Asian Correspondent » York University Faculty of Fine Arts Asian Correspondent Tue, 30 Jun 2015 18:59:21 +0000 en-US hourly 1 York U students bring the health benefits of dance to seniors Tue, 07 Feb 2012 23:43:18 +0000

The Department of Dance in York University’s Faculty of Fine Arts is spearheading an innovative health initiative that sends students into the community to lead weekly dance activity classes for older adults at partner institutions in the Greater Toronto Area.

The program, supported by the Government of Ontario’s Healthy Communities Fund, focuses on the positive and preventative effects that dance can have for seniors. Drawing on the specialized training the student instructors bring to the project, injury prevention and health promotion are at the core of the program. It features carefully designed movement exercises that build strength, encourage flexibility and full range of motion, proper alignment and coordination, and cardiovascular conditioning.

“The benefits of dance and music for physical and mental health cannot be overestimated,” says Dance Professor Mary Jane Warner, the project manager. “Blending fitness and recreation through dance with the opportunity for creative expression is powerful motivation. Fitness strategies like this can help seniors stay active, in their homes and out of hospital beds.”

York’s Dance Department launched the project last fall with one-hour weekly dance classes held in the community. Over the course of eight to ten weeks, more than 190 seniors taking part at 10 facilities across the Metro Toronto and beyond. Three additional locations and five more classes were recently added to accommodate the growing demand from enthusiastic participants.

Feedback from the seniors and student-teachers, as well as the institutions hosting the sessions, is overwhelmingly positive.

“It’s incredibly satisfying when you hear how much these classes mean to the participants. You really feel like you’re making a difference in people’s lives,” says project coordinator and research associate April Nakaima, a choreographer and former research coordinator at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto.

York University dance student Candace Calarco, one of the instructors in the Dance Activity Classes for Older Adults program

“One woman, a diabetic, was congratulated by her doctor for the drop in her blood sugar; she credited the class for this good outcome. Another participant said she found the dance class more beneficial in combating her depression than other programs. Several others credited the class with helping them lose inches from their waistlines. Getting responses like this after just eight weeks has been both astounding and deeply gratifying.”

The participants are incredibly diverse, and so the project delivery must be too, Nakaima says. “One of the most fascinating aspects is accommodating such a wide range of fitness, mobility, socio-economic and cultural backgrounds. Some classes are done with people mostly seated. A couple of groups need translators. We even take music requests from the participants.”

Sixteen student teachers from York’s Dance Department are taking part in the program, earning course credit for their third-year pedagogy class. With a range of teaching experience under their belts and a targeted orientation program, they bring a solid foundation to their training to lead the dance activity classes.

The pedagogy classes prepare them to teach in dance studio settings, recreation and community centres, and the public school system. The course covers teaching participants of all ages and abilities, with a strong emphasis on creative movement as a form appropriate for everyone, including the elderly. There are also courses in kinesiology, conditioning, somatics and injury prevention that prepare the students to work safely with participants.

Some of the students in the program are planning to teach dance in community settings or within the school system after graduation. Others bring a particular interest in dance therapy or rehabilitation, looking to serve clients with special needs such as the elderly or people recovering from illness or injury.

York University student-teacher Rhea Bowman

“The experience has been amazing,” says fourth-year dance major Rhea Bowman, who is teaching her second group of predominately Spanish-speaking participants at the Black Creek Community Health Centre. ““I feel very passionate about fitness for older adults after seeing how beneficial this dance class is for them. We dance to Spanish, soca and calypso music, and some of the ladies have taught me more intricate Spanish dance steps. They’re teaching me some Spanish words too!

The student teachers come together each week to share their experiences and strategies on solving the challenges they encounter in the course of their teaching. Input is also invited from the participating seniors and partner institutions. This ongoing feedback loop deepens the experience for everyone involved.

“The student teachers from York University’s Dance Department are professional, knowledgeable instructors who address the physical exercise needs of our clients while taking their medical conditions into consideration,” says Rukhsana Naheed Cheema, the seniors coordinator at the Elspeth Heyworth satellite location in Vaughan’s Blue Willow Activity Centre. “The pleasant personalities of these skilled instructors add to the seniors’ love for the program. It has not only improved their health, but their mood and spirits as well. They hope it can go on forever!”

View a slide show (PDF) on Dance Activity for Older Adults

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Can graphic design help prevent medication errors? Sun, 05 Feb 2012 04:44:28 +0000

Sandra Gabriele, a professor in the Department of Design in York University’s  Faculty of  Fine Arts, is engaged in research with critical, real-world applications in the healthcare field. As part of her longstanding interest in evaluating  graphic design for patient safety, she is exploring the use of  typographic principles to differentiate look-alike medication names.

