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Arts and Science

Monitoring magnetospheres

Queen’s researcher works to debunk the theory behind massive stars.

Queen’s University PhD student Matt Shultz is researching magnetic, massive stars, and his research has uncovered questions concerning the behaviour of plasma within their magnetospheres.

[Magnetosphere]
This image shows the magnetosphere of a massive star. (Image by Richard Townsend)

Drawing upon the extensive dataset assembled by the international Magnetism in Massive Stars (MiMeS) collaboration, led by Mr. Shultz’s supervisor, Queen’s professor Gregg Wade, along with some of his own observations collected with both the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope and the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope, Mr. Shultz is conducting the first systematic population study of magnetosphere-host stars.

“All massive stars have winds: supersonic outflows of plasma driven by the stars’ intense radiation. When you put this plasma inside a magnetic field you get a stellar magnetosphere,” explains Mr. Shultz (Physics, Engineering Physics and Astronomy). “Since the 1980s, theoretical models have generally found that the plasma should escape the magnetosphere in sporadic, violent eruptions called centrifugal breakout events, triggered when the density of plasma grows beyond the ability of the magnetic field to contain.

“However, no evidence of this dramatic process has yet been observed, so the community has increasingly been calling that narrative into question.”

Before now, obvious disagreements with theory had been noted primarily for a single, particularly well-studied star. Studying the full population of magnetic, massive stars with detectable magnetospheres, Mr. Shultz has determined that the plasma density within all such magnetospheres is far lower than the limiting value implied by the centrifugal breakout model. This suggests that plasma might be escaping gradually, maintaining magnetospheres in an essentially steady state.

“We don’t know yet what is going on,” says Mr. Shultz. “But, when centrifugal breakout was first identified as the most likely process for mass escape, only the simplest diffusive mechanisms were ruled out. Our understanding of space plasmas has developed quite a bit since then. We now need to go back and look more closely at the full range of diffusive mechanisms and plasma instabilities. There are plenty to choose from: the real challenge is developing the theoretical tools that will be necessary to test them.”

Mr. Shultz is presenting his research at the Canadian Astronomical Society Conference at McMaster University.

$16-million boost for research

CFI's successful Innovation Fund applicants (from top to bottom, left to right): Stephen Archer, Cathy Crudden, Ian McWalter, Mark Chen. 

Over $16 million in funding from the Canada Foundation for Innovation’s (CFI) 2015 Innovation Fund will support research projects in dark matter, cardiology, chemistry and nanotechnologies.

“Thanks to the grants from the CFI’s Innovation Fund, four researchers from Queen’s and their teams will be able to take their research activities to the next level and advance their leading-edge research,” says Vice-Principal (Research) Steven Liss. “Our success with this funding highlights Queen’s as one of the most research-intensive institutions in Canada.”

Mark Chen’s (Physics) $1,853,263 grant means upgraded capabilities for the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory (SNO) and SNO+, a detector for neutrinos, making SNO+ the world’s most sensitive instrument for researching these subatomic particles.

The secret behind SNO+ power is tellurium, an element used in the detector. The CFI Innovation Fund grant will allow for advances in the purification of tellurium.

“An upgraded SNO+ detector highly increases the potential for a transformative discovery in particle astrophysics which would cement Canada’s position as a global leader in this field,” says Dr. Chen, the Gordon and Patricia Gray Chair in Particle Astrophysics, a Professor in the Department of Physics at Queen’s, and the director of the SNO+ project. “We’re also looking forward to engaging with Canadian companies in the high-purity chemical process industry, as well as training highly qualified personnel in areas such as materials purification, nuclear technology and the processing of large data sets.”

SNO+ is an international collaboration of over 110 scientists from 20 institutions in five countries and is based at the SNOLAB laboratory in Sudbury, Ont.

Three more researchers have also received significant funding through the Innovation Fund.

Stephen Archer (Cardiology, $3,830,497) – This CFI funding was awarded to Dr. Archer, Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Mitochondrial Dynamics and Translational Medicine and Head of the Department of Medicine, and his team in the Queen’s Cardiopulmonary Unit (Q-CPU). This international team will work to ensure a better quality of life for patients with pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) – the obstruction of lung arteries, which can lead to fatal right heart failure. Q-CPU investigators are striving to discover and test new treatments for this heart and lung disease. They have a track record of moving discoveries from Bench to Bedside, including performing some of the early work demonstrating the safety and utility of sildenafil (Viagra®) in the treatment of PAH and the use of dichloroacetate to treat PAH and cancer. The team at Queen’s includes, the CCR Group, led by Dr. Don Maurice, and a talented group of respirologists, epidemiologists, cardiologists, hematologists and neurologists. With its corporate and knowledge translation partners, Q-CPU will support comprehensive understanding of PAH from molecules to populations, identify new therapeutic targets and test new therapies for PAH and right heart failure. Q-CPU is supported by a network of PAH centers in three countries, with sites in Edmonton, Salt Lake City, Sao Paulo, Minneapolis, Ottawa and Kingston. The proposed research will enhance the health of Canadians by creating innovative new clinical therapies for PAH through the development and evaluation of experimental therapeutics, the study of pharmaco-epidemiology, health services utilization and epidemiology of PAH. Q-CPU will be housed in a state of the art 8,000-square-foot facility within the Biosciences Complex.

Cathleen Crudden (Chemistry, $3,514,102) - Dr. Crudden and her team have developed robust organic coatings for various surfaces that permits interfacing metals with biological species, repels both water- and oil-based contaminants, and protects surfaces from degradation, making this a highly practical technology across a variety of industries. The CFI funding will enable the basic research and commercial applications of this new technology that will include protecting smart phones from fingerprints, power lines from ice buildup, and engine parts from friction-induced wear. There are also significant potential applications in medical diagnostics, biosensing and chemotherapy as the coating can be modified to interface with antibodies, proteins and viruses.

Dr. Crudden will lead a team of top national and international researchers to conduct research that will have a direct impact in the areas of automotive manufacturing, alternative energy, microelectronics, micropatterning, medical diagnostics, biosensing, and non-toxic chemotherapy.

Ian McWalter (CMC Microsystems at Innovation Park, $7,700,873) – The CFI funding will provide Dr. McWalter and his team working with the platform for Advanced Design Leading to Manufacturing in Micro-Nano Technologies, or ADEPT, with commercial tools for research in the design, development and application of sophisticated microsystems and nanotechnologies.

Follow this link for more information on the Canada Foundation for Innovation.

Queen’s distinguishes itself as one of the leading research-intensive institutions within Canada. The mission is to advance research excellence, leadership and innovation, as well as enhance Queen’s impact at a national and international level. Through undertaking leading-edge research, Queen’s is addressing many of the world’s greatest challenges, and developing innovative ideas and technological advances brought about by discoveries in science, engineering and health.

A tale of tested traditions

In the early 20th century, female Queen’s students participated in an initiation ceremony every October in Grant Hall. The upper-year students lit the younger students’ candles that were adorned with tricolour ribbons. After blowing out the candles, the first-year students examined where the wax fell on the ribbon to determine who they would marry: gold for an engineer, blue for a medical student, and red for an arts student.

[Duncan McDowall]
University Historian Duncan McDowall sits in his writing space in the Queen's Archives surrounded by the thousands of documents he used to research the third volume of Queen's official history. Queen's University, Volume III, 1961-2004: Testing Tradition will be published in 2016.

The antiquated tradition eventually changed with the emergence of second wave feminism in the 1960s. As female students increasingly regarded Queen’s as a place to get a top-notch education rather than meet their future husband, the ceremony evolved into a celebration of women.

This challenge to tradition is just one of many that occurred at Queen’s between 1961 and 2004, the period University Historian Duncan McDowall covers in the third volume of Queen’s official history, which will be published in early 2016.

