This story is published in YFile’s New Faces feature issue 2023. Every September, YFile introduces and welcomes those joining the York University community, and those with new appointments.
The York University School of the Arts, Media, Performance & Design (AMPD) welcomes five new faculty members this fall.
“It is always a pleasure to welcome new colleagues who bring original ideas and diverse perspectives to AMPD and York University. This year’s cohort of incoming AMPD faculty members bring extensive international experience, research and artistic accolades, coupled with strong teaching and a commitment to the vision that excellence in arts education serves the greater common good,” says AMPD Dean Sarah Bay-Cheng. “Their work is already making significant contributions toward the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and will empower our students to develop their work beyond the classroom through robust connections to professional fields. I look forward to working with each of them over the coming year and beyond.”
Jessica Campbell (she/her) joins AMPD in the Department of Visual Art & Art History, with expertise in drawing. She is an interdisciplinary artist with a wide range of influences, including science fiction, art world politics and her evangelical upbringing.
Her Chicago Works solo show at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago from 2018 to 2019 was reviewed in Art in America, Hyperallergic and Juxtapoz. She is the author of three graphic novels, including the recent Rave (Drawn and Quarterly, 2022), and her comics have been published by MoMA, the New Yorker and Hyperallergic, among other publications. She has forthcoming solo exhibitions at the Fabric Workshop and Museum in Philadelphia (2023) and SPACES in Cleveland (2024), and her work has been included in group shows at the John Michael Kohler Art Center in Wisconsin, the Art Gallery of Hamilton in Ontario, the Art Gallery of Alberta in Edmonton, the Institute for Contemporary Art in Baltimore and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago.
Campbell has taught studio and art history courses at a variety of institutions, including the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, DePaul University and Saint Norbert College. She holds a bachelor of fine arts from Concordia University and a master of fine arts from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
Jackie Chau (she/her) joins AMPD in the Department of Theatre & Performance with expertise in set and costume design. She has designed over 200 productions and her work as a set and costume designer has toured across Canada and internationally. She has worked on many new and diverse Canadian plays, and has done production design and art direction for film and television. The most recent short film she designed, One Small Visit – a true story of an immigrant Indian family that unexpectedly passes through the tiny Midwest hometown of Neil Armstrong in the wake of the 1969 moon landing – was screened at the Smithsonian, NASA and the Cannes Film Festival.
Some of the theatre companies with which Chau has collaborated include Theatre Aquarius, Native Earth Performing Arts, One Little Goat, New Harlem Productions, Capitol Theatre (Port Hope), Can Stage, Factory Theatre, Fu-Gen, Prairie Theatre Exchange, GCTC, Buddies in Bad Times, Second City Chicago/Toronto, CBC Kids/Expect Theatre, ARC Theatre, Theatre Passe Muraille, Soulpepper, Stratford Festival, Tapestry Opera, Soundstreams and Luminato.
Chau was named in NOW Magazine‘s Top 10 Theatre Artists of 2009 and has been nominated for three Virginia and Myrtle Cooper Awards in Costume Design, a Saskatoon Area Theatre award, two Broadway World awards and nine Dora Awards for outstanding set and costume design.
Chau has mentored many young designers over the years and has worked with other theatre departments, including Sheridan College, Humber College and George Brown. Before coming to York University, she taught theatrical design at the University of Toronto. She is excited to join AMPD this fall and is looking forward to sharing her experiences with students at York.
Melissa Davis (she/her) joins AMPD in the Department of Music. A Canadian mezzo-soprano, Davis is an active concert soloist, vocal professor, choral director and vocal clinician.
Awarded the distinguished Krannert Debut Artist Award by the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts in Illinois, Davis has guest soloed with Grammy and Juno award-winning choirs and orchestras throughout North America, including the Buffalo Philharmonic and Thunder Bay Symphony orchestras.
A dynamic concert soloist, she has played principal roles in various concert and opera productions throughout Canada, the U.S., France, the U.K. and the Caribbean. As the Canadian premiering artist of Peter Ashbourne’s Jamaican classical art song cycle, “Fi Mi Love Have Lion Heart,” Davis released her live solo debut album, City Called Heaven: An Evening of Songs and Spirituals, including the cycle in 2015.
Davis has served as vocal director for prominent theatre productions, a vocal masterclass clinician and a guest lecturer for numerous national and international conferences.
With a doctor of musical arts in vocal performance and literature from the University of Illinois and a bachelor of fine arts (honours) in vocal performance from York University, she returns to York as the newly appointed assistant professor of vocal performance.
Sue Johnson (she/they) joins AMPD in the Department of Cinema & Media Arts. She is a filmmaker and cinematographer who works primarily in long-form narrative and documentary film. A member of both I.A.T.S.E. 667, a camera professionals union, and the Canadian Society of Cinematographers, Johnson has been working at the intersection of industrial and independent production for over 20 years. Their recent projects include a feature-length documentary about Canadian experimental animator and activist James MacSwain (Celestial Queer) and research on film archives that depict early iterations of drag and gender play.
Johnson holds a bachelor of arts degree in English literature and fine arts from Mount Allison University, and a master of fine arts degree in documentary media from Toronto Metropolitan University. She has taught previously at Toronto Metropolitan University, been a guest lecturer at both the Nova Scotia College of Art & Design and Mount Allison University, and hosted workshops for organizations such as Charles Street Video, Inside Out Film Festival, Centre for Art Tapes, Struts Gallery and Planet in Focus.
Fabio Montanari (he/him) also joins AMPD in the Department of Cinema & Media Arts. He is a filmmaker and scholar who has written a number of series for top networks, including Netflix, HBO and National Geographic. He is the creator of an original international fiction TV series that is currently being filmed for Amazon Prime Video.
As a screenwriter and director, Montanari’s independent work has been screened at over 50 film festivals around the world, including Palm Springs, Santa Barbara and São Paulo, where he was awarded Audience Favorite. He has created content in multiple markets, including in the U.S., Argentina and Venezuela, as well as for Canadian companies like Banger Films and BBDO Agency.
His mixed media stories have garnered awards including eight Cannes Lions, the CLIO and The One Club. Montanari holds a master of fine arts degree in film from Columbia University in New York (Fulbright Scholar) and a bachelor of arts degree in journalism from the University of São Paulo. He also serves as a mentor for Being Black in Canada, Canada’s largest mentorship and training program for Black filmmakers.
Watch a video introducing the new faces at AMPD here: