NSCAD blossoms in spring

What a wonderful time of the year it is for NSCAD — a time to celebrate. The last two weeks have been chockablock full of events and now it feels we can finally take a breath. That is, until Artist for a Day on May 13th!

Just to recap NSCAD’s spring so far: we had the Starfish Student Art Awards on April 20, the NSCAD Design Show on April 21, Dialect: the NSCAD Fashion Show on April 22, the NSCAD Film Screening Night on April 24, the 2017 Graduation Exhibition and Catalogue Launch and the GG Fête on April 27, and the 2017 Graduation Ceremony on April 28.

DTG

At the opening of the 2017 Graduation Exhibition and the launch of the 2017 Graduation Catalogue. Katherine Nakaska Photo.

All these events show the vibrancy of our university community—a community that students became a part of when they walk through the doors of our Port Campus on their first day at NSCAD.

As president of NSCAD, I would like to recognize the esteemed faculty, who have taught our students and challenged them to achieve their potential, and the staff who have supported them from day one through to graduation and beyond.

GG laureates

At the GG Fete, NSCAD Board Chair Jeff Somerville and myself pose with NSCAD’s Governor General’s Laureates: Landon Mackenzie, Sandra Brownlee, Pamela Ritchie, Jan Peacock and Kye Yeon Son. Katherine Nakaska Photo.

As I told the graduands at the ceremony on Friday, students and alumni will always have a connection to NSCAD through the people they met and the experiences they shared. Art school is a very special kind of experience. Long after graduating, former students may recall a conversation, a piece of advice or a suggestion offered during a critique and reflect on how it changed them and enriched their life.

For example, at the NSCAD fashion show on April 22, we heard the successful alumni Parris and Chloé Gordon say how the critiques at NSCAD influence their creative process today – that their fashion collections get international notice because of the quality of design and the thought and care they invest in each piece. Their holistic experience at NSCAD, including art history to contextualize their work and the creative community they tapped into, helped them to launch their fashion collections even before they graduated. They shared it was a humbling experience to return to Halifax and NSCAD.

Beaufille sisters

Chloe and Parris Gordon of the fashion brand Beaufille opened Dialect: the NSCAD Fashion Show by reflecting on how their NSCAD experience contributed to their success. Katie Nakaska Photo.

The power of a NSCAD education does not diminish over time. NSCAD alumni who graduated 20, 30 or 40 years ago are still processing their experiences and using them everyday in their art practice. Landon Mackenzie (BFA 1976), a 2017 Governor General’s Award Laureate in Visual and Media Arts, tells of the rigor and hard work demanded by the professors in the printmaking department when she attended NSCAD in the 1970s. Not only that, but when her exhibition Parallel Lines opened at the Dalhousie Art Gallery this January, those same professors – Ed Porter and Bob Rogers – attended the opening, cheering her on as always.

I was delighted to meet Landon last week when she was here to attend the GG Fête and give the 2017 Graduation address. Landon is a painter and influential professor at Emily Carr University of Art + Design.

starfish winner

Christiane Poulin, 2017 Starfish Student Art Award winner, is congratulated by finalists Ann McCosker, Julie Simmons and Tamsin Sloots. Katie Nakaska Photo.

There are many stories we can all share about why NSCAD is so special and 2016-17 has been an outstanding year of accolades. Here is one more to mention. My heartfelt congratulations to Christiane Poulin, the 2017 Starfish Student Art Award winner. Christiane graduated last week after beginning her NSCAD journey 40 years ago. She was here for a year, and then switched to science and went on to med school. After a career as a public health doctor and researcher, she returned to NSCAD to finish what she started. In her so-called retirement, she has never worked harder. And I don’t doubt it. For Christiane’s textile installation, Winds of Change: a Lace-Scape, Christiane wove by hand more than 40 metres of lace – a tangible demonstration of her commitment, dedication and passion.

Christiane Poulin and Lou Reznick stand with her art installation, Winds of Change: A Lace-scape. Katie Nakaska Photo.

