Fine Arts faculty and alumni win a clutch of honours

The award-winning style of the Faculty of Fine Arts has been conspicuously visible in the media of late, thanks to a clutch of honours for creative work won by faculty and alumni.

Visual arts Professor Yam Lau recently won the Best of Canada Product Design Award from Toronto’s Design Exchange for her mobile kiosk. Called "When the Front is also the Back", the structure neatly tucks into the back of a car.

Left: Yam Lau’s mobile art kiosk

"The kiosk is part of a project that uses my car as a mobile art project space," explained Lau.

"It is used mostly to present artists’ books and multiples and can function as a unit in the car or on its own. Besides the kiosk, there are also other artworks by community artists installed in the car. This project explores alternative exhibition structures and facilitates connections between different communities."

"When the Front is also the Back", a collaborative project with architect Tania Ursomarzo, is on view at the Design Exchange until Oct. 12.

York had a major presence at the inaugural Mayor’s Arts Awards, hosted by Toronto Mayor David Miller at the Fairmont Royal York Hotel on Oct. 5. The awards showcase and celebrate significant commitment and contribution made by Toronto’s artists, cultural professionals and arts supporters from every creative discipline to the city’s culture.

                            Right: Peter Chin

Dance artist and York alumnus Peter Chin (BFA ’85, visual arts) won the $10,000 Muriel Sherrin Award for International Achievement in Music and Dance. In the running for the same award was fellow York alumna Denise Fujiwara (BFA ’79, dance). 

York music professor and master percussionist Trichy Sankaran was nominated for the William Kilbourn Award for the Celebration of Toronto’s Cultural Life.

Left: Trichy Sankaran

These prizes were two of five honours presented at the event, which brought together many of Toronto’s cultural innovators as well as political and corporate leaders. The nominees were put forward by the public and the winners were picked by a jury of arts luminaries, including dancer-choreographer and York alumna Lata Pada (MFA ’96). Master of ceremonies for the occasion was York alumnus and CBC personality Jian Ghomeshi (BA  ’95). For a complete list of nominees and finalists, visit the Toronto Arts Council Foundation Web site.

Applied Arts

                             Right: Natasha Moorad

The winning works were on public display at Toronto’s Design Exchange last month and can be seen in the October issue of Applied Arts. According to the magazine, "the entries were judged by panels of highly regarded industry professionals and experts in a rigorous process developed from more than 15 years of award experience. Entries were scored independently by each judge based on creative merit, technical excellence and suitability for end use." Click here to view the winning design projects.

York dance faculty Holly Small (BFA ’77) and Sashar Zarif were the joint recipients of the 2006 Paula Citron TIDF Award for Small’s solo work, In the Letters of My Name, performed by Zarif at the Toronto International Dance Festival in August. Citron, who writes on dance for The Globe and Mail and Toronto Life magazine, established the annual award to recognize the accomplishments of independent choreographers.

In the Letters of My Name

Left: Sashar Zarif

Citron went on to say in her citation: "The award honours two senior artists, a superbly expressive and charismatic dancer [Zarif] and an intellectual and seasoned choreographer [Small]. Only wisdom and knowledge of life could have produced this powerful work. While dance is predominantly an art form of the young, we must not forget the generation who has gone before, and continues to give us their artistic riches."

The York Dance Ensemble, the Dance Department’s repertory company directed by Susan Cash, will perform In the Letters of My Name, along with other works, at Montreal’s tangente festival ( running Oct. 12-15.

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YFile by Mary-Lou Shagena of York’s Faculty of Fine Arts. is a haunting portrayal of the horrors of war in the old country and the immigrant experience in the new. "This piece, with its cunning mix of text, movement and evocative sound score by acclaimed composer John Oswald (BFA ’77), is as profoundly moving as it is provocative," said Citron. "Kudos also to director Soheil Parsa [BA ’89, theatre] as dramaturge. This is a work which opens up the guts of an artist and exposes the raw soul. It is dance storytelling at its best.", Canada’s visual communications magazine, recognized the following 2006 York/Sheridan design alumni for outstanding work in the inaugural Applied Arts Student Awards Exhibit competition: Sarah Waiser and Patricia Papadakos, who each took two awards, Lucia Chu, Theodore Daley and Natasha Moorad.