AMPD showcases facilities through new virtual tour

students on AMPD soundstage

To engage prospective students, York University’s School of the Arts, Media, Performance & Design (AMPD) has launched a virtual tour resource to showcase its 300,000-square-feet worth of facilities, share student stories and highlight experiential education opportunities.

The AMPD Virtual Tour offers visitors the ability to view state-of-the-art facilities associated with different departments and programs within AMPD, including cinema and media arts, dance, design, digital media, music, theatre, visual art and art history, as well the integrative arts. A total of eight tours are available, with different “scenes” contained in each tour that students can interact with in a similar way that they would at an open house.

Each viewable location gives virtual visitors the chance to step into these dynamic spaces through 360-degree photos of AMPD facilities that include hot spots focused on noteworthy features and videos of student profiles. Furthermore, the images showcase students in action to highlight the various hands-on, industry and experiential education opportunities available. For example, a virtual tour of the Cinema & Media Arts program facilities shows AMPD students shooting large-scale scenes in a soundproof studio.

The AMPD Virtual Tour was built with Circuit Virtual Tours, a leading technology company based in Toronto that enables the creation of immersive digital experiences for higher education institutions and other physical spaces. From start to finish, the project took four months, from plotting out scenes and crafting the script to organizing photo shoots and curating media assets.

Through the virtual tour and embedded calls-to-action throughout it, AMPD aims to increase student interest in arts, culture and design programs – particularly from international students who cannot physically attend events, tours, showcases and performances. The new virtual experience puts the learning opportunities available at AMPD on stage 24-7 for students around the world.

Experience the AMPD Virtual Tour today at virtualtour.ampd.yorku.ca.

York’s world-leading vision research program looks towards the future 

Doug Crawford with members of VISTA team


By Corey Allen, senior manager, research communications

VISTA: Vision Science to Applications, York University’s first large-scale research program to receive support from the Canada First Research Excellence Fund (CFREF), will enter a new phase in 2024 after marking its seven-year milestone.     

The novel program was first awarded $33.4 million from CFREF, the country’s top federal research grant, back in 2016. Since then, the VISTA program has established itself as an international leader in vision research across a wide range of real-world applications – from basic visual function to 3D imaging to computer vision and object recognition – and played a significant role in growing York University’s standout reputation in the field of vision science.

Doug Crawford speaking at VISTA event
Doug Crawford speaking at the VISTA celebration.

“VISTA has been a labour of love and it’s taken vision research at York to the next level,” said Doug Crawford, the program’s inaugural scientific director, who now heads up York’s second CFREF program, Connected Minds. “I believe that over these last seven years, VISTA has become the best vision research program in the world.”  

With over 500 international co-authored publications, over 100 research awards, dozens of patent filings and invention disclosures, several startups, among other achievements, the VISTA program has experienced great success.  

VISTA funded 18 new faculty hires and 148 postgraduate trainees, working across five Faculties, including the Lassonde School of Engineering, the Faculty of Health, the Faculty of Science, the School of the Arts, Media, Performance & Design, and the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies.  

The program’s partnership and affiliate programs resulted in more than 300 external collaborations across multiple sectors, leading to new applications in law enforcement, clinical diagnosis, art exhibits and space research.  

James Elder with his research demo
James Elder, VISTA member and York Research Chair in Human and Computer Vision, demonstrates his research on an attentive robot.

Altogether, the program’s distinguished membership, including 16 Canada Research Chairs, brought in more than $89 million of external research income, including research grants and partner contributions.  

Now that the CFREF grant is coming to the end of its seven-year term, VISTA will continue to operate as part of the Centre for Vision Research (CVR) at York, where an interdisciplinary team gathers to advance fundamental research that merges techniques in human psychophysics, visual neuroscience, computer vision and computational theory. 

In addition to the historic CFREF grant, contributions from the University and other external partners, the VISTA program received more than $120 million in total funding over its first seven years. 

Guests at the VISTA celebration trying a research demo
Guests at the VISTA celebration event test out some of the research program’s technology applications.

“VISTA forged strong and sustained links between vision science at York and industry partners, nationally and internationally,” said Laurie Wilcox, an esteemed vision researcher and VISTA’s new scientific director. “The program has fostered close collaborations, invested in state-of-the-art equipment and laid the foundation for a continued focus on applied vision with the Centre for Vision Research. I am excited to work with the CVR to establish this new phase of the VISTA program.”

