Welcome home

When I arrived at NSCAD for the beginning of the 2014-15 academic year, I felt like I had come home.

Having moved from Calgary, Alberta, the first thing I noticed was the salty sea air, so fresh and invigorating. The new sights and smells of the east coast mixed with excitement and apprehension of commencing a new academic year at art school. But these feelings were familiar to me too and somehow it all felt right: the right place and the right time.

As the 2017-18 academic year commences those same emotions rush back. I am delighted to welcome all our new students, faculty and staff and all those returning from travels near and far. A sincere thank you to all those who have been here summer long: taking classes, putting on exhibitions, leading summer camps, and planning and preparing for fall.

I predict NSCAD will have a stellar 130th anniversary year as we continue to cherish our special, inclusive, respectful creative community that was the vision of our founders in 1887 and is realized at NSCAD today.

The new white pages of the sketchbooks and journals are ready to be turned and covered in creativity – there are upcoming events and exhibitions, places to go and people to meet. Please know you are welcome at NSCAD University and I hope you feel as I do, that you’ve come home.

About the header image: NSCAD students get a different view of George’s Island from the drawing studios at the Port Campus. This aerial view is by Lenn Wagg, courtesy of Destination Halifax.


Here are some of the highlights of the first week of September at NSCAD:

  • New Undergraduate Student Orientation Day takes place on Tuesday, Sept. 5. Join us at 8:30 am in Room 202 at the Port Campus for breakfast. After the welcoming session, faculty members and senior students will lead new students on tours of our three NSCAD campuses.
  • The first day of classes for the fall semester is Wednesday, Sept. 6.
  • The launch of Free Coffee, a publication of student artwork, takes place on Thursday, Sept. 7. You can pick up Free Coffee, free coffee and a donut in the student lounge, Fountain Campus, starting at 11 am.
  • The International Student Orientation Session takes place on Friday, Sept. 8, at 12 noon in P203, Port Campus.
  • On Saturday, Sept. 9, orientation activities include a community scavenger hunt, the Mayor’s reception for international students (2 pm at Halifax Central Library) and a party in the Granville courtyard beginning at 5 pm.

For more details, check out the event page by SUNSCAD on Facebook.


Picture yourself walking through this leafy courtyard on the way to class at our historic Fountain Campus. Make sure to drop by Art Bar +Projects and the Anna Leonowens Gallery too!


September also signals the changing of the guard at our NSCAD Community Studio Residencies, when NSCAD alumni who’ve worked for a year on their artistic practices give up their prized studio spaces to make way for the new cohort.

We have four residency sites across the province. The Town of Lunenburg was the first to come on board with the program more than a decade ago, followed by the Town of New Glasgow, the Centre for Craft and Design in Sydney, Cape Breton, and the MacPhee Centre for Creative Learning across the harbor in Dartmouth.

Lunenburg artistic residents

The 2016-17 NSCAD Lunenburg Community Studio Residents: Norma Jean MacLean, Selina Latour, and Deniree Isabel Mendoza.

In Lunenburg, Selina Latour (BFA 2016), Norma Jean MacLean (BFA 2011), and Denirée Isabel Mendoza (BFA 2016) wrapped their final show, C U L8R, and are getting ready to move on. From Prince Edward Island, Norma Jean is preparing for a major solo exhibition at the Confederation Centre in Charlottetown in January 2018; Denirée, originally from Venezuela, has a residency lined up at Harbourfront Centre in Toronto; and Selina, from Ottawa, ON, is bound for a residency in Iceland.

“You learn a lot about yourself just coming out of art school and then living in a small town,” said Selina, whose artistic practice includes fashion, photography and painting. “You’re finally independent and that can be scary, but it’s good.”

Selina Latour

Selina Latour with paintings from her series, i love yous.

Soon to take over the studio space—situated in the firetruck bays of the town’s former fire hall–are NSCAD alumni Merle Harley (BFA 2014), Helah Cooper (BFA 2017) and Gillian Maradyn Jowsey (BFA 2017). We are appreciative for the help of Doug Bamford, recently retired as NSCAD’s ceramic technician, in providing accommodations in September while the roof on the fire hall is repaired.

spinning bowl

Deniree Isabel Mendoza marries animation with ceramics in a series of bowls she created over the winter. The bowls can be spun to animate a twig that quickly grows into a tree.

In Dartmouth at the MacPhee Centre for Creative Learning, residents Jessica Lynn Wiebe (BFA 2015), Cinthia Auz Arias (BFA 2016) from Ecuador and Luis Figueroa (BFA 2016) from Venezuela staged their final show, Before the End, in mid August.

For Jessica, having a base at the MacPhee Centre allowed her to push herself artistically in the studio while gaining experience as a teacher by leading workshops for children and youth.

Jessica Lynn Wiebe

Jessica Lynn Wiebe challenged herself during her residency by creating a series of abstracted figurative paintings.

“I gave myself permission to play and experiment. I feel like I am constantly learning,” says Jessica, who served as a soldier in Afghanistan before coming to NSCAD. Her artwork in painting and performance has a focus on war and conflict, and a work exploring the physical experience of war at the Acadia War Memorial in Wolfville (created for UnCommon Common Art in the Annapolis Valley) has been getting national media coverage.

The three artists enjoyed sharing the studio space. Away from NSCAD, they became each other’s sounding boards, cheerleaders and supports.

“We really feel they’re part of our family and we’d love to have them return as facilitators,” said Heather MacDonald, executive director of the MacPhee Centre.

bus passes

Cinthia Auz Arias saved the bus passes she collected throughout her year in residence at the MacPhee Centre.

