The end-of-semester adrenaline rush

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Bumping into Dante and Virgil at NSCAD

You may know that I’m a big believer in “collision spaces,” those informal physical gathering places, corridors and hubs on campus where people bump into each other and interact. Well, let me share with you an experience I had the other day…

I was on my way from the President’s Office to the business office, and along the way caught a glimpse of Professor David Howard’s lecture taking place in the Bell Auditorium. He was talking so passionately about Barque of Dante, the first major painting by the French artist Delacroix. The scene shows Dante on a “poetic visit” to hell, guided by Virgil.

For a moment, I was taken right back to when I was an art student, thirsty for knowledge. How incredible it was to discover myself as an artist at the same time as I gained an understanding of the progression of art, craft and design over the centuries. Today, I can’t see a red scarf without thinking about Dante’s fiery red cowl.

Barque of Dante

Delacroix’s 1822 painting, Barque of Dante, is part of the collection at the Louvre.

That’s what makes art school such a remarkable place to be: students get to contextualize their own artistic practice as informed by critical and historical studies.

It reminds me of the old motto for this school: Head and Heart and Hand. One of my predecessors, Elizabeth Styring Nutt, came up with the motto and it appeared on the school crest in 1928. It certainly articulates how intellect, talent and passion come together at NSCAD.

historic crest

NSCAD’s crest in 1928, back when the school was known as the Nova Scotia College of Art.

We’re in the midst of exciting times at NSCAD! If you know of someone who would enjoy the amazing experiences we can offer or who is interested in learning more, encourage them to attend Portfolio Day on Saturday, February 20th, 9:30 am to 4 pm. It’s the prospective student’s ultimate chance to learn about our programs, tour facilities and see the work that students do here. It’s also a chance for prospective students to get feedback on their work and tips on how to prepare a portfolio for admission.

Please join us. I’d love to meet you and share my passion for this university—look for me, I’ll be wearing red. You can register online and, if you have any questions, please email Ken Rice in the Office of Admissions at

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,


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.



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!


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,


Here we go go


This gallery contains 12 photos.

The month of May was a whirlwind of activities and celebrations—a time filled with emotion for the NSCAD community. The sudden deaths of two long-serving staff members and a student in one week was devastating news. We came together for … Continue reading

The full sketchbook

In my first blog post back in August, I made reference to the beginning of a new academic year being like a blank page in a sketchbook.

It’s April now and that sketchbook is full to bursting. Together, we’ve made progress on so many fronts, including a vision for NSCAD through the Strategic Framework, and exciting developments for the enhancement of the student experience at the Fountain campus. Eugene Pieczonka, architect with Lydon Lynch, and Dean Ann-Barbara Graff presented the four scenarios developed through consultations with the NSCAD community at a Town Hall meeting this week. We are so grateful to Margaret and David Fountain for the $3 million donation that is making renovations possible. (For more details on this front, please see the page on the NSCAD website.)

There are so many end-of-term shows going on now, from the Ceramics Open House (April 14-18, Port Campus), Hot Prints, (April 16, Fountain Campus), Pinned, a design exposition by graduating interdisciplinary design students (April 17, Port Campus), Thaw, the senior students fashion show (April 18, Port Campus) and the NSCAD Film Screening Night (April 20, Park Lane). The roller coaster of events builds up to the Starfish Student Art Awards (April 29, Port Campus), Artist for a Day (May 9, Port Campus) and the 2015 Graduation Ceremony, which will include my own Installation as NSCAD’s 21st President (May 16, Cunard Centre).

Hold on everyone, because here we go!

Last Friday, I spent the morning at Halifax City Hall along with Immigration Minister Lena Diab and Mayor Mike Savage to see the presentations by NSCAD interdisciplinary design students. Professor May Chung is very good at seeking out complex, real-world projects in the community for her students to experience problem solving, and this term, her class worked with the Multicultural Association of Nova Scotia (MANS) on welcoming campaigns for Nova Scotia newcomers.

Newcomers like me! From the U.K., (maybe you can tell by my accent?) I arrived in Nova Scotia after driving across the country in a RV from Calgary with my husband Colin and rambunctious dog Trudy. I’ve had such a warm welcome, from meeting Mayor Savage in my first week to becoming better acquainted with all of you here at NSCAD and finding my way around.

I was so impressed with the students, who met with new residents to Nova Scotia, listened to them about their varied experiences, and went to work on their campaigns.

Students Foad Makki, Letitia Calver, Warren Jones and Sara Panchaud were inspired by group member Foad’s story of arriving in Nova Scotia four years ago on St. Patrick’s Day for their project, #thisismystoryNS. (That’s the four of them having a group hug at the top of this blog post.)

“In Saudi Arabia, we have National Day, which is a celebration of our lives as citizens of Saudi,” says Foad, whose story is told by the group on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. “The whole country is flooded with green—green lights, flags, clothes, banners, everything! When I arrived in Halifax on that day, everyone was running around, celebrating with green. My first thoughts were: Is everyone in Canada like this? Maybe they were welcoming me to my new home!”

The concept for their campaign is sharing the stories by Foad and other newcomers on social media platforms, as well as on chalkboard installations.

