SCA News

Posted on 16 Jun 2016 in

Congratulations, Cherry Smiley

SCA MFA grad and current PhD candidate at Concordia, Cherry Smiley, has won the 2016 Trudeau Scholarship, which honours individuals who have “distinguished themselves through academic excellence and civic engagement.” Great news -- great work. Find out more about Smiley and her work at her site here. And read this great short interview, too.

Posted on 16 Jun 2016 in

Congratulations, A. Yeong Kim

SCA Visual Art student A. Yeong Kim (shown here with Matthew Thomson, Canon Canada’s Professional Markets Representative) has won the 2016 Canon Canada Prize, which includes a new Canon EOS 6D. Greak work!

Posted on 10 Jun 2016 in

Clara Chow

Dean Lastoria, who's in charge of New Students and Retention for the SCA, touches base with a few recent graduates.

Meet choreographer and performer, Clara Chow.

You majored in Dance but took more Production and Design classes than most Dance students — how did that translate into your ability to make new works?
I've always been interested in the production aspect of any theatre work. And I'm a hands-on sort of person, so it seemed appropriate to take a few courses in that area. If I have to say, I think learning about the different aspects of production really informed the choices I make as a choreographer and an artist. It also brought a greater understanding in terms of how the different elements collaborate and inform each other. I can't say for sure whether I'll be an expert in the things I learned in those courses, but my choreographic world has certainly become more visually colourful and detailed.

Aside from the Production classes, you also took quite a few interdisciplinary classes — did that make it easier to collaborate with other areas?
Easy is relative to the people you work with and the nature of your collaboration. Certainly, having some understanding of the different disciplines helped, but I would never be the expert that my collaborators are, because it is their field – similar to how a dancer has their style that's unique to their body. If anything, taking the interdisciplinary classes has given me a sense of the vast potential of working with others. While I often have very specific ideas when I'm choreographing and creating, I've become more open to new ideas generated by other people. I think in learning about and working with people from other disciplines, I've come to appreciate other people's talents and to trust their knowledge and experiences.

What’s next for you?
The same as always – minus the regular schedule of classes. I'm always looking for things to do, so I'll continue searching for other opportunities, both as a dancer and a choreographer, with the occasional production job on the side. For now, the Launch Festival has been a step forward in putting forth my work. After that, I'll see what other opportunities arise and follow the flow from there.

Dance is a fairly small and tight-knit group of students - what is it like to be a student in that environment?
That's true. I find that being with a smaller community made it easier to approach people and to get to know them. It certainly is nice to recognise people and have them recognise you, because you see them everyday. By taking technique class with the same individuals, you begin to learn the way they move and you pick up on qualities that you admire and are inspired by. It is also rewarding to see them grow as artists and a dancers, while you're also finding your own individual style and way of moving. I found the environment comforting and supportive. There were never too many new faces that I was afraid to approach them. Getting to know your peers further along in the program is inspiring as well, especially when you see them performing and creating work outside of SFU.

Any advice to future students?
If I have to say, it would probably be: don't be afraid to try something and try it to the best of your abilities. Whether it's something new, something different, something challenging, or something you wouldn't expect yourself to like, give it a chance anyways. Also – this isn't really advice – but it's all right to not know where you're going.

You presented at the FCAT Research Conference. What was that like?
To put this into context, I performed a dance piece during the FCAT Undergraduate Conference this year. It was a structured improvised dance piece co-created with two of my peers, a dancer and a composer. We came up with the idea following the conference's theme of Craft. As for what it was like, I would say it was like any other conference. I performed/presented the piece and then I saw other presentations my friends were in. I enjoyed being able to perform in a different setting. It was also the first time I collaborated on an improvised piece, so that was an interesting process. I think it was a great experience to have and fun to be able to participate.

You’re only just graduating and you’re already considered among “Vancouver’s best emerging professional artists" — How did the Clara Chow Trio get selected for the Launch festival?
I'm sure that's a tad exaggeration, at least at this moment. But I'm really happy the piece was selected for the Launch festival. I'm not sure how to answer the 'how' because all I did was apply. But the piece is something I have been working on since the beginning of the year, so it’s about time it was presented in some form or another. The piece itself is a branch of a dance film I'm collaborating on with a filmmaker and a composer. The idea was that I would create choreography that had versatility and could be performed in different settings. The film itself is being shot outside, so the flexibility of being able to modify the movements was important and very useful. I also wanted to create a piece on pointe. While I am not particularly proficient with pointe work, the aesthetic is something I have always been interesting in. It certainly helped to have talented dancers to collaborate with and draw ideas from! I first showed the piece during the spring dance informal on the last day of class. There have been some minor changes since then, so I'm looking forward to hearing the feedback and seeing how I can continue developing it.

Posted on 06 Jun 2016 in

Lauren Lavery

Dean Lastoria, who's in charge of New Students and Retention for the SCA, touches base with a few recent graduates.

Meet artist, Lauren Lavery.

Honours — Congratulations! Why did you decide to put in the extra effort?
For me choosing to complete the Honours program in my degree was a matter of increased interest and dedication to my artistic practice that I felt formed from the supportive and challenging atmosphere that the Visual Arts program at SFU provides. I have always felt a strong connection to the arts and feel that I put my best effort into everything I have done in my studies, but the extra time and effort to complete an Honours degree came mostly from faculty support and encouragement of my practice. Completing this degree was something that I can undoubtedly say came from the fantastic group of artists teaching in the program now, as well as the interdisciplinary and collaborative nature of the BFA and MFA students. Being able to collaborate and get feedback from peers who were completing their Masters degree was an invaluable experience that allowed me to push my work to a higher level of maturity, as well as enabled me to make connections outside of the studio environment.  