Incoming residents to the MacPhee Centre are Jenny Yujia Shi (BFA, BA 2015), a painter and printmaker originally from Beijing, China, and Emily Lawrence, an interdisciplinary artist and designer. Headed for the Town of New Glasgow are Curtis Botham (BFA 2017) and Géneviève Brideau (BFA 2017). Tamsin Sloots (BFA 2017) and Trevor Novak (BFA 2017) are bound for Sydney’s Cape Breton Centre for Craft and Design.

TD Bank generously supports NSCAD University’s residency program and community initiatives.

Summer breeze

It may feel like September is just around the corner, but there is still plenty of summer left here at NSCAD.

The Anna Leonowens Gallery has been bustling with some very special  exhibitions scheduled. Retiring ceramics technician Doug Bamford’s “exit-bition” kicked off August at the gallery and painting professor Heather Sayeau’s farewell show is on now until August 19th. You’ll want to drop in to drink in the beauty of Heather’s large and luscious peony paintings.

flower painting

Heather Sayeau’s flower paintings are on display at the Anna Leonowens Gallery until August 19. (Marilyn Smulders Photo)

The second of two summer sessions at NSCAD wraps up soon, finishing with what we refer to as the “Keji class.” Taught by anna sprague, this intensive, experiential learning class is possible because of a partnership with Parks Canada and involves a few days in the great outdoors at Kejimkujik National Park and National Historic Site. Some of things students can expect to do while at Keji include canoeing on the Mersey River, gazing at a night sky bursting with stars, cooking dinner for the group over a campfire and hiking to see some of the ancient petroglyphs carved into slate outcrops. A group exhibition inspired by the Keji experience will follow in December at the Anna Leonowens Gallery.


The most noticeable traces left by the early Mi’kmaw people are the engravings they created on rocky outcrops found at several locations in Kejimkujik National Park. (Erica Flake Photo)


Our Port Campus is a veritable beehive at this time of the year with summer camps put on by our School of Extended Studies. “They’re all going very well this year,” says Amber Solberg, youth coordinator. Many of the camps involve field trips: students in the upcoming teen animation class will visit studios at DHX Media and Copernicus, for example, while campers in “Stories from the Garden” dropped by The Discovery Centre to learn about worms. (Cool facts: Worms have photo receptors on their skin which make them sensitive to light and secrete yellow goo when they’re stressed.)

In a visit to The Discovery Centre, summer campers with "Stories from the Garden" take a close-up at worms using a flashlight. (Marilyn Smulders Photo)

In a visit to The Discovery Centre, summer campers with “Stories from the Garden” take a close-up at worms using a flashlight. (Marilyn Smulders Photo)

Amber says the Extended Studies’ inbox has been bursting with words of praise from appreciative parents.“The instructors are phenomenal with the young people and that’s what parents notice,” she says. “They love to work with children. They’re enthusiastic and encouraging and the response from the children is amazing.”

One mom wrote to say her normally shy seven-year-old son didn’t feel the need to say goodbye to her after the first day and instructed her not to pick him up early.

There are still a few spots available in summer camps running August 21 to 25. Register by Friday, Aug. 18 by emailing extendedstudies@nscad.ca or calling 902-494-8185. Summer camps on offer include:

  • “Performance, Costumes & Puppetry” with instructor Camila Salcedo for children ages 5 to 8;
  • “Box Town” with instructor Patrick Burgomaster (BFA 2010) for children ages 9 to 11;
  • “Wild Kingdom” with instructor Lisa Davie for children ages 9 to 11;
  • “Board Games” with instructor Kyle Bridgett (BFA 2015) for teens ages 12 to 14;
  • “Animation” with instructor Sam Decoste (MFA 2015) for older teens ages 15 to 18.

Summer camps wrap with the exhibition Artrageous, opening Friday, Aug. 25 from 4 pm to 6 pm at the Port Loggia Gallery, 1107 Marginal Road, and running for one week.

The ever-popular summer camp Box Town is back. Kids work with the encouragement of instructor Patrick Burgomaster to create a community out of cardboard boxes. They may even choose to elect a mayor of Box Town.

The ever-popular summer camp Box Town is back. Children ages 9 to 11 work with the encouragement of instructor Patrick Burgomaster to create a community out of cardboard boxes. They may even choose to elect a mayor of Box Town. Photo courtesy of the School of Extended Studies.

box town

Another photo of Box Town, a summer camp favorite taught by Patrick Burgomaster. Photo courtesy the School of Extended Studies.


Speaking of NSCAD’s School of Extended Studies, the fall course calendar is out and ready for dreaming. What will you take? Adults, teens and children can discover or rekindle a passion by taking evening or weekend classes in art, craft or design. Registration begins August 22.

The fall course calendar offers a wealth of opportunities. Bookbinding, ceramics, comics and visual storytelling, quilted projects, sewing techniques, photography and DIY documentary are some of the courses being offered for adults. New classes include Doodling for Adults, Indigo Magic, and Portraits Reinvented.

Or, maybe you’d like to sit in on some of NSCAD’s fascinating art history classes. You can audit classes taught by some of NSCAD’s most gifted lecturers including Dr. David Howard, Dr. Jayne Wark and Dr. Sandra Alfoldy. Classes available to audit include: Survey of 19th Century Art, Survey of 20th Century Art, Craft and Design History 1750-1950, Renaissance and Baroque Art, and Film History and Criticism, 1890-1945.

Since the very beginning of this school 130 years ago, Saturdays have been devoted to children’s art classes. This fall is no exception. There are several classes offered for children ages 5 to 8, 8 to 11 and 12 to 14.

See the full fall calendar online.

P.S. The header image, used on Extended Studies’ fall course calendar, is by NSCAD alumnus Alex Tapia.