“In the book, which I have titled Testing Traditions, I document a lot of these tensions,” says Dr. McDowall, who started the project in 2010. “People were asking: ‘Why do we keep these traditions? Do these traditions sustain us or do they obstruct our future? Should we jettison them or simply modify them to the times?’”

In a sense, Dr. McDowall even “tested the tradition” of official Queen’s histories. From the outset, Dr. McDowall knew that he wanted to take a broader, livelier approach to writing the university’s history than his mentor and former Queen’s professor Frederick Gibson, who wrote Queen's University, Volume II, 1917-1961: To Serve And Yet Be Free, and Hilda Neatby, author of Queen's University, Volume I, 1841-1917: And Not to Yield.

“I am not faulting Fred. History, like any other discipline at the university, has changed over the past 30 years,” Dr. McDowall says. “What’s missing from the two previous volumes is any sense of the cultural and social ethos of the university and what it was like to be a student, a professor or even an electrician at Queen’s. I hope I have brought some of that perspective into this volume.”

The volume is still an institutional history, though, and Dr. McDowall doesn’t ignore the significant contributions the administration, Board of Trustees and Senate made to the direction of Queen’s. In addition to chapters focused on the various principal tenures, Dr. McDowall intersperses the books with sections on student and faculty life, town-gown relations, and Queen’s opening up to the growing diversity of Canadian society in the 1980s and 1990s.

“People were asking: ‘Why do we keep these traditions? Do they sustain us or do they obstruct our future? Should we jettison them or simply modify them to the times?’”
University Historian Duncan McDowall

Dr. McDowall spent two years plowing through thousands of documents in the rich collections of the Queen’s Archives and interviewing hundreds of people. When it came time to write the book, he hunkered down in an office on the top floor of Queen’s Archives, which gave him easy access to material when he needed to check a fact or detail.

“The project was a delight because the Queen’s Archives is just the best in Canada,” he says. “I was surrounded by limestone in my little writing room in the Archives, which was very atmospheric. I liked writing here because I could come to work every day and watch the daily rhythm of Queen’s life unfold in the Medical Quad below my window.”

McGill-Queen’s University Press will publish Testing Traditions in early 2016 to coincide with the university’s 175th anniversary. Even though he is breathing a bit easier these days with the book off at the publisher, Dr. McDowall certainly isn’t taking it easy. Throughout the summer, he will write short entries for 175 seminal moments in Queen’s history. The major project will serve to engage alumni, faculty, staff, students and community members leading up to the university’s anniversary next year

Discussing nature conservation in China

Joining colleagues and conservationists from around the world, Dr. Stephen Lougheed (Biology and Environmental Studies) recently traveled to China to deliver public talks for Shanghai International Nature Conservation Week and the grand opening of the Shanghai Museum of Natural History.

Dr. Stephen Lougheed is also the Director of the Queen's University Biological Station. 

In collaboration with the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) office in Shanghai, Dr. Lougheed, who hold the Baillie Family Chair in Conservation Biology, spent two weeks in April speaking to audiences about the importance of nature conservation and shared insights on Canadian biological diversity. Along with China’s rapid economic development, Dr. Lougheed says there’s a burgeoning interest in environmental protection and research.

“While we don’t have near the environmental challenges that China has, I spoke to issues facing the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence system and particularly beluga whales, the challenges of conserving migratory songbirds, and about my own research on endangered snakes and how wetland loss and fragmentation has affected them,” he says.

Dr. Lougheed, corrected some misperceptions of the Great White North as well.

Queen's in the World

“I tried to dispel notions about Canada as being exclusively pristine wilderness or that our comparatively small human population has had negligible impacts on the environment. I did speak about iconic animals like moose, polar bears, and loons, and the issues they may face from climate change and other environmental impacts.”