Professor Gabriele was the principal investigator on a recent study conducted at Toronto’s University Health Network, that looks at how the principles and practices of graphic design and typography might be used for interventions intended to help healthcare professionals make accurate medication selections.

“We know that look-alike, or orthographically similar, medication names are one of the causes of medication errors,” said Professor Gabriele. “Tallman lettering (enhancement of words by changing parts of the word to capital letters) is currently recommended to help differentiate similar names.”

typography samples

Typographic variations in lettering may help to distinguish similar medication names and prevent medication errors

In her new study, Professor Gabriele tested tallman lettering applied to look-alike medication names alongside other ways of enhancing names using three different scenarios.

“Results indicated that tallman lettering might not be as effective as previously reported,” she said. “The research also revealed the importance of designing and testing interventions for specific users in contexts that reflect actual situations and activities in practice.”

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York U Faculty of Fine Arts delegation in India January 2012 Wed, 21 Dec 2011 16:30:42 +0000

The Faculty of Fine Arts at Toronto’s York University is expanding its international relations and deepening existing relationships with a trip to India from January 1 to 18, 2012. A team of senior academic and administrative staff is visiting Chennai, Bangalore, New Delhi and Mumbai, with stops at notable universities, fine arts training centres and cultural institutions (see full itinerary below).

“We already have a well-established program of international participation, but we’re always looking to expand our outreach and involvement,” said Dr. Barbara Sellers-Young, Dean of the Faculty of Fine Arts, who is leading the delegation.

Studio and theory courses with a South Asian focus are a standard part of the curriculum in York’s Departments of Dance, Film, Music and Visual Arts. Special projects in recent years include Theatre @ York’s premiere of a modern adaptation of Kalidasa’s Shakuntala written and directed by then graduate student Charles Roy, who took the play on to its first Canadian professional production and to the Cultural Olympics at the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver. The Faculty of Fine Arts has several times hosted DanceIntense Canada in partnership with Sampradaya Dance Creations, headed by York alumna Lata Pada, a recipient of the Order of Canada and India’s Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Award.

A number of distinguished artist-scholars of Indian heritage hold professorships in York’s Faculty of Fine Arts. They include internationally-acclaimed master percussionist Trichy Sankaran, who co-founded York’s groundbreaking South Indian music studies program 40 years ago; jazz musician, composer, recording and touring artist Sundar Viswanathan; award-winning documentary filmmaker Ali Kazimi, and adjunct professor, choreographer and dancer Menaka Thakkar, who is credited with bringing classical Indian dance into the cultural mainstream in Canada.

Underpinning these artistic and academic connections are both longstanding and recent linkages between York University and educational institutions in India.

York has agreements in place with the University of Madras and Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi, and the team from the Faculty of Fine Arts will be visiting both institutions to explore opportunities to build on these relationships. York’s Schulich School of Business maintains a Satellite Centre partnered with the Indian Institute of Management Ahmadabad, IIM Bangalore and the Indian School of Business. It also runs the Schulich MBA in India program in partnership with the Mumbai-based SP Jain Institute of Management and Research, and is opening its own campus in Hyderabad in 2013. The renowned A.J.K. Mass Communications Research Centre at New Delhi’s Jamia Millia Islamia University was originally set up in collaboration with York, and film professors from the Faculty of Fine Arts were among the first generation of teachers there.

This solid foundation of existing connections makes India a natural choice for a concerted exploratory visit by York’s Faculty of Fine Arts.

“Our main objective is to promote research collaboration and expand student learning opportunities, with a focus on exchange opportunities for international scholars and students to mutually enhance the academic and research culture in each organization,” said Dr. Sellers-Young.

She is joined on the trip by Dr. Sheila Embleton, Distinguished Research Professor of Linguistics, a lead architect of York University’s India Strategy who has served as York’s representative at the Shastri Indo-Canadian Institute for the past decade; Design Professor Michael Longford, Associate Dean of Graduate Studies and Research in the Faculty of Fine Arts; Film Professor Ali Kazimi; and Ina Agastra, International Relations and Development Officer in the Faculty of Fine Arts.  (See delegates’ bios below)

York University Faculty of Fine Arts Delegation in India
ITINERARY January 1-18, 2012

Chennai: January 1-5

Sunday, January 1
Music Academy Madras where the prestigious Sangita Kalanidhi” title and award will be bestowed upon York University Music Professor Trichy Sankaranat the annual graduation ceremony

Monday, January 2
research and training centre for musics of the world
Kalakshetra centre for training and performance in dance, music, visual arts, crafts, textile design, aesthetics, history and philosophy

