F.7 Graduate Student Lightning Talks

F.7 Exposés éclairs des étudiant·es de cycles supérieurs

Fri Oct 22 / ven 22 oct / 11:30 – 13:00 PDT
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  • Keith Bresnahan, OCAD University

For the first time, UAAC-AAUC is proud to feature Graduate Student Lightning Talks. The session is composed of 5-minute presentations of current graduate student research in the form of summations, case studies, or methodological approaches. This is an excellent platform for graduate students to discuss topics they are studying, practice presenting these topics, and engage with the broader academic community.

Pour la première fois, l'UAAC-AAUC est fière de présenter des exposés éclairs des étudiant·es de cycles supérieurs. Cette session est composée de présentations de 5 minutes sur les recherches actuelles des étudiant·es de cycles supérieurs sous forme de résumés focalisés, d'études de cas, ou d'approches méthodologiques. Il s'agit d'une excellente plate-forme pour les étudiant·es de cycles supérieurs de discuter des sujets qu'ils étudient, de s'entraîner à les présenter, et de s'engager auprès de la communauté universitaire au sens large.

Keith Bresnahan is a historian specializing in the histories of architecture, urbanism, and interior design during the nineteenth century, and the continuing legacies of this period. Bresnahan is also interested in the histories of typography and graphic design, designs for childhood, and the classical tradition in Western thought. Bresnahan teaches in the Faculty of Arts and Science, and from 2017–21, served as the Graduate Program Director for the MA program in Contemporary Art, Design and New Media Art Histories. Bresnahan's ongoing research centers on the social and intellectual contexts of design and the politics of architectural destruction; at present, Bresnahan is completing a book project on destruction and urban renewal in the aftermath of the Paris Commune of 1871.

F.7.1 A Knot, A Network, A Thing, A World: Composition as Generative Meaning-making in Still Life Photography

Stephen Severn, OCAD University

Elements move towards, cohere, and separate. It is in this ontogenetic and generative coherence — the composition — that meaning is created. This talk will position still life photography as a non-representational, ontogenetic, and generative coherence of thought, matter, and meaning: what Tim Ingold describes as a knot, what Donna Haraway describes as a network, what Martin Heidegger, Bill Brown, and Elizabeth Grosz describe as a thing, and what Kathleen Stewart describes as a world. The non-representational theories examined do not discount meaning, but foreground its construction in networks of action and relation. The talk will reference the photographic explorations in the series A Knot, A Network, A Thing, A World and accompanying prose, which present an alternative to photography as representation and/or documentation, instead of centring its composition as a moving-towards of human and non-human elements continually coming into being, generating new meanings, networks, and compositions. This ever-evolving externalism is an invitation to all matter, meanings, minds, affects, ecologies, and movements. Still life photography is a generative flux, not of static objects, but of a multiplicity of subjects: as alive, and anything but still. Still life photography is knowledge-making born of matter and action. Still life photography is sympoietic. Still life photography is in excess of the object. Still life photography is a generative force.

Stephen Severn is an interdisciplinary artist whose practice provides a space for the exploration of human and object ontogeny. His process incorporates still life photography and object-creation to observe objects, not as representations of human identity, but in a process of becoming alongside human existence, where human-object relations intertwine and transform through time, space, and movement. His interest in objects transcends his artistic and commercial practice where, as a Display Artist, Set Designer, and Photography Stylist, Stephen works with objects, imbues them with meaning, creates spaces and contexts in which they reside, and highlights their aesthetic appeal. He is currently an MFA Candidate in OCAD University's Interdisciplinary Master's in Art, Media, and Design program in Toronto, Canada.

