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.

Arts and Culture Student Life

What is FASA and What Does it offer?

Concordia’s Fine Arts Student Alliance hosted their first orientation event of the school year.

Concordia University’s Fine Arts Student Alliance (FASA) is a student-run organization that provides funding, creates several clubs and organizes art shows for all students within the faculty of fine arts. It is committed to being an inclusive, diverse, accessible and welcoming community for all students. FASA 101 was a recent event organized by the FASA members at Concordia’s VAV gallery located at the Sir George Williams campus on Tuesday, Sept. 12. 

FASA 101 Zine Workshop, VAV Gallery. Courtesy of FARR Concordia, Photo by India-Lynn Upshaw-Ruffner.

This event was an orientation gathering that brought together all the clubs under FASA. The aim was to provide a better understanding of the association and the opportunities it offers to new students. As one of the members mentioned, “it is basically an event where you should drop in, make crafts, meet friends while getting to know available opportunities.The Concordian was able to attend the Mindful Campus Initiative presentation—part of the many presentations and workshops that took place during FASA 101. 

The association representatives explained FASA’s dedication to the well-being of the fine arts students. The presentation outlined offered online courses focusing on stress and anxiety management tips, on campus services and activities for students to take advantage of as they navigate their coursework. 

The representatives also discussed the potential difficulty students may have as they begin to get involved on campus. It may seem overwhelming at first for new students to pursue joining new clubs in an unfamiliar environment, but FASA’s mission is to make the process as accessible as possible.

FASA offers several opportunities that can help students get involved in the university. Some of the best ways to get involved are by following callouts for upcoming exhibitions or events, volunteer work, jobs and grants. The best way to access all of these opportunities is through their websites, Instagram accounts, and email subscriptions. 

The VAV gallery’s general meeting is one of the upcoming events that will be hosted on Sept.21  at the gallery to elect the board members for the 2023–2024 academic year. Undergraduate students in the fine arts department are welcome to attend this event—whether to simply become familiar with the operation and members of the gallery, or to nominate themselves for one of the positions available! 


Anne-Audrey Remarais and the art of healing

How a Concordia student is using art to help people be kinder to themselves

Anne-Audrey Remarais is a Concordia student, studying Performance Creation. Prior to her current major, she studied theatre at Collège Jean-de-Brébeuf, where she got her first taste of performance art. Later, she went on to pursue a Bachelors in Social Work at McGill University.

That kind of academic background is one of the many things that inspires her pursuing a current career in art. Since Nov. 16, two of her visual art installations, Miwa, I … and Seeing and Be-Coming, have been on show at the VAV Gallery as part of the No.03 exhibition. Remarais is part of the many artists showcasing their pieces in the exhibition.

Seeing and Be-Coming is a beautiful interactive installation, a video projection with the words “Will you move with my shadow?” standing out. It shows two figures struggling to find a rhythm, as if they can’t seem to trust enough in each other to come together.

Seeing and Be-Coming.
Photo by Youmna El Halabi

Miwa, Iis not for the faint of heart. The installation is simple, a mirror, with headphones hung right next to it, in an empty room, but the emotional effect on the viewer is intense. Imagine standing in front of your reflection, with the words “I AM ENOUGH” written on the mirror, listening to words stemming from self-doubt, and insecurities, daring you not to sob.

“Performance comes in different ways,” Remarais said. “People in the creative space become the performers. I’m changing the way I view performance and realizing that a story can be told without the need for a script. It can be through lighting, through visuals, and I wanted to explore the different types of storytelling.”

What inspires Remarais the most is her own life and the highs and lows that come with it. 

“The past few years, I’ve been on this healing journey and throughout the year I’ve had a better understanding of what it means to be vulnerable, realizing through therapy that I needed to focus on that,” she said. “Building the foundation and routine of taking care of myself for real and being able to speak kindly to myself — I want to commit to it. Art helps me with that and including people with me like ‘let’s do this together, I don’t wanna do this alone.’ I feel like this is something we can all share, you know?”

Remarais first experienced a sense of unity and security at a visual arts installation in New College, at the University of Toronto, on April 7, 2018.

Song for the Beloved was an interactive performance honouring those who have died from urban violence in Kingston, Jamaica, linking these experiences to other forms of violence in communities around the world.

“It was an intimate healing experience,” Remarais said. “A space where we can come together, quietly. I remember thinking about my uncle even if we didn’t talk very much. I remember crying and being so touched by what I was seeing. To me it really was … it really fed my soul.”

As a person of colour, Remarais has dedicated part of her installation, specifically Miwa, I … , to the black community, and the suffering they have experienced throughout history. When asked if she ever felt a sort of political burden as a black artist, she shook her head.

“I feel like I haven’t done enough to have that identification in art,” she confessed. “But I’ve seen other people go through it. Especially people of colour — it’s like, people always ask them ‘how do you feel about the political state of the world?’ It’s ridiculous to focus on that and to give a person the responsibility to represent a whole community cause we’re all unique individuals. Yes, I’m black but it’s a subjective experience, even if it’s political.”

In Remarais’ words, her art can be summarized in three actions: healing, seeing, and dialogue. She wants people to feel comfortable enough to have a healthy dialogue with themselves, and others, about their suffering.

“[Art] gives me life,” she said. “It allows me to dig deeper into myself. I see it as an outlet.”

Remarais had planned on hosting a workshop called ”A spell for my healing,” dedicated to the black community to find their voices and create personalized loving mantras, prior to the exhibitions finissage. However, due to unforeseen infrastructural issues, VAV Gallery was forced to cancel both events, and close their space on Dec. 9. It will open again early mid-January.