Other projects at a glance:

  • After a deep dive into the Ivany Report and talking to immigrants, Kayla Robb, Ashley Pincock and Melissa Harrish got bogged down in their research, finally emerging with a simple concept – the “Newcomer Network,” a kind of loose welcoming committee of Nova Scotians who would open their homes and businesses to immigrants through activities like potlucks, game nights and block parties.
  • Tang Xinwei and Elliot Creba developed “Far Away Flavours,” a map showing ethnic food stores as a very practical solution to connecting newcomers with the food they enjoy.
  • Nicholas Hanlon, Mikaela Barnett and Robin Richardson Dupuis created a logo of two linked hands forming a heart as a visual way to send out a message of welcome and community.
  • Julie O’Kruk, Brittany Hall and Jocelyn Lee asked “How Do You Hello?” after discovering that while language is an issue for newcomers, “saying hello is something everyone does, but does differently,” says Julie. Their campaign, geared to social media, includes a fun video of people saying hello in dozens of languages, from a simple “Hey” in English to “здравствуйте” in Russian and “ هتاف للترحيب`” in Arabic.

For more about the projects, please visit the NSCAD Interdisciplinary Facebook page (

Congratulations to all the students for such thoughtful and interesting work. I am impressed!

As classes end for this year, I would like to recognize the students as they make progress on their learning journeys here at NSCAD, and the faculty and staff who nurture and challenge each student along the way. It is a very special time of year that we can all be proud of and celebrate.

Taking time to celebrate

Well evidently March has come in like a lion, and is going out like one too! Can you believe it’s the first day of Spring on Friday?

After my last blog post, “Taking Time to Heal,” I was overwhelmed by feedback received from around the world, from Hong Kong, India, France, UK, USA and across Canada. I think the healing message resonated.

I would like to acknowledge the work of talented student Becky Gartner whose woven textiles headed the “Taking Time to Heal” blog post.

The very fact that I acknowledged challenges of the past and the need to take time to heal as we move forward has opened conversations around NSCAD by students, faculty and staff. Each person that has approached me to share what “Taking Time to Heal” means to them has explained in their own way a deep sense of belonging to this unique NSCAD community and a desire to contribute to its future success.

Nurture is one of our four strategic pillars and our collective wellbeing is recognized to be an important element. How we achieve this is up to all of us. I was so impressed with the therapy dogs visit to NSCAD Fountain Campus during Student Mental Health Week in February. This initiative received such high participation and positive feedback we are considering extending the pilot to have additional therapy dog visits on campus commencing in the Fall. Thank you to SUNSCAD executive for working with the Office of Student and Academic Services to organize these sessions and to administrative colleagues that supported the pilot program.

Moving on I do recognize we have a hectic time ahead as our graduating class prepares for final exhibitions and shows. It’s an opportunity for us to celebrate and invite family, friends and supporters to join our community. We have a full schedule of special events upcoming, including the Starfish Student Art Awards on Wednesday, April 29; Artist for a Day on Saturday, May 9th; The Friends and Family Night at the Graduation Exhibition on Friday, May 15th; and Graduation on Saturday, May 16th.

If you can keep a secret, I want to share with you that this year’s 2015 Graduation Ceremony on May 16 will not only honour our talented graduates but will include the installation of myself as NSCAD’s 21st President. We’ll also award five honorary degrees to accomplished recipients nominated by our faculty; Carole Condé and Karl Beveridge, Robert Frank, Gerhard Steidl and NSCAD alumna Tanya Tagaq.

Take care,


P.S. Enjoy these photos by Eliot Wright of the Wearable and Performance Art Show–a fun night! Student organizer Jessica Lynn Wiebe did a great job!

Taking time to heal

Reflecting upon my 100 Days of Listening and Learning, I recognize the unprecedented scrutiny and uncertainty the NSCAD community has endured these past two years. Those times are behind us, and with the approval of a new strategic framework, we can take the first steps towards a positive future.

As encouraging as it is to have a focused strategic direction and a new president at the helm, as that leader I recognize that we need time to heal, regroup and trust each other to enable real change to happen. I look forward to sharing the plan and working together over the next while to chart our new direction.

Today, Dr. Kenn Gardner Honeychurch is retiring from NSCAD after almost 20 years of loyal and dedicated service. Taking a leading role at NSCAD through the years as an inspirational teacher and administrator, he will be missed by so many but we will all work to uphold his legacy. I take this opportunity to sincerely thank and value Kenn and wish him all the very best with his future endeavors and extend an open invitation for him to stay connected with our community.

These past weeks I have learned to be a good patient and acknowledge it takes time to heal – taking a rest does work as I am very happy to report my fractured arm is healing well and I am looking forward to returning to the campus soon. The messages and good wishes I have received have all contributed to keeping my spirit high and aiding my recovery. I am grateful for colleagues who are working with me through this time.

Take care,


Goodbye January, hello February! A friendly wave in the hallway by the Fine Arts offices.

Goodbye January, hello February! A friendly wave in the hallway by the Fine Arts offices.

P.S. I’ve heard the Research Hangouts organized by Professor Max Haiven on Fridays have been well attended. Sorry to be missing them! Today, Professor Frances Dorsey will talk about her research on sustainability and the textiles industry. (12 noon to 1 p.m. in S409, Fountain Campus.)

P.P.S. Congratulations to our music stars! Tanya Tagaq‘s (BFA 1998) Animism is up for three Juno Awards while Jenn Grant (BFA 2006)  and Sarah McLachlan are each up for two. Meanwhile, country artist Jimmy Rankin (BFA 1988) leads the East Coast Music Award nominations with five noms for his album Back Road Paradise and Jenn Grant captures another three nods, including Fans’ Choice Entertainer of the Year. NSCAD student Alex MacAskill of Fish Bone Prints received an ECMA nomination in the category Graphic/Media Artist of the Year.

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.