To mark the program’s milestone seventh year and its transition, the Office of the Vice-President Research & Innovation hosted a celebration event earlier this month.  

“With many of the world’s top experts conducting cutting-edge research and innovation, training highly qualified personnel, and offering academic programs in the field of biological and computer vision right here at York, the VISTA program is a crowning achievement of their research excellence, and an incredible source of pride for the entire University community,” said Amir Asif, vice-president research and innovation, speaking at the event.

Film screening highlights Department of Dance residency

New production of Pina Bausch’s 'Rite of Spring’ features a cast of 37 dancers from 14 African countries. Florent Nikiema featured centre. Photo credit: Maarten Vanden Abeele

On Nov. 1, the Department of Dance and the Harriet Tubman Institute will host a screening of the biographical documentary MABOUNGOU: Being in the World as part of dancer and choreographer Florent Nikiéma’s guest artist residency at York University.

Florent Nikiéma
Florent Nikiéma

As part of the residency – which began Oct. 14 and will end Nov. 3 – Nikiéma has been working with the students of the York Dance Ensemble, the Department of Dance’s pre-professional performance company for third- and fourth-year dance majors, on the creation of a new piece. Alongside this process, Nikiéma is also guest teaching each of the dance program’s undergraduate modern dance classes, including Traditional and Current Dances of Sub-Saharan Africa, the Department of Music’s West African Drum Ensemble course, as well as two courses in the Drama and Creative Arts program at Glendon.

“We are so fortunate to have an artist of Florent’s international standing working with our undergraduates,” says Susan Lee, assistant professor in dance and the artistic director of the York Dance Ensemble. “Exposing our students to different working processes and to new creative ideas is an invaluable experience for them.”

Nikiéma will also be collaborating with Associate Professor Ian Garrett in the Department of Theatre on the lighting and projections design for the new piece that will premiere in February 2024.

A practitioner of contemporary African dance and music, Nikiéma studied under Senegalese artist and African modern dance pioneer Germaine Acogny at the École des Sables before his engagement with Tanztheater Wuppertal in Germany. In November 2022, Nikiéma toured in Toronto as part of the groundbreaking remount of Pina Bausch’s iconic 1975 work Rite of Spring with an all-African cast. During his time in Toronto, Nikiéma came to York University to give a contemporary African dance workshop. His class was so well-received that Associate Professor Bridget Cauthery applied for a Social Sciences & Humanities Research Council Knowledge Mobilization grant to bring Nikiéma back to York for a longer period.

Nikiéma’s creative work is informed by his deep knowledge of traditional West African dance forms, Acogny technique and by concepts from Western European concert dance. His choreography prioritizes ecological attunement to landscapes and to the non-human. Stating that “human beings have lost the true meaning of the term cohabitation with nature and its components,” Nikiéma’s new work for the York Dance Ensemble will respond to his concerns for environmental disaster.

In addition to the screening, there will be an artist discussion panel featuring four artists all originally from Africa, now living in the diaspora: Governor General’s Performing Arts Award-winner Zab Maboungou; Executive Director of the African Dance Ensemble Isaac Akrong; dancer Pulga Muchochoma; and Nikiéma. The event is sponsored by PUBLIC, the journal of arts, culture and ideas.

“This Department of Dance and Special Tubman Talk event presents an opportunity for African-based choreographers to define their approaches to creating, teaching and performance that cannot be reduced to normative definitions of traditional or contemporary dance,” says artist/scholar Collette “Coco” Murray, who will be moderating the discussion panel. “I look forward to having this important and far-reaching conversation with my colleagues.”

For more information and to register for this free event, follow this link: events.yorku.ca/events/maboungou-being-in-the-world-film-screening-artist-panel.

AMPD hosts event for budding art scholars

paint brushes

For the second year in a row, York University’s School of the Arts, Media, Performance & Design (AMPD) has been chosen to host the only Ontario event for National Portfolio Day (NPD), which provides artistic high-school students the chance to meet with art and design schools from around the world, receive feedback on their portfolios and get tips on preparing a successful university application.