Tuesday, January 3
University of Madras – Centre for International Relations

Wednesday, January 4
DakshinaChitra centre for local arts, crafts and architecture
school of music and dance

Bangalore: January 6-7

Friday, January 6
National Institute of Design – R&D Campus
National Institute of Creative Communication India

New Delhi: January 8-14

Monday, January 9
Jawaharlal Nehru University – School of Arts and Aesthetics
Shastri Indo-Canadian Institute

Tuesday, January 10
High Commission of Canada to India

Wednesday, January 11
Jamia Millia Islamia Faculty of Fine Arts and A.J.K. Mass Communications Research Centre

Thursday, January 12
Indian Council for Cultural Relations
National School of Drama

Friday, January 13
Sanskriti Foundation dedicated to preserving traditional Indian arts and culture

Mumbai: January 15–18

Monday, January 16
Whistling Woods International – acting, filmmaking, animation and business school
Hungama Digital Media Entertainment Ltd.– creating India’s first augmented reality project

Tuesday, January 17
Tata Institute for Social Sciences
Sir J.J. Institute of Applied Art

York University Faculty of Fine Arts Delegation in India

Dr. Barbara Sellers-Young, Professor and Dean, Faculty of Fine Arts
York University Fine Arts Dean Barbara Sellers-YoungBarbara Sellers-Young has a BS in Sociology, MS in Dance and a PhD in Theatre from the University of Oregon. She is currently Dean of the Faculty of Fine Arts at York University.  Previously she was a Professor at University of California, Davis, where she served as Chair of the Department of Theatre and Dance and Executive Director of the Robert and Margit Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts. She has also taught at universities in England, China, and Australia.  Her research projects on the intersections of performance, body and globalization have taken place in Sudan, Egypt, Turkey, Greece, Nepal, China, England, and Australia. Her articles can be found in The Journal of Popular Culture, Theatre Topics, Asian Theatre Journal, Dance Research Journal and elsewhere. She is the author of three books: Teaching Personality with Gracefulness, Breathing, Movement, Exploration and an edited volume titled Bellydance: Orientalism, Transnationalism and Harem Fantasy.

Dr. Sellers-Young’s research has been supported by fellowships from the Social Science and Humanities Research Council (Canada), American Council of Learned Societies and the Centre for Cultural Research into Risk, Charles Sturt University, (Australia), as well as numerous grants, including a Davis Humanities Fellowship and a Pacific Rim Planning Grant. She served for two years as convener of the International Federation of Theatre Research Working Group: Theory and Practice of Performing and from 2007 to 2010 as president of the Congress on Research in Dance. She is the recipient of the 2011 Dixie Durr Award for Outstanding Service to Dance Research and the 2008 Distinguished Alumni Award from the School of Music and Dance at the University of Oregon.

Dr. Sheila Embleton, Distinguished Research Professor of Linguistics
Dr. Sheile Embleton, York UniversityDr. Embleton has been involved in many aspects of academic relations between Canada and India, and frequently lectures, writes for the media, and leads panels on the rapidly evolving higher education scene in India. She has represented York University at the Shastri Indo- Canadian Institute since 2001, and was Shastri’s Vice-President and then President from 2008 to 2010, during which time she led a strategic planning process. She led York University’s India Strategy from 2005 to 2009 and was closely involved in the preparation, negotiation and approvals for the establishment of York University’s Schulich School of Business MBA program in India. As Chair of OCAV, she conceived, established and secured government funding for the Ontario-Maharashtra-Goa exchange program. She has travelled and lectured widely in India, visiting dozens of universities, institutes and government ministries. She was involved in advising and planning for the academic portions of the visits to India by Canada’s Prime Minister, Stephen Harper (2009), Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty (2007 and 2009), Québec Premier Jean Charest (2010) and British Columbia Premier Christy Clark (2011). She is a member of the Focus India Group of the Government of Canada’s Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade and was a member of the Canada-India Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement Joint Study Group Advisory Committee. She currently serves as President of the Canada India Education Council and Chair of CIEC’s Academic Relations Committee.

A Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, Dr. Embleton has served as Vice-President Academic and Provost at York University (2000-2009) and prior to that as Associate Dean of York’s Faculty of Arts. She also served as Chair of the Ontario Council of Academic Vice-Presidents (2004-2008) and of the National Vice-Presidents Academic Council (2006-2007). Her academic background and graduate work are in both mathematics (BSc, MSc , University of Toronto) and linguistics (PhD, University of Toronto). Her areas of scholarly interest include historical linguistics, sociolinguistics, dialectology, mathematical/statistical methods in linguistics, onomastics, semiotics, and women and language, and she has published extensively in all of these areas.