F.7.2 Architecture as Membrane

Patrick Moskwa, Alberta University of the Arts

Juhani Pallasmaa theorizes architecture as in-betweenness, as a co-constitution of matter and experience, of poetic image and concrete form. Architecture then is the mediated experience of bodies/matter and spaces. I engage Pallasmaa's writing to explore the liminality of the thing and the no/thing: architecture as membrane between material, experiential, and virtual, a space between spaces. Gaston Bachelard's The Poetics of Space reveals a friction within poetic images as they tease at the limits of rational language. He speaks of poetic language and image having an agency to transport us from physical spaces to places of spatial memory, places we once inhabited but now revisits only in reverie. This agitation is a space between language and poetry, a tenancy of the in-betweenness of material and space. My work appropriates these two notions of the in-between by positioning architecture as a membrane. The membrane is a mediator, granting agency to language, to bodies/matter, to ourselves and space. Through the use of the poetic image employed by both authors, I explore membrane as a zone of connection/resistance between the concrete and material, and the plastic and potential. The membrane is the place where reality is negotiated. My MFA research in craft media reframes the concept of the in-between to articulate the transgressive actions and agencies of bodies and space. I explore craft as a material and aesthetic apprehension of this liminality and investigate the potentials between queer bodies and agencies in action.

Patrick Moskwa is entering his second year of studies of the MFA in Craft Media at the Alberta University of the Arts. Patrick holds a professional bachelor's degree in architecture from Carleton University and has been practicing his craft for almost 20 years. He is also a design educator at Mount Royal University in Calgary.

F.7.3 Slow Seeing: Walking, Grief, and Temporal Connections through the Photographic Image

Natalie Goulet, NSCAD University

How can analog photography intersect with a direct, embodied land-based art practice? How can this practice create new forms of vocabularies, rituals, ways of noticing, and emotional responses in the face of climate change? In our current society, photography is known as a medium of fast seeing. Focused on carving out a decisive moment, our perception of instantaneity disconnects us from the passage of linear time. Slow Seeing is an ongoing attempt to reconnect to methods of slow temporality using minimal materials and no toxic chemistry. Burned onto expired photographic paper and deliberately unfixed, the resulting images occupy a transient space and serve as a conduit to expanded time. Installed publicly or serving as a mapping device, both functions of the homemade pinhole cameras relinquish control of the decisive moment. Some cameras trace my path while others silently bear witness to a changing landscape. Recording traces of tidal shifts, water damage, or public intervention, the images embody uncanny contingencies in varied shades of blue. As we form an era where glacial time and human time coincide, are we conjuring ourselves as ghosts to haunt the distant future?

Natalie Michelle Goulet (she/her) is an interdisciplinary artist based in Kjipuktuk/Halifax, NS. She holds a BFA in photography and film studies from the University of Ottawa and is currently an MFA candidate at NSCAD University. She has shown work in Canada, the United States, and Iceland. Her practice, although rooted in analog photography, consists of diverse material explorations, including the use of found objects and performance. Her work often revolves around the concept of instability and seeks an empathic approach to destructive human tendencies.

F.7.4 Walking with Climate Grief

Luke Fair, NSCAD University

Walking a line, along the shore, a sidewalk, a trail, a colour, and a place. As we walk, we encounter signs, gestures, and relics of manufactured and natural origins, underlining the intertwined, temporal nature of being. Acknowledging the presence of those around you, human and non-human, are the first steps to embodied walking. Gathering and foraging for objects, we create a dialogue with the land as an active participant. Wandering, repetition, and various processes of mapping build a place-based spatial understanding of the land. Tracing the boundaries of liminal spaces, we find ourselves wondering if we are in dialogue with place or if we are alone, in a void of anthropocentric discourse, fulfilling a desire for connection in a time of displacement.

I will be presenting walking as a form of research-creation in my role as a research assistant in an interdisciplinary SSHRC New Frontiers research project on climate grief in Canada. Walking as an aesthetic practice has been a way to connect researchers from the visual arts, science, and social sciences for the project. While designing walks for the group, I ask: How can walking question our bodies' position in time and space and our relationship to a changing climate? How can walking as an aesthetic practice develop ways of seeing and noticing that acknowledge the presence of more-than-humans and build connections with the land as a being-in-relationship through time? How has walking been a way to acknowledge, illicit, and manage emotions related to climate grief and eco-anxiety? To demonstrate the applicable research, I will present 1-2 examples of guided walks for our research project.