The first major event of Shanghai’s international conservation week was a celebrity forum for the opening of the Shanghai Museum of Natural History, where Dr. Lougheed spoke about the key role that museums have in educating the public and fostering research. While most of the speakers were academics or museum curators, Dr. Lougheed was joined by Chinese basketball star Yao Ming who spoke about his conservation work. Mr. Ming has become a passionate advocate for protection of African wildlife, and spoke about his global campaign against the poaching of elephants and the profoundly harmful impacts of the ivory trade.

Along with speaking to the public about conservation, Dr. Lougheed also visited a number of universities in Beijing and Shanghai with his Queen’s colleague Yuxiang Wang. Seeking to deepen connections to partner institutions like Beijing Normal University, Fudan University, and Tongji University, Dr. Lougheed gave research lectures, and met with administrators, researchers, and students, including undergraduates who will participate in a Queen’s-China field course this July, and other students who will be part of the inaugural Queen’s-Tongji 2+2 Environmental Studies class this fall.

“China has hundreds of universities and an increasingly well-funded science system. We are hoping to forge greater ties with these universities for research collaboration, student exchanges, and other connections.”

One of the most memorable moments of his trip though, came from something unexpected. From a window of Dr. Lougheed’s hotel room in the ancient city of Xi’an, he had a clear view of a small green space. Untended, the grass and trees were overgrown and the pond at the centre had turned from a clear blue to a cloudy, algal green.

“Around the pond there were all sorts of bird species present, doves, swallows, bulbuls, and an egret. It reminded me that little green spaces, even unintentional, can house remarkable biodiversity. Little things can have significant positive consequences.” 

Sparking curiosity

Science Rendezvous is a free event and is open to children and their families. Join in the fun at the Rogers K-ROCK Centre and The Tragically Hip Way on Saturday, May 9 from 10 am to 3 pm.

This Saturday, downtown Kingston’s K-ROCK Centre will transform into a hive of science activity, complete with bats, bugs, snakes, robots and even a giant walk-through colon for Science Rendezvous Kingston.

Science Rendezvous immerses children from the community in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) activities that spark their curiosity Queen’s researchers are a fixture at the annual event and this year Tara Diesbourg (School of Kinesiology and Health Studies), Gillian Mackey (Chemistry), and Alvine Kamaha (Physics) will each host booths aimed at getting kids excited about STEM subjects.

“Children engage with topics early on and sometimes they will develop a negative attitude towards STEM subjects as early as the third grade,” says Lynda Colgan, Director of the Queen’s Community Outreach Centre and the woman behind Science Rendezvous’s roaring success in Kingston. “Science Rendezvous is a chance to give children an informal experience with science and stimulate their curiosity at the same time.”

Science Rendezvous events take place across Canada. Last year, Kingston’s Science Rendezvous had over 50 stations, 300 volunteers and over 3,750 visitors – making it the largest in Canada.

For Tara Diesbourg and her team in the Biomechanics and Ergonomics Lab at Queen’s, their booth is inspired by this summer’s Pan-Am Games and will feature five stations which relate to different events at the Games.

Kids will be able to test their strength in a weightlifting simulation, which will show them a measure of their muscle activity. At a jump-themed station, participants can use a force plate to see how high they jump according to force – an important skill if you’re a basketball player or track and field athlete.

“We’re really hoping to captivate the kids who visit our booth and take part in our stations,” says Ms. Diesbourg, a PhD candidate in the School of Kinesiology and Health Studies. “Our team of ten have created some cool activities for the kids, including an accelerometer attached to a tennis racket to test how fast they can swing it, and a rowing machine so they can measure the force exerted by their hands and feet.”

Gillian Mackey, a PhD candidate in the Department of Chemistry, has been making chemistry magic for the past five years at Science Rendezvous. This year, her booth will show kids safe chemistry experiments they can try at home.

Visitors to Ms. Mackey’s booth will see how  a solution of vinegar and salt can make a copper penny shine like new, and how that same solution can coat the surface of a screw in copper. Outside the K-ROCK Centre, kids will be able to blow bouncy bubbles and watch them bob away.

