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 opportunity for emerging artists

Looks like the Province of Nova Scotia is catching up to us. It’s just announced that it will bring in a new February holiday starting next year and the first occasion will honour Viola Desmond. In succeeding years, Nova Scotia students will suggest a permanent name for the new holiday and give ideas for the next 12 people to be honored.

Anna Leonowens would be a good choice—just a thought.

In any case, I trust our staff had a relaxing NSCAD Day. And, I hope our students have a safe and productive study break.

I wanted to tell students about some of the efforts we’ve made to lessen the impact of the closing of Seeds Gallery. The gallery, which serves students and alumni, will close on March 31.

We’ve signed an agreement with Art Sales and Rental Gallery, the commercial gallery associated with the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia. The Hollis Street gallery is very open to carrying the artwork of NSCAD students and a new website will make that even easier. Recently, Mark Bovey, chair of Fine Arts, Rory MacDonald, chair of Craft, and I met with Andrea Smith, the gallery’s executive director, and a few of its dedicated volunteers, who are all very enthusiastic NSCAD supporters.

With its new website (yet to be launched), the gallery will be able to carry up to five pieces per student. Artworks can be in a variety of media, including sculpture, ceramics, painting, prints, drawings and textiles. All the work submitted goes before the gallery’s Accessions Committee for acceptance. If sold through the gallery, the student would receive 65 per cent of the purchase price, with the gallery getting the remaining 35 per cent.

Students who are interested in taking advantage of this opportunity should get in touch with ASAR by email (asar@gov.ns.ca) or make an appointment to drop by in person by calling 424-3087. For further information, see the gallery’s Guidelines to Submit.

I want to thank Art Sales and Rental Gallery for already being so supportive of student and alumni artists. The gallery is now hosting an exhibition by three young alumni—Jimy Sloan, Hangama Amiri and Samantha Battaglia. All three artists have been artistic residents with our NSCAD Community Studio Residencies; in fact, Samantha is now a resident with the Lunenburg program. Their show is called This is the Canadian Earth and it’s on display until the end of the month. It’s a beautiful show, which arts reporter Elissa Barnard reviewed in The Chronicle Herald last week.

We’ve been also talking to other local galleries about carrying student work and we are working on organizing a large show and sale of art and craft by students and alumni at the end of the fall 2014 term for the Christmas gift-buying season. We’ll have more details on that as the time approaches.

Senior administration continues to work on peeling back assumptions contained in the space utilization study to assist the Board of Governors in reaching decisions on optimizing space at our three campuses. Meanwhile, the consultants working on the affiliation study are in the final stages of preparing cost scenarios for affiliation with either Saint Mary’s University or Dalhousie University. Recall that our Board has stated that affiliation will only be considered if there are demonstrated cost savings in the short- and long-term futures. Finally, stay tuned for important calls for input by your strategic planning committee led by Board vice chair Julia Dexter and announcements of a short list from our Presidential Search Committee.

In the meantime, I wish all good health and energy to push into the second half of the academic term.

Winter painting

The image used in the header above is a detail from “Winter, Northwest Arm” by Elizabeth Styring Nutt. Painted in 1927 while she was principal of the Nova Scotia College of Art, Miss Nutt had only recently changed the name of the school from the Victoria School of Art and Design and given the school a new motto, “Heart and Head and Hand.” (Elizabeth Styring Nutt,” Winter, Northwest Arm,” 1927.  Oil on canvas, 63.6 x 76.1 cm, Collection of the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia. Gift of Robert L. Stanfield, Ottawa, Ontario, in memory of Mary Hall Stanfield, 1979)

 

 

 

Celebrating Anna’s legacy

I have to tell you the truth. Before I arrived at NSCAD, I couldn’t tell you who Anna Leonowens was, much less pronounce her name. I still stumble over it.

