Ottawa Art Gallery hosts sticker-making workshop for youth

The Ottawa Art Gallery (OAG) held a sticker-making workshop on Nov. 23. The free drop-in event included free pizza and gave attendees a chance to turn their original artwork and comics into stickers.

Doug Dumais, OAG educational assistant said this event is part of a series of events the gallery is hosting in conjunction with the OAG’s newly formed youth council, stArtup.

Not only will members of the youth council have mentorship opportunities with gallery staff, but they will also have an opportunity to create their own youth programming, Dumais explained.

“The whole reason for the youth council is so that we can have youth-focused programming that’s by youth for youth,” Dumais said.

Dumais said the gallery holds workshops often, once every month or so, but this is the first one that’s targeted towards youth.

“It’s not that the gallery isn’t doing that, we’ve always been really good with all ages programs, it’s just that it’s a hard demographic,” Dumais said. “It’s really just an opportunity to get [youth] engaged in the gallery and transform their creative potential into something that appeals to everyone.”

Ben Jensen, a local artist and illustrator, helped facilitate the workshop. Jensen said this was his first time leading a workshop like this at the OAG.

“I’ve done other things with youth, like earlier this month I was at Oasis Skateboard Factory in Toronto, which is an alternative high school for at-risk youth focussing on graffiti art, skateboard branding and silk-screening, stuff like that,” Jensen said.

Jensen said he’s seen events like this benefit youth.

“It’s a good way to get them thinking about art,” he said. “This helps them see how it can end up with a physical product. They’re turning comic strips into stickers here today right so if they can see their piece of art becoming something physical beyond the piece of art itself it might just inspire kids to see the possibilities.”

University of Ottawa students Elizabeth Shepherd and Melissa Poon said this was their first time at the gallery. Both agreed that the promise of free pizza had lured them in.

Shepherd decided to use the opportunity to get ahead on some Christmas shopping and made a sticker for her roommate.

“We get to make stickers,” Poon said. “What else are we going to do on a Wednesday night?”

ISC hosts Culture Fest

The Carleton University Students’ Association’s  International Students’ Centre (ISC) hosted their annual Culture Fest in the University Centre on Nov. 16.

This year, the annual celebration of Carleton’s diversity featured a new element—a cultural fashion show featuring local designers and student models.

“Clothing is such a big part of culture—the many cultures that we come from, and it’s very representative of the identities that we carry around,” said Alexis Oundo, the ISC’s programming coordinator.

The show featured designs inspired by countries from all over the world, from Africa to Latin America.

Oundo said the community had a positive reaction to adding the fashion show and including local design talent.

“We had a lot of local designers here in Ottawa who [are] also known within the Ottawa and Carleton community,” she said. “So it was really good to have them involved with it.”

Ingie Elsaka, a third-year communications studies student, said the fashion show attracted her to Culture Fest.

“That’s what caught my attention and I believe that’s what caught a lot of people’s attention,” she said.

The show also showcased local business vendors, including Blessing Oruma, the owner of EleBeautéHair in Ottawa.

Oruma got involved with Culture Fest after being approached by members of the community. Oruma brought weaves for attendees to try on, and shared information about the hair extensions and products sold by her company.

“The response has been nice—right now people are trying on wigs and I think they are enjoying that. I am happy to see people coming out to see what is going to be showcased,” Oruma said.

Allisha Bakshi, a third-year economics and psychology student, said she hoped students would take away a new understanding of diversity from the event.

“I hope they can appreciate diversity a little more, see that behind these four walls of the university and even this city, Ottawa, there is so much more,” Bakshi said.

Oruma said she thinks the event was great for the community, adding she hoped students will appreciate the art, and consider sharing their own in the future.

“I hope people are able to appreciate the beauty of being a student and being able to share their work . . . It shows how talented students are,” she said.

—with files from Taylor Barrett

CUAG accepting campus artwork submissions

The Carleton University Art Gallery (CUAG) is accepting submissions for their fourth Carleton Community Art Exhibition from Jan. 13-22. CUAG held the last community exhibition in 2014.

Katie Kendall, curator for this year’s show, said the exhibition is “a celebration of the creativity of the Carleton community.”

The exhibition will feature artwork from members of the Carleton community, including students, alumni, staff, and faculty. Artists can submit up to two pieces of work, such as photographs, paintings, textiles, and sculptures. The deadline for submissions is Jan. 6.

In 2014, the show had the highest participation rate of any previous Carleton Community Art Exhibition, according to Danuta Sierhuis, the curator for the 2014 show. She said around 150 artists took part.

“The show gave everyone an opportunity to come together over their shared interest in the arts and be pleasantly surprised by the creative pursuits of their classmates [and] colleagues,” Sierhuis said.

The instructions and submission form are available on the CUAG website.

“The show is really popular [and] it always goes on for a week at the gallery,” Kendall said.

“[At the last exhibtion], I recall that a few people got very creative and used some very unexpected media, such as IKEA chairs, clothing, skateboards, and melted candy,” Sierhuis said.

Kendall said anyone who submits their art will have it displayed.

“People hear ‘submission form’ and they think there’s a judging process, but there’s not. Every submission will be displayed,” she said.

Olivia Johnston, an Ottawa-based artist who graduated from Carleton in 2015, had her art displayed in the 2014 community show, as well as the one before.

Johnston said her art is photo-based portraiture work that explores themes of gender, individuality, vulnerability, and identity. The piece she submitted to the Carleton Community Art Exhibition in 2014 was a portrait of somebody else accompanied by a still life of something the person had given her.

“The piece was more about me, and my relationships with other men, than it was about him. It was one of my first explicit pieces created within that vein, of being about myself but indirectly,” Johnston said.

There will be a Community Performance Night on Jan. 19, which will feature non-visual artists such as spoken word poets and musicians, according to Kendall. There will also be an artist workshop that night, and possibly a video art feature if there are enough submissions.

“The exhibit is a great opportunity for emerging artists to have their work shown in a larger space, and for more established artists to see their work in the context of newer artists,” Johnston said. 

American Horror Story star talks disability awareness

Jamie Brewer, an actress best known for her roles on American Horror Story, came to Carleton on Nov. 25 to deliver a talk about her path through the entertainment industry.

Brewer, an actress with Down syndrome, talked about working with her disability and her advocacy work for others with developmental and intellectual disabilities.

“Together we can all advocate for a healthier and more inclusive tomorrow,” she told the crowd.

She also took questions from the audience and discussed celebrity crushes, future projects, and demonstrated her Wicked Witch of the West impression.

Before the talk, Brewer held a meet-and-greet with five winners of a contest put together by the Carleton Disability Awareness Centre (CDAC). To earn the chance to meet her, entrants had to answer two questions: create a character with a disability or describe a favourite character or celebrity with a disability, and provide a question they wanted to ask Brewer.

The winners included three students and two parents of children with Down syndrome. Here, they were able to interact with Brewer directly and got a chance to play “Two Truths and a Lie” with her.

Herman Wong, a first-year journalism student, was one of the winners of the contest.

American Horror Story is probably my favourite show, and when I found out [Brewer] was coming to Carleton, I was very excited because I think she’s one of the most talented and courageous people in her field right now,” Wong said.

Having Brewer speak was “amazing”, according to Celine Brown, one of the co-ordinators from CDAC.

“We really just wanted to have an event where we could have both people with disabilities and without disabilities be able to relate to the same person and bring everyone together,” Brown said.

Key themes for Brewer throughout the evening included the ideas of encouragement, support, and global inclusion.

“Follow your dreams. Always use your voice to ask for help when you need it, always listen to family and friends who will encourage you, even though it might seem like they are bugging you,” she said.

As an advocate for the disabled community, Brewer was instrumental in eliminating the use of the word “retard” in Texas legislation in favour of language supportive of those with developmental and intellectual disabilities, according to an email interview with Brewer.

“There’s always room to grow,” she said. “We need to have a global change in removing the ‘r’ term within every legislative bylaw to ‘Developmental and Intellectual Disabilities.’” Brewer said.

Brewer’s beliefs about inclusion and support were summed up when asked about what her own TV show would be like. She said her top priority in a TV show would be “inclusion of different disabilities and disorders in a dramatic comedy.”

“There’s talent out there in each and every one of us,” she said.

Commentary: Sock ‘n’ Buskin’s Macbeth features creative direction

Blood, betrayal, and a battle for power. Sock ‘n’ Buskin Theatre Company presents a chilling, sinister, and brilliant Macbeth.

Macbeth was first performed as early as 1606. As one of William Shakespeare’s best-known plays, it tells the story of Macbeth (Sheldon Paul), a Scottish general, and his rise to power.

After being told by a group of witches (Jasmine Stamos, Mary Sword, Alex Wilson) that he would become the King, Macbeth feels encouraged by his wife, Lady Macbeth (Meaghan Brackenbury), to murder Queen Duncan (Amal Azman) and claim the throne. Fearing that he will lose his powerful position, Macbeth and his wife are driven to insanity, as they co-ordinate a series of assassination attempts against those who threaten him.

Paul’s strong poise, along with his varying tone, pacing, and volume provided a convincing portrayal of the story’s powerful, two-faced protagonist. As an effective contrast, Brackenbury used facial expressions, staggered movements, and a menacing speech to genuinely convey the psychotic nature of Macbeth’s villainous wife.

Will Lafrance’s solid projection and energetic movements thoroughly conveyed Macduff’s emotions and vengeful goals after being betrayed by Macbeth. Matthew Okum stood out in the scenes when his character (Banquo) returns as a hallucination after being murdered, as he quietly and slowly moved around the stage with a lifeless facial expression. As the three witches, Stamos, Sword, and Wilson spoke and moved in unison, fully projecting their sinister and gritty voices.

Perhaps one of the greatest elements of this production was that it highlighted Sarah Haley’s strength as a director. In accepting the challenge of directing Macbeth, Haley added creativity and originality to one of the most popular and ambitious classic plays.

Haley’s decision to use a 20th century theme for costumes and props provided an intriguing contrast with the script’s traditional English text. Actors wore business casual outfits, smoked glowing cigarettes, and fought with handguns. Jazz and rock-and-roll music were effectively used during scene changes to foreshadow what might happen next.

A simplistic set allowed the audience to focus its attention on the actors and the story, and allowed the stage crew to execute scene changes in a timely manner. Lighting was effectively used to enhance the dark mood in different parts of the story; spotlights highlighted specific actors during their sinister soliloquies, and silhouettes of trees and a projection of the moon made night time scenes much more haunting. In addition, pathetic fallacy was achieved through the use of a smoke machine during these chilling scenes.

The highlight of the show came during the convincing and perfectly timed climactic fight scene involving the entire cast, which presented the actors’ precise focus and discipline. The Sock ‘n’ Buskin Theatre Company cast and crew performed a practically flawless production of Shakespeare’s Macbeth.