“I can’t wait to work with the kids and see how energetic they are,” says Ms. Mackey. “Each year, I’m astonished by their high energy and how excited they are to see chemistry at work.”

Taking a break from studying particle astrophysics, Alvine Kamaha is preparing a selection of displays to show the fun in physics.

This year, Ms. Kamaha has chosen two displays: a cloud chamber and a Kelvin water dropper – two physics experiments that can be recreated at home. The Kelvin water dropper uses falling water to generate voltage sparks and a cloud chamber shows signs of ionizing radiation as condensation is produced where charged particles have interacted.

“We chose these experiments because we wanted something that would attract the kids, would be simple to understand, and would be something they could recreate at home as we’ll give them two sheets with instructions,” says Ms. Kamaha. “They’ll also have the chance to build their own experiments in the booth that they can take home with them.”

Flags lowered for Professor Emeritus Gilbert

Flags on campus that are currently lowered will also honour Robert (Bob) Gilbert, professor emeritus in the Department of Geography, who died April 27.

Dr. Gilbert was a highly productive, dedicated and creative scientist. He joined the Department of Geography in 1975 from the University of Alberta where he was a postdoctoral fellow. At Queen’s, his research focused on the processes that occur in lakes and the sea, especially on how sediments are delivered to, distributed through, and deposited in water bodies in the Great Lakes region, western Canada, the Canadian Arctic, Greenland, Antarctica, Nepal and the southern United States.

Dr. Gilbert led by example through his passion for research and a deep commitment to teaching at all levels. He taught undergraduate courses in Earth system science, physical limnology, and Arctic and periglacial environments. At the graduate level he taught and supervised students in lacustrine and marine systems. Throughout his distinguished career, he was a champion for the discipline and inspired many over the years.

This story will be updated when service details become available.

The science behind spite

Psychology, biology, and mathematics have come together to show that the occurrence of altruism and spite – helping or harming others at a cost to oneself – depends on similarity not just between two interacting individuals but also to the rest of their neighbours.

According to this new model developed by researchers DB Krupp (Psychology) and Peter Taylor (Mathematics and Statistics, Biology) at Queen’s and the One Earth Future Foundation, individuals who appear very different from most others in a group will evolve to be altruistic towards similar partners, and only slightly spiteful to those who are dissimilar to them.

However, individuals who appear very similar to the rest of a group will evolve to be only slightly altruistic to similar partners but very spiteful to dissimilar individuals, often going to extreme lengths to hurt them. Taken together, individuals with ‘common’ and ‘rare’ appearances may treat each other very differently.

This finding is a new twist on established evolutionary theory and could help explain racism and corresponding forms of prejudice in humans and other species.

“Similar individuals are more likely to share copies of each other’s genes and dissimilar individuals are less likely to. As a consequence, evolutionary theory predicts that organisms will often discriminate, because helping similar partners and harming dissimilar ones increase the fraction of the discriminating party’s genes in future generations,” says Dr. Krupp.

The new theoretical model was developed using inclusive fitness theory – a foundational biological framework that considers how an organism’s behaviour affects its own reproductive success as well as that of its neighbours.

“We tend to think of individuals as caring only about what another individual looks, smells or sounds like, but our model shows that the appearance of surrounding neighbours matters tremendously, too,” says Dr. Krupp. “This work predicts extreme differences in behaviour between what we call ‘common’ and ‘rare’ types of individuals – those that are similar or dissimilar to their neighbours.”

This study has been published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences

Queen’s students earn ticket to Global Hackathon Seoul

[Hive Developers]
The team of, from left, Michael Layzell (Cmp'16), Jake Pittis (Cmp'18), Erik Pilkington (Cmp'18) and Max Bittker (Sc'16) are headed to the Global Hackathon Seoul after taking top place at Hack Western with their program Hive. (University  Communications)

Sometimes simplicity is the best strategy.