On Saturday, Nov. 4, from noon to 4 p.m. at the Centre for Fine Arts, nearly 30 art and design schools will be in attendance from across Canada, the U.S. and the U.K. – including York’s Department of Design and the Department of Visual Art & Art History.

During the event, students will be given 10 to 15 minutes of one-on-one, face-to-face time with professional representatives of accredited colleges and universities and will receive valuable feedback ahead of submitting portfolios for enrolment consideration.

The portfolio reviews will not only provide students the opportunity to have up to 15 works reviewed, but will allow schools to inform prospective students of application requirements, as well as answer any questions about the availability of scholarships and financial aid.

The event – and hosting – furthers AMPD efforts to demonstrate its reputation as a leader in education in the arts, promote its programs and experiences to the community and prospective students, prepare youth for meaningful careers and long-term success, as well as recruit the next generation of AMPD students and artists who will create positive change through their work.

Hosting globally recognized organizations like NPD demonstrates AMPD’s reputation as a leader in arts, culture and design education, attracting and preparing top students for creative industry, research and professional opportunities in Canada, the U.S. and around the world.

To find out more about AMPD hosting National Portfolio Day, visit ampd.yorku.ca/npd.

In pictures: York’s Convocation celebrates Class of 2023

convocation

Fall Convocation for York University’s Class of 2023 ran from Oct. 11 to 20 and featured six ceremonies on the Keele Campus.

At this year’s Fall Convocation, graduands from 10 York Faculties received their degrees during ceremonies overseen by the chancellor of York University, Kathleen Taylor.

View photos from the Fall Class of 2023 ceremonies below:

Fall Convocation 2023

Hands-on green screen course an AMPD hit 

Shooting the Set, AMPD students at Cinespace using the green screen

By Elaine Smith 

An intensive five-week course called Shooting the Set offered 30 students valuable experience working with a green screen, taking advantage of York University’s Motion Media Studio (YUMMS), which is based at Cinespace Film Studios, the company’s one-million-square-foot industry studio space in Toronto. 

The experiential education (EE) course – created during the pandemic by Ingrid Veninger, assistant professor of cinema and media arts, and John Greyson, associate professor of cinema and media arts at the School of the Arts, Media, Performance & Design (AMPD) – made its in-person debut in May. Students in the course had the opportunity to study current aesthetics and practices of new neo-realist cinema; workshop a broad range of film studio and green screen methods; be trained in professional on-set and studio production techniques; work in teams to develop, script and shoot original short dramatic films; and perform key creative roles on at least two dramatic shoots.

AMPD students in Shooting the Set course working with the green screen
AMPD students in the Shooting the Set course working with the green screen.

“This is a studio-based, collaborative course that teaches the art of the green screen and shows that it isn’t just useful for stories about superheroes,” said Greyson, who taught the in-person version. “There’s a unique approach to how you can tell stories with actors using the green screen. 

“As a student, having that entrée and exposure is an extraordinary gift.”  

The course was open to all third- and fourth-year film, theatre, visual arts and dance students at AMPD, as well as graduate students, but it required an application and an interview.  

“The application focused on their skills and on the stories they wanted to tell – stories told in a neo-realistic style with a social justice theme,” Greyson said. “These are social justice stories coming out of their own lives; the stories that Hollywood ignores. We chose salt as a theme that tied them all together.” 

Fourth-year acting student Natasha Advani Thangkhiew drew on personal experiences with eating disorder and anxiety that inspired a story written by classmate JJ Mokrzewski. It became one of six screenplays the class filmed and told of the challenge the protagonist faced in going out on a dinner date with someone on whom she had a crush. 

Advani Thangkhiew found the process of acting in a story based on her own experiences “enlightening.” 

“When it comes to telling a personal story, what I learned is that as an actor, it is very important to detach yourself and look at the experience as an entity that is separate from yourself, because this allows the story to evolve in the way that it is supposed to,” she said. “Eventually, it is not only my story; it becomes a story where every person in the group finds ownership and meaning.”

A production group meeting with the core creative team for Shooting the Set
A production group meeting with the core creative team for Shooting the Set.

Veninger agreed that although each writer took one of the stories selected and wrote the draft of a script, the feedback and commentary turned the process into a collaboration that brought out the students’ creativity and allowed them to find ways to make the story their own. 