Nevertheless, Remarais plans on making a pop-up workshop in the new year, and both Miwa, I … and Seeing and Be-Coming are up until Dec. 6 at the VAV Gallery.


Feature photo by Britanny Clarke.


FEATURE: People, innovation, or bricks, mortar and art stacked in a corner?

Happening in and around the White Cube this week… digging into the world of art & finance at Concordia and beyond

“If culture is valuable, culture works should be valued the same way, not just verbally,” said Marc Lanctôt, curator and Musée d’Art Contemporain de Montréal (MAC) union delegate.

According to an article in The New York Times, “wealthy donors are generally happy to contribute to construction projects – often drawn by naming opportunities – they are far less excited about subsidizing unsexy operating expenses, like salaries and benefits.”

Public spreadsheets that document and protest unpaid internships and unfair wages in the industry currently include over 4,000 entries from museum professionals all over the world, including Montreal.

The MAC is among the six Montreal-based entries on the spreadsheet. There are two active unions at the MAC, one of which is for front-of-house staff and educators. The other is for professionals: conservators, curators, education tour managers and workshop leaders, registrar’s office, art transportation, collections management, communications and press relations, etc.

MAC Pros striking during their break. Photo by Cecilia Piga.

The employees at the MAC were under a common agreement (like a contract) which expired in 2015, although the conditions are still applicable today and provisions in the contract are still applied. However, there have been no financial changes, no pay increases since 2015 and certain provisions no longer pertain to the reality on the ground. Their bosses have no incentives to make any changes.

Their employers are keeping that money, spending it on renovations and increasing their own salaries. Simply put, Lanctôt suggests the museum should not “spend on what we can’t afford if we can’t pay our people right.” He added that John Zeppetelli, MAC Director and Chief Curator, is “acting like his hands are tied, that he isn’t really the director of the museum, the government is.”

This is a multi-tiered problem […] how we organize work and labour needs to be rethought,” said Lanctôt.

“We want salary increases comparable to those granted to our bosses over the past five years,” wrote @prosdumacmontreal on Instagram on Oct. 6. The affected workers have been actively protesting since Sept. 17, doing public interventions and striking on their breaks and during peak museum hours, such as the Janet Werner opening on Oct. 30.

“We have nine more strike days up our sleeve that will be deployed at strategic times,” said Lanctôt. “Everything that has to do with culture in Quebec and Canada is highly accountable to the state and public funding, very arcane. Issues are bogged down in complicated spreadsheets and legal labour language. We don’t want the public to lose track of what’s a stake; we have to stop gauging away at cultural workers. It’s the people that matter. Otherwise, it’s just bricks and mortar and art stacked in a corner.”

The Art + Museum Transparency group has stated that “many of the most vigilant and vocal activists in the current movement are those working front-of-house positions […] gallery security officers, education, retail and visitor services staff.” These labour activists are fighting the institution’s growth, urging cuts of unnecessary expenses and “fancy” renovations in favour of protection from unjust firing, basic healthcare insurance coverage, paid parental leave, and so on.

“Pas de pros, pas d’expos!”

“Museums remain extremely hierarchical, with power concentrated in the hands of a very few who dictate benefits, wages and workplace procedures out of step with the economic realities of our time,” reads the same statement by the Art + Museum Transparency group.

Museum staff are unionizing across the United States with the Marciano Art Foundation Union (MAF), and continue to prove the viability of the field, urging institutions to embrace Graduate and Undergraduate student internships instead of pushing them out, forcing them to consider otherwise.

At Concordia, the VAV Gallery has just released its 2019-20 Year Plan. It discloses their financial constraints by breaking down their budget and emphasizing the measures being taken to remedy the issue. The slow, accumulated deficit was not noticeable in last year’s financial report. Dropping by big chunks every year due to the gallery’s ambitious developments, they were forced to downsize from last year’s programming.

This year, the VAV Gallery will host smaller shows, showing larger bodies of work from three or four artists, working one on one with them to create a tailored exhibition plan. The exhibitions – now numbered and not titled in order to avoid lumping artists together with broad themes – will be more cohesive, focusing on overlaps between individual practices.

Alexia McKindsey, the VAV’s financial coordinator, knew the decision would come as a shock to Concordia Fine Arts students, but the reality is that if these drastic measures aren’t taken, the gallery won’t be able to operate next year.

We never wanted it to come to this,” said McKindsey. “This is the worst case scenario.”

Having cancelled their winter artist call-out, three out of four Fine Arts students contacted by The Concordian, who have chosen to remain anonymous, said they would consider opting out of the VAV’s fee levy should it increase from $0.85 to $1 per credit.

“The gallery has already selected its programming for the entire year – why am I paying for something that is not giving me the opportunity to show my work?,” said one student, an Art Education major.

“Especially when last year’s programming was excellent, I see no reason why a top level fine arts undergrad university can’t have a student gallery that can offer the space for students to exhibit their work, attend events and be engaged in the Montreal arts scene,” said another student. The Studio Arts major said this in regards to the $5.6 million donation to the faculty from the Peter N. Thomson Family Trust, received last spring. “It feels like things are happening up top and the students don’t have a say, like an extension of Cafe X closing.”

The faculty received this incredible donation, but where is it? In the big hole where the VA garden used to be?

Despite last year’s incident – the tragic death of art education student and sweet child of the universe, Ming Mei Ip – there are still no basic services in the building.

No one cares about the VA. We are the smallest faculty and the most neglected building on campus,” said McKinsdey. “We don’t know enough about where our fee-levies go and how we benefit from them as students.”