We emphasize theory here — can you think of a time that theory splashed over into your practice?
To me theory is an essential element of my artistic practice. Learning how to source inspiration and formally reference established ideas from both a historical and contemporary context is vital in becoming an established artist in the modern art world. I don't think I can describe one specific time that I have used theory since it has become so invaluable and commonplace in my everyday life and my continued artistic practice beyond my studies at SFU.

What’s next for you?
Since I took an extra year beyond my grad year to complete more credits for Honours, I have been busy working on my own practice and showing work in galleries, as well as co-founding an online critical exhibition review website with a fellow SFU graduate, Adriana Lademann, called Peripheral Review ( I was also just recently awarded the C.D. Howe Graduating Award in Visual Arts from the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts in May, for which I was nominated by SFU professor Allyson Clay. This monetary grant will thus give me the ability to apply for and take part in artist's residencies and international study, which I may not have been able to participate in before. Beyond this I am planning on moving to Toronto this September to hopefully expand my practice in a different city as well as apply for graduate schools in the upcoming 2017 year.

Any good collaboration stories?
During my time at SFU there have been so many opportunities to collaborate with peers in my own faculty as well as with students in other disciplines in both the Bachelor and Masters programs and they have brought so many interesting conversations and final products that I don't think I can give a higher value to just one. Perhaps my most recent collaboration at SFU has been with my time in the Internship class (FPA 406) working with Capture Photography Festival and two other SFU students (Abbey Hopkins and Jorma Kujala) in co-curating an installation for the Canada Line Marine Drive Skytrain station. Although I had previously knew the students from past classes, it was both challenging and fun working together representing the school in a more professional context.

The 611 Studios are a bit of a walk — are they worth it?
In my opinion the 611 studios are the Visual Arts program's best kept secret! The facility and support staff are incomparable, especially in an expensive city like Vancouver, and the small class sizes allow you to really get the most out of your time there.

Posted on 02 Jun 2016 in

Sarah Moorhouse

Dean Lastoria, who's in charge of New Students and Retention for the SCA, touches base with a few recent graduates.

Meet writer, Sarah Moorhouse.

Who is your favourite prof? Why? Any anecdotes?
My favourite prof would be Patricia Gruben. I took a Canadian film history course with her that really made me appreciate the films that are being produced in our country. Also, her enthusiasm for class participation and discussion always made those four-hour classes fly by.

Why did you focus on the critical/theoretical side of art?
I focused on the critical/theoretical side of art and film because I’ve been fascinated by the history of art and film from a very young age. Although I’m not physically making art, I still consider myself a creative person, and this major has allowed me to flex my creative muscles through writing about theories in relation to art and film.

What kind of student should pursue this program?
The kind of student that should pursue this program should be passionate about discussing and critically thinking and writing about film and art. 

How did you interact with the students who were making art in the School?
The great thing about this program is that you get the chance to take studio courses where you meet visual art, film, and music students. You’ll most likely always have students in other SCA programs in your programs and it’s a great opportunity to meet new and more like-minded people at SFU.

Any advice to future students?
Hone your writing and presentation skills. Almost every course offered in this program will have you do a presentation and write a couple of critical essays. Also, professors are there to help you succeed in their course, so visiting them in their office hours and asking questions is the best piece of advice for a future student.

Did you have any opportunities that you’d like to share?
SCA offers a course that is called FPA 406: Internship in Contemporary Arts and in my last semester before graduation I had the opportunity to do an internship and work alongside a film and television producer. It was the best way to gain credits and experience. I highly recommend doing the internship to see what kind of future you can have in the arts after university.

Is it all looking at art and watching films, or is it harder?
I think the biggest misconception about this major is that it’s easy because you get to watch movies and look at art. However, being able to constantly and consistently write critical arguments about the origins of an artist’s or filmmaker’s intention in their work is hard. Being creative is a huge asset for this major.

What do you think about SCA?
I’ve loved being part of SCA; I’ve been able to take so many interesting and fun courses while meeting a variety of creative students and professors that have the same interests as me.

What’s next for you?
I‘m looking to showcase my writing and presentation skills alongside my passion for creativity that I’ve honed for the past five years in SCA by looking for opportunities in marketing.

Posted on 02 Jun 2016 in

Lily Cryan

Dean Lastoria, who's in charge of New Students and Retention for the SCA, touches base with a few recent graduates.

Meet interdisciplinary theatre artist and dancer, Lily Cryan.

You were very involved in the Dance Student Union. The student unions in the SCA are smaller than you’d think and do more than you’d think — can you talk a bit about how your leadership role impacted you and how it was important?
The best part about the School for Contemporary Arts is that you can tailor your experience to what you want to do. I am passionate about interdisciplinary theatre/dance performance and arts admin and producing, etc., so I did that through the Dance Student Union. Working on student lead shows like Ascension, The Dance Student Mainstage, The Dance Grad Show, and Black Box gave me incredible artistic and professional experiences in school that have helped me get jobs and feel confident in projects outside of school. You have to be a self-starter to get these things going; no one will hold your hand. But its an incredible feeling to watch a show and know that you made it happen.

I tell future students to show up at the first student union meeting in the first week of classes … should they? Is it scary?
Its a little scary – but do it anyway! Everyone is excited to meet you and bring you into the SFU family (kind of like the Mafia, only we make art, not money).

What’s next for you?
I am currently working on Grounded by George Brant with Lutalica Theatre for The Fringe Festival in the fall, and a involed in a rehearsal process for a show in January. Both projects are with SFU alumni that I met in dance, theatre, production, and sound during my degree! I am continuously working on shows/pieces/festivals in a variety of capacities – from performer to choreographer/director to producer – and many others!

Advice for future students?
Try everything once, even if you think it looks weird. Ask for what you want because this program is open enough that you will probably get it. You are in control of your experience, make it what you want!