‘Moulting’ art exhibit transforms York’s fine arts complex

The Department of Visual Arts and the Visual Arts Student Association (VASA) teamed up to transform the Joan & Martin Goldfarb Centre for Fine Arts and Accolade West Building into a giant art party on Wednesday, March 16, with hundreds of works on display.

Titled Moulting, the spectacular open house exhibition featured print media, drawing, painting, photography, sculpture and time-based art created by the rising young talent in the department.

VASA Vice-President Joshua Vettivelu (far left) and President Billy Garland (far right) sandwich the four VASA People's Choice award winners who each received $250. The recipients are, from left, Kaitlyn Bourden, Ryan Poser, Jane Chon and Anni Bartlett.
Above: VASA Vice-President Joshua Vettivelu (far left) and President Billy
Garland (far right) sandwich the four VASA People’s Choice award winners
who each received $250. The recipients are, from left, Kaitlyn Bourden, Ryan Poser, Jane Chon and Anni Bartlett.

The excitement and energy of the event were amplified by live music performed by York musicians. WIBI, Winters College’s contemporary a cappella ensemble performed, along with solo performances by fourth-year music student and jazz saxophonist Ben Davis and acoustic guitar player music alumnus Justin McMillan (BFA ’10).

As guests strolled throughout the buildings, artists were on hand in the studios to introduce their work.

More than $7,000 in prizes were awarded, including the inaugural $5,000 RAM Iron & Metal Inc. Sculpture Award and four $200 Visual Arts Student Association People’s Choice Awards. In total, some 40 accolades were handed out.

“This is our second annual awards presentation,” announced Professor Judith Schwarz, chair of the Department of Visual Arts as she welcomed a large crowd of students and their supporters in the Iiona Peel's sculpture PeekoGoldfarb lobby. “Last year we gave out 14 small awards. This year, we’ve more than tripled the prize money available to our talented students.

Left: Iiona Peel’s sculpture Peeko

“Kudos and thanks to the students, staff and professors who organized this event,” said Schwarz. “And a big thank you to the donors who facilitated these prizes, especially Open Studio, Curry’s Art Supplies, Display Cult, the Japanese Paper Place and RAM Iron & Metal Incorporated, whose inaugural award took a little imagination and a lot of heart, and will make a big difference for the recipient.”

Professor Brandon Vickerd stepped forward to introduce Cristina Siragusa and Andy Racco from RAM Iron & Metal Inc. to announce the exciting new relationship between the sculpture department and the company. In addition to providing the generous cash award, RAM Iron & Metal Inc. will make an unlimited supply of scrap metal available to sculpture students for their work.

“It’s been a delight to be here and see the work of all you talented young artists,” said Siragusa. “We take great pride in donating material to support such amazing work. It was very difficult to make a selection for the winner of this award, as every work we saw was deserving, but it is an honour to present Nicole Clouston with the inaugural RAM Iron & Metal Inc. Sculpture Award.”

Nicole Clouston with her work AK-47The third-year student’s winning work, titled AK-47, is a life-sized machine gun replica. It is realistic enough that event organizers gave security a heads-up about the piece and where it was installed in the Accolade West Building to ensure no false alarms were raised.

Right: Nicole Clouston with her work AK-47

“I often explore world issues and activism through my work. In AK-47 I wanted to create a piece that made weapons feel dangerous again,” said Clouston. “Guns are glorified through video games and movies. I wanted to make the point that any power that someone can feel from holding a gun is power being stolen from whomever the gun is pointed at. It’s been very interesting to watch people interact with the piece. When someone’s holding it, no one wants it pointed at them and people will often cover the muzzle.”

Clouston, who’s planning to put her award towards next year’s tuition, expressed her appreciate to the donor company and to her classmates, professors and technicians for their support. “It’s such an honour to be chosen, as I feel we all made such great work. In the studio we all worked together, giving feedback and technical advice. I’m very grateful,” she said.

Other award highlights included the four VASA People’s Choice Award-winners: Anni Bartlett, Jane Chon, Kaitlyn Bourden and Ryan Poser. There were also four $250 purchase awards donated by faculty, staff and community partners. The Barbara Sellers-Young Purchase Award went to Hilde Romme, the Jim Fenton Purchase Award to Aidan O’Boyle, the DisplayCult Purchase Award to Cassandra Rowbotham and the Judith Schwarz Purchase Award to Marianne Burlew.

Also announced were the 12 graduating students selected for the Department of Visual Arts’ annual graduation show, set to take place at the Propeller Centre for the Visual Arts April 13 to 24. Alex Clarke, Allen Coulson, Krista Heidrich, Michelle MacKinnon, Chloe Norman, Ilona Peel, Sarah Pintaric, Eshan Rafi, James Sumner, Tasha Turner, Couzyn Van Heuvelen and Joshua Vettivelu will each contribute a work to the exhibition.

Moulting was coordinated by Professors Michael Davey, Richard Hill and Yvonne Singer; Studio Manager Janice Carbert; and Visual Art Student Association representatives Lindsay Ablett, Marianne Burlew, Billy Garland and Josh Vettivelu.

Anyone interested in information about arranging a purchase award or making another contribution to future Visual Arts Open House events is invited to contact Professor Judith Schwarz at vischair@yorku.ca.