Arts Arts and Culture Student Life

A rose, a pomegranate and prose

Unyielding self-expression, vulnerability and trust emerged as through-lines between all of the night’s performances. Spoken word poetry, freestyle rap and stream-of-consciousness monologues revealed the artists’ emotional and spiritual depths. Each performance captured the artists’ respective grapplings with notions of selfhood, bittersweet memories of distant homelands, the intimate disappointments of failed relationships and the destruction necessary to rebuild one’s sense of identity. 

“Fruit moi, fruit toi; ouvrir une pomegrenade avec les dents, les pieds, les reins,” recited artist Elyanne Desaulniers after her performance—her white satin blouse drenched in the pink and red juices of a pomegranate. Desaulniers’ sensual and violent untitled piece left the audience in quiet awe as she crawled and writhed on the floor—partially nude—beating and gnawing at the fruit until it was nothing but a scattered pile of rinds and seeds on the sticky gallery floor.

Her evocative performance spoke to the complexities of transgressive desire, hunger and yearning, which are entangled in the mythology of the pomegranate as the forbidden fruit of the underworld. Desaulniers’ display of erotic aggression was ultimately a celebration of  exhibitionism—her dedicated photographer was very much a part of the performance—that sought to elevate and memorialise the messy and corporeal elements of sexuality.

Desaulniers’ photographer documenting her performance. Photo by Emma Bell // The Concordian.

Later, artist and writer Shaghayegh Naderolasli performed her meditative piece titled The Rose. Knelt in front of a small cutting board, Naderolasli recited fragments of memories and personal notes-to-self as she sliced the petals and stem of a red rose. As she worked, she remarked: “When I was walking from my apartment to the gallery, I realized that the rose was too red. The contrast led to comments, smiles, questionable looks. My rose kept me company through it.”

In the poem that accompanies the performance, the artist treats the rose as a living being that can listen, speak and watch. She—the rose—is an extension of Naderolasli herself. The rose in this work represents the artist’s understanding of her own femininity—one that has largely been constructed for her by external forces, such as the media and the culture that surrounds her.

Shaghayegh Naderolasli performing The Rose. Photo by Emma Bell // The Concordian.

In this performance, her actions mimic the preparation of culinary ingredients, drawing a visual connection between the iconic feminine symbol of the rose and the traditionally feminine domestic responsibility of preparing meals. Naderolasli is assertively responding to the expectations of conventional femininity through reworking the rose—taking it apart so that it could perhaps become something else that she can design on her own terms. Rather than discarding femininity, she is reinventing it, manipulating it and making it her own. 

The artist grieves the loss of the original flower—its conventional beauty, the way it draws attention, its simplicity—while understanding the necessity of its sacrifice. Indeed, this powerful metaphor speaks to reclamation, agency and rebirth.


At 92 years old, Mary Xenos-Whiston is still learning

A profile of Concordia’s oldest student

Mary Xenos-Whiston has been a lot of things in her life: a teacher, a mother, and a guide at an art gallery. But the one thing she has always been is a student. At 92 years old, she is Concordia’s oldest student and is currently enrolled in Dr. Nicola Nixon’s American poetry class. 

According to Xenos-Whiston, lately she has been doing the usual: “Going crazy,” to which her daughter Barbara commented, “Being 92 is not for the faint of heart.” 

Despite going crazy, she is still enjoying her class on American Poetry . “I wouldn’t be taking them if I wasn’t really enjoying them,” she said.

“My life is too short for doing things that I don’t enjoy,  like house cleaning.”

Xenos-Whiston was born to Greek immigrants in Verdun, and she’s lived in Montreal her whole life and has watched the city and University change dramatically. Her father owned a restaurant in Verdun, where she recalls it being the first to get a soft-serve ice cream machine. In her early years, much of her life was based around the church. Her and about 50 other Greek families would gather at Holy Trinity for weddings, funerals and Saturday night dances before the church burned down in the 1980s. 

As a girl Xenos-Whiston had a love for learning; she frequently found herself in the top math and science classes while attending Verdun high school and she always had a book with her. 

This love for learning has kept Xenos-Whiston in school for most of her life. She’s taken courses for fun at Concordia since the ’90s. After originally enrolling in English courses, it wasn’t long until she discovered other interests. “I discovered the FFAR [interdisciplinary fine arts] courses, wow,” she exclaimed. “I took a course in Jazz, I took a course in this, I took a course in that, I was just interested in learning.” 

During this time she earned another bachelor’s degree in fine arts from Concordia and has taken many courses in women’s studies. But her history with Concordia goes back to before the school even went by that name.

Mary Xenos-Whiston’s graduate portrait, Sir.George Williams University 1954/ BARBARA WHISTON

Xenos-Whiston began attending Sir George Williams University in 1950, where she received her Bachelor of Arts, majoring in history as one of the few women attending the school. “Girls did not go to university,” Xenos-Whiston said. She recalled a former teacher questioning her about her enrollment on campus one day. 

“What are you doing, going to Sir.George? You’re only going to get married and have children,” she recalled the teacher saying. “And I thought that’s what you think.” 

She did eventually marry and give birth to her daughter Barbara, but she found time for a great deal of academic success along the way. Xenos-Whiston completed a master’s degree in education at McGill in 1978, and a PhD from the University of Montreal in 1990.

After World War II she saw the city transform spectacularly. “The government allowed educated European immigrants to come here in the late ’40s and early ’50s and Montreal changed.” Xenos-Whinston watched as the city’s identity changed around her: what used to be diners became German, Italian and Chinese restaurants.

“Before you knew it, Montreal was a new place. It was great.” 

Concorida’s Iconic Hall building under construction in Crica 1965, 12 years after Xenos-Whiston had graduated from Sir. George Williams University. JACK BORDAN/Concordia Records Management and Archives

After finishing her first degree Xenos-Whiston began teaching in elementary school and spent her days going to the theater. In 1991 she retired. After a life served in education, some people may never want to look at a classroom again. But this was not the case for Xenos-Whiston who continued her education at Concordia.

“Look, some people go to movies. Some people play hockey. Some people spend hours training for things and then going and doing them. I love taking courses,” she said. 

Today, her family sees school as a part of her. 

“I can’t imagine her not being in school,” said her daughter. The only time Whiston could remember her mother not being in school was after she was born, when her mother left teaching for a few years. 

“After that, she’s constantly been a student; it’s part of her identity. I just can’t imagine her not doing it. It’s always been a surprise to hear about what courses she is taking and what papers she is writing, what ideas she is interested in and what she is discovering. It’s kind of fun.” 

Going to school has not always been easy for Xenos-Whiston, who is now legally blind and uses hearing aids. She has note-takers in class and through the Centre for Equitable Library Assistance (CELA) can get accessible copies of texts used in her class. It’s no easy feat, but she is still determined to be in class.

During the pandemic, her courses at Concordia were what kept her going. When her daughter asked if she could have made it through COVID without Concordia, her reply was simple. “No, I would have died.” 

Concordia does offer a senior non-credit program, which allows older people to audit classes. When auditing courses, students don’t have to write papers or exams like they would for credit. But Xenos-Whiston doesn’t have as much interest in this. 

“I did try it out,” she said, “But, to me, a course is not a course until I write the paper. So I decided that I wanted to write the papers.” 

92-year-old Concordia student Mary Xenos-Whinston has been taking courses for fun since the 1990s. CATHERINE REYNOLDS/The Concordian

It’s professors like Dr. Nicola Nixon who’ve inspired her to keep coming back. Nixon is an associate professor in Concordia’s English department and Xenos-Whiston’s professor this semester. 

“It’s not so unusual to have certain older post-retirement people in your courses, auditing,” said Nixon.

“Of course, they don’t want to write essays or write exams or any of those things and her willingness to do so, I find it quite admirable, But for her, it’s part of, you know, kind of immersing herself in the course, as opposed to just having a passive relationship to it.”

Xenos-Whiston and Professor Nixon have known each other for about five years now. “At first it was basically a professor-student relationship,” said Nixon. “I did go to her birthday party this year […] I suppose we’re more friends now than the first few years she was taking courses.”

Nixon says Xenos-Whiston is a good student, she engages with the class and brings in a lot of her own lived experience. Even considering her age, getting good grades has never been something she has struggled with. 

“If I go home, I could write a paper, get it in tomorrow and get an A,” she said. “My transcript is all As.” This is all but one failure from the year when she took philosophy.

However, school has not been her only hobby over the past 92 years. Exercise has been important to her for much of her life and she was an avid swimmer and walker for some time. A love for contemporary art led her to guide tours at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts between 1995 and 2005. 

Also a passionate music fan, she would go to concerts every other week, frequently attending the Montreal Symphony Orchestra and the opera occasionally. Her love for music led her to spend years attempting to learn to play piano, but she never quite got the hang of it. “My family struggled, suffered and listened to me for about ten years try to learn the piano,” she said.

“When I die and go to heaven, I’m going to tell her, she was unfair to give me such a love of music but not the skill to do it.”

Despite not being able to play piano, Mary Xenos-Whiston has accomplished much in her life. At 92 years old she holds four degrees, “Most of it out of sheer curiosity and for pleasure’s sake rather than anything else,” said her daughter. 

But Xenos-Whiston still plans on taking courses. Her only dilemma is deciding if she will leave English for a while and take some more FFAR courses. When asked if she had ever considered taking Hip Hop: Beats, Rhymes and Life, a popular FFAR course at Concordia, she said she hadn’t, but did add “maybe in another 10 years.”