NSCAD MFA graduate Luke Fair (he/him) is a visual artist currently based in Halifax-Kjipuktuk. He completed his undergraduate degree in visual arts at the University of Victoria in 2016. His practice is currently developing walking, drawing, painting, and photography as methods to expand his understanding of the more-than-human and the impacts of exploitative human activities.

F.7.5 Pink Cat/Yellow Disaster: Painting the Internet of Climate Change

Jason Rafferty, University of Georgia

Jason Rafferty's current practice takes the form of mixed-media assemblages of paintings, digital and analog prints and collages, and readymade objects which investigate the intergenerational response to climate change. A whimsical aesthetic with a vibrant palette and a mashup of lowbrow and highbrow art materials is utilized to poke fun at climate denial, long endemic in the US, while riffing off of the internet as the primary forum through which we receive climate-related information. Hence cat memes, Zoom grids and news of natural disasters coexist within assemblage-paintings that represent the image juxtapositions and emotional ping-ponging that we experience daily in the virtual sphere. The strongest climate change activism and impetus for transformation have come from youth globally, who have taken the reins and pressured those in power to reorient society towards sustainability, using the internet to organize. This youth-driven response to climate change is reflected with the use of objects associated with children's art and crafts, such as colourful pipe cleaners, safety scissors and craft sticks in installations, prints and assemblages; mark-making styles typical of children's art; and text abbreviations and emojis associated with (millennial) teen internet slang. Task-oriented objects typical of corporate offices such as cork boards, magnetic whiteboards and strings of colourful paper clips are used in assemblages as emblems of intergenerational collaboration toward sustainability. The work does playfully indulge in sardonic humour about the United States's history of climate denial and distraction from the urgency of the transition to sustainability. Having acknowledged this, sarcastic tongue-in-cheek visual humour gives way to a sense of optimism about the ability of human creativity to overcome steep odds and turn a desperate situation into an opportunity for innovation.

Jason Rafferty is an MFA candidate at the University of Georgia in Athens, Georgia, US. He is a recipient of the Elizabeth Greenshields Foundation Grant and has exhibited nationally in the US, with recent shows including Artfields 2021 in Lake City, SC and Rites of Passage at Manifest Gallery in Cincinnati, Ohio. He holds a BFA with a minor in French from UNC Asheville in Asheville, NC, and has studied at Studio Escalier in Paris, France. He has a background as a climate change activist, which he draws upon in his current work. Jason's artwork melds his passion for traditional drawing and painting with his love of graphic design and the interdisciplinary eclecticism of contemporary visual arts practices. His recent work consists of mixed-media assemblages of paintings, digital and analog prints and collages, and readymade objects that investigate the intergenerational response to climate change.

F.7.6 The End of Ceramics: Creating Art in Response to the Climate Crisis

Amy Snider, University of Regina

I will give a focused summation of my ephemeral ceramic vessels that express the fragility of our shared eco-systems. Formally, they are cups, plates, and bowls that are too fragile even to be held. One piece, Saskatchewan Glacier (2019), portrays Canadian glaciers at this moment — it is a series of cups made up of paper-thin porcelain snowflakes barely touching one another, so vulnerable that a draft in a room could destroy them. Needless to say, they can't hold water. During installation, many break, resulting in porcelain "snowflakes" on the gallery floor, further signifying the ephemerality of the glaciers. My series of bowls and plates in Dust (2021), made of dust from unfired locally-sourced clay, represent the "final" pieces of ceramics; that they will not survive is their form and content, their fate suggesting our own. Enduring drought is likely to be one of the worst consequences of climate change we will face here in the Treaty Four region and throughout much of Canada. My work additionally interrogates the place of art during this "vortex of violence" (Tsing, 2017, G56) that we are facing. For one, I am concerned with the ethical dilemmas surrounding a material-based medium such as ceramics and strive to reduce my artistic footprint as much as possible. Furthermore, grappling with the questions of why and how one responds to such destruction as an artist, this work also expresses my psychological state: it is itself an act of elegiac creation. As Deborah Bird Rose writes, "[w]e are looking at worlds of loss" (Bird Rose, 2017, G52). Nonetheless, she maintains that the world is still full of beauty and life, full of "yes"; with her, I still want to "say yes" to the world despite my despair, and thus I continue to create (Bird Rose, 2017, G52).