Christiane Poulin and Lou Reznick stand with her art installation, Winds of Change: A Lace-scape. Katie Nakaska Photo.

Elsa and artwork

After meeting NSCAD student Elsa Brittin at NSCAD’s donor reception back in February, Halifax Mayor Mike Savage invited her to create an artwork for city hall. Here’s Elsa and I with Mayor Mike Savage (far left) and Deputy Mayor Steve Craig (at right).

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Through the summer, NSCAD’s creativity continues with the first summer semester officially beginning  on Tuesday, May 2, and continuing to June 19. A second session runs June 26 to August 15, and it’s still possible to register. Some of the classes in the second session include “Teaching Visual Art,” “Art and Culture of Comics” and “Photography and Colonialism,” among others. Head over to WebAdvisor to find out what’s on the books.

The spring session of classes offered through the School of Extended Studies is just getting going too. Some of the new adult classes on the books include “Drawing Botanicals for Beginners,” “Quilted Projects” and “Portraits in Oil.” There are also Saturday art classes for children ages five and up.

In the summer, NSCAD’s day-time camps are hugely popular. This year, NSCAD is collaborating with the Discovery Centre—new to Seaport neighbourhood—to create art camps with a specialized hands-on “field trip” at the Discovery Centre. Camps include all materials needed, a NSCAD T-shirt, lunch supervision, early drop-off and late pick-up.

Some of the camps offered include “Picasso and Cubism” for 5 to 8 year olds; “Sew Fun” for 9 to 11 year olds; “Comic Cave” for tweens ages 12 to 14; and “Animation” for older teenagers, ages 15 to 18. Take a look at the website for the full list of fun.

potters wheel

NSCAD opens the doors for Artist for a Day — it’s a full day of hands-on artmaking. Photo by Lianne Sarson.

Speaking of fun, NSCAD’s hugely popular Artist for a Day is set for Saturday, May 13, 10 am to 3 pm. More than 20 hands-on art-making activities are in the works, including some of the favorites—such as life drawing and fish printing—that draw people year after year.

Most of the action takes place at our Port Campus (1107 Marginal Road) although our Port neighbours are in on the fun too. Other sites for Artist for a Day include: Discovery Centre, 1215 Lower Water Street; Nova Scotia Centre for Craft and Design, 1096 Marginal Road; Mary E. Black Gallery, 1061 Marginal Road; Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21, 1055 Marginal Road; and Visual Arts Nova Scotia, 1113 Marginal Road. NSCAD is pumped to be a participant in I LOVE Local’s Open City, a full day celebration of local food, fun and shopping.

In NSCAD’s 130th anniversary year I am so proud of all our accomplishments and accolades. A welcome to ALL to come join us and experience the creativity and our community.

My very best,

Dianne

P.S. In the photo at the top of this blog post, models go down the runway at Dialect: A NSCAD Fashion Show wearing jewellery by Tamika Knutson (BFA 2017). Tamika, who just graduated, already has a solo exhibition coming up. Boreal Reverie: Coming Home will open May 17 and run to June 4 at SOVA Gallery at the Yukon School of Visual Arts in Dawson City, Yukon. Congratulations Tamika!

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.

Reflections on the season of giving

In this season of festive cheer, my thoughts turn to giving and the impact it can make. For me, the old adage rings true: It really is better to give than to receive. Small gifts given big-heartedly make a world of difference.

To illustrate, let me introduce you to Megan Kyak-Monteith.  Born and raised in Pond Inlet, Nunavut, Megan didn’t know how she would fund a post-secondary education when she was accepted to NSCAD. That is, until she heard word that she received a renewable scholarship, the Creative Innovators of Tomorrow Award, which would entirely cover her tuition.

Self-portrait by Megan Kyak-Monteith.

Self-portrait by Megan Kyak-Monteith. Fall 2016.

“Before receiving this award, I was not looking forward to university,” confesses Megan, now in her second year at NSCAD. “Because of the heavy cost of supplies, tuition, housing and food, my focus was not on being educated but on desperately finding the money in order to be educated … I would like to thank the donors for shifting my perspective.”

Megan’s scholarship has allowed the young artist to attend NSCAD where she is developing her painting and illustration skills as she explores her Inuit roots and pushes herself in ways she never anticipated. Last summer, for example, she took herself out of her comfort zone by participating in Halifax’s Art Battle. She ended up winning the regional contest which qualified her to represent Nova Scotia at a national competition. “It’s really energizing and your heart beats super fast,” she says. Participants have just 20 minutes to create a painting and work in front of a large audience.

This summer, Megan will return to Nunavut in the summer to live with her grandparents (her parents are now in Antigonish, Nova Scotia) and work as an illustrator at an Iqaluit-based movie and book company. “Having the scholarship is such a huge lift. It allows me not to have to worry about having a job during school. I can really delve into my assignments and I’m learning so much—I see improvements from one week to another.”

Drawing by Megan Kyak-Monteith.

Drawing by Megan Kyak-Monteith. Fall 2016.

By donating to NSCAD’s Annual Fund, you are giving exceptional students like Megan the chance to shine. Their artistic passions are ignited by NSCAD’s rich and diverse academic programs, interdisciplinarity and vibrant, nurturing community.

There is still time to give to NSCAD’s Annual Fund, which is dedicated to bursary and scholarship support for students. It doesn’t matter how much you give – even little gifts are deeply appreciated.

If you make a donation before year-end, you’ll receive a charitable tax receipt for 2016. And, as if by magic, immediately you’ll receive a glimpse of what makes NSCAD so special—I guarantee that you’ll be touched by what comes your way.

In appreciation and happy holidays! Here is your invitation to give.

Dianne

PS – See more of Megan Kyak-Monteith’s artwork below and in the header image.

megan2

megan7

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.

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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!

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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

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

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

A brand new sketchbook

It’s the start of another academic year, and once again, I have a brand new sketchbook.

Those pristine pages are awaiting the first marks. What I love about my sketchbooks and journals is that I can leaf back and find new inspiration from research, ideas and marks that I explored and then moved on to a clean page.

This summer, I discovered some sketchbooks from my art school days. They were filled with research notes and drawings from exhibitions as I developed ideas, worked to problem solve and create designs. Some pages were covered in messy conté crayon scribbles that developed, page by page, into drawings with simple and clean lines, painted with watercolours and supplemented with richly textured fabric swatches.

Reflecting upon those art school days, my thoughts turned to my role as NSCAD’s 21st president. The challenges and difficult decisions we made over my first year at NSCAD have been made with our students in mind.

Over the summer, the Board of Governors dedicated a weekend in August to meet and discuss our facilities challenges: namely the Fountain Campus. Since the $3 million Fountain donation last year, the NSCAD community has been meeting to discuss how to best use the significant gift to enhance the student experience. All that consultation fed into the Board’s “Blue Sky retreat,” with SUNSCAD President Gabriel Soligo and SUNSCAD Vice President Finance Julie Hall making a significant contribution. We heard a lot about community, the need to come together to learn and socialize, and interdisciplinary opportunities for students at NSCAD.

Like marks in a sketchbook, that prep work and problem solving led to the Board of Governors’ meeting on Thursday, Sept. 17, in which the resolution, “Be it resolved that NSCAD management proceed with the planning of an exit strategy from the Fountain Campus facility on or before the year end 2019” was passed. (See: Making a Plan) This, in turn, will lead to more discussion and planning on the best way to proceed, and many more on-campus consultations, with students, faculty and staff, and alumni will be held. Dr. Ann-Barbara Graff, Vice-President Academic and Research, will lead the academic plan developments that will inform NSCAD’s facilities discussions and planning.

NSCAD’s 2014-15 Annual Report was presented at the September 17 Board of Governors Annual General Meeting. The Annual Report presents an incredibly full year, with so many accomplishments to be shared and recognized. I’m happy to share the Annual Report with you in this PDF version.

