (which incidentally were frequent and numerous); and by introducing strong management controls, we were able to gain the confidence of our provincial partners.
4. Media relations – The shift from negative to positive treatment by the media has been most apparent and most beneficial.
5. Internal governance Improvements – Our new board governance structure has resulted in greater operational clarity, focus and efficiency in board operations.
6. Major consultant-led studies – We have successfully completed two major consultant studies: Space and Affiliation. Both studies have great consequence to the future of NSCAD and provided the Board with evidence-based information on which we were able to chart our future with confidence.
7. Strategic Plan – While behind schedule (on track now), the ultimate outcome will prove very beneficial in informing future directions and priorities for NSCAD.
8. Labour relations – We have successfully negotiated collective agreements with all unionized employees without work disruption, and we continue to enjoy good relations.
9. Presidential and Academic Dean searches – We have concluded two national searches for these important positions with great success. The attraction of many fine candidates for these important leadership positions is yet another indication of our improved status within the university community.
10. Academic programs – We have completed external reviews of all academic programs. When processed, the review findings will be very helpful in the consideration of important program refinements.
11. Enhanced program collaboration – We have added or are in the process of adding many new programs in cooperation with Nova Scotia Community College, University of King’s College and other local universities.
12. Student recruitment improvements – With the assistance of specially earmarked donor funds, our registration and admissions personnel have introduced numerous robust strategies to augment our recruitment efforts.
13. Institute of Applied Creativity – IAC, while still experiencing growing challenges, has been successful in securing significant government grants, hosting significant events and forging important partnerships.
14. Groundbreaking capital donation – The recent generous donation from Margaret and David Fountain is significant for two reasons. First, the gift will allow NSCAD to make significant improvements to the Granville Block (now Fountain Campus). This solidifies our earlier decision to declare our intention to hold onto this historic site for the foreseeable future. Second, the donation conveys confidence in NSCAD’s future as Atlantic Canada’s only exclusive art and design University.

All in all, I believe NSCAD has its worst days behind it and can, with renewed and justly warranted confidence chart a future rich with potential and greatness.

Please allow me to close on a note of appreciation and thanks to all in our community – Board of Governors, faculty, staff, students, and alumni for their collective welcome and support to me, an outsider, during my stay. In particular, I wish to acknowledge the support and assistance provided my most immediate administrative team.

It has been a pleasure, frustrating and exhausting at times, but always rewarding.

King's

Here I am with Kelly Toughill, Director of King’s School of Journalism, and Dr. George Cooper, President of the University of King’s College, after signing a Memorandum of Understanding for a new collaboration. Eliot Wright Photo.

Announcement

A great day for NSCAD: Margaret and David Fountain pledge $3 million to NSCAD and our historic downtown campus is named “Fountain Campus” in appreciation. Eliot Wright Photo.

Here's a picture of myself and my wife Valerie with a painting by Professor Alex Livingston. This photo was taken the same day the Board of Governors considered the Affiliation Study and resolved to keep our autonomy.

A picture of myself and my wife Valerie with a painting by Professor Alex Livingston. This was the same day the Board of Governors considered the Affiliation Report and resolved to keep our autonomy. Eliot Wright Photo.

Coming into focus

Belated Happy New Year and welcome back!  I realize our second semester’s start was unusual. Winter storms delayed many of our students’ return from the holiday break only to be followed by two closures due to storm conditions. I have limited history here but I wager that two storm closures in the space of three weeks is a record for NSCAD. Regardless, if everyone enjoyed the unexpected breaks as much as I did, everything is well.

Weather notwithstanding, we are well into the semester. As I reported to the Board recently, we begin the New Year at NSCAD with optimism that 2014 will present the University with greater clarity on its future than in the recent past. With the results of two major outstanding studies, the space utilization study, and the affiliation study, combined with sharpened mission and strategic plan, we should have all the planning pieces necessary for informed decision making regarding our future.

Once we have clarity on our facility needs and choices, we will be in a position to consider capital requirements.  In doing so, I am mindful of the need for the Province to continue its current level of support and assistance and our own ability to meet enrolment targets spelled out in the forecast for the 2013 Bilateral Report. The report projects modest increases in enrolment over the next five years. While we made improvements this year – almost but not quite eliminating a three-year annual decline in enrolment, and increasing substantially the number of transfer students – we still have a way to go to realize our projections for the next few years. I continue to be “bullish” on the enrolment front. My confidence is based on the following: a carefully crafted and funded recruitment plan; excellence of staff leading our enrolment strategies; our niche programs; and new collaborative programs which ought to attract new registrants.

Mary & Myself

Sam Decoste's Mary & Myself is nominated for a Canadian Screen Award for best documentary short.

As always, I am pleased to tell you about some student successes. MFA student Sam Decoste has been nominated for a Canadian Screen Award for her animated documentary Mary & Myself. The winner will be announced on CBC during a live gala hosted by Martin Short. Student Soohyum Shim was announced as a winner of the 2014 Niche Award for Jewellery in the student competition. Soohyum impressed with her sterling silver salt and pepper shakers in the category Metal: Functional. Sponsored by Niche magazine, the Niche Awards celebrate excellence and innovation in American and Canadian fine craft.

Our fashion/textiles faculty members continue to impress with their achievements. RPT Toshiko MacAdam is recently returned from Italy, where she created a site specific installation of one of her other-worldly crocheted playgrounds for the Museo d’Arte Contemporanea Roma. If in Rome, be sure to see it; called Harmonic Motion, it will be on display for the whole of 2014. (Please see an image in the header, above.) Meanwhile, professor Gary Markle is getting a lot of interest in his research project, Design for Aging. He’ll be the special guest at the Alzheimer Research Breakfasts, in Halifax on January 30 at the Westin Nova Scotian and in Wolfville a day later at the Old Orchard Inn, Wolfville.

If you’ve noticed a snowy-haired student at the front of your art history class, that’s me. I’m auditing David Howard’s Survey of 19th Century Art. It’s fascinating and Prof. Howard is an engaging teacher. We’re so fortunate to have such exceptional teachers here at NSCAD.