“It became an amazing think tank of ideas around social justice, and the best ideas won,” she said. “There was a general attitude of receptivity, active listening and meaningful collaboration. Everyone had a desire to see the script improved.” 

Added Greyson, “Having the writers in the same room as the actors from the beginning meant they could tailor the roles to the actors, which transformed the stories.” 

The cinematography crew shot the location footage in advance, and it was added during post-production. A still from the footage was projected onto a video screen before the actors began working so they could imagine the location in their minds and adjust their movements accordingly. 

“It was my first time acting in front of a green screen, and it forced me to activate my imagination,” said Advani Thangkhiew. “I’m glad I had the opportunity to do it in class where the stakes aren’t as high.” 

Working at YUMMS in the Cinespace facility was also a revelation. 

“Even having access to that kind of space, equipment and property houses is amazing,” Advani Thangkhiew said. “The studio is such a valuable resource and being able to shoot scenes in one of the best studios in the city was incredible.” 

Veninger noted that AMPD is grateful to have such outstanding studio space, originally a gift from the Mirkopoulos family, the owners of Cinespace, and recently renewed by TPG Real Estate Partners. It has two sound stages, equipped with teaching resources, a standing set, a green screen stage and professional equipment.  

“Students are working in a space with real productions such as ‘Law & Order’ swirling around them,” she said, “and they get inspired knowing that shows like ‘The Umbrella Academy’ and ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ were shot just down the hall.” 

Shooting the Set received generous contributions from industry collaborators. In addition to the gift from Cinespace Film Studios, in-kind sponsorships were received from Wiseacre Rentals and MBS Equipment Co., as well as an iHUB innovation grant from CEWIL Canada that allowed them to provide students with a stipend. CEWIL is a leading organization for work-integrated learning in Canada and champions it through partnerships with educational institutions, governments and others.

students and faculty posing at the Showcase event
Students and faculty posing at the showcase event.

At the end of the five-week course, Greyson and Veninger organized a movie preview night at the York U Motion Media Studio to showcase the films to family, friends, colleagues and industry guests, followed by a networking mixer. 

“This is one of the best courses I’ve taken at York,” Advani Thangkhiew said. “Everyone who came learned and grew so much.” 

Shooting the Set will be offered again in May 2024. Contact Professor Greyson for more information. 

New opportunities await York study abroad students

Map plane travel international world

By Elaine Smith

York University has a robust global learning program, and this fall, 31 York students will travel abroad to study at institutions in 15 countries outside Canada.

These exchange students embody York’s priority for advancing global engagement, as stated in University Academic Plan (UAP), and its commitment to expand inclusive global an intercultural learning, as set forth in the University’s new Internationalization and Global Engagement Strategy. “More than ever,” states the UAP, “universities have a responsibility to contribute to positive change through global co-operation and borderless education.”

Photo of Sarah Persaud (centre) shows Japanese exchange student at left and York student at right
Photo of Sarah Persaud (centre) with Japanese exchange student (left) and fellow York student (right)

Sarah Persaud and Anthony Chedid are among exchange students heading abroad this fall, and they are eager for the adventure. Persaud is off to Asia for the entire year to study art at Yamanashi Gakuin University in Japan, where she’ll focus on visual arts in the International College of Liberal Arts (iCLA). Chedid is going to England to spend a semester at the University of Leeds.

“Before I begin teaching, I want to do my final year of courses abroad,” said Persaud, a fifth-year student in the visual arts and concurrent education program. “Over the past couple of years, I took a lot of art history courses and focused on East Asian art, so this is a wonderful opportunity.”

Chedid has been dreaming of going abroad since high school.

“I read the blogs of a number of travel bloggers talking about travelling the globe,” said Chedid, a third-year student in the joint political science/Master’s of Management program, “and they all had the same origin story: they studied abroad and travelled while they were there. I want to travel, and York offers all these incredible opportunities.”

Both students attended the pre-departure training for exchange students run by York International and found it beneficial.

“It actually changed my plans,” said Persaud, who also took a York study-abroad course in South Korea this summer. “I met an exchange student from Japan and her friend who were in Japan all summer, so I stopped in Osaka to see them, and I’ll be able to connect with the Japanese student once I’m at the iCLA.”