There have been some changes on the Board. Jeff Somerville is the new Board Chair, taking over from Grant Machum. I want to thank Grant for all he’s invested in NSCAD over the past two years as chair. At the same time, I look forward to working with Jeff, whose dedication and commitment to NSCAD has been evident in his first two years of service to the Board. I also want to recognize long-serving Board governor Margaret Fountain, who remains on the Board as a Life Governor, recognizing her commitment and generosity to the university.  (Please see: News from the Board of Governors)

In other news, I traveled to Ottawa recently by invitation of the US Ambassador Bruce Heyman and his wife Vicki Heyman to attend Contemporary Conversations, a speaking series created in partnership with the National Gallery of Canada and the U.S. Embassy in Ottawa. I was eager to meet internationally acclaimed American painter and sculptor Eric Fischl.

Here I am with former NSCAD faculty member Eric Fischl in Ottawa. Eric spoke as part of the Contemporary Conversations Lecture Series.

Here I am with former NSCAD faculty member Eric Fischl in Ottawa. Eric spoke as part of the Contemporary Conversations Lecture Series.

NSCAD received a number of ‘shout outs’ as Eric, a 2002 NSCAD honorary degree recipient, talked about his introduction to Canada through a teaching opportunity at NSCAD. It’s here in Halifax where he had his first solo exhibition, taking place in 1975.

I’ve also been busy attending films and receptions associated with the Atlantic Film Festival. Our NSCAD faculty, students and alumni were shining stars at the festival! The documentary, Strange and Familiar: Architecture on Fogo Island, by Marcia Connolly (BFA 1995) and Katherine Knight (BFA 1980), was a big winner, taking the awards for best Atlantic documentary and best Atlantic cinematographer (Marcia Connolly). The film is about the striking architecture on Fogo designed by NSCAD alumnus Todd Saunders (BFA 1992), the equally dramatic East Coast landscape, and the vision of Zita Cobb, the Island born social entrepreneur.

Lukas Pearse (BFA 1994), NSCAD regular part-time faculty, and Mike Ritchie won Best Atlantic Original Score for North Mountain, a film by Bretten Hannam (BFA 2008). Congratulations to all the winners, and to those who served on the jury, including Becka Barker (BFA 2000), regular part-time faculty, and Ruby Boutilier (BFA 1999), recruitment coordinator.

Todd Saunders architecture

The documentary Strange & Familiar: Architecture on Fogo Island uses a visual narrative of the construction of the Fogo Island Inn, inviting us to discover the portrait of a small island trying to assert itself by choosing bold contemporary architecture. Congratulations to Marcia Connolly and Katherine Knight, winners at the Atlantic Film Festival for Best Atlantic Documentary.

Other NSCADers who showed their work during the festival include: NSCAD students Nathan Boone and Raghed Charabaty, Corinne Dunphy (BFA 2008), Bretten Hannam (BFA 2008), Jenna Marks (BFA 2013), Rhonda Buckley (BFA 1989), Andrea Dorfman (BFA 1995), Heather Young (BFA 2009), Joel MacKenzie (BFA 2008), Lisa Heyden (BFA 2007), Jarrett Shaw (BFA 2014) … Shout out if I missed anyone!

A look ahead:

  • I AM NSCAD: the Alumni Exhibition runs Tuesday, Sept. 29 to Friday, Oct. 9 at the Anna Leonowens Gallery. Filling all three galleries, this show is not to be missed! And a note: many of the artworks are for sale, with proceeds going to the NSCAD Alumni Association Scholarship benefiting Foundation students. I’ve already got my eye on some works …
  • Sculptor Vasilis Vasili will present an artist’s talk about his work in the Sculpture Nova Scotia symposium, making a sculpture in honor of NSCAD University founder Anna Leonowens. The talk takes place Wednesday, Sept. 29 at 12 noon at the Anna Leonowens Gallery.
  • Dine By Design East opens this week at the Olympic Community Hall. It’s a wonderful, four-day event full of great design, art and food and it’s all in support of a scholarship at NSCAD, the Amber Harkins Memorial Scholarship. For tickets and information, please see Eventbrite.

Very best wishes,

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