Michael Longford, Associate Professor, Department of Design and Associate Dean, Graduate Studies and Research, Faculty of Fine Arts
Professor Longford holds undergraduate degrees in photography (Ryerson University) and sculpture (York University) and an MFA from Rugers University. He is also an alumnus of the Independent Study Program at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City. His teaching areas are interface design, digital media and visual culture. His creative work and research activities reside at the intersection of photography, graphic design, digital media and mobile communication technologies. He recently completed a three-year project as the co-principal investigator for the Mobile Digital Commons Network (MDCN), a Canadian research network developing technology and media-rich content for mobile devices. He was a founding member of Hexagram: Institute for Research and Creation in Media Arts and Technologies in Montreal, and served for three years as director for the Advanced Digital Imaging and 3D Rapid Prototyping Group. Currently, he co-directs the Mobile Media Lab located at York and Concordia University and is an editor for the Visual Communication Journal.

Professor Longford is a lead organizer of the Faculty of Fine Arts’ Sensorium Institute for Digital Arts and Technology, an ambitious new initiative to foster a broad spectrum of research-intensive, interdisciplinary and collaborative projects focusing on both digital  technologies and human factors, emphasizing immersion, connectivity, mobility and networked media cultures. Slated to launch in 2012, Sensorium will encompass researchers from across York University as well as academic partnerships with a dozen other universities plus a wide range of industry partners.

Ali Kazimi, Associate Professor, Department of Film, Faculty of Fine Arts
York University Film Professor Ali KazimiBorn and raised in India, Professor Kazimi holds a BSc degree from St. Stephen’s College, Delhi and a BFA in Film from York University. He is a documentary filmmaker whose research interests include race, migration, indigeneity, history and memory. His productions have been shown at festivals around the world, winning more than 30 national and international awards and a host of nominations. His prize-winning films include Narmada: A Valley Rises (International Critics’ Award, Mumbai International Film Festival), Passage from India (Best Television Series, Houston World Filmfest),  Continuous Journey, on the 1914 Komagata Maru incident (Golden Conch, Mumbai International Film Festival; Best Documentary Feature, San Francisco International Asian American Filmfest; Ram Bahadur Trophy,  Best of Fest, Kathmandu), Runaway Grooms (Gemini – Donald Brittain Award for Best Social/Political Documentary) and Rex versus Singh (Best Canadian Film, Reel Asian International Filmfest, Toronto). His credits as cinematographer include Bollywood Bound and the Genie Award-winning A Song for Tibet.  He has been honoured with retrospectives at the Toronto’s Images Festival of Independent Film & Video (1998), Pacific Film Archives/Berkeley Art Museum (2006), Mumbai International Film Festival (2008) and ViBGYOR International Documentary Film Festival in Thrissur, India (2009).

Professor Kazimi is a collaborative researcher in the interdisciplinary Future Cinema Lab in York’s Faculty of Fine Arts and lead filmmaker with the York-based 3D Film Innovation Consortium (3D FLIC), an innovative academic/industry initiative that bridges research in stereoscopic perception and the development of stereoscopic 3D film language and production to build S3D production capacity.

Ina Agastra, International Relations & Development Officer, Faculty of Fine Arts
Ina Agastra oversees activities related to the advancement of the international scope and reputation of York’s Faculty of Fine Arts. Her portfolio includes cultivating mechanisms to enhance students’ international experience and expand opportunities for students to study abroad. She also works with the Faculty’s international alumni to foster alumni communities in various regions and engage graduates with current students. Prior to this role at York, she worked in the non-profit sector where she coordinated international development projects, assisting women in developing countries through micro-credit lending initiatives. She holds an Honours BA in International Studies from Glendon College, York University and is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Public Policy, Administration and Law.

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York U design students boost experiential education through international internships Tue, 20 Dec 2011 20:35:45 +0000

An summer internship between the third and fourth year of studies is a key component of the challenging curriculum of the York/Sheridan Joint Program in Design (YSDN) – one that is enthusiastically embraced by the up-and-coming designers in the program. It’s an opportunity to follow their interests in professional settings that reflect the diversity of the career options ahead of them, from packaging and editorial design to online interactive design and motion graphics.

Many students add another layer of valuable experience by pursuing international placements. Christina Chu worked this past summer at the Bureau for the Advancement of Lifestyle and Longevity and Success (B.A.L.L.S) in Singapore, and Kavita Kapil secured an internship in the London/UK office of Wallpaper* Magazine.

During her time at B.A.L.L.S. Chu worked both independently and collaboratively on several projects, predominantly involving print media including posters, stationery, postcards and tote bags. It was, she says, an intense learning experience.