“The class of life”: Concordia’s new Kanye West course

The university is offering a first-of-its-kind course examining the life and work of Kanye West

Concordia has never had a shortage of unconventional classes: Video Games and/as Literature, Science Fiction, The Movie Soundtrack, and Sexual Representation in Cinema are all examples of unique courses available to Concordia students that aim to put an academic lens to the world of art and pop culture. Concordia is hardly the first or only university to host classes such as these — the University of Victoria at one point offered The Science of Batman and The Created Medieval History of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth — but one of Concordia’s newest courses may truly be the first of its kind.

Kanye vs. Ye: Genius by Design will be offered at Concordia in the fall of 2022, in the faculty of interdisciplinary studies in fine arts. The course was designed and will likely be taught by Yassin “Narcy” Alsalman, a rapper himself, who has long taught courses centered around hip hop at Concordia such as Hip Hop: Beats, Rhymes and Life.

This is not the first time that Alsalman has centered a course around one particular artist, having taught classes on Lauryn Hill and A Tribe Called Quest in the past.

“I’ve always taught my hip hop courses using artists or albums as a central theme and seeing how much influence Ye had on so many of my students throughout the years — I felt this could be a compelling, interesting examination of one of the greatest artists of our generation,” said Alsalman.

Classes like this are Aslaman’s way of giving back to a culture that shaped who he is today.

“Hip hop is the most important culture of our generation. It requires to be studied and understood and respected. This is my way of giving back to a culture that birthed my entire way of being and sustenance,” said Alsaman.

The course will centre around much grander themes than just West’s own music and personal online hijinks.

“America and race, industry vs. artists, truth and consequence, media representation of the intellectual,” said Alsalman when asked about the course’s themes.

With a figure as controversial as West, the course is likely to elicit a multitude of reactions. This is something that Dr. Eldad Tsabary, the coordinator for Concordia’s electroacoustics department and unit head for the faculty of Interdisciplinary Studies in Fine Arts, is well aware of.

“As an academic course, I’m sure it’s going to be difficult sometimes and I’m sure it’s going to be emotional sometimes. But I think that’s also part of what Fine Arts is good at. You know, I like to study science. Arts is a really good vessel for exploring and studying topics that do have a multi-layered kind of nature to them,” said Tsabary, who played a role in approving the course to be taught at Concordia.

West is both loved and loathed by many, but Tsabary and Alsalman have both made it clear that this course is not about singing his praises, or tabloid drama.

“You can study any topic of interest from the point of view of curiosity and discussion, right? And there’s a lot to discuss. You know, it’s not about putting Kanye on a pedestal,” said Tsabary.

While he is a fan of West’s work, Alsalman is also aware of his problematic nature. However, he has said it is not something that worries him when teaching this course.

“I don’t listen to the noise. As a cultural practitioner and professor, I have to look at things in totality and not do the internet skip rope around narrative. I am also well aware of American media manipulation. That being said, there has always been problematic public moments with Ye and we will talk about those in a critical lens, as opposed to taking sides or blaming. I want to see why, not what,” said Alsalman.

“There is a lot of work that needs to be done around hip hop culture and representation of Black and Brown communities in our schools and I want to chip away at that at Concordia and help build the presence more and more through my work.”

Ava Weinstein-Wright is a third-year student at Concordia in Honours Sociology and Anthropology, who is signed up and is excited to take the course this fall.

“I think that music or TV shows or just even clothing and fashion can be a great gateway into further analysis such as political analysis, gender analysis, class analysis, like it’s really important.”

Even though she is excited to take the course, Weinstein-Wright has some concerns about it.

“My concern with this course is that people aren’t going to take it seriously considering the height and clout that it’s gotten considering it’s reached national news.”

The university has received a lot of media attention with magazines like Complex talking about the course – something that its future professor predicted, although not this early. “I thought this would happen while I was teaching but this was a pleasant boost and surprise,” said Alsalman.

When asked why students should take this course, Alsalman had one simple response, in a written statement to The Concordian.

“Because it’s the class of life (Kanye voice).”

Graphic by Lily Cowper


Queer Love exhibit challenges heteronormative notions of love and celebrates queerness

Early on a Monday afternoon, as I intently observed Giulio Cuccagna and his team place various works of art on the white walls of a beautifully worn-in gallery on St. Catherine St. that belongs to Smarkt, I began to wonder what exactly it takes to bring together an art exhibit like the one that was currently being set up in front of me. For Cuccagna, the process was trying at times, but he managed to carefully sift through dozens of submissions, choose a venue, and arrange the exhibit program in a matter of three months. And during a pandemic, no less. 

The Concordia Fine Arts student is in his third year, studying art history and film, with a minor in interdisciplinary studies in sexuality. Cuccagna grew up in Italy, where he recalled never being exposed to queer love stories. It wasn’t until he moved to Montreal that he began to see and experience differing expressions of love. “These experiences have driven me to curate an exhibit that would not only showcase these representations, but also bring the community together,” reads Cuccagna’s artist statement. The Queer Love exhibit, which took place on Valentine’s Day, featured works from 10 different artists, all in varying mediums. These works included paintings, sculptures, and more. Additionally, during the evening, there were live performances from Anna Justen and Monsieurmadam, and delectable food from Maison Choma to enjoy. 