FASA, we love you, we know you’re doing your best, but like, the Art + Museum Transparency group stated, these institutions – universities, museums and galleries alike – remain powerful hierarchical structures out of touch with the social and economic realities they are surrounded by.

According to McKindsey, the donation isn’t reaching the VAV Gallery or any other student-run, fee-levy projects. Concordia has a weird system when it comes to money. For anyone who has ever received an honorarium or has had to be reimbursed by the university, this isn’t new information.

Unlike the gallery’s transparency, the money donated to the university and specific faculties isn’t being disclosed to students. Rumours around student organizations is that it’s a cyclical system, hinting to a new, “innovative” project unfolding towards the end of the year.

Funding opportunities for student projects

The Fine Arts Student Alliance (FASA) just released their Broke Student Handbook, which provides students with accessible and low-cost options for everything from art-making materials, funding opportunities, academic services and basic necessities.

Among these services are the Regroupement des Artistes en Arts Visuels (RAAV) and L’Artisan du Renouveau et de la Transformation Écologique (ARTÉ). RAAV is an association of artists that represent and defend the interests of Quebec artists. ARTÉ is an independent company mandated by the city of Montreal to manage the reuse centres.

Not many are aware of the numerous showcasing and funding opportunities available for student projects across the university. FASA Special Project Grants, the Concordia Council on Student Life (CCSL),  the Concordia University Small Grants Program (CUSGP), the Concordia University Alumni Association (CUAA), the Sustainability Action Fund and Concordia Student Union Special Project Funding are among the many programs that will encourage eligible student projects, new clubs, publications, events and more.

Showcasing platforms outside of the White Cube

Outside of student newspapers, Concordia is home to several publications. Some journals linked to various departments, like the InArte Journal, CUJAH and others offer free range to most students. Soliloquies, Yiara and l’Organe all offer a creative platform for writers and artists. Their difference lies in the language they are diffused in: l’Organe is in French, Yiara is bilingual and inter-university, and Soliloquies focuses on creative writing, poetry and prose, bringing together creative English-speaking students across the university.

A new addition to this list is Scribbles which, unlike Yiara and the InArte Journal which accept submissions from all departments within the Faculty of Fine Arts, will accept creative work from students across the university.

The magazine’s executive team doesn’t follow the typical publication masthead, similar to The Concordians editor/assistant structure. Instead, they have a president and various VPs and coordinators, characteristic of clubs within the John Molson School of Business (JMSB). That being said, the executive team is not restricted to JMSB students. Communications, behavioural neuroscience, software engineering and creative writing are among the team’s majors.

“In addition to our publications, we have the goal of informing students about the creative world by holding conferences with actual writers, journalists, artists and so on,” said Scribbles President Sara Shafiei, BComm Marketing.

The launch of the first publication took place on Oct. 30. Attendees paid $15, giving the magazine a head start.

“Guests were able to get their hands on a copy before anyone else and simply enjoy some food and music while celebrating with the team and getting to talk with other creative students,” said Shafiei. “We are brand new, don’t have many sponsors and are still growing as a committee. We received a small amount of funds from CSU which was barely enough to get our first edition printed. The event itself had costs, as hospitality also charged us. The tickets helped us fund the event. However, our magazine itself [is] free.”

Throughout the first weeks of November, Scribbles’s first issue will be placed around campus for students to pick up.

Interdepartmental and cross-faculty pollination is what makes our projects stronger, making voices louder, as students stand in solidarity as young creators and entrepreneurs.

Projects like Concordi’art – which claims to create a space for both fine arts and business students – really just focus on commercializing and capitalizing on pre-existing ideas. The group’s recent Bob Ross paint night at Reggies, which was sponsored by Concordia Stores, charged students $15 to paint along with a projection. They did not collaborate with the Department of Art Education, who would have been more than thrilled to assist. Concordi’art did not respond to The Concordian for comment.

The VAV Gallery is looking to collaborate with other departments and fee-levy groups for their winter programming. Among these are plans to coordinate a special exhibition with the Fine Arts Reading Room, the InArte Journal, CUCCR, Art Matters and more.

Clara Micheau, FASA Finance Coordinator and representative of the Faculty of Fine Arts for la Planète s’invite à l’Université (LPSU) at Concordia, posted on the Concordia Fine Arts Student Network Facebook page on Nov. 5, urging students to vote against online opt-outs in the upcoming CSU by-election (Nov. 12-14).

“Art Matters is not the only fee-levy group we are talking about here,” wrote Micheau. “People’s Potato is one, as is Queer Concordia, Cinema Politica, Food Coalition, Centre for Gender Advocacy, The Concordian and more. They all provide life-saving services to you or your friends or that student you don’t know but who has found their support group in them. They are everywhere, supporting our community.”

Fee-levy groups can offer superb opportunities to enhance careers and build reputable references, in any faculty. For more information and to encourage fee-levy groups, visit the Vote No Facebook Event.



Graphics by Chloë Lalonde (@ihooq2)


How student-artists perceive one garment

From globalisation to self care, the shirt covers it all

From FASA grants for individualized projects, to student run exhibitions at the VAV Gallery and the Art Matters festival, Concordia fine arts students are given many opportunities to showcase their work annually. Student work of all mediums, and touching upon a broad range of issues is included; nothing is left unaccounted for.

Among these are the works of Elisabeth Perrault, Petro Psillos and Camille Charbonneau, student artists who work in a variety of mediums but share some common political and material ground.

These three student artists have used shirts as the medium for their messages.

Perrault’s untitled piece, exhibited during Relics.jpeg, at the VAV Gallery from Oct. 1 to 19, is a very large button-down shirt with printed motifs, made entirely by hand. The exhibition was curated based on material engagement according to the VAV’s curatorial statement, “relating to one another in their physicality and their ingenuity in the exploration of materials.”