York University design intern Christina Chu (bottom right) with her co-workers at the Bureau for the Advancement of Lifestyle and Longevity and Success, Singapore

“It really opened my eyes to the fact that agency work is not just about producing great concepts,” said Chu. “I learned how important, and sometimes frustrating, managing the business and financial aspects of a company can be.

“It also demonstrated how important trust and good work distribution are when working in a team. Professors encourage good teamwork ethics, but that can be overlooked as each student works hard to gain a competitive edge.”

At Wallpaper* Kapil worked on the mag’s very first issue for the iPad. She created iPad designs and layouts and designed a promotional ad that featured Wallpaper’s downloadable iPhone application. In addition, she was tasked with managing some of the daily production activities at the magazine: updating the dummy book of rough mock-ups and the thumbnail board with print-outs of each of the magazine’s pages, as well as scanning, resizing and digitally editing images to prepare them for publication.

“It gave me a solid understanding of how a magazine comes together,” said Kapil.

Both students extolled the value of internships for professional networking and relationship-building.

“I met a lot of people from the design industry: photographers, illustrators and also people in public relations,” said Chu. “I feel like I received great words of wisdom from everyone I talked to. Just conversing and exchanging perspectives and opinions really opened me up to a lot of new and different ideas. These connections may not necessarily get me a job, but I think the people I met will be good friends and will help me in my career.”

York University design student Kavita Kapil, who interned with Wallpaper magazine in London/UK

“Not only was this experience a great addition to my resume, it was also a great way of meeting new people,” Kapil said. “I met so many talented designers and gained many new contacts within the design world, which will undoubtedly help me in the future when I pursue my career within the editorial design industry. Since many of the designers I worked with have been in the business for quite a while, they taught me technical skills to help me work faster and more efficiently within thKavita Kapile fast-paced environment of the magazine.

“On top of that, being able to travel around London and experience a whole new lifestyle just made my experience that much more exciting.”

Chu’s international experience has whetted her appetite for more. “I’m exploring various options to find work overseas after I graduate,” she said. “And I think the fact that I took the initiative to do an international internship will definitely help in my job search.”

Internships have helped pave the way to professional success, both in Canada and internationally, for numerous YSDN alumni. Sharis Shahmiryan (BDes ’07), an award-winning editorial designer for The Toronto Star, began working for The Star as a summer student and was offered a full-time position immediately upon graduation. Liang Zhang (BDes ’06) interned with the Brooklyn, NY-based international digital marketing and advertising agency HUGE Inc. and after graduation returned to the company, where he is now associate design director. Mark Okon (BDes ‘07) currently works as a motion graphics and print designer with the ad agency Wieden+Kennedy in Tokyo, Japan, and recent graduate Elaine Fok (BDes ‘11) is associate art director of Alchemy Asia in Hong Kong.

Launched in 1999, YSDN is the first and largest Bachelor of Design degree program in Ontario. It combines the faculty and resources of two leading institutions in the field: the Department of Design in the Faculty of Fine Arts at York University and the Faculty of Animation, Arts and Design at Sheridan Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning. The intensive, four-year honours program focuses on professional education in visual communication, information design and interactive multimedia, informed by design history and theory and enhanced by course offerings in other fine arts disciplines and the university at large.

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“Losing Site” – Does architecture trigger memory? Mon, 19 Dec 2011 22:24:02 +0000

For art historian  Shelley Hornstein, the relationship between memory and place has been a source of fascination for much of her academic career. Hornstein, a professor of architectural history and visual culture in York University’s Department of Visual Arts, has authored a new book on the subject: Losing Site: Architecture, Memory and Place (Ashgate 2011).

Dr. Shelley Hornstein, Professor of Architectural History and Visual Culture, Faculty of Fine Arts, York University

In Losing Site, Dr. Hornstein investigates how architecture shapes our experiences of place and both captures and conjures memory. She explores how architecture exists as a material object and how it registers as a place that we come to remember beyond the physical site itself. Connecting architecture with geography, visual culture and urban studies, she looks at the infinite variations of how architecture maps our physical, mental or emotional space.

The book’s title reflects Professor Hornstein’s understanding of culture, place and memory. “We’ve lost sight of what it means to be in a place, to experience, to know the physicality of a place,” she says. “Losing Site plays with the ideas that bring together site and sight. How does architecture trigger memory?”

From "Losing Site": Image of Dani Karavan, Passages - Homage to Walter Benjamin, 1994, Portbou, Spain. Photo: Shelley Hornstein.

Each chapter explores this concept by providing a different example of the many ways that the physical place of architecture is curated by the architecture in our mental space, or what Dr. Hornstein calls our “imaginary toolbox” that we use when we remember or think of a place, look at a photograph, visit a site and describe it later to someone else.