The first step in the process of bringing together the Queer Love exhibit was a call-out for submissions from artists. “It was one of my favourite parts of the curation,” said Cuccagna. “I posted an open call on my Instagram, announcing that I was going to curate an exhibit on queer love and for those interested to submit their work to my email.” Within two weeks, Cuccagna received at least 50 submissions. “It was so heartwarming seeing that many people wanted to participate. My criteria was very simple. I wasn’t just looking for artworks that would fit the theme. I was looking for diversity and uniqueness. I wanted to showcase works that would represent queer love in all forms, shapes, gender, and ethnicity.”

Cuccagna believes that art dealing with identity, especially those that engage with personal struggles and emotions, helps artists progress and initiate social change. He admits that he often struggled with low self-esteem in regards to his future and career prior to this exhibit. “Now, I feel like this is the first time in my life I’ve done something ‘big,’ professionally and artistically speaking. As many of my peers [also felt], these past two years have been hell,” said Cuccagna. “We’ve all felt extremely down and unmotivated. I was so tired of waiting and being scared of the future, that I just told myself to do it. I’m also very lucky to be surrounded by the most supportive people, which have pushed me so hard to follow this dream of mine.” 

Cuccagna offers some advice for fellow artists and Fine Arts students looking to take on a similar project: “Don’t be afraid to take risks and make mistakes. Finding an affordable and available venue will be hard, so I would say to go through that research months in advance. I wouldn’t say you have to be the most organized person, but definitely write down all your ideas, make layouts and be patient!” Cuccagna also encourages artists to anticipate and be receptive to feedback, as it’s the most helpful part of the process. “There will be conflict and struggles through it, but you have to manage to stay positive because the outcome will be such a rewarding and amazing experience.”

Photos by Catherine Reynolds 


Art Volt guides alumni through the brouhaha of artistic careers

The platform aims to support students graduating from all nine Fine Arts departments              

Since March 2020, Concordia Fine Arts alumni have had access to a platform that guides them into the not-so-certain reality of working as an artist. Entitled Art Volt, the project offers services such as mentorship, training, and artistic residency opportunities. They plan to expand their reach this spring with the launch of their arts collection, meant to showcase student works. The Concordian met with the coordinators of the project, Fannie Gadouas (Coordinator, Art Volt & Special Projects) and Camille Bédard (Head, Art Volt Collection).

Both alumni of Concordia’s Faculty of Fine Arts themselves, Gadouas and Bédard are familiar with the reality of starting a career in the arts. Through the Art Volt platform, they hope to help students in their last semester at Concordia and up to five years after they graduate to navigate the ups and downs that come with jobs in the arts, which are often unconventional.

The general alumni support offered by Concordia is really great in terms of how to write a CV, or skills for an interview, but those are not necessarily the realities of those graduating from the dance department or people trying to make it in the film industry, or being performance artists or visual artists. So, Art Volt was designed to fill that gap and address the very particular realities of folks graduating from Fine Arts,” said Gadouas.

A donation from the Peter N. Thomson Family Innovation Fund kicked-off Art Volt. Since it first began in 2020, the platform has had four main components. The project’s website features a toolbox available for free to anyone. This page offers varied resources regarding funding for artists, project planning, but also self care advice in their section titled “Health & Wellbeing.” Art Volt also coordinates a mentorship program, which pairs established artists who graduated from Concordia with more recent alumni. They get to meet together several times over a period of one year to talk about their artistic practices.

The professional training section of their website features upcoming workshops. Facilitators and art centres host these events, which explore subjects ranging from grant writing to anti-oppression in the arts. Alumni can also apply for artistic residencies through Art Volt. 

While Gadouas was Art Volt’s first employee, Bédard joined her last fall to coordinate their most recent initiative: a new arts collection.

Steps forward

The Art Volt Collection will be inaugurated in May. Overseen by Bédard, the project will gather works from Concordia artists who are about to graduate as well as recent alumni. Through a website, potential art collectors will have access to the pieces and be able to rent or buy some of them. 

“The Art Volt Collection is there to help recent alumni to launch in the professional art market,” explained Bédard. This experience will be complemented by “financial compensation for their creative production,” she added.

Art advisors will support collectors in their search for the best creations to decorate their spaces. Installation and delivery services for the sold artworks will also be provided.

Supported artists

Georgios Varoutsos graduated with a degree in Electroacoustic Studies from Concordia  in 2017. Today, he is completing a PhD at Queen’s University Belfast in Northern Ireland. As a freelance sound artist, he benefited from different professional workshops offered by Art Volt. For him, the platform provided great insight on subjects such as budgeting, freelancing, and social media promotion, amongst others. He also had the opportunity to showcase his work at Art Volt’s Soft-Launch in 2020, an event that presented the work of 23 artists.  

Varoutsos explained that the platform gave him valuable resources. “It’s things that I didn’t study, it’s not things that I thought about, I just thought about doing the art. […] Art Volt was able to provide a tool kit of this information and help,” he said. 

Jeannie K. Kim is an alumna of the Arts Education masters program at Concordia. Upon graduating, Kim participated in the TEMPO residency, helping develop tools for Faculty transitioning to Teaching, Making and Performing online.. Now the education coordinator at the Art Gallery of Burlington, she retains good memories of her work with the program. “It’s been definitely a really rewarding experience to be a part of contributing to the Art Volt Toolbox,” said Kim.

In fact, the artist explained that she would have hoped to share such a resource with her students when she was teaching at Concordia. “From time to time, I actually revisit the Toolbox, for my own professional development,”said Kim. “I also shared it with my colleagues and within Concordia but also outside.”

Working for the community

While Art Volt offers a large variety of services, its challenge is to answer the needs of the nine Fine Arts departments at the undergraduate and graduate levels. To this day, the program’s professional training has reached 300 participants according to Gadouas. 

Gadouas and Bédard expressed their gratitude for the support they received from the Faculty of Fine Arts. “There is really a commitment to this project, to make it work, because it serves our community, ” said Bédard.

Bédard also stressed the importance of resources for those launching an art career, such as  those being offered by Art Volt. “Artists are really struggling in [getting] their name out there, in having access to resources, [such as] financial, material, time resources. So, if you can have access to some […] of the training beforehand and start doing this early on in your career, then it becomes easier,” she said.


Photo by Catherine Reynolds



A conversation with artist Henri Bouchard

How COVID-19 helped this Concordia student set his artistic path

It’s no wonder that Henri Bouchard has become successful so rapidly. His works are captivating, and make you fall in love with the images being depicted, like the human body and the environment. Bouchard is a third-year student in studio arts at Concordia.

Ever since COVID-19, he has had the time to develop his talent in painting and share it through social media. “I have a great audience,” said Bouchard. “It has grown since the first few times I posted my works online.” Before enrolling in university, he was already familiar with acrylics. Today, he predominantly works with oil paint, adding beeswax to make it dry faster, while still using acrylic paint for certain elements.

When COVID-19 shut down everything, causing people to stay in their homes, it was only the beginning for Bouchard. His mother rented a cottage in Saint-Anicet, where he stayed for a year, honing his craft. That’s where the magic took place: near the water, with breathtaking sunsets, all of which made him fall in love with the scenery.

Most of his paintings maintain the same colour palette. Bouchard is very much in love with pastel tones. However, this doesn’t hold him back from using darker tones, which are essential to creating contrast. “I’m crazy about pastel colors. There’s something about them that is so appealing to my eyes, and they are a necessity in my work,” said Bouchard.

Bouchard has attracted a variety of people online, especially on Instagram, where his page acts as a self-curated exhibition. He may not be the biggest fan of social media, but it has helped him and brought unexpected success: most of his canvases have already been sold.

“I once had an argument with my mother because I sold a painting to someone else instead of her,” said Bouchard. “She eventually understood that my clientele couldn’t revolve around family.” Something noteworthy about the artist is his portrayal of human bodies.

He also paints landscapes, but mainly portrays body parts. Freedom (2020) is a painting on a homemade canvas that displays the back of a person in blue tones, contrasted with light colors like pink, beige and white. “There has to be a presence of white; it brings brightness to the canvas,” added Bouchard.

Another remarkable work is Yu (2020) on homemade canvas, which illustrates Bouchard cheek-to-cheek with his girlfriend. This was inspired by a selfie they took together. On this canvas, skin details are highlighted with pink and blue, creating a vivid expression on both faces. When looking at it, one can tell that it was made with a lot of love.

“When I fall in love, I fall in love completely,” said Bouchard. “I’m really into romantic things, so maybe that can be something that viewers can see through my work.” This theme of romance can certainly be seen in Save my love (2020), where a woman is holding her partner dearly, capturing a tender, personal moment between two lovers.

In regards to his creative process, Bouchard often swaps his effort between works. He manages to start a canvas and proceed rapidly onto the next. This allows him to recharge and work on another painting, before getting back to the initial work he began. “Sometimes it’s good to step back for a few days, look at the work you’ve been working [on] and see what else can be added or modified,” said Bouchard.

When school began again, Bouchard relocated to Montreal, where he lives with his girlfriend. Here, he has the chance to work in his studio, a place where he is allowed to make a mess. “My workspace needs to be all over the place, it can’t be neat.”

For the moment, Bouchard envisions creating merchandise that promotes his artistic talent. During the summer, he established himself as a painter. Perhaps we’ll be able to see his future work in a gallery exhibition. “Living off my art is what I most desire, and with the audience that I have, it’s been so far very rewarding,” said Bouchard.