Queen's in the World

Of course, a good team and a lot of hard work also help and that is what powered four Queen’s University students to first prize at Hack Western last month.

Max Bittker (Sc’16), Michael Layzell (Cmp’16), Erik Pilkington (Cmp’18) and Jake Pittis (Cmp’18) took the top place at Hack Western – a weekend event known as a hackathon, which brings together teams of technology-minded people who try to take an interesting idea from start to finish over the course of the weekend.

The team’s project, Hive, is a programming game where players write code to control the behavior of virtual ants. The game works on two levels – as an artificial intelligence (AI) competition and a fun environment for new coders.

What gave them the winning edge, the team says, was that at the end of the weekend they had a finished, polished product geared toward their audience that was readily available via the internet. Fellow attendees could pull out their mobile devices and play the game while the team was presenting.

“People can play the game themselves, which is cool, because AI is an awesome thing which is usually considered very difficult to get into," says Mr. Layzell. "But with Hive, it's really easy to create a simple five-line AI which still acts in a very ant-like way.”

The game concept not only spoke to the audience, but had the team hooked as well. Once they had the first ants moving in the early stages of development they couldn’t wait to take the ants to the next level.

Another important factor was that the team members are all friends, having met through Hack Nights, an informal group that meets on campus at Queen’s. Knowing their individual strengths and skills they divided up the responsibilities and workload accordingly. And while sleep isn’t a priority the team took turns taking naps throughout the weekend or getting food, while others continued the work.

By pushing their boundaries they learned some valuable lessons. But it also took a toll. Several team members struggled with colds afterwards and catching up on sleep.

“One thing we noticed is that in period of 36 hours, if you are steadily working as a team you can get so much work done. The amount you can get done is comparable to weeks and weeks of work on a more normal schedule,” Mr. Pittis says. “The hope is that the benefits of having this dense cluster of interesting things going on outweigh the costs of having to deal with the aftereffects.”

They also learned more about themselves through the event.

“I definitely learned a lot about how to deal with bigger projects because most of the stuff I was doing was for my own purposes and now, (at the hackathon) I have to collaborate with other people and look at their code and understand  it,” Mr. Pilkington says. “It was more difficult, definitely.”

Looking ahead to Global Hackathon Seoul, set for July 29-Aug. 1, the team is excited about the possibilities the event provides, bringing  together approximately 2,000 hackers from around the world.

“It’s not going to be prize-oriented, it’s all about collaboration and ideas,” Mr. Bittker says. “The Global Hackathon is more focused on collaboration and sharing ideas and bringing in people from all over the world. That’s one of the great things about hackathons – they bring people together from all sorts of universities to the same place with a common goal almost.”

Healthy initiatives for a healthy community

Thanks to the team's initiative, each Kingston Transit employee received a water bottle to encourage regular water intake.

From enhancing nutritional food options of Kingston Transit employees to boosting physical activity among high schoolers, students in the School of Kinesiology and Health Studies have spent the past eight months applying what they’ve learned in class to the promotion of health in the Kingston community.

For the past academic year, students in HLTH 415: Program Design and Evaluation worked with local organizations to develop or enhance health programs. Their work culminated in an afternoon of presentations to their classmates and community partners as the students explained their initiatives.

“Experiential learning isn’t always easy,” says Janette Leroux, instructor for HLTH 415 and a PhD candidate in the School of Kinesiology and Health Studies. “But this HTLH 415 cohort has shown what can be accomplished when we work with our community to achieve mutually defined objectives.”

Five students from HLTH 415 had the opportunity to work with Kingston Transit office and bus drivers, and developed “the route to better health.”

The students achieved this by making small changes to the Kingston Transit lunchroom (adding appliances for food preparation, adding new and healthier options to the vending machine), partnering with the neighbouring ‘Healthy Beat’ café and establishing catered healthy food days, and working with the Kingston Transit office to establish a complimentary fruit supply.  Water bottles for each Kingston Transit employee were also provided in order to promote regular water intake throughout their shifts.