“Architecture is much broader than we imagine,” Dr. Hornstein says. “It’s not too much of an exaggeration to say that architecture is not only about buildings, but also about the construction of our physical landscape and how we relate to it … what our bodies do and mean in those spaces, as well as the mental maps and architectural constructions we build in our minds and the worlds we build visually as we read fiction, for example.”

Dr. Hornstein notes that a hedge separating a garden from a road traces a line that not only divides a space into two places, but creates two new places that did not exist before. “We build, demolish and shape space into architectural places that are meaningful to us,” she says. “When those places disappear, how do we remember them?”

Published as part of the Ashgate Studies in Architecture series, Losing Site has been hailed as “an erudite and extremely thoughtful meditation” (James E. Young, University of Massachusetts Amherst) that “takes us on a dizzying pilgrimage from the Guggenheim to Google Earth, from Toronto to Tel Aviv, showing … how architecture, place, and memory work together in dynamic interplay” (Annmarie Adams, McGill University). The publication is available both in hard copy and as an e-book.

Professor Hornstein’s other books include the edited volumes Capital Culture: A Reader on Modernist Legacies, State Institutions, and the Value(s) of Art (McGill-University Press, 2000); Image and Remembrance: Representation and The Holocaust (Indiana University Press, 2002); and Impossible Images: Contemporary Art after the Holocaust (NYU Press, 2003).

Professor Hornstein’s next project is an international workshop she is organizing to orchestrate a course on the theme “Starlets and Starchitecture: Women, Celebrity and Architecture Across Borders”, to be taught by 10 colleagues in 10 different cities and countries.

And she’s already planning her next book. It will be, Dr. Hornstein says, on the topic of demolition: “an assemblage of case studies that riff on what it means to intentionally demolish architecture.

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York U designers win big at home and abroad Wed, 14 Dec 2011 15:20:48 +0000

The Department of Design in York University’s Faculty of Fine Arts and the York University/Sheridan Institute Joint Program in Design (YSDN) have plenty to celebrate this fall, with impressive showings in prestigious competitions at home and around the globe.

Master’s graduate Brian Banton (MDes ’10) and freshly-minted alumni Christina Fung, Christina Lo and Man Wai Wong (all BDes ‘11) were given an all-expenses paid trip to Taipei, Taiwan this fall to attend the international Adobe Design Achievement Awards ceremony.

YSDN grads with their project entries at the 2011 Adobe Design Achievement Awards. From left: Finalist Christina Lo, "Boom Boom Baby" packaging. Finalist Christina Fung, "Neon Unicorns" watch packaging. Prizewinner Man Wai Wong, "Tissue Box"

The global jury considered more than 4,600 submissions from 73 countries for these highly competitive awards. YSDN students swept the packaging category, with Fung and Lo as finalists and Wong bringing home the prize.

The trio developed their winning projects during their final year of studies in York’s design program. Their success  is partly due to their focus on sustainability. Each of the young designers has taken an innovative approach to making their packaging reusable, considering the ecological bottom line in the construction and lifespan of the material.

Man Wai Wong’s Tissue Box, made from a single piece of paper without toxic adhesives, is collapsible, easily transportable, and completely reusable. Christina Lo’s sturdy silkscreened Boom Boom Baby yarn package can be used as a playful knitting bag. Every part of Christina Fung’s Neon Unicorns watch packaging can be repurposed, transformed into practical items such as coasters and keychains.

Brian Banton won the prize for motion graphics for his thesis project, Heterosis, which he describes as a ‘kinetic typeface’. Constructed from transparent acrylic and transparent elastic, the three-dimensional characters are designed by ‘blending’ two vector lines across a spatial plane. Banton stitched together numerous still images to create the work as a video project.

Man Wai Wong and Brian Banton each received a $3000 cash prize, a trophy, a certificate and a package of Adobe software.

YSDN students and Prof Albert Ng with Adobe Design Achievement trophy

Showing off the Adobe Design Achievement Awards trophy - From left, YSDN graduates Christina Fung and prizewinner Man Wai Wong, faculty member Albert Ng, graduate Christina Lo

This is the second year running that YSDN students have won big in these categories at the Adobe Awards. In 2010, Linna Xu took the prize for packaging and Edeline Bernal for motion graphics (see story).

Brian Banton’s Heterosis was also recognized by the Art Directors Club and Creative Quarterly magazine in New York City as well as winning silver awards for interactive media and graphic design at the Advertising and Design Club of Canada (ADCC) and another two prizes from Toronto-based Applied Arts magazine.