Viewers can access all of Henri Bouchard’s works here and keep up to date with his future projects on  Facebook and Instagram.


Photo courtesy of Ana Lucia Londono Flores


What has the CUJAH been up to?

A glimpse at what the Concordia Undergraduate Journal of Art History has been working on

There’s no doubt that Zoom university makes it harder to engage in student life and feel like you’re a part of something. In an effort to make students feel more involved and aware of what student clubs are up to, we’ll be conducting a series of interviews with various student-run organizations.

The Concordia Undergraduate Journal of Art History (CUJAH) is a student-run association that aims to showcase the talents of Concordia’s Art History and Fine Arts students via the publishing of an annual journal and an art history conference.

CUJAH aims to provide students with opportunities, both professional and academic, by offering a variety of workshops.

“We also hold a variety of events throughout the year geared towards supporting students in their academic and professional development,” explained Kari Valmestad, CUJAH’s Editor-in-Chief.

Fortunately for the CUJAH, lockdown and work-from-home orders have not disrupted their process too much, seeing that most of their work is done digitally.

“A significant adjustment, and a crucial one, is that CUJAH implemented a board of directors for the first time in the student group’s history,” said Valmestad. “This was a very necessary amendment, and we are lucky to have a wonderful group of students who comprise our 2020-2021 board.”

Moreover, for the first time since it’s inaugural launch, their tenth annual edition of the conference will be held entirely online and their journal launch will not occur in-person.

“Although meeting in person is incomparable, there actually have been many advantages to having the conference virtually,” said Valmestad. “For example, Juliette Muth [CUJAH’s conference coordinator] has invited many speakers from outside of Montreal, whereby normally, we wouldn’t have the funding to fly out speakers to the city.”

Many scholars and artists will be joining from elsewhere, such as Dr. Sabrina Strings, an associate professor of sociology at the University of California, Irvine, whose research focuses on how race, sexuality, and class are “inscribed” in the body.

“Another pro to having the conference virtually is that anyone anywhere can attend,” said Valmestad.

Aside from their annual conference, CUJAH has been hosting a series of speaker events in collaboration with Concordia’s 4TH SPACE, a centre for research and experiential learning, and Yiara Magazine, an undergraduate feminist art publication based out of Concordia.

“Our first [event], which was on Jan. 13, was with the newly-hired art history professor Dr. Michelle McGeough who spoke about her research on Indigenous knowledge in art history and pushing beyond queering the art historical canon.”

The publication’s second webinar featured a conversation between artist and activist Esther Calixte-Bea and interdisciplinary artist Mahlet Cuff.

Viewers can watch recordings of both the first and second events on 4TH SPACE’s YouTube channel.

Their third and final event was moderated by Manitoba-based artist and curator Genevieve Farrell. The webinar featured curators and programmers from artist-run centres VIE D’ANGE, Groupe Intervention Vidéo, and the Biennale d’art contemporain autochtone (BACA).

Despite most of their content being digital this year, the publication still plans on producing a print issue for their tenth annual edition.

“Having a printed version, I consider to be really important, as not only do the essays, artwork, and graphic design work look so amazing in print, but we also want to have physical copies circulating and available to file in our own archives and those of Concordia and the BAnQ,” said Valmestad. “We will also have a digital version so that it is accessible to anyone interested in reading this year’s volume.”

Those interested in an executive team position at the Concordia Undergraduate Journal of Art History can expect callouts within the coming months. Editorial positions will be opening in the fall semester.

For more information about CUJAH’s upcoming annual conference on Feb. 20-21, or to know more about them follow them on Facebook and Instagram.


Photos courtesy of CUJAH.


Fine Arts Stories: sharing work and ideas

An online forum to bringing Fine Arts students together

Fine Arts Stories is a space where Fine Arts students can openly share their in-progress work and projects. The initiative was created by installation artist and Fine Arts coordinator Tricia Middleton with the help of Gabriel Castelo, a Computer Science and Electroacoustics student.

The idea of creating a space to share thoughts and ideas was born during summer.

“I realized that something semi-centralized that could encompass all forms of making and doing, thought and conversation – perhaps in the way architecture might function as the support for our peer-to-peer relationships within the institution – would probably be needed,” said Middleton.

While working with Fine Arts’ student-run organizations, Middleton generally attempts to bring all students together through organizations focusing on relationship building within the faculty.

With the pandemic being out of anyone’s control, it seemed like a great opportunity to create a space to foster relationships.

“I wanted to see if I could facilitate a semi-centralized, hybridized outlet that could help people connect in new ways that takes into account [that] many of these people have not yet met one another and will not have the social space of campus to do so this year,” she said.

So far, the initiative has been well received. Fine Arts Stories creates organic engagement through a website, where students can share what they are working on, leaving platforms such as Facebook and other social networks secondary.

“I think people are ready to try something more gentle and fluid in a non-brand dominated format, and the wider internet is still a place to find connection and intrigue,” said Middleton.