“As drivers for Kingston Transit spend much of their time sitting down, making sure they get proper nutrition while at work is very important to ensure their overall health,” says Ekaterina Manoilenko (Artsci’15). “Our aim was to improve the availability of nutritious food options within the immediate and surrounding environment of the Kingston Transit office.”

Much of the ActivPass team's initiative was carried out over social media to reach Grade 9 students.

In another group, five students worked to create a buzz around the Kingston Gets Active ActivPass, which gives all Grade 9 students in the Limestone District School Board free access to local recreational facilities.

Through questionnaires and focus groups, the HTLH 415 students identified that many students did not know about the ActivPass. The team also learned that 45 per cent of Grade 9 students weren’t aware of the Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines that recommend youth ages 12-17 to accumulate at least 60 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity each day.

The students then devised a social marketing campaign, and also had the opportunity to promote the ActivPass during some high school assemblies. In the end, the team was able to reach almost 200 Grade 9 students in-person, and many more through social media, resulting in a doubling of ActivPass usage compared to previous years.

 “After Grade9, students living in Ontario are no longer required to take part in physical education class. These students are at a crucial age where making healthy lifestyle choices are of the utmost importance for their future health,” says Mariah Maddock (Artsci’15). “It’s important that the ActivPass be promoted to Grade 9 students so they can adopt lifestyle opportunities which will enable them to build healthy active lifestyles.”

Beginnings and endings

  • [Begin Anywhere 2015]
    Francesca Pang and her painting "Apertures of Interest".
  • [Begin Anywhere 2015]
    Emily Gong creates a meditative sand mandala.
  • [Begin Anywhere 2015]
    Jonas Azeredo Lobo, "Eu Tembem Era Grande".
  • [Begin Anywhere 2015]
    Iris Fryer, "Untitled".
  • [Begin Anywhere 2015]
    Lauren Rosentzveig, "Standoff", "Withhold", "Conceal".

The culmination of four years of study, creativity and hard work is on display this week as the graduating class from the Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) program hosts their annual year-end exhibition.

Begin Anywhere has transformed Ontario Hall into an art gallery featuring the work of 20 fourth-year students. There is an impressive range and depth to the artworks, from delicate fabrics and multi-layered print to paintings that take up an entire wall and a massive male form created out of layer upon layer of wood.

According to Otis Tamasauskas, a professor in the BFA program, the exhibition marks a transition point in the students’ lives and potential careers.

“This is their moment, where they get to participate as professionals,” he says. “This is what the program has been culminating to: to get them to be professionals. That’s the end result.”

He adds that the exhibition also offers an “oasis,” where students, staff and faculty, as well as the public, can step away from the status quo and absorb the creative works.

Paintings, sculpture, prints and mixed-media installations “physically and intellectually illuminate” the halls and rooms of the building.

Reflecting on the graduating class, Professor Tamasauskas says they are a “good group,” adding that a number of students will be moving on to post-graduate studies in Saskatchewan, Calgary, Montreal and New Zealand.

“They sort of live through the credence of creativity. You have to be independent, and individual, you have to think outside of the box. Well, they certainly do,” he says. “They have maintained their individuality after the four years. It shows. They definitely are more sophisticated and mature in their interpretations of aesthetics now.”

For Francesca Pang (BFA’15), the exhibition not only marks the end of her studies at Queen’s but a new beginning as an artist on her own. She says she has learned a lot about herself through the process as well.

“It’s very rewarding I think. It really helps me figure out how I see my art and how people are going to be able to view it. I think setting something up like this it becomes very professional,” she says. “I think for myself, seeing my work up like this in relation to each other, I’m seeing the original intent of my work and then, as a series, how they are coming together.”

Begin Anywhere continues through to Saturday, April 25 at Ontario Hall 9 am-4 pm daily. A closing reception will be held on Saturday from 7-10pm. The exhibition is free and open to the public.

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