Man Wai Wong also took two prizes at the ADCC competition: the only student gold award presented, for editorial design for her entry “The Official Meteorology Handbook for the Institute of Serious Learning”, plus a silver for interactive media. York designers dominated the silver rank, winning five of the ten awards given, as well as five awards of merit. All the winning works are posted on ADCC’s Facebook site and published in ADCC’s printed Annual.

These are just the latest in a raft of honours won by YSDN students this season. They took 21 of the 49 awards and honourable mentions – including seven of the nine specialty prizes – at the 2011 Registered Graphic Designers of Ontario student awards. Man Wai Wong and Yvonne Ho (BDes ‘11) won the only two awards of excellence open to students in the Greater Toronto Area, as well as specialty awards for motion graphics and branding and information design, respectively.

Established in 1999 as Ontario’s first honours Bachelor of Design degree program, YSDN is offered jointly by the Department of Design in York University’s Faculty of Fine Arts in Toronto and the Faculty of Animation, Arts and Design at the Sheridan Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning in Oakville. Alumni of the program have gone on to establish successful careers in Canada and around the world. Recent graduates include Liang Zhang (BDes ‘06), art director at the Brooklyn, NYC-based international design agency HUGE Inc; Sharis Shahmiryan (BDes ‘07), an award-winning multi-disciplinary designer with The Toronto Star; Sara Cwynar (BDes ‘10), staff designer with the New York Times magazine; and Duk Han Lee (BDes ‘10), senior designer for CBC News Online.

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York U film alumni featured in 2011 Toronto Reel Asian International Film Festival Tue, 13 Dec 2011 19:31:44 +0000

As in past years, alumni of York University’s Department of Film were well represented at the 2011 Toronto Reel Asian International Film Festival, which showcases contemporary Asian cinema and work from the Asian diaspora around the world.

In addition to Cuong Ngo (BFA ’09), whose debut feature Pearls of the Far East received its world premiere screening at the fest  (see story),  four other York U grads made the cut.

A man in an camouflage jacket sits by the side of the road.

Scene from York U grad Tony Lau's thesis film "Left-behind Woman"

Two York productions were shown in Reel Asian’s Seize the Moment program, a selection of the “year’s best” Asian Canadian short films.

Tony Lau (MFA ‘11) premiered his thesis project, the 25-minute documentary Left-Behind Woman. Shot on location in northeastern China, the film looks at how the lives of women in Benxi are affected by the mass migration of male workers to more centrally located Chinese cities.

A woman sits alone in a dim room with her attention on some handiwork

Scene from the short film "Plants out of the Sunlight" by York U alumnus Vu Van (Franco) Nguyen

Vu Van (Franco) Nguyen (BFA ’10) presented his dramatic short Plants Out of the Sunlight, which was featured earlier this year in the York Retrospective at the Worldwide Short Film Festival and was a jury’s selection in the Film Department’s CineSiege 2010 showcase. The film tells the story of a factory worker who longs for a better relationship with her son.

Nguyen (who’s also  a member of the Toronto comedy sketch troupe Asiansploitation, winner of the 2010 ‘Just for Laughs’ Best of Toronto Fringe award) did double duty at Reel Asian, as he was the festival’s official poster boy. View his video introduction.

A litte girl and an older woman site on a bench in winter time to share some french fries

Scene from York U alumna Janice Lee's film "Faraway"

Freshly minted alumna Janice Lee (BFA ‘11) brought her graduation production and CineSiege 2011 nominee Faraway to the festival. The short recounts a day in the life of a young woman as she helps her grandmother prepare for the Chinese New Year. It screened in the Crossroads program, which focused on stories about youth confronting generational differences.

a group of people sit listening to a presentation in a classroom

Scene from the short film "Searching for Wonder" by York U graduate Tricia Lee

Also in the Crossroads program was Searching for Wonder, a short film by York grad Tricia Lee (BFA ‘04). Lee won the 2010 Reel Asian So You Think You Can Pitch Award with her proposal for Searching for Wonder (view the video) and went on to earn a Bravo!FACT grant and support from the National Film Board of Canada’s  Filmmaker Assistance Program to complete the production. Her story of a 12-year-old prodigy and university student who befriends a street magician came full circle, returning to premiere at Reel Asian this year. It’s a big year for Lee as she has just launched her debut feature film, Clean Break, through her company A Film Monkey Production Inc.

With files from Reel Asian International Film Festival 2011

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Cuong Ngo’s ‘Pearls of the Far East’ receives world premiere at Reel Asian Filmfest Tue, 29 Nov 2011 00:04:38 +0000

This year marks the 15th anniversary of the Toronto Reel Asian International Film Festival, showcasing contemporary Asian cinema and work from the Asian diaspora around the world. Over the years, alumni of York University’s Film Department have had a strong presence in the fest, and the 2011 edition continued the trend.

Recent York graduate Cuong Ngo (BFA ‘09) returned to Reel Asian with the world premiere of his debut feature film, Pearls of the Far East, which he directed, co-produced and co-edited. Based on stories by award-winning Vietnamese author Nguyen Thi Minh Ngog, the film explores the themes of forbidden desire and true love through several generations of women. (The same themes are prevalent in Ngo’s graduation production The Golden Pin, which won Best Canadian Short at the 2009 Toronto Inside Out LGBT Film and Video Festival and went on to screen at over 40 international film festivals.)

Still image from Cuong Ngo's "Pearls of the Far East"

Image from Cuong Ngo’s debut feature film "Pearls of the Far East"

Ngo assembled an impressive cast comprising some of Vietnam’s biggest movie stars for Pearls of the Far East, which was shot in Vietnam over a six-month period. Ngo Thanh Van, Truong Ngoc Anh, Nhu Quynh, Hong Anh and Kieu Chinh make up the stellar list of actors.

Ngo enlisted his former York U classmate Mikhail Petrenko (BFA ‘09) to serve as cinematographer. Petrenko, who garnered a nomination at the 2009 Canadian Society of Cinematographers Awards for the 2008 York U CineSiege festival winner Morning Will Come, has been very busy lensing several short films and the documentary Fork in the Road for OMNI Television. He has received numerous international awards including Most Promising Cinematographer at the 2010 Buffalo Niagara Film Festival and the World Cinema Cinematography Award at the 2010 Amsterdam Film Festival.

Pearls of the Far East is set to an original, evocative score composed by Alexina Louie and Alex Pauk, two leading lights of the Canadian new music scene. The Juno Award-winning Louie, a daughter of second-generation Canadians of Chinese descent, and Pauk, recipient of the 2007 Canada Council Molson Prize for the Arts, have composed film scores for some of Canada’s top directors including Jeremy Podeswa, Don McKellar and York alumni Larry Weinstein and Barbara Willis Sweete.

Read Cuong Ngo’s interview with TO Live with Culture about the making of Pearls of the Far East.

Read a blog entry by Reel Asian on an early preview screening of the film.

With files from Reel Asian International Film Festival 2011

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York U master percussionist Trichy Sankaran honoured for international achievement in music Fri, 25 Nov 2011 16:21:10 +0000

Master percussionist, York University Music Professor Trichy Sankaran has won the Toronto Arts Foundation’s 2011 Muriel Sherrin Award for International Achievement in Music. The award honours an artist or creator who has made a contribution to the cultural life of Toronto through outstanding achievement in music with a focus on international engagement.

Prof. Sankaran received the $10,000 prize last month at the Toronto Arts Foundation Awards ceremony at the annual Mayor’s Arts Awards Lunch. More than 300 artists, business leaders, cultural professionals and community builders gathered for the event.

York University music professor, mrdangam virtuoso Trichy Sankaran

York University music professor, mrdangam virtuoso Trichy Sankaran

“I feel elated to have received this prestigious award,” said Prof. Sankaran. “It’s great to be recognized this way. Such recognition encourages an artist to go even further and enhances the quality of the artistic community as a whole.”

Prof. Sankaran co-founded the Indian music program at York University 40 years ago. He enjoys international acclaim as a virtuoso performer on the traditional South Indian drum, the mrdangam. He is credited with having raised both the mrdangam and the kanjira to the status of solo instruments.

The Toronto Arts Foundation cited Prof. Sankaran as a globally respected artist, composer, educator and cultural ambassador, who consistently demonstrates mastery, creativity, ingenuity, humility and devotion to his art.  Since his professional debut at age 13, he has had a prolific international performing career, appearing as a featured musician at major music festivals and cultural events in Europe, Australia, North America and Asia, including the World Drum concerts at Expo ’86 (Vancouver), Expo ’88 (Brisbane) and Expo 2000 (Hanover).

As an active contributor to the Canadian music scene, Prof. Sankaran has composed a dynamic body of work that bridges the musical traditions of India and the West. His collaborations include performances with new music, jazz, western classical and world fusion musicians as well as Carnatic and Hindustani music masters such as Zakir Hussain, U. Srinivas and Hariprasad Chaurasia.

The Muriel Sherrin Award is just the latest in a long list of honours garnered by Prof. Sankaran in both Canada and India over the course of his five-decade career.  Most recently, he was chosen as the 2011 recipient of the coveted Sangita Kalanidhi title and award, to be bestowed by the Music Academy of Madras, India on January 1, 2012. As the recipient of this prestigious award, he will preside over the Music Academy’s 85th annual conference, running December 15, 2011 to January 1, 2012.

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