But this weekend, our 125th anniversary celebrations really heat up with a suitably arty tribute to Anna Leonowens, founder of the Victoria School of Art and Design (now NSCAD). The alumni association has enlisted a veritable army of volunteers—students, alumni, faculty and friends—to put Anna’s face on the side of Citadel Hill. Called “ANNAmotion LOGOmotion,” this image of Anna will be created in 572 giant hand painted squares. It’s based on the portrait of Anna by Robert Harris, which is in the collection of the Confederation Centre Art Gallery and has recently arrived at our own Anna Leonowens Gallery for the historical art exhibition opening on Friday.

Anna Leonowens

This portrait of Anna Leonowens will be on display as part of the exhibition Presence at the Anna Leonowens Gallery.

Look for Anna’s face to appear on Citadel Hill when the cannon blows at noon.

But that’s not all. After Anna makes her grand appearance, all the pixels will turn over to create the beautiful 125th anniversary logo which was designed by NSCAD grads Akshay Tyagi and Harry Olsen. Then, the participants will make their way down Duke Street to Granville Mall for another appearance of the 125th anniversary logo and a big group photo. Sounds fun!

In the evening, Granville Mall will transform into a concert venue. East coast performers Buck 65, Matt Mays, Ria Mae, Ghettosocks, Tanya Davis and Acres & Acres are performing and CBC Radio Host Craig Norris is hosting. General admission tickets are $30 and VIP tickets are $125; they’re available online at http://125nscad.eventbrite.ca/  All the proceeds go to NSCAD’s Annual Fund.

And while you’re here at NSCAD on the weekend, make sure to visit the Anna Leonowens Gallery. There will be three anniversary-related exhibitions on display: Presence, historic views of NSCAD; Corrections by former NSCAD president Garry Neill Kennedy; and The King and I: Reprise, a group show and contemporary art bar. Also going on is the 24-Hour Filmfest taking place at the Bell Auditorium. It starts Friday, Sept. 21 at 5 p.m. with Exit Through the Gift Shop and finishes on Saturday, Sept. 22 with Anna and the King at 3:30 p.m. Here’s the full line-up:

Friday, September 21
5 pm – Exit Through the Gift Shop
6:35 pm – Frida
8:45 pm – Coco Before Chanel
10:35 pm: In the realms of the unreal: The mystery of Henry Darger
12 am: Midnight in Paris

Saturday, September 22
1:35 am: Holy Mountain
3:40 am: Russian Ark
5:20 am: Pollack
7:25 am: Mona Lisa Smile
9:25 – 9:50 am: BREAKFAST WITH Basquiat
9:50 am: Basquiat
10:40 am: How to draw a bunny
1:45 pm: Girl with a Pearl Earring
3:30 pm: Anna and the King

Jodie as Anna

Jodie Foster plays Anna Leonowens in the 1999 film, Anna and the King.

We’re pleased to welcome Anna Leonowens’ descendants who will be coming for the weekend. Anna’s great grandson Louis Leonowens will be joining us from Guatemala City and Anna’s great great grand-daughter Lucy will be coming from San Diego. What a thrill for us to show off to them the school Anna envisioned 125 years ago.

By the way, The Chronicle Herald gave us some magnificent coverage in Wednesday’s paper on Anna Leonowens’ legacy and the weekend’s activities. Reporters Lois Legge and Elissa Barnard did tag-team coverage, with stories “Leonowens gets royal treatment” and “NSCAD plans ANNAversary weekend festivities.”

I must express my appreciation to everyone who has pitched in with the planning and to the performers who are so generously donating their time and talent to our school. Thanks so much.

That's McCain scholar Meaghan Bissett and me at the opening of First Impressions. The exhibition continues at the Port Loggia Gallery until September 30. (Eliot Wright Photo)

September is certainly busy around here. I met many talented scholarship winners at the opening of First Impressions on Sept. 5 and attended the ceremony to designate the Granville block as a national historic site on Sept. 13. Upcoming  is the Faculty and Staff Welcome and Awards Reception on Sept. 26. It starts at 11:45 a.m. at the Port Campus. See you there.