Perrault’s work merged her skills in textile, fibre and design with screen printing processes to summarise the history of labour exploitation in the textile and fashion industries. “The image is made up of a young American girl in the 1900s. Through her, we can perceive actors exploited in their workforce,” said Perrault. “A shirt is a universal garment that most people have at home. A unisex garment that has no identifiable identity. It’s a reminder of how our everyday clothes are made.”

The transparency of the material is for emphasis of the voluntary blindness of our society in the face of this ethical problem,” the artist said.

Perrault’s design, choice of fabric, buttons and screen printed image encourage consumers to divest from fast fashion, reflecting the past and present of the clothing industry.

Similarly, painting and drawing student, Petro Psillos, created another large t-shirt made out of smaller, identical ones. “War (1991) is part of an ongoing series of authority-related t-shirt installations and sculptures,” said Psillos, who sewed four promotional t-shirts worn by Cineplex employees (himself included), to depict Ricardo Trogi’s recent film, 1991.

“Because I work at Cineplex Laval, I had to wear this shirt as part of my uniform for a month straight,” explained the artist. “During that time, the shirt got butter stains, popcorn oil stains, sweat, tears, rips… I started to think about how the employees of the cinema behave like a community, and how we’re all working together towards the end-goal of a corporation, but also developing skills and techniques, relationships and habits.”

Both Perrault and Psillos’s pieces critique contemporary consumption and labour exploitation by using the shirt as a medium.

“Since we look all the same wearing the same t-shirts, we are easy to group as one entity. To the outside customers […] we look all the same, without personality, not individual, not unique.” said Psillos. His work—exhibited as part of Art Matters during Sites of Embodied Silence at the VAV Gallery—uses the relatability of the shirt to confront viewers, increasing the typical size of the garment to create a wall, a physical obstacle to navigate in the gallery space.

War 1991, Petro Psillos in Sites of Embodied Silence at the VAV Gallery during the Art Matters festival. Photo courtesy of Art Matters.

For War (1991), Psillos intended to connect the exchange between business and culture as a testament to Quebec’s shrinking national identity. He saw this as a parallel to the way Cineplex and other corporations impose authority over their employees, especially through language control within immigrant communities enforced by Bill 101 and 115.

In both cases, I am stripped of my individuality and expected to submit to another person’s perspective,” said the artist.

Through the film it represents, to its colour and wear, War (1991) contains powerful references to escapism, globalization and bloodshed. Buttery popcorn stains allude to the dispute of oil and its production, and the size and name of the piece refer to the then recent demolition of the Berlin wall.

As a global symbol, the shirt can also be intensely personalized. Camille Charbonneau’s performance piece, 1 Corinthians 6:19, conceives the body as something that is borrowed, to be confined to a gender binary, and something to be hidden.

The piece, exhibited during Art Matters, consists of garments lined with beads. “While worn, the beaded sentence ‘YOUR BODY IS A TEMPLE’ found in the shirt, on the in-sole of the shoes, and inside the knees of the pants is imprinted on the skin through pressure,” explained Charbonneau. “The use of the shirt, and of the other pieces of clothing in the project, stand as a symbol of oppression […] the emphasis put on the body being ‘a’ temple instead of ‘your’ temple limits someone’s well-being to a singular way of applying care to a body, and for gender non-conforming individuals, that care involves removing the shirt, and letting the wounds heal.”

The biblical passage 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 reads, “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore, honour God with your bodies.”

Physical care, clothing restrictions and overall behavior enforced by social norms compiled with critiques on globalization, consumption, violence and politics are embedded in these artists’ respective works. As an often mundane object, the shirt embodies all of this, and proves to be a symbol of Concordia’s 2018-19 art scene.


“There is no such thing as ‘not Indigenous enough.’”

Indigenous artists explore their Indigeneity and navigate colonialism in Braiding Our Stories

The Cree are storytellers, like many other First Nations. Their worldview is lived through wahkohtowin (kinship) with the Land. “We continue to tell our stories, as best we can, as beacons for our relations to find their way home, so they too can live miyo pimâtisiwin—the good life,” wrote Melanie Lefebvre for her oral history class, which culminated in her short film, I Will Return.

A Cree/Métis mother, Lefebvre is a Masters student in the individualised graduate program focusing on Indigenous studies and is among the 12 artists navigating Indigeneity in Braiding Our Stories, an exhibition at the VAV gallery. In these many stories, Lefebvre’s short film I Will Return explores aspects of the Plains Cree worldview through her relationship with her daughter, Anne. Narrating Cree teachings, Anne exchanges and shares ideas of kinship relations within time and place.

In conjunction with First Voices Week and the VAV Gallery, the exhibition is curated by a graduate and undergraduate duo, Juliet Mackie (Métis, Cree, Dene and Gwichin from Fort Chipewayan, Alberta) and Alexandra Nordstrom (Plains Cree, Euro-Canadian, member of the Poundmaker Cree Nation, Treaty Six Territory, Saskatchewan). Selected by the Indigenous Art Research Group and guided by Dr. Heather Igloliorte, Mackie and Nordstrom have been braiding artists’ stories since November 2018.

The name, Braiding Our Stories, alludes to the curators’ own experiences navigating their identities and resonates with the experiences of the artists they’ve chosen to support.

Craig Commanda comes to terms with their heritage though playing the guitar, juxtaposing contemporary and traditional Indigenous music.

Dion Smith-Dokkie creates utopic spaces by drawing on cartography, mapmaking and satellite imaging technologies to talk about their perceptions of space and place in northeast British Columbia. As a member of West Moberly First Nations, a community located in the Peace Region of British Columbia, their experience with traditional land use studies forms the basis of these works.

The exhibition welcomes Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples into the space with Creation, a large, six-by-four-foot painting by art education student from Akwesasne, ON, Destiny Thomas. Creation illustrates the Mohawk Creation Story of Turtle Island (North America) and the birth of Mother Earth.

After Sky Woman landed on Turtle Island, she gave birth to a daughter. She was warned to never walk West, but she ignored her mother. The daughter walked West and saw a man figure. Due to shock, she fainted. When she woke, she had two arrows resting in an ‘X’ on her belly and was pregnant with twins. While in the womb, these twins would argue. When it came time to giving birth, the Right-twin was born the proper way, while the Left-twin was born through his mothers armpit, killing her. Sky Woman became the Grandmother to the twins and raised them herself. Together, they buried the daughter and from her soil came corn, beans and squash, these are known as the Three Sisters. From her heart, grew tobacco and from her feet, grew strawberries. Along with her burial, came the daughters name, Mother Earth. With time, the brothers would create humans and other beings. They were never in agreement, so when one created something good, the other would spite his creation. Predator and prey, sickness and medicine, night and day… This is recognized as the perfect balance of good and evil.
(Text by Destiny Thomas)

While painting, Thomas thought of how the universe has come to be. “Everyone has their own interpretations: aliens, god, some superior being,” she revealed. “I tried to pry away from the Creation Story that I was constantly told as a child. But as I thought about it, it became the Mohawk connection or interpretation to all creation stories.”

Next to it is To My Dearest Friend, a much smaller beaded work dedicated to Thomas’s childhood friend, who passed away in 2018. In making this piece, Thomas found herself needing to take many breaks. “When doing beadwork, how you’re feeling shows […] If you’re tense and angry, the work will be tight and wavy. If you’re happy. the work will be slightly loose. If you’re content, the work almost always comes out perfectly,” explained the artist, “while beading the flowers, you can tell where the happy, sad, and content moments were in my work.”

To My Dearest Friend is meant to be looked at closely and from different angles—the artist’s process is parallel to that of art therapy. With fluid and controlled movements, she makes herself aware of her breathing throughout the entire process. The bead work allowed Thomas to grieve and come to terms with how she was feeling. To My Dearest Friend became the perfect vessel to symbolise the grieving process.

Mackie, Nordstrom, Lefebvre, Thomas, and all the artists exhibiting in Braiding Our Stories have one thing in common; they are Indigenous artists. To some, this may bring visions of “traditional” Indigenous ways of making, beading, basketry, braiding sweetgrass… but Indigenous Art is more than that; Indigenous Art, which is capitalized to express the significance of the genre, doesn’t have to look traditional. “Indigenous Art means that it was made by Indigenous people,” explained Mackie. “There is no such thing as ‘not Indigenous enough.’”

First Voices Week is celebrating its fifth edition with a week’s worth of lectures, workshops, panels and discussions. Visit their Facebook event page for more information.

Braiding Our Stories will be open at the VAV Gallery until Feb. 15, Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.

For more information on how to be a true Indigenous ally, read the toolkit created by Dakota Swiftwolfe and Leilani Shaw of the Montreal Urban Aboriginal Community Strategy Network.   


“i feel tender” comes straight from the heart

Artists explore vulnerability and gentleness through their respective practices

The right-hand wall of the VAV Gallery is plastered in various mementos; post-it notes, handwritten letters, and novel excerpts. Observing Joshua Jensen’s work, With Love, has the viewer taking a peek at someone’s private life, leaving them with a certain warmth, or as the exhibition title suggests, tenderness.

Joshua Jensen’s With Love welcomes viewers into the gallery, and someone’s private life

What does it mean to feel tender? The VAV Gallery’s first exhibition of 2019, i feel tender, features the works of ten undergraduate artists exploring tenderness in a variety of ways. The exhibition’s curatorial statement reads, “it requires something specific… Some sort of warmth? Maybe it’s the artists’ approach, or the feeling that arises from encountering their work?” While the works are not assembled by a common theme, they all share a particular physicality.

With little given context, other than the notion of tenderness, the materiality of the works impacts the relationship between art and viewer. Ranging from sculpture to multimedia installation, the artworks engage the senses and lead the

viewer to find the projected “tenderness” in the pieces exhibited.

Sodic Bodies, Jacqueline Beaumont

“I’ve been told by viewers that the piece made them ponder why they are looking at such a sensitive moment, especially that of a body in a bag. So I think that of course, the viewer’s experience develops their perception of the work,” said Jacqueline Beaumont, whose piece, Sodic Bodies serves as a memorial for trans women.

While all artwork is certain to evoke a reaction, the experience of the viewer will greatly differ from that of the artist.

“Each viewer will have their own experience, depending on their own knowledge and understanding of the process of ceramic art, their knowledge of the history of painting and sculpture, and countless other things that they may know or think of when they see the pieces,” said Markus Denil. Putti, created by Denil, consists of fragile ceramic putti, which are cherub-like figures. The work explores toxic masculinity through juxtaposition; the fragile putti each wear leather harnesses.

One of many Putti, Markus Denil

Despite the artwork and its meaning being entrenched in its physicality, the viewer’s interaction and interpretation of the piece will constantly change; the materiality serving as a means of understanding. “As we gain more information we are able to interpret the situations we are presented with,” said Denil.

i feel tender demonstrates how objects, art and their materiality embody experiences, ideas and beliefs. “I think the feeling of tenderness mainly came from the subject, that being letter writing and long distance relationships,” said Joshua Jensen, whose work, With Love, delves into memory, distance and the documentation of life. “Through this reappropriation of imagery I create a sphere of ambiguity to project my own experiences in relation to memory,” the artist said.
Denil’s innocent Putti wearing harnesses and Jensen’s mementos both provide the viewer with very different representations and experiences. The works exhibited provide a physical understanding of “tenderness” and, through juxtaposition, reframe what the viewer perceives it to be.

i feel tender is on display at the VAV Gallery until Feb. 1. The gallery is open Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. The vernissage will be held at 6 p.m. on Jan. 31. Admission is free.


Photos by Gabe Chevalier


A platform for creativity and healing

The personal and the political, the individual and the communal, the historic and the contemporary are all explored and considered within Hyper Real. In a collaboration between the VAV Gallery and Art Matters, the month of November has welcomed a range of events related to contemporary black art. With an interdisciplinary art exhibition, a film screening and a healing workshop led by Sisters In Motion and Shanice Nicole, these events celebrate November as a month of black history.

As stated by the VAV Gallery in their description of the three events, Black History Month in February can leave artists overworked and with a lack of support and exposure during the rest of the year. The VAV and Art Matters hope to change this by making November a month to celebrate the work of artists of colour and provide a platform for exploration, creativity and healing.

Made up of a range of complex and dynamic artworks from nine of Concordia’s undergraduate artists of colour, the work featured in Hyper Real ranges from video and photography to painting, print and sculptural installation. Each work explores a distinct theme within the overarching focus of black culture, identity and history. The varied works play into each other, creating a full, dynamic and overall emotional exhibition.

Artworks on display included a diptych by David Durham, titled Hidden Figures. The two works mix acrylic paint, mixed media collage and coffee to create striking images of two ambiguous figures. The paintings find ties to the history of coffee and the significant role it played in the slave trade and colonization. With the continued presence and consumption of coffee today, the works acknowledge this history, while also considering its role and presence in the contemporary world.

Braids, by artist Theran Sativa consists of a series of woodcut and and wood burned prints on stained paper. As explained in the artist’s statement, Sativa, who specializes in print media and fibres work, looks at black identity and black culture while also incorporating her own experiences. Meaning is found in every aspect of the artwork—the artist draws a  connection between the intricate process of printmaking and the act of braiding or twisting hair, through the time and care spent on both practices.



On Nov. 22, in connection with Cinema Politica, Hyper Real also hosted a film screening as part of the Black History Month. This screening featured three films, all directed by women of colour: Black Men Loving by Ella Cooper, Yellow Fever by Ng’endo Mukii, and Ninth Floor by Mina Shum.

The screening began with Black Men Loving, a film that questions the typical representations of black fatherhood while talking to black Canadian fathers. Made invisible by these negative representations, this film and the fathers featured can reclaim the stereotypes often placed on black men by society.

Yellow Fever incorporates mediums of poetry, dance and movement to address ideal beauty standards for women, specifically those related to colonialism. Colonialist history and actions perpetrate these ideals, particularly those of skin-lightening and hair-straightening.

The feature documentary film, Ninth Floor, looks at the anti-racist protest of 1969 at Concordia (then Sir George Williams University). The film highlights the ties still present between the protest and the contemporary context of the racist allegations made towards the university by splicing footage of the event with recent interviews.

As part of the VAV and Art Matters Hyper Real event series, the He(art) Healing Workshop scheduled for Nov. 29 will be led by Sisters In Motion and Shanice Nicole, a feminist educator, writer and spoken-word artist. The workshop will provide a safe space for people of colour, women and femme-identifying people to share their stories and heal. It is open to everyone, however priority will be given to black students, with 15 spaces reserved specifically for BIPOC students.

The He(art) Healing Workshop will take place in the VAV Gallery on Nov. 29, from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Spots are limited. Those interested can register online.

Hyper Real will be exhibited in the VAV Gallery until Nov. 30. The gallery is open between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. from Monday to Friday.





Happening in and around the White Cube this week…

Happening in and around the White Cube this week…

Studio 7 artist call-out

Studio 7 is an experimental platform for young artists to show their work offered by the Department of Contemporary Dance at Concordia and is located on the seventh floor of the MB building. This “plurydisciplinary” space encourages students working in all mediums to apply to present and rediscover their work through the lens of movement and interaction with an audience.

For more information, visit
Applications are due Nov. 14.

The VAV gallery is now accepting submissions for their winter 2019 general programming and special exhibitions. Special exhibitions include the VAVxCUCCR Reuse Residency as well as one strictly featuring performance art. The gallery is open to any type of performance with any materials or tools, and encourages artists working in any media to apply.

To submit artwork for the general programming, fill out the application form online at
Applications are due Dec. 7 by 11:59 p.m.


To apply for the VAVxCUCCR Reuse Residency, fill out the application form online at,
Applications are due Nov. 30 by 11:59 p.m.


Art Matters artist call-out

This year, Art Matters is seeking artists for 10 exhibitions taking place during the festival in March 2019. Curatorial themes range from the unconventional, communication, duality, text, sovereignty, materiality, interactivity, “arte-utile,” dreams, silence and embodiment. Artists can submit up to two applications, solo or in small groups of five members at most.

To apply, fill out the application form online at
Applications are due Dec. 7 by 11:59 p.m.


InARTE Journal call for submissions

The InARTE Journal is a student-run online publication dedicated to promoting visual art and culture in art education. For issue 09, students from all fine arts departments are encouraged to submit visual and written work (creative, academic or pedagogical) surrounding ideas of how emotions resonate in art-making in and outside of the classroom. The submission deadline is Dec. 14 at 5 p.m.

For questions, inquiries and submissions, email

Transcending the realms of reality

Corrupted Portal reshapes interdisciplinary points of view

Navigating the conceptual realms of reality and the otherworldly, the VAV Gallery’s current exhibition, Corrupted Portal, explores the spaces and complexities between the everyday and the mystical, the exhibition features a diverse mix of interdisciplinary works, ranging from painting to sculpture and performance art. Within each work, there is a distinctive style and form in how each artist interprets the exhibition’s theme. Each one creates a complex, diverse space for exploration and, by extension, new ideas are brought forth.

When first entering the gallery, the viewer’s eyes go directly to the collection of large paintings and prints on the walls. There is a visual theme in Corrupted Portal of bright, unnatural neon colours, which contributes to the overall concepts of the untraditional and the spaces between reality and the surreal. Sculptures showcased in the exhibition also use materials that explore the untraditional, and question otherworldly realms through their forms.

Juliana Delgado’s olfactory sculpture references recent events in Brazil, where a fire at the National Museum destroyed many invaluable items and works. The sculpture uses a mixture of scents to recreate the smell of the fire and the burning of these special artifacts and artworks.Taking a conceptual approach and including various sensory components, the reference of the very real fire is considered in a new, conceptual form.

Through the works, it is apparent how each artist personally interpreted the connections between the everyday and the otherworldly, and how that translates into their art. Themes and focuses explored by the respective artists include witchcraft, technology, institutions and structure in conjunction with the sublime. Themes of nature and the environment are also prominent in the varied artworks. The exhibition creates a space for viewers to explore all of these different realms and ideas, developing diverse and complex understandings of the relationship between reality and the mystical.

Zachary Potvin William’s painting, Crack of Dawn, uses bright, eye-catching colours, fluid forms and detailing. According to the artist’s statement, Williams is inspired by mythical aspects of botany and nature. As the statement shares, although Crack of Dawn explores “the subject of obscenity and perversity in a humoristic manner, formally it is a search for radiant light.”

IV Phases of the Salt Moon (I – IV) by Xan Shian is a quadriptych (four-piece series)made from digital collage and photo manipulation. The works focus on the moon and its phases, and create intricate textures through the digital work. As Shian explains in their artist statement, “the images query the nature of perceived reality, truthfulness in the digital epoch, and the reliability of memory.”

Corrupted Portal also includes a weaving performance by Scarlet Fountain as part of her ongoing work, Rope Project. Fountain is a Concordia theatre student exploring the boundaries between different disciplines, including performance art, visual art and theatre, which Rope Project considers through its form.

According to Fountain, the project began last year and was inspired by her volunteer work at the Concordia University Centre for Creative Reuse (CUCCR). The project considers the life cycle of materials and how communities can be represented through the waste they create and the materials they throw away. Fountain’s project also connects to concepts and allegories of diversity. By incorporating various mediums and binding them together to create a unified structure, Fountain mirrors the diversity of our communities.

Corrupted Portal will be at Concordia’s VAV Gallery until Nov. 9. Scarlet Fountain’s Rope Project weaving performances will take place every Monday from 1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. and Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. in the gallery, for the duration of the exhibition.


Expressing what you are and what you are not

Smelted: An exploration of oneself

To cap off Smelted, VAV’s most recent student-run exhibition, some of the artists spoke about their pieces and the mediums they used to showcase their quest for identity.

The 11 students selected for this exhibition used funky materials such as terracotta, sofa cushions and even candy to express aspects of their individual identities. Using media  ranging from acrylic and oil paint to woodworking and photography, the artists explored themes related to materialism, health and sexuality.

Alicia Turgeon designed a flexible, ergonomic table and chair.
Photo by Hannah Ewen.

For Alicia Turgeon, a former industrial design student, her quest meant working on her cognitive and sensory particularities by making ergonomic furniture. After 20 tests and three prototypes, she presented Prompt 01-02, a wooden chair and coffee table with flexible features.

“To me, this piece was all about showing the process,” Turgeon said. The result is not final, but the chair embodies her idea. “I am still working on finding a way so that someone can actually sit on it.”

Isaac Smeele’s work explores breeding and consumerism. He presented Candyland, a textured, colourful portrait of a teddy bear made of candy, moss and garbage.

Isaac Smeele’s Candyland explores breeding and consumerism.
Photo by Hannah Ewen

Since Smeele selected items that decompose, he used large amounts of acrylic to exemplify and capture the hoarding of things. With the acrylic used to set the piece, he estimated it will stay intact for 10 years.

Family also played an important role in Smeele’s personal evolution. “I wanted to show something about how we tend to sugarcoat the hardest parts of ourselves,” he said. “As a father now, I realize the parts of myself that I need to work on.”

On the other hand, Meghan O’Kill-Dearden presented Things I like to Collect, an assemblage of meaningful objects she has accumulated over time. She recreated purses and bags with terracotta, glazes and epoxy. She also integrated elements that were intact such as dried flowers and fruit pits.

“I wanted to show how collecting objects can comfort me,” O’Kill-Dearden said. “[My work] questions their functionality and the enjoyment of these objects.”

Matieu Marin’s photographs explore chronic illness and the impact of medicine on his body.
Photo by Hannah Ewen.

All the pieces in the exhibition show some sort of internal reflection and questioning. Some do so with a lighter tone, and others with a darker approach, such as Matthieu Marin’s work. For him, that self-reflection happened using a self-portrait made with a digital camera. He examined his chronic illness and the impact of medicine on his body through photography. In the two pictures he presented, Marin is naked and uses motion blur (with the movement of his arm) to demonstrate the impact of medicine on his body.

“I wanted to show what it means to embody a sick body,” Marin said.

Smelted gave viewers intimate access to the artists’ personal introspection. It immersed the viewer in a world where they found themselves contemplating and questioning their ideas of identity. The exhibition successfully showcased vulnerability, uncertainty and, for some of the artists, finding purpose.


The VAV Gallery holds exhibitions every three weeks and will be accepting submissions for their fall programming until Sept. 14, including their special Black History Month in November exhibition. All submitting artists must be enrolled in at least one fine arts course during the 2018-19 academic year. More information can be found on their website:


There’s a fine line between art and trash

Introducing three final artists from the first annual VAVxCUCCR residency

In celebration of the Concordia University Centre for Creative Reuse (CUCCR)’s first year of operation, the centre will host their first annual residency in collaboration with the VAV Gallery. Together, the VAV and CUCCR have selected seven undergraduate fine arts student-artists who will exhibit their work on March 22. The artists have been tasked with creating zero-waste artworks using CUCCR’s material.


Gabrielle Mulholland is a Toronto native and began her studies in illustration at OCAD University. She left OCAD to move to Montreal in 2014, and is now in her last year of print media at Concordia. This summer, Mulholland will be opening her own printmaking studio in the Plateau. Inspired by CUCCR’s focus on creative reuse, Mulholland began to consider the original saying, “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle,” and how the emphasis was originally placed on reducing and recycling, not reusing.

Gabrielle Mulholland’s installation, x 11, consists of a papier-mâché screen print sculpture, a “snow pile” of found materials and an 8.5 x 11 inch tapestry. Photo courtesy of Gabrielle Mulholland.

The artist’s experience of constantly being in the city forms the basis of her current work, which aims to challenge the idea that art and design create waste. Mulholland is particularly interested in producing work from garbage found on Montreal’s snowy, frozen streets. For the residency, she has created an installation called x 11. It consists of a papier-mâché screen print sculpture, a “snow pile” of found materials and an 8.5 x 11 inch tapestry. The exact composition of her piece will be revealed at the exhibition.

The tapestry was created from material sourced at a Renaissance thrift store and hand-dyed using a salt resist. “In the imagery on the tapestry, you can slightly see the original illustration student in me who was obsessed with human communication and symbols,” the artist said.

Mulholland is thrilled to be part of the first annual VAVxCUCCR residency. She said she hopes the exhibition will inspire artists and students alike to be more involved in creative reuse.


Laura Douglas has a bachelor’s degree in English and a minor in environmental studies from McGill University, and is currently in her third year of studio arts at Concordia.

She works in a variety of mediums, including paint, textile and installation. Most, if not all, of Douglas’ work grapples with themes related to the environment. Her recent project was exhibited as part of the Art Matters Festival at Mainline Gallery’s Tender Teeth exhibit. She hand made a biodegradable quilt using organic fibres and placed seeds in the fibres that will grow upon long-term contact with soil. Her work will also be featured in Bright Lights / Blurred Vision, opening March 19 at 6 p.m. at La Récréation – Jeux de société et activités culturelles (404 Ontario St. E).

Laura Douglas built small hanging planters and larger self-watering planters out of recycled containers. Photo courtesy of Laura Douglas.

For the residency, Douglas created an installation of small hanging planters and large self-watering planters, using soil from public spaces and reused containers of varied sizes from CUCCR. She painted these containers to suit her desired aesthetic.

Douglas is particularly interested in the fact that cities are often built on the most fertile soil, yet lack large areas dedicated to gardening. As an artist and environmental activist, Douglas wants to use her work as a means of teaching others about how easy urban gardening can be. Self-watering planters can be made with two containers and mesh or burlap. The bottom of one container must be removed and replaced by the mesh or burlap, allowing water from a second container to be absorbed when needed.


Mikaela Kautzky is currently in her second year majoring in studio art and minoring in diversity and the contemporary world. She said she believes art is a valuable personal, social and cultural tool, but it lacks consideration in how it impacts the environment. Like Mulholland, Kautzky aims to deconstruct the wasteful nature of art-making.

In addition to waste, Kautzky’s work shines a spotlight on social and environmental degradation. She strives to lead a completely zero-waste lifestyle, meaning she only consumes unpackaged food items and commits to purchasing biodegradable products. Kautzky uses art as a tool to commit to no-garbage living.

“For one whole school year, I challenged myself to do a painting of every piece of trash I threw out, and I learned a lot about the issue through this creative research,” Kautzky revealed. “Now, going forward, I try to create with the least environmental harm as possible by using reused materials and less toxic paints in my art practice.”

“Rest In Peace Phil Folderino” is an ode to manual means of storing data. Mikaela Kautzky urges viewers to think about the impact art-making has on the environment. Photo courtesy of Mikaela Kautzky.

Kautzky volunteered with CUCCR during the fall semester, and she is quite familiar with the abundance of file folders kept in the depot. Her project for the residency, “Rest In Peace Phil Folderino” is an ode to manual means of storing data and questions whether or not online storage is truly the greener alternative. “It is ultimately just out of mind, out of sight,” Kautzky said.

The artist also dabbles in photography and fashion in Less_n, a larger project that demands a dialogue on contemporary consumption. Kautzky will be selling upcycled, second-hand shirts at September Surf Cafe and Pop-Up Shop on March 24 at 4123 St-Denis St. Details will be released on Instagram @mik00k and @less_n.

The Concordian has profiled the artists-in-residence each week leading up to CUCCR’s birthday event on March 22. Past issues have featured Bianca Arroyo-Kreimes, Gabrielle Desrosiers, Roxane Fiore and Saba Heravi.

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