There are unlimited spaces for submissions. Submissions are non-juried and are being accepted on a rolling basis. The goal is to facilitate engagement between students. Students send their materials to Castelo, who is also helping shape the project, and uploads the works to the website.

Once physical distancing is no longer an issue, Middleton is looking forward to continuing the initiative. For the moment, Middleton is flexible and open to any good ideas to further develop the project.

“Art and thought is the mediator we usually use to conduct such relationships in our faculty, and this online forum is intended to facilitate this if possible,” said Middleton.

Students can submit their work to Fine Arts Stories here.


Happening in and around the White Cube this week: Finding balance

Writing has always been a subcategory of making for me; they are one in the same.

Hi, my name is Chloë and I am in the midst of a brain fog, of some sort, while simultaneously drowning in coursework. I’ve got one foot in Arts & Sciences (Anthropology), and another in Fine Arts. I write stuff, I make stuff, and I teach stuff. Art stuff. I like stuff – there are lots of projects.

Among all my proposals for my assignments this semester, there is one element in common: my inability to focus, and my interest in finding a balance between working intuitively with what one has, as opposed to buying new, following a strict step-by-step process. I was never one for instructions, I improvise recipes and toy with the proper ways to do things, questioning that very notion of “proper,” “authentic”… Why can’t I be… just?

Why must I do anything in any specific way? I am not trying to copy or replicate. I want to absorb what speaks to me, cycling that knowledge out it a way that is my own. I want to investigate industrial and craft practices, how they can both lead to something very well made, though higher value will be placed on that which is handmade, rather than machine-made.

Finding this balance, drawing a line between different genres of Arts writing, between making, is one I still struggle with.

I think of how power and politics lie in the way a message is embedded, in the material they’re conveyed in. Whether in paint or printed words. There seems to be a tug between that which is free, liberating, therapeutic, and that which is skilled, following a specific framing.

It may be this idea of needing to frame work that frustrates me. To differentiate between my writing for The Concordian and my writing for research projects. Why can I not write in the same tone? Why can that not become my very practice?

I hope to do that without failing my classes. It’s hard to create within your own framework… let alone a professor’s? I need clear guidelines in order to make (write) work in the way they would like. If it were me alone, making, writing, it would be easier. I hope. Otherwise… why bother? What’s the point?

I’ve found solace in my not-so-turmoil-turmoil with The White Pube, an online alternative art criticism platform with pieces like,I LITERALLY HATE THE ART WORLD,” “WHY MUSEUMS ARE BAD VIBES” and “Are White Girls Capable of Making Art That’s Not About themselves??”

In “I LITERALLY HATE THE ART WORLD,” White Pube creators, Gabrielle de la Puente and Zarina Muhammad write: “art doesn’t have inherent value, it’s always worth prodding […] the art in amongst all of this is hardly ever worth what we put ourselves through to facilitate it.”

I feel that GDLP/ZM, I feel that. And I don’t really know what to do.



Graphic by Ana Bilokin


Spotlight on Concordia Fine Arts at the Festival du Nouveau Cinema

The Concordian attends an art show put together by Concordia fine arts students for the Festival du Nouveau Cinema.


One of the shows depicted in the video is Vertige, a short film and live performance by Eva Myers and Mark Durand, and performers Candice Riviera and Olivia Jean Flores. 


Video by Calvin Cashen

Feature photo shows dancer Olivia Jean Flores performing in Vertige


Cultivating a relationship between two worlds

Concordi’ART presents the second edition of their arts and business conference

After their first success in November of 2017, Concordi’ART is bringing The Collision of Art and Business Conference back for a second edition this Friday, March 15, in the John Molson School of Business (JMSB) building. The team behind the conference is gathering eight talented professionals and entrepreneurs who will share their experience working in the arts industry.

Concordi’ART is a club that serves as career guidance for students who have a passion for both arts and business. The President and Founder of the club, Alizé Honen-Delmar, is a graduating student in international business and film studies. The idea of starting the club came from a desire to cultivate a relationship between these world.

“I created this club because, three years ago when I was at Concordia, I was in JMSB and in the Fine Arts faculty, and no one was talking to each other. JMSB students were staying with each other,” said Honen-Delmar, “and then the same for the arts faculty students, I decided to create this club to bridge the gap between business and arts at Concordia but also in general.”

The core belief of Concordi’ART is that arts and business are not opposites. Rather, a student could very well study both fields.

“The objective of this [club] is to show students that art and business are not two different things. They can work together and create amazing things,” said Honen-Delmar. “We believe that if you work in the art industry, you need some business skills also. That’s why business is also central to us.”

The eight speakers attending the conference will discuss their background, studies, and key decisions they made to achieve success.

