Department of Visual Arts Honours Exhibit brings student work into the spotlight

This past Saturday, Brock’s Visual Arts Department opened an exhibition at Rodman Hall that displays the work of graduating Visual Arts students.

The exhibit is curated by Stuart Reid and Marcie Bronson. Presented in two chapters, the art pieces will be on display until May 1, with an opening reception for Chapter One being held on April 1, and Chapter Two on April 15. The exhibition will occupy the third floor studios in Rodman Hall, and features the work of students in the Honours Studio course (VISA 4F06), who have been mentored and guided by professors Shawn Serfas and Donna Szőke throughout the year.

“VISA 4F06 is a challenging BA honours course which helps develop the artist’s voice and gives the students a professional platform to exhibit their creative research,” explained Serfas. “This year’s exhibition showcases seven students with diverse research interests, a great range of expressive disciplines and highly developed art works.”


The Visual Arts Department, which is now a part of the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts (MIWSFPA), has been presenting the work of graduating students mentored in its Honours Studio course (VISA 4F06) as far back as 2008. The long-standing tradition, which functions each year through the department’s partnership with Rodman Hall, has made the Honours Studio an overwhelmingly rewarding undertaking for both the students and their professors.

Once accepted into the course, students develop a unified body of artwork that will work to support their entry into graduate school programs and propel them into professional careers as artists. The exhibition at Rodman Hall is the final piece of the puzzle in their visual arts education at Brock and an opportunity to publicly showcase the results of their artistic exploration and hard work.

The main goal of exhibits such as these (outside of the vast exploratory opportunities they offer students) is to work with the MIWSFPA and Rodman Hall to foster a connection in the community through the range of talent and creativity at Brock.

With 2016’s Honours Exhibition, both Serfas and Szőke are proud of the evolution and professionalism the group of artists they worked with displayed throughout the process.

Brock’s Visual Arts program consists of courses both in the studio, and in the history of art and visual culture. From all ends, the courses aim to provide a practical and critical understanding of the visual arts, as well as how it places an emphasis on personal development. Students are introduced to a variety of historical, theoretical and critical approaches to producing art and are taught how to investigate cultural documents. They are also encouraged to participate in the community-building efforts of the Visual Arts department by extending their experience to events hosted by both Rodman Hall and the MIWSFPA. In addition, students are afforded with opportunities to visit galleries and exhibitions outside of the St. Catharines and Niagara region specific to course curriculum.


Students in the Visual Arts program can choose to pursue a degree in either History of Art and Visual Culture or Studio Art. Brock also offers a number of joint opportunities through the field: students have the option of focusing on visual arts as a teachable in the Concurrent Education programs Brock offers at the same time as they are studying for their Bachelor, or working towards a combined degree with Computer Science (programming, software development, etc.)

Studio courses within the specialized VISA program provide a challenging, stimulating and engaging environment to study design concepts, drawing, painting and interdisciplinary art using installation, video, photography and digital media. As well, art history courses provide students with the critical framework needed to understand the development of Western Art and contemporary thought. This combination of practical and theoretical studies provides students with a large range of creative freedom that is nurtured and grown within a supportive academic environment of small classes.

Brock University’s partnership with Rodman Hall to foster growing student artists has also been an invaluable part of the visual arts experience. Rodman Hall’s main goal is to provide an inspiring setting and experience for all who pass through the building. They strive to achieve excellence in all visual arts programming and education, and actively provide services and resources to the students and faculty at Brock, as well as to all residents of the St. Catharines and Niagara region. This all-important relationship with Rodman has thrived for years through a shared recognition that art enriches peoples’ lives.

Rodman Hall also supports the development of national artists in southern Ontario through the circulation of contemporary art, the management of the region’s distinguished art collection and the preservation of a significant historic house and gardens.

All these components within the Department of Visual Arts function together in an effort to provide students with the best possible academic environment for creative stimulation. The department offers invaluable experiences in all facets of the world of art, and allows students the opportunity to work with some of the most esteemed artists in the country.

The VISA 4F06 exhibit at Rodman Hall / Christy Mitchell

The VISA 4F06 exhibit at Rodman Hall / Christy Mitchell

VISA 4F06 Honours Studio student Fraser Brown explains how being in such a course has encouraged his artistic creativity to grow.

“Working with multiple instructors and curators, while participating in the mandatory research seminar helped us build on our ideas, identify what we were drawn to about these thoughts, why we were focusing in each of our distinctive disciplines and how the work fits into the contemporary art world,” said Brown.

“My work examines idealization of the human figure, and how it has been part of civilizations since before antiquity and still embedded within us,” explained Brown about his creative musings. “My paintings are composed of organic shapes, but we read them as the male figure although it is not an accurate representation. This has been the same through history, from photoshopped images of models we see today to historic works such as the Doryphoros (c. 450 BCE) by Polykleitos, and the Apoxyomenos (c. 350 BCE) by Lysippus. Such figures have elongated spinal columns, reduced skull sizes, and proportionately incorrect musculature yet we are attracted to these figures, still reading them as humans. These idealized figures are the source material for my paintings, although I begin to other them further with the use of different painting conventions and dividing them into organic shapes. These basic forms reveal artifices, yet we still read them as figures and are attracted to these forms the same way humans have been for millennium. The works are titled Incorporalis, latin for incorporeal; immaterial; not having a body or form, for they are not true representations of a human figure, rather an echo.”

To view and admire Brown’s work, as well as the work of many other talented students like him, the Honours Exhibition is not one to miss. The work of fellow students is always inspiring, regardless of whether you have a deeper understanding or not, because it encourages us to go out and be as great as our fellow Badgers.

Chapter I of the Honours Exhibition runs March 26 – April 10, 2016 and Chapter II runs April 16 – May 1, 2016, both on the third floor of Rodman Hall. This is a free community event.

Laura Sebben
Assistant Arts & Culture Editor

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