This is an article from the Art School Smart Guide in the Winter 2016 issue of Canadian Art.
Art-school grads are moving on to great careers and making their own jobs, too. Across media and across the country, they’re defining the shape of art in the 21st century.
1. Abigail Auld: researcher, curator and organizer
After completing a Bachelor of Design at OCAD University, I moved to pursue an MA in Cultural Studies from the University of Winnipeg. While at the UW, I developed a curatorial project that investigated the influence of the Hudson’s Bay Company on Winnipeg’s urban development. In summer 2014, I travelled by cargo container ship through the East China Sea to the depths of an open pit mine in Inner Mongolia to trace the journey of a smart phone.
I now work at Martha Street Studio, and also pursue other activities ranging from research, writing and publishing to exhibition and event organizing. As my future takes shape, I hope to achieve a method of working that maintains complexity and provides ongoing opportunity for learning.
2. John Lowndes: photographic and mixed-media artist
While my major at York University was in Studio Art, only a quarter of my credits were in studio-based practicum. Courses in film theory, urban studies and satire have all shaped the bodies of work that I create today. This year, through the Art Mentorship Project coordinated by the McMichael Canadian Art Collection and the York Region Arts Council, I got the opportunity to work with my mentor, Césan d’Ornellas Levine. We have treated the mentorship as a much more collaborative experience, acting as two equal artists genuinely interested in the creative process. In the future, I hope that I will have an opportunity to work in a university, helping the next generation of artists to expand their practices and think outside artistic conventions.
3. Janine Windolph: artist and filmmaker
In my BFA at the University of Regina, I took as many Indigenous studies courses as I could, and learned the alternate narrative of how Canada was formed. My master’s was in Interdisciplinary Media Production and Indian Fine Arts. After losing my unborn child in 2006, I wrote and directed an NFB film, LifeGivers: Honouring our Elders and Children, and in 2008 I became the president of mispon: Indigenous Film Festival. We keep storytelling alive in Saskatchewan with a focus on multimedia. I am now hard at work on my first micro-budget film: Land of Rock and Gold.
4. Kara Hansen: curatorial intern at Nanaimo Art Gallery
At the Emily Carr University of Art and Design, I completed a BFA with a major in Critical and Cultural Practices and a minor in Curatorial Studies. I took an elective summer course taught by Canadian Conceptual artist Germaine Koh on installation art, which focused on public art, intervention and site specificity. The best parts of working at the Nanaimo Art Gallery are the studio visits, corresponding with artists and seeing projects develop. I co-curated “Spirit Gum,” an exhibition on the expanded definition of performance, with the Nanaimo’s curator, Jesse Birch. I plan to go back to school for my master’s in Fine Art, and want to take courses in textiles, world literature and fashion history to cultivate both my interests and my artistic practice.
5. Tamara Himmelspach: Aboriginal liaison at ACAD
I graduated with a BFA in Sculpture from ACAD in May 2015, and received news in August that I had won the BMO 1st Art! Competition. One key objective within my practice is for audiences to experience my artworks in a visceral way. In 2014 I proposed to gather resources for ACAD’s Aboriginal students, which led to the construction of the Aboriginal Resource Centre. Choosing to venture out into the urban community and investigate existing supports, I now work closely with the Aboriginal Friendship Centre to put programming together for our new space.
6. William Robinson: metalsmith and jeweller
Going back to art school at age 59 was interesting. I wondered whether I would be able to cope with the workload, since it had been 36 years since I had graduated from NSCAD—that’s where I first came to the realization that I could make a living from creating art and design. In 2014, I won a national award for my jewellery after my instructor at the New Brunswick College of Craft and Design encouraged me to apply. I plan to expand my lines of jewellery designs, and to stage more solo shows at local and regional galleries in the Atlantic provinces.
7. Jessica Kirsh: director at CK2 Gallery
My time at Concordia was critical in fostering my academic and professional careers. I was given opportunities to publish my writing, speak at conferences and work as a teaching assistant, as well as acquire preliminary experience in curating and art administration. Equipped with literary and practical knowledge of the contemporary artworld, I opened CK2 Gallery with my business partner, Stephanie Creaghan, in November 2014. Since then, we have been curating solo and group exhibitions, video screenings, performances and artist talks. Our mandate is to showcase work by emerging to mid-career artists from the geographical triad of Montreal, Toronto and New York.