works cited: Tsing, Anna, et al., ed. Arts of Living on a Damaged Planet. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2017; Bird Rose, Deborah. "Shimmer: When All You Love Is Being Trashed." In Arts of Living on a Damaged Planet, edited by Anna Tsing et al., 51-63. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2017.

Amy Snider (she/her) is an MFA candidate at the University of Regina. She is predominantly a ceramist who makes conceptual works that reflect on the climate crisis. She also participates in environmental organizations and political advocacy, and her artwork is an extension of her commitment to this cause. She creates work on Treaty 4 territory, home to the Cree, Saulteaux bands of the Ojibwa peoples, and the Assiniboine.

F.7.7 The Hollow-Biont

Fenn Martin, Alberta University of the Arts

The Hollow-Biont is my process for exploring clay as a host material, a space for multispecies entanglements and abiotic forces such as wind and erosion. This research looks at activating interfaces from clay by challenging clay to be a host to other life forms and materials, creating a muddy tangle of unlikely companions. My neologism, The Hollow-Biont is a play on the scientific term halobiont, an organism that hosts other smaller independent organisms. My research is grounded in the theoretical frameworks of cultural theorists such as Anna Tsing and Donna Haraway, who explore philosophical contexts of halobionts. For example, humans and all mammals are halobionts. In turn, I extend their methodologies into artistic spheres to create tangible clay spaces of vibrant materiality. I situate my work in the context of industrial ceramics as it connects to experience in small-scale farming with particular interest in networks. My research traces ecological systems unfolding into economic ones as seen through the works of Peter Wohlleben's book The Hidden Life of Trees and Jean Baudrillard's The System of Objects. In my presentation, I will share my unique plasma cutting process for making dyes that create complex extruded clay components. The precision of this process allows my clay parts to sleeve, join, and friction fit with other materials and clay components. My research is an informed "stewardship" approach that expands the larger field of contemporary ceramics. I use the moniker clay practice (instead of ceramics practice) as it encompasses my passion for raw clay objects. For me, clay is raw and ever malleable, vulnerable and "reclaimable." Whereas the world of "ceramics" describes the fired, the static, and stationary. In The Hollow-Biont, the firing process of clay into ceramics is re-examined through the actant qualities of organisms, compost, recycling, and geological material histories.

Fenn Martin's practice is finding creative parallels in professional artistic (specifically ceramic-based) and contemporary small-scale farming practises. Immersed in traditions of labour and small-scale farming, Martin imbues a tradesperson's Do-It-Yourself (DIY) approach into large-scale ceramic installations. Strongly influenced by his hometown, Antigonish Nova Scotia's remarkable history of forming grassroots co-operatives, his explorations of small-scale agrarian labour extend parallels in his fine arts discourse. Currently, his practice employs large, extruded forms exploring clay as an interspecies host which interface with microbial and fungal communities. Through outdoor raw clay installations of tubal structures, Martin finds many fertile convergences of arts, sciences, and stewardship. Martin has several permanent commissions in Nova Scotia and is currently completing a Master of Fine Art (MFA) in Craft Media at Alberta University of the Arts (AUA), Calgary, Alberta.


Much gratitude to the sponsor of this session.

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