Q & A Interviews

UAlberta Art & Design faculty members reflect on what they give and receive from students

When students, staff and faculty return to the University of Alberta campus in the New Year, it will be the final week to see Art & Design 3.0 in the FAB Gallery before the show closes January 9, 2016. In the spirit of the giving season, TJ and I caught up with a few of the award-winning faculty members featured in the exhibition to ask them what they give students and receive from students.

Happy holidays to you and yours, from all of us at Curious Arts!

Liz Ingram
Professor of Fine Art Studio Practice

Liz Ingram

Liz Ingram

A beloved teacher at the University of Alberta in the areas of printmaking, drawing and intermedia for more than 40 years, Liz Ingram says Art & Design 3.0 is a very poignant exhibition for her, as it is her final year before retirement.

Tell us about your work featured in Art & Design 3.0.

For the past 35 years my creative practice has been the result of an intimate dialogue with a specific location (a quarter section and the adjacent water bodies) just west of Edson. Over the past few years I have been collaborating with my husband Bernd Hildebrandt, who is a designer, artist and poet, on a number of projects. These works were produced in collaboration with him, but also in collaboration with this particular location in the boreal forest.

The process of developing these prints ranged from photo sessions with models (friends who love to intimately contact the elements and immerse themselves in a stream on location), to digital manipulation and image construction, to digital printing, and finally completed with stone lithographic printing. In general my work represents an attempt to re-awaken awareness of our inextricable and fundamental oneness with nature, and of the elemental aspect of water to all life forms.

The work is about vulnerability and strength, about a cycle of disappearing and emerging, about wonder and uncertainty.

Prints by Liz Ingram. Photo by Louise Asselstine.

Prints by Liz Ingram. Photo by Louise Asselstine.

What do you give to students? What do you receive from them?

A key aspect of education in creative disciplines is the growth and development of a questioning spirit. This spirit can be effectively nurtured through the creative process when students are supported and carefully challenged to explore beyond their comfort zones. It is therefore my responsibility as an instructor to create an environment that is conducive to exploratory learning and that builds student confidence allowing them to take chances and to make mistakes. I try to instill the courage necessary for them to be able to expand their thinking and their practice into unknown territory.

At the same time I try to teach solid practical skills to create visual objects, images and experiences that are meaningful, relevant and contemporary. I believe that something as practical as learning how to make an etching or how to draw a cube can be introduced in such a manner as to push students to experience new ways of seeing and interpreting the world around them.

The rewards for me from working with students have been enormous! Students have constantly challenged my preconceptions and prevented me from falling into repetitive patterns in my own work. So, in a sense, we are always teaching each other and the roles reverse.

Students expand my thinking about art and about life. Over the years so many students have become friends and colleagues. Also, the immense pleasure and rewards that I receive from seeing students develop and carry on in life in a rich variety of directions is invaluable and has brought a richness that is central to my own life and is unquantifiable.

Sean Caulfied
Centennial Professor and Associate Chair in the U of A’s Department of Art & Design

Sean Caulfield

Sean Caulfield

Tell us about your work featured in Art & Design 3.0.

I felt that this faculty exhibition was a  good opportunity to make a work that stretched my studio practice in new ways. With this in mind, I created a print installation, Porosity Field, that utilized the entire wall as a composition and which combined pasted prints with sculptural elements.

Thematically, I attempted to create an open work that directs viewers to make associations to organic forms within an environment/landscape, but at the same time makes reference to smaller scales of biology within the body such as cells or organs. I hope this fluctuation of scale might speak to interconnections within ecosystems.

What do you give to students? What do you receive from them?

I try to give my students a wide range of experiences in order to ensure they have the formal and technical knowledge/skills to create sophisticated visual works. I also work to foster an open learning environment that encourages a diversity of approaches, while also stressing the importance of rigour and focus in a studio practice.

More broadly, I develop critical, independent thinking and empahsize the importance of drawing on other disciplines, artists and art forms to support creative work. Finally, I try to always underscore the importance of thinking about artistic practice in relation to the broader community, and the absolutely vital role art/culture has in maintaining healthy, innovative, societies that embrace a diversity of views and perspectives.

It is an honour to be able to work with emerging artists as they are continually challenging me to think about my own creative practice in new ways, and to question preconceptions I have about the role art plays both within and outside of the university. I feel incredibly fortunate to have the opportunity to work with students as I truly believe that I learn more from them than they do from me.

Prints by Sean Caulfield. Photo by Louise Asselstine.

Prints by Sean Caulfield. Photo by Louise Asselstine.

Betsy Boone
Professor of the History of Art, Design and Visual Culture

Betsy Boone

Betsy Boone

Tell us about your work featured in Art & Design 3.0.

I decided to include work related to book design and illustration that I have written about. There are three drawings by an artist named F. Luis Mora that were produced for an article about Mexico published in Century Magazine, which was a very popular magazine at the turn of the twentieth century. One of the drawings is a design for the “initial,” which is the first letter of the first word in the article. You can see the original magazine and compare the drawings to the final illustrations.

I also included two copies of a book called Castillian Days, which was illustrated by the Joseph Pennell, along with my article about the way text and image function to mask the book’s political content. The author was John Hay, who served as U.S. Secretary of State during the 1898 Spanish-American War, and he had very definite opinions about Spain! By the way, Mora is also the artist who painted the work on the cover of my book, Vistas de España, which is also on display in the exhibition.

What do you give to students? What do you receive from them?

I try to give them tools that will make them better thinkers, better artists, better designers, and better people. Students give me ideas, and they inspire me to think harder. I can’t think of a better present!

Display of work by Betsy Boone. Photo by Louise Asselstine.

Display of work by Betsy Boone. Photo by Louise Asselstine.

Aidan Rowe
Associate Professor of Design Studies

Aidan Rowe

Aidan Rowe

Tell us about your two pieces in Art & Design 3.0.

Spaces&Places: VisioningMcLuhan@100 Limited Edition Poster Catalogue (2011)

Media: Silkscreen Limited Editions
Size of work: Numerous Posters, each 36″24″

Marshal McLuhan is considered one of the foremost intellectuals of the 20th-century. His ideas and theories resonate across a myriad of practices, subjects and disciplines. 2011 marked the centenary of McLuhan’s birth. The Spaces&Places:VisioningMcLuhan@100 exhibition brought together 10 artists and designers that explored concepts and ideas that relate to and explore manifestations of McLuhan’s ideas. As the curator and designer of the exhibition these limited edition posters were produced to both contextualise the work included and McLuhan’s work. Produced with assistance of Sergio Serrano (’06 BDes).

Design Education: Approaches, Explorations and Perspectives (2014)
Aidan Rowe & Bonnie Sadler Takach (editors)
Media: Publication
Size of work: 10″ x 8″

Design Education: Approaches, Explorations and Perspectives documents diverse approaches and practices in design education situated in local, national and international contexts. Bringing together contributions from six design academics, researchers and graduate students this publication includes in-class case studies, long-term research studies, and graduate research projects.

Display of work by Aidan Rowe. Photo by Louise Asselstine.

Display of work by Aidan Rowe. Photo by Louise Asselstine.

What do you give to students? What do you receive from them?

Hopefully I give some energy and passion for the power and possibility of design to contribute to society and better the human condition. The students give me inspiration and wonder. It is amazingly gratifying to see the growth and possibility in the students over their time here.

Event title: 50th Anniversary Exhibition: Art & Design 3.0
Exhibition dates: until January 9, 2016
Venue: FAB Gallery (1-1 Fine Arts Building, University of Alberta)
Hours: The FAB Gallery is closed over the holiday break. Opens to the public again Tuesday, January 5, 2016.
Tuesday to Friday: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Saturday: 2 p.m. – 5 p.m. Closed Monday.
Admission: Free.

For a full list of University of Alberta faculty featured in Art & Design 3.0 please see the show page: https://uofa.ualberta.ca/events/50th-anniversary-exhibition-3

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