Chedid was thrilled by the session.

Anthony Chedid
Anthony Chedid

“I got to meet exchange students from Britain and it was exciting to hear their experiences,” he said. “I was able to connect with a student who was here from Leeds and he gave me a lot of useful information about the city and the culture. It was also really helpful to get travel advice and information about health insurance.”

Both Persaud and Chedid have applied for bursaries and scholarships to help defray the costs of studying abroad. York International has bursaries available to students studying overseas, as does the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, and there are also external awards available – topics that are also discussed in the pre-departure training.

“The York International Safety Abroad office is committed to enhancing the safety of students’ experiences during their time abroad,” said Sara Jane Campbell, manager, safety abroad for York International. “As part of the pre-departure training, we support students in understanding and mitigating risks they may encounter. All students are also required to enrol in York University Safety Abroad Travel Registry to enable us to monitor travel advisories and safety/security concerns and provide help in case of an emergency overseas.”

Although her courses will be taught in English, Persaud took Elementary Modern Standard Japanese (JP 1000) in preparation and plans to continue learning Japanese while she’s at iCLA.

“You never stop learning kanji (written characters); there are always more of them to know,” she said.

In fact, she hopes to have the opportunity to tie language and art together through a course at iCLA called Calligraphy and Kanji Culture.

“I’m going to a whole new country, so I hope I’ll be inspired to try different things,” Persaud said. “I am excited about the new opportunities.

Chedid plans to  take courses in British politics. “Our system is based on theirs and it’s important to understand where our legal system originated,” he said. “It will also be interesting to see the effects of Brexit. This will be a great way to experience international politics, something for which I have a big passion.

“It will also be cool to explore a city that isn’t as widely known.”

Both students will experience the benefits of borderless intercultural education first-hand, and will be able to share their greater understanding of the global landscape with their York classmates upon return.

AMPD Teaching Awards recognize student mentorship, educational innovations

gold and red stars

Associate Professor Danielle Robinson and Assistant Professor Robyn Cumming received York University’s School of the Arts, Media, Performance & Design (AMPD) Teaching Awards in recognition of excellence in mentorship, curriculum and pedagogy.

Robinson and Cumming were presented with their awards on Sept. 20 at the first Faculty Council of the 2023-24 calendar year.

“It is a pleasure to recognize the efforts of my colleagues who have dedicated their talents to teaching, advancing curricula and student mentorship. Expanding the perspectives of our students is at the core of everything else we do in AMPD. I’m grateful for our colleagues’ commitment and dedication to this mission in their teaching,” shares Dean Sarah Bay-Cheng.

Danielle Robinson: AMPD Senior Teaching Award

Danielle Robinson (left) with her award, standing next to Patrick Alcedo (right), Chair of the Dance Department
Danielle Robinson (left) with her award, standing next to Patrick Alcedo (right), Chair of of the Department of Dance

Robinson teaches in the Department of Dance and specializes in dance history and ethnography, critical race theory, social dance reconstruction, African diaspora within the Americas, as well as Latin American dance cultures. She is a specialist in experiential education and work-integrated learning. Robinson is the co-founder, with Professor Franz Newland, of York University’s C4: Cross-Campus Capstone Classroom, Project Commons and Capstone Network.

She was nominated for the AMPD Senior Teaching Award by her student Emma Whitla. “I have always experienced Dr. Robinson to be a thorough, process-oriented, remarkable educator and leader,” shares Whitla.

“In a culture that is increasingly individualistic, Danielle Robinson encourages students to see their strengths, develop their skills, reflect and collaboratively use those professional experiences to have an impact in the community. This orientation and commitment are what make her teaching exceptional. At the end of the day, we are responsible to one another, and we must consider the work that we do and how we live in relation with each other.”

Robyn Cumming: AMPD Junior Teaching Award

Robyn Cumming
Robyn Cumming

Cumming teaches in the Department of Visual Art & Art History, with a background in photography and sculpture. She is the recipient of two successful Academic Innovation Fund grants, the most recent titled “Pedagogical & EDI Training for Teaching Assistants in the Arts,” aiming to develop pedagogical tools that can be used by current and future colleagues, as well as providing valuable resources for teaching assistants. Since joining York only four years ago, Cumming has been pivotal in course revision and development within her department.

