This story is published in YFile’s New Faces Feature Issue 2020, part one. Every September, YFile introduces and welcomes those joining the York University community, and those with new appointments. Watch for part two on Sept. 25.
The School of the Arts, Media, Performance & Design (AMPD) welcomes 10 new faculty members this fall: Mike Cadó, Bridget Cauthrey, Robyn Cumming, Michael Darroch, Gillian Helfield, Amy Hillis, Noam Lemish, Jamie Robinson, Gabriel (Gabi) Schaffzin and Jane Tingley.
Dean Sarah Bey-Cheng said she is delighted to welcome the school’s newest faculty colleagues to AMPD. “These new members of our community bring with them a broad range of experiences and proven excellence in their respective fields. Collectively, their work demonstrates the capacity for the arts, media, performances, design – both in research and practice – to promote social prosperity and human flourishing. They are creators and thinkers who build connections across borders and boundaries. As York focuses attention on the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, they join AMPD with work that will address some of world’s most challenging problems. I look forward to the new connections and activities that they will create at York University and beyond.”
Mike Cadó joins AMPD as a faculty member in the music department this fall. Cadó is a Toronto-based guitarist, composer and bandleader whose diverse experiences reflect his interest in a multitude of genres that span the musical gamut including jazz, blues, rhythm and blues and more. Most recently, Cadó’s artistic expressions, creative energy and curiosity have stimulated him to pursue a doctoral degree in ethnomusicology at York. Cadó’s decision to continue graduate studies has been inspired by his interest in exploring the unique relationships between the compositional and improvisational processes, which are unequivocally motivational forces behind his own vitality and music-making. His ability to blend creativity and skill, alongside intellectual sophistication distinguishes Cadó as a unique and dynamic artist.
In 2010, Cadó received an Artist Marketing Grant from the York Region Arts Council that allowed for the update of promotional material contributing significantly to artist development and outreach. He is honoured to have been recognized in the community he works and lives in. With the aid of an Ontario Arts Council Grant, The Mike Cado Tentet has recently completed and released their debut recording, “Nimmons N Nine…Now!”
Bridget Cauthery is a dance and cultural studies scholar focusing on the impact of post/neo-coloniality and the processes of globalization on contemporary and popular dance practices in the global north. Since 2008, she has been lecturing in the Dance Department at York University and in the Theatre School at Ryerson University and was appointed to York’s Faculty of Graduate Studies in 2014. Cauthery has a BA Hons. from University of Toronto, an MA from York University and PhD from University of Surrey. She became assistant professor in dance at York University in July 2020.
In 2016 Cauthery was the recipient of a 12-month research leave to complete the manuscript for her forthcoming monograph Choreographing the North (McGill-Queens University Press) that examines 11 contemporary dance works from the northern and southern hemispheres that take the north as their source and inspiration. She was one of four keynote speakers for the 2016 Selma Odom Lecture Series celebrating 40 years of dance studies at York University. In 2014, Cauthery won the inaugural e-learning teaching award in AMPD for her course Dance, Film & Culture. In 2015 Cauthery received Academic Innovation funding for a new blended learning course that uses social media to manufacture undergraduate student engagement with critical theory. In 2018 she was awarded the President’s University-Wide Teaching Award for Contract Faculty. She has presented at conferences in Canada, the U.S. and Europe and her research has been published in Ethnologies, Culture & Tradition, Canadian Dance Studies, Performance Research Journal, TOPIA and appears in Fields in Motion: Ethnography in the Worlds of Dance (2011). Chapters on indigenous identities in dance in two anthologies are forthcoming in 2021: Moving Together: Dance and Pluralism in Canada (Wilfrid Laurier Press) and The Oxford Handbook of Contemporary Ballet (Oxford University Press).
Robyn Cumming, who makes photographs and sculptures, joins AMPD as an assistant professor in the Department of Visual Art & Art History. Her research is driven by a fervent interest in representation, and a personal fascination with depictions of the human creature. Employing humour and wit as a strategy for boundary transgression, she often conjures the mask and clowning to probe the relationship between the actual and the symbolic.
Cummings’ previous academic positions include the Art & Art History Program at Sheridan College/University of Toronto Mississauga, the Photography program at OCAD University and 10 years of teaching photography in the Image Arts Department at Ryerson University. There, she held the position of associate program director of the Image Arts Program and the director of the school’s off-site gallery Ryerson Artspace, leading the gallery’s move to its new location in 401 Richmond.
Cummings was a recent artist in residence at the Scottish Sculpture Workshop (2019) and Banff Centre (2018). She was long-listed for the Aimia Photography Prize in 2014.
Michael Darroch, an associate professor, joins AMPD as associate dean, Academic. Darroch is a co-investigator on the Visible City Project + Archive. He received his PhD from McGill University’s Department of Art History & Communication Studies. He holds an MA in German studies from Université de Montréal, and has also attended graduate studies at Universität Konstanz and Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin. Recent publications include “Bridging Urban and Media Studies: Jaqueline Tyrwhitt and the Explorations Group 1951-1957” in the Canadian Journal of Communication 2008, “Digital Multivocality and Embodied Language in Theatrical Space” in Intermédialités 12, 2008 and “‘The Dragonfly of Chicoutimi’: Staging Polyphony in Montréal and Toronto” in Urban Enigmas: Montréal, Toronto and the Problem of Comparing Cities (McGill-Queen’s 2007). He has also translated for several production companies and playwrights.
Gillian Helfield is an associate professor in the Department of Cinema and Media Arts in AMPD. Her field of specialization is cinemas of Canada. Other areas of interest include Hollywood cinema, humanities, Middle Eastern cinemas, Rural cinemas and television studies. In 2006, her book Representing the Rural: Space Place and Identity, in Films About the Land, was published by Wayne State University Press.
Helfield is very involved in eLearning initiatives at York University. In collaboration with AMPD Technology, she has developed and redesigned two large-enrolment online film courses, which have earned recognition from international eLearning associations (IELA) and the Teaching Commons at York University (York’s nomination for the STLHE Brightspace/D2L Innovation Award). In 2017, she received the AMPD eLearning Teaching Award. Helfield has a BA from University of Western Ontario, a DipComm from Concordia University, an MFA from York University and a PhD from University of Warwick.
Amy Hillis is an assistant professor and Helen Carswell Chair of Community-Engaged Research in the Arts. She has a BMus from McGill University, an MMus from San Francisco Conservatory of Music and a DMus from McGill University.
As a performer and educator, Hillis pursues projects which build relationships inside and outside the concert hall. She is the founding member and manager of the prairie-based Horizon String Quartet with whom she presents concert tours of interactive performances for schools across western Canada. At McGill University, Hillis established a course titled “Chamber Music and Engaging New Audiences” for the purpose of developing undergraduates’ communication skills within a performance context.
Hillis has commissioned and premiered new Canadian works for violin by Jocelyn Morlock, Nicole Lizée, Carmen Braden, Randolph Peters and Jordan Pal. Her debut album, titled Roots, demonstrates the connections between select Canadian compositions and works from the traditional canon of classical repertoire. As part of the meagan&amy duo, Hillis performed this repertoire in 10 Canadian provinces during the inaugural “Pan-Canadian Partnership” Recital Tour. She also toured Canada as winner of the Eckhardt-Gramatté National Music Competition and she studied ties between French and Québécois repertoire as artist-in-residence at La Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris.
Noam Lemish is a pianist, composer, educator, scholar an assistant professor. He has appeared in numerous performances and conducted workshops across Canada, the U.S., Europe, Israel and in Bhutan, and has released multiple albums, including most recently Pardes (2018) and Sonic Truffles (2018). His teaching interests cover a wide variety of areas within jazz studies, as well as composition, Jewish music, polyidiomatic improvisation and the practice of deep listening. His research focuses primarily on transcultural jazz practices and improvisation pedagogy.
Lemish is presently engaged in a diverse array of projects including the Noam Lemish Quartet, a co-led ensemble with oudist/guitarist Amos Hoffman, a duo with percussionist George Marsh as well as premiering and recording the piano music of composer W.A. Mathieu. His compositions include jazz works for small and large ensembles, chamber, choral, piano and “The People’s King”: a commissioned transcultural suite in celebration the King of Bhutan’s 30th birthday, composed while teaching music in the Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan in 2010.
