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Creating space for art

  • Kristyn Watterworth, artist-in-residence for educational technology firm Desire2Learn (D2L), talks about her art piece after it was unveiled at Duncan McArthur Hall. The three-panel piece was created specifically for the Faculty of Education following a request from Dean Rebecca Luce-Kapler and Don Klinger, Associate Dean Graduate Studies and Research.
    Kristyn Watterworth, artist-in-residence for educational technology firm Desire2Learn (D2L), talks about her art piece after it was unveiled at Duncan McArthur Hall.
  • Dean Rebecca Luce-Kapler speaks during the unveiling of the piece of art created for the Faculty of Education following a request Dean Luce-Kapler and Don Klinger, Associate Dean Graduate Studies and Research.
    Dean Rebecca Luce-Kapler speaks after unveiling the piece of art created for the Faculty of Education following a request Dean Luce-Kapler and Don Klinger, Associate Dean Graduate Studies and Research.
  • Desire2Learn (D2L) CEO John Baker speaks at Duncan McArthur Hall after donating an art piece by artist-in-residence Kristyn Watterworth.
    Desire2Learn (D2L) CEO John Baker speaks at Duncan McArthur Hall after donating an art piece by artist-in-residence Kristyn Watterworth.
  • A three-panel artwork, created for the Faculty of Education following a request from Dean Rebecca Luce-Kapler and Don Klinger, Associate Dean Graduate Studies and Research, is unveiled at Duncan McArthur hall.
    A three-panel artwork, created for the Faculty of Education following a request from Dean Rebecca Luce-Kapler and Don Klinger, Associate Dean Graduate Studies and Research, is unveiled at Duncan McArthur Hall.

When a post-secondary institution and company work together it doesn’t always have to only be about business.

There is room for conversation, for sharing and, clearly, for art.

The Faculty of Education recently unveiled a new piece of art that was created specifically for it by educational technology firm Desire2Learn (D2L). The three-panel painting, created by D2L’s artist-in-residence Kristyn Watterworth, is now mounted prominently at the centre of Duncan McArthur Hall where it can be viewed by practically anyone who enters the building.

As Rebecca Luce-Kapler, Dean of the Faculty of Education, explains, the art piece got its start when Don Klinger, Associate Dean Graduate Studies and Research, found out about Ms. Watterworth. He then pitched the idea to D2L CEO John Baker who was happy to comply.

“Don Klinger and I brought him down and showed him the space, and at that time our Aboriginal garden was in full growth,” Dr. Luce-Kapler explains adding that Mr. Baker took photos of the garden as well as the proposed wall space. “You could see there was that sense of different kinds of education – that old brick wall and here’s this garden growing outside. So I think this piece captures that sense of all the dimensions of education.”

Once she saw the space she would be working with, Ms. Watterworth says she realized that she could create a large three-panel piece. The theme of past, present and future lined up well and she started creating the paintings, which draw on influences of abstract expressionism and futurism.

With the first panel she says she tried to create the dynamic of what education looked like in the past, where “knowledge was passed between people, always one-on-one, very central.” The image is dark and has a circular feel to it but remains static.

For the present, Ms. Watterworth says there’s still a darkness, and “it’s very structured, very compartmentalized. While there is movement it remains distinctive.” 

The last panel presents a more hopeful vision, incorporating the shift in technology where “learning will be global” and more far-reaching.

“I tried to create that movement within that piece,” she says. “It’s really lit up and there are different changes in perspective and lighting. It feels more like glass than the others. They are very tactile and the last one is more smooth, flat and easy – and enlightened.”

Located on Student Street within Duncan McArthur Hall, the painting also highlights the role that art can play in a working and learning environment, says Alan Wilkinson, Assistant to the Associate Dean Undergraduate Studies, who has played a role in arranging many of the art pieces in the building.

“I think that art in institutions offers the people who work in that environment opportunities for reflection. They improve the work environment. They improve the learning environment by giving you moments to pause and look into something and draw meaning out,” he says. “That creates a dialogue and it can recur over and over. In addition, certain works of art speak to people very individually and very powerfully and that work of art can be a touchstone from one day to another, one week to another and it can provide a valuable support for what a student is doing within the building and what faculty members do as well.