Nina Levitt, graduate program director of visual arts, commends Cumming’s contributions, stating, “Robyn has been, and continues to be, an outstanding colleague for the photography area, graduate program and the visual art department. She is an absolute pleasure to work with in the ongoing management and decisions in the photography area, and often helps me with online teaching expertise. Her wonderful sense of humour, enthusiasm and generosity are always evident in everything she does for the photo area, our department and for our students.”

AMPD takes over Nuit Blanche

city lights at night

Faculty, students and alumni from York University’s School of the Arts, Media, Performance & Design (AMPD) will champion creativity and positive change at Nuit Blanche Toronto this Saturday, Sept. 23 from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m.

Exploring this year’s Nuit Blanche theme, “Breaking ground,” work by AMPD community members will consider ideas centred around the natural world, change and innovation through installations, exhibitions and performances from a wide range of artistic disciplines – including cinema and media arts, digital media, theatre and visual art. 

The members of AMPD with work at Nuit Blanche are:

Patricio Dávila and Hector Centeno Garcia
As part of the Public Visualization Lab/Studio, Dávila (associate professor, cinema and media arts) and Garcia (assistant professor, cinema and media arts) will present an installation in the neighbourhood of Fort York. The installation, entitled “Atmospheres” will be part of The Bentway‘s exhibition of public artwork that explores the urban natural world framed by the Gardiner’s iconic concrete columns.  

Elham Fatapour
Fatapour (MFA ’21) will produce a video installation in the neighbourhood of Etobicoke. The performance video art, entitled Solitary Stitches, explores an artist’s solitary relationship with the land, using the seemingly domestic art of sewing. 

Marcus Gordon
Gordon, a PhD candidate in digital media, will mount an interactive instillition in downtown Toronto called Urban Arboretum. The installation uses the voices and sounds of participants to grow computer-generated plants. 

Grace Grothaus
Grothaus, a PhD student in digital media, will create a light installation in the neighbourhood of Don Mills, titled Sun Eaters, to show people how trees flow with hidden energy. 

Andria Keen
Keen, an MFA student in visual arts, is presenting an installation titled Reflective Foresight for a Dystopian Utopia for Nuit Blanche Danforth. Keen’s installation speculates what life might be like in 200 years considering factors like population growth, climate change and the evolution of technology. 

Five of the AMPD faculty participating in Nuit Blanche this year: (from left to right) Patricio Dávila, Hector Centeno Garcia, Joel Ong, Marissa Largo and Archer Pechawis
Five of the AMPD faculty participating in Nuit Blanche this year: (from left to right) Patricio Dávila, Hector Centeno Garcia, Joel Ong, Marissa Largo and Archer Pechawis

Marissa Largo
An assistant professor in the Department of Visual Art & Art History, Largo has curated the works of Ephraim Velasco (BFA student, visual arts – studio) at A Space Gallery @ 401 Richmond. A series of digital collages titled The Kakaiba Collection playfully explores Velasco’s diasporic identity through Philippine visual vocabularies and pop culture.  

Joel Ong
Ong, an associate professor in computational arts and the Helen Carswell Chair in Community Engaged Research in the Arts, is hosting an exhibition in Etobicoke titled In Silence. Created with community advocates in the Jane-Finch neighbourhood, the meditative exhibit visualizes the voices and lived experiences of marginalized communities. 

Archer Pechawis
An assistant professor in the Department of Visual Art & Art History and the Department of Theatre and Performance, Pechawis will perform a piece titled Daylight, in downtown Toronto. The musical performance examines the phenomenon of Toronto’s buried rivers and streams.  

AMPD invites community members who want to be celebrated as part of Nuit Blanche Toronto to reach out to through the Faculty’s social media channel on X, formerly known as Twitter: @YorkUAMPD. 

AMPD professors to shape the future of art

paint brushes

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
Jessica Campbell

Jessica Campbell 
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
Jackie Chau

Jackie Chau 
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
Melissa Davis

Melissa Davis 
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
Sue Johnson

Sue Johnson 
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 B Montanari
Fabio B. Montanari

Fabio Montanari 
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: