November 15, 2011
By Brianna Strong
The Alberta College of Art + Design is a place of creative engagement and active discourse. What is cultured inside the walls of the school propagates in the greater dialogue of contemporary art and culture. Keeping pace with this perpetual growth and conceptual variation is ACAD’s glass program with Natali Rodrigues, as she enters her third year as Head of the Department. I sat down with Natali to summarize and discuss the most notable catalysts and changes the glass program has observed over the past two years.
Some exciting shifts and transitions among the faculty include Tyler Rock pursuing his Masters in Visual Arts at the University of Southern Australia in Adelaide. Beginning his thesis in January 2011, Tyler continues to investigate notions of the artifact, both as a ‘blip in the scientific process’ and as ‘a phenomenological event in craft objects’. He is expected to return to ACAD in September 2012. Since the beginning of this academic year, Robert Geyer is the new Head of Glass at Bowling Green University in Ohio. At ACAD, recent changes to the academic structure have brought Marty Kaufman back from being Assistant Dean to full time teaching. Additionally, the glass program will undergo a curriculum review under the ‘guiding philosophy of enhancing the individual voices of students’ through the development of technical skill and unique methodologies.
There have been major contributions to this fundamental enrichment of creative and critical studies from the Visiting Artists, Visiting Lecturers and Artists in Residence that have cultivated their practices at ACAD. The 2010 – 2011 school year was marked by Visiting Artist Catharine Newell’s ‘powder drawings and paintings with light’ that were supplemented by explorations of social interaction with respect to swarm theory. Trish Roan visited to investigate temporality, poetics and the interconnectivity of all things. And Judith Schaechter’s stained glass workshops and compelling approach to the creative process continued to enrich the program. From January to May of 2011, Natali Rodrigues secured the ultimate in creative choreography for ACAD with the addition of internationally renowned artists and educators Jane Bruce and Kirstie Rea, as the Rawlinson Visiting Artist and as the Visiting Lecturer, respectively.
At the present date, the glass program continues to thrive with Jane Bruce returning as the Rawlinson Visiting Artist, and with the core faculty that have not yet been mentioned, Lisa Cerny, Jim Norton and Mark Gibeau. Also making an impact on the ACAD community is Visiting Lecturer, Rachael Wong and Artist in Residence, John Brekke. John’s generative and sophisticated approach to ‘mark-making on the luminous surface’ is furthering conversation about image making in glass and cross-cultural influences of design and the decorative object. Concurrently, distinguished glass artist Rachael Wong carries her multifaceted experience as an instructor into her first teaching role at a post-secondary institution. With the perspective-making experience of teaching she plans to continue her analysis and synthesis of unique time, space and experience with respect to the art object, and in relation to the viewer. Rachael establishes a dialogue with a viewer using the art object as a way of prompting “a cyclical process of experience …where experience manifests experience.” The concept of a self-perpetuating correspondence between artworks and viewers appears to be essential, inside and on-site of the walls of ACAD and in an on-going navigation of contemporary art and culture.