“We want them to share their career paths. Especially since there are a lot of students ready to graduate and go to these industries,” said Sarah Morstad, the social media manager of Concordi’Art and a graduating student in communications. “They can learn about the stepping stones of how these big people in the industry got to where they are now.”
Honen-Delmar added that “it’s also an opportunity for students to network and to discover this industry that a lot of people don’t know about.’’

The event will start at 5 p.m. and runs until 8 p.m. After the discussion, a networking mixer will follow. Not only will students hear the speakers’ presentations, they will also get the chance to speak with them one-on-one.
“You will have eight people from the industry and then you will have 50 or 60 people in the audience. It’s very easy to communicate with these people and ask them questions and advice,” said Honen-Delmar.

Morstad said the conference will be more relaxed and intimate compared to larger events that take place in the JMSB building.

“You are sitting right in front of them and there are only 60 people,” said Morstad. “There’s more of a connection.’’
“It’s not a business formal kind of conference. It’s very business casual,” added Honen-Delmar. “Everyone is very relaxed—even the speakers who have very high positions in their companies. They are very approachable people. It’s very easy to network with them.”


At the event, attendees can expect to meet:

Aude Mathey, a marketing and business development expert who is now working in distribution and marketing for Cirque du Soleil. She is also the founder of Culture et Communication, an online magazine on the best practices for cultural and PR professionals.

Helene Ha, a film producer and entrepreneur who graduated from Concordia University with a B.A. in communication studies and a minor in film studies in 2015. Ha founded her own production company, Gourmandises, and has worked with L’Oréal Canada, Moisson Montréal and The Government of Canada. One of her latest accomplishments is the screening of her short film Merveilleuse at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival.

Minh Nhat Le, a modeler/texture artist at Ubisoft. During his career, he has worked on AAA games that include the Far Cry franchise, the Watch Dogs franchise and Rainbow 6 | Siege.

Peter Dehais, a marketing professional who has experience working on festivals like ÎleSoniq, Osheaga and HEAVY MTL. In recent years, he has managed hundreds of events while working for Evenko. Dehais is also a Concordia graduate with a bachelor’s degree in commerce and marketing.

Tickets for the event can be bought online for $17.50. For more information about the conference or the eight speakers, visit the event on the Concordi’ART Facebook page.


FASA conducts mental health survey

The Fine Arts Students Alliance (FASA) conducted the second round of its Mental Health and Wellness Survey at the end of last semester. The coordinators will present the results at the faculty meeting in April and propose initiatives that will address the students’ needs concerning mental health and well-being.

On Jan. 17, FASA coordinators had a first chance to look at the survey results. Louise Campion, FASA’s communications coordinator, said that among the students’ answers, the ones that stood out were the lack of communication about mental health services by the university and the long process before having access to therapy.

“There are a lot of complaints about how long it can take to get a therapy session and then that 10 is not enough,” Campion said, referring to the 10 free sessions of individual counselling available to Concordia students.

The purpose of this second round was to obtain more feedback from Fine Arts students on their mental health, as well as their experiences with mental health issues and services. “Last year, there was a lack of communication about the survey and we got less than 60 answers […] and now we have more than 300 answers, so it’s better,” Campion said. She added that results from last year’s survey will not be mixed with those collected in the fall.

After looking at the results, Campion said “clearly, there’s a lack of mental health services from the point of view of the students.” She also said students reported that “Fine Arts students don’t always have the time to go [to] the H building and wait in line for two hours to get a first appointment at triage.”

One of the results that stood out was the amount of time respondents claimed to have spent on course material. “In a studio class […] we’re counting more than 10 hours of homework per week per class,” said Campion.

With the survey complete, FASA coordinators want to hire professionals who will organize the data and create a visual presentation that they intend to show at the faculty meeting in April. “The point is to go to the faculty meeting already with initiatives to be taken,” said Campion. “We want a full plan.”

FASA’s survey was not the first to assess students’ feedback on mental health services at Concordia. “We conducted a short survey a year and a half ago, asking students what they were looking for in terms of counselling services,” said Howard. Magonet, director of Counselling and Psychological Services at Concordia. “We’ve taken the information that we’ve gleaned from that survey and we use [it] at the same time when we are revising our service delivery model.”

Between now and April, FASA coordinators will compile project ideas to propose that will answer the students’ needs based on the answers they provided in the survey. Campion expressed FASA’s desire to implement concrete changes. “The actual goal is to make things change, propose new initiatives […] at the FASA level, at the Concordia level, and if needed at the Montreal level.”

Graphic by @spooky_soda.

A previous version of this article stated that “The purpose of this second round was to obtain more feedback from Fine Arts students regarding their experience with mental health issues and services.” The sentence now reads: “The purpose of this second round was to obtain more feedback from Fine Arts students on their mental health, as well as their experiences with mental health issues and services.” In addition, the sentence “FASA’s survey was not the first assessment of students’ feedback on mental health services at Concordia,” now reads “FASA’s survey was not the first to assess students’ feedback on mental health services at Concordia.” The Concordian regrets the errors.

Exit mobile version