As co-director of the Israeli-Iranian Musical Initiative (I=I), a multiple grant-winning collective of Israeli and Iranian performers, Lemish has brought Israeli and Iranian musicians and audiences together, in dialogue and celebration, challenging the formal political hostilities between Iran and Israel through critically acclaimed and sold-out concerts at major venues and festivals.
Lemish is currently working on a monograph for Routledge’s Transnational Studies in Jazz Series based on his ethnographic research into the practices of Israeli jazz musicians who blend Israeli and non-Israeli musical influences with jazz in performances, recordings and composed works.
Lemish holds a doctor of musical arts (DMA) in jazz performance and a masters degree in composition from the University of Toronto. Before joining York University as assistant professor of jazz instruction and pedagogy in 2020, he taught at the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Music and the University of Toronto Scarborough’s Department of Arts, Media and Culture. He joins Ron Westray as the Oscar Peterson Chair in Jazz.
Jamie Robinson is joining York’s Theatre Department in the role of assistant professor. Previous roles at York include an MFA (2015), and seven years as a part-time educator in various theatre disciplines. Outside York, he obtained a BFA from Concordia University, and began playing the role of professional actor in dozens of shows, including four seasons at the Stratford Festival Theatre, appearing in numerous film and television productions from across this continent and receiving a Dora award for Outstanding Performance.
As a director, Robinson recently helmed such world premieres as Copy That (Tarragon Theatre, Toronto) and Scotian Journey (Black Theatre Workshop, Montreal), as well as devised student productions of classical and contemporary works for University of Toronto Mississauga and George Brown College. He was former artistic director for Scarborough’s Guild Festival Theatre, presenting classical theatre outdoors, and co-founded Montreal’s Metachroma Theatre Company with the mandate to normalize the presence of actors of colour on stage. Currently, he has a few directing projects waiting in the wings for audiences to return to, dealing with content that will undoubtedly be primed for the new “normal” to come.
Gabriel (Gabi) Schaffzin
Gabi Schaffzin is an artist, educator and researcher based in Toronto. He is currently an assistant professor in the Department of Design in AMPD. He holds a PhD in art history, theory, and criticism, art practice concentration from the University of California, San Diego. His BS in business administration from Babson College in Wellesley is a degree he readily admits provides a curious pairing with his MFA from the Massachusetts College of Art & Design’s Dynamic Media Institute.
Schaffzin’s work has been on display in galleries, public space and at events in San Diego, Boston, Philadelphia, East Lansing and Utrecht. He has had the privilege of speaking at conferences around the country, as well as internationally, appearing on panels at the American Studies Association, Relating Systems Thinking & Design, SXSW, Theorizing the Web and the Society of Literature, Science, and the Arts, among others. His dissertation project combines design history, disability studies and a history of computing to trace the history of designed pain scales in the United States throughout the 20th century. He is a 2018–19 recipient of the Andrew V. and Florence W. White Dissertation Scholarship from the UC Humanities Research Institute. When he’s not writing (which is too often), he’s probably yelling at the TV as he watches the latest Philadelphia sports meltdown, hiking with his dog, traveling with his wife or swimming (slowly).
Jane Tingley is an artist, curator and assistant professor at York University. Her studio work combines traditional studio practice with new media tools, and spans responsive/interactive installation, performative robotics and telematically connected distributed sculpture. Her current artistic trajectory is interdisciplinary in nature and explores the creation of spaces and experiences that push the boundaries between science and magic, interactivity and playfulness, and offer an experience to the viewer that is accessible both intellectually and technologically.
Tingley has participated in exhibitions and festivals in the Americas, the Middle East, Asia, and Europe, including translife, International Triennial of Media Art at the National Art Museum of China, Gallerie Le Deco in Tokyo, Elektra Festival in Montréal and the Künstlerhause in Vienna. She received the Kenneth Finkelstein Prize in Sculpture in Manitoba, the first prize in the iNTERFACES – Interactive Art Competition in Porto, Portugal, and has received support from a number of funding agencies, the arts councils of Canada, Manitoba, Ontario and Québec, the Canada Council for the Arts and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. Tingley holds a BFA from University of Manitoba and an MFA from Concordia University.