Bursting with NSCAD pride

The projects are finished, the essays and exams are written and the final marks are in. It’s time for all of us at NSCAD to take a collective breath as the 2016 Graduation Ceremony approaches.

This is a wonderful time of the year and I have never been more proud. Those of us who work at NSCAD know how amazing our students are, so when their accomplishments reach a more public stage, we are thrilled that members of our community can witness this too. Such was the case during EPOCH, the runway show which featured the work of 14 student fashion designers, and the Starfish Student Art Awards, a showcase for the artwork of 10 student finalists. Speaking of Starfish, congratulations to 2016 winner Sydney McKenna. I’m delighted that her exquisite print, Play, has found a home in the President’s Office, alongside View from Chebucto Head by Arthur Lismer, the principal of NSCAD a century ago, and John Baldessari’s iconic print I Will Not Make Any More Boring Art.

relief print by Sydney McKenna

Sydney McKenna, Play, 2015. Relief print, 116.84 x 81.28 cm.

On Thursday, there are two special events to mention. The first is the screening of Strange & Familiar: the Architecture of Fogo Island, which will take place at 2 pm in Paul O’Regan Hall of Halifax Central Library. This stunning film, which I had a chance to see during the Atlantic Film Festival last September, documents a bold architecture project on remote Fogo Island that embraces contemporary design and the excitement of living on the edge in relation to nature. The filmmakers of Strange & Familiar are all NSCAD alumni—Marcia Connolly, Katherine Knight and David Craig. Marcia, the co-director and cinematographer, will be at the screening for the Q&A which follows, along with architect Todd Saunders, also a NSCAD alumnus. We are delighted to welcome Todd from Norway for the screening and graduation on Friday when Todd will be awarded NSCAD’s highest honour, an Honorary Doctorate of Fine Art.

artist studio fogo

One of the artist studios designed by Todd Saunders on Fogo Island, Newfoundland. The image in the header shows the iconic Fogo Island Inn.

After the screening, it’s off to the Anna Leonowens Gallery for the opening of the 2016 Graduation Exhibition and the launch of the 2016 Graduation Catalogue. This is always such a fantastic event with so many family and friends in attendance. It’s a chance to recognize the two student interns – this year curator Brea McAllister and designer Grace Laemmler – who pour heart and soul into presenting the work of their peers. Thanks to the donation by Margaret and David Fountain, the gallery is newly renovated and a fitting showcase for the exhibition of more than 100 artworks.

Later in the evening, there will be a party at NSCAD’s very own Art Bar, just a few doors down from the gallery on Granville Street.

The next day, Friday, April 29, it’s graduation. The ceremony takes place at 2 pm at the Cunard Centre, 961 Marginal Road—just a short walk from our Port Campus. NSCAD’s Graduation Ceremony is like none other and I’m very much looking forward to celebrating the achievements of the Graduating Class of 2016.

In closing, I’d like to tell you about another highlight of the last two weeks: the signing of the collective agreement for FUNSCAD Unit I representing faculty members and FUNSCAD Unit II representing technicians. This is a huge accomplishment that was made possible with a wholehearted commitment to NSCAD on the part of everyone involved. FUNSCAD President, Professor Alvin Comiter, who has been involved with 12 collective agreements over his 42 years at NSCAD, said an agreement reached without having to go to the bargaining table has never happened at NSCAD before. The process was amicable and without rancor, achieved through dialogue and mutual respect. Thank you to all those who worked so hard to make the agreement happen and to the NSCAD Board of Governors for its ratification.

group shot

Members of FUNSCAD and the NSCAD administration shared the pen to make the collective agreement official. In photo: Melanie Colosimo, director of the Anna Leonowens Gallery, Dr. Ann-Barbara Graff, Vice President Academic & Research, NSCAD President Dianne Taylor-Gearing, Dr. Jayne Wark, Professor of Art History, Alvin Comiter, Professor, Photography, and Sharon Johnson-Legere, Vice President Finance and Administration.

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!

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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 universityrelations@nscad.ca with the subject line, “Epoch will be epic.”

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