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Victims of violence given voice in upcoming play

[If We Were Birds]
Members of the cast and production crew talk over a scene during a rehearsal for the Queen’s Drama Department’s upcoming staging of If We Were Birds at the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts. (Photo by Allie Gottlieb)

For its winter major production the Queen’s Department of Drama is staging one of the most powerful contemporary Canadian plays.

If We Were Birds is a Governor-General Award winning play by Erin Shields based on Ovid’s Metamorphoses, the poem that also inspired Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus, and is a poetic re-telling of the myth of sisters Philomela and Procne. In Shields’ work the ancient tale is transformed into a modern parable about violence against women in times of war as revealed through a chorus of testimonials of loss and suffering.

The play was selected as it has a large female cast explains drama professor and director Kim Renders, who points out that the department is comprised primarily of women. She also says the subject matter is particularly timely because of the ongoing conversation on campuses across the country, including Queen’s, surrounding sexual assault.

It’s a powerful play, Renders says, and a great script,

As a result, one of the main challenges in the production has been how to handle the powerful testimonials. There are times when the material is so heavy that a lighter touch may be required, Renders says.

“Dealing with this script at various times, that’s the balancing act,” she says. “When do we really punch it in and drive it home to the audience with hair pulling and chest beating and when do you need to hold back and just let the words do the work by themselves.”

Months of preparations are down to the final weeks and days but there is an eagerness to take to the stage. Renders, a co-founder of Nightwood Theatre and former artistic director of Theatre Kingston, says she is impressed by how the students are approaching the play from acting and production perspectives as well as the three student assistant directors.

“I’m feeling people are taking a very responsible approach to the material, very mature, professional,” Renders says. “People are quite dedicated to the work, and there is a ton of work because one of the students, Adrienne Miller , is choreographing the chorus and another student, Deanna Choi, is creating a soundscape that goes all the way through the entire production. And she is also playing music live.”

For the assistant directors it’s a further learning experience as they step off the stage and take on wider responsibilities.

“I think that being an assistant director is a very interesting learning experience because we are observers on one part, where we are watching and learning from Kim and her decisions as well as the actors,” says Holly Molaski (Artsci’15). “With such a big cast they have so many ideas too. So I’m really trying to observe and get ideas from everyone else.”

For Colleen Rush (Artsci’15) seeing the wider scope of the production has been valuable.

“What I’ve found interesting is seeing how quickly the images take form,” she says. “I also find interesting that Holly and I have a lot of input and it matches up. There’s a lot of agreeing.”

If We Were Birds will be staged at the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts. Performances will take place in the Studio Theatre Feb. 4-7 and 12 at 8 pm, with a matinee on Feb. 8 at 2 pm. The play will be staged in the Grand Lobby on Feb. 10 and 11 at 8 pm as well as a special “Sunrise Performance” scheduled for the morning of Feb. 7. The time has yet to be finalized.

Tickets are $22 for general admission, $15 for students and seniors and can be purchased online at theisabel.ca/tickets, at the Isabel box office (12:30-4:30 pm), or at the door prior to performances.

Playing the odds with Union Gallery

Making good art requires hard work and exceptional talent, but thanks to Union Gallery, getting good art simply requires a bit of luck. That’s the idea behind Cezanne’s Closet, Union Gallery’s annual fundraiser. Attendees of the event are entered into a draw to win artwork that has been donated by artists from Queen’s, Kingston and beyond.

Union Gallery has been open in Stauffer Library since 1994. (University Communications) 

While musicians play and hors d’oeuvres are served, those at the fundraiser get to view the available art pieces, speak to artists and track their favourites. Once everyone has made their picks, names are drawn one by one and the winners get to choose their prize.

“It’s a fantastic event,” says Jocelyn Purdie, Director, Union Gallery. “Queen’s staff, faculty, parents, alumni and community members all come out to show their support.”  

Even though everyone in attendance will win a piece eventually, there’s still a healthy spirit of competition.

“People cheer when their name gets picked and groan when it doesn’t, so we keep the atmosphere fun,” she says.

Proceeds from the event go towards supporting Union Gallery, a non-profit gallery that includes exhibits of contemporary work by students from the Bachelor of Fine Arts program as well as other student artists and professionals. Located in Stauffer Library, the gallery has professional staff, but students play a large role in its operation.

“Students are involved in every aspect of the gallery: its board of directors, its committees, its programming of displayed work and events, and the gallery’s governance,” says Ms. Purdie.

"Oh Dear ..." by Laura Rosentzveig is among the pieces available at Cezanne's Closet. 

Because Cezanne’s Closet holds such importance to the gallery, students are happy to make a contribution.

“The event is a great way to support the gallery and an excellent professional opportunity for the student artists involved,” says Lindsay Wilson, BFA ’15 and the President of Union Gallery. “Cezanne’s Closet is a bridge between Queen’s and Kingston’s art communities.”

She says the event and the benefit it confers to gallery are a major boon to fine arts students.

“Union Gallery is a huge draw to the BFA program at Queen’s — getting to show your work at a professional gallery while still a student is something you otherwise don’t get a chance to do,” she says.

Cezanne’s Closet is on Saturday, Feb. 7. Tickets are $150 can be purchased from Union Gallery’s website

Screening sparks surveillance discussion

Queen’s University surveillance expert David Lyon will speak following the Kingston premiere of Citizenfour, a critically acclaimed documentary about Edward Snowden.

David Lyon is leading a discussion at The Screening Room Monday night following the screening of Citizenfour.

The Screening Room is showing the documentary by Laura Poitras, the filmmaker whom Edward Snowden first contacted with his revelations about the National Security Agency’s mass surveillance program. Dr. Lyon is currently writing a book, Surveillance after Snowden that examines the Snowden revelations and assesses the global response to those revelations.

“The topics and issues raised by the Snowden leaks are so important,” says Dr. Lyon, the director of the Surveillance Studies Centre at Queen’s. “The details are so stunning and people need to remember, lives like ours are affected by this. Still, paranoia is not the appropriate response – we need to think about it and develop new everyday practices and political responses.”

After the screening, Dr. Lyon will lead a discussion on the movie and how the messages in the film are relevant for everyone in the room.

His new book, due out in September, aims to put the Snowden revelations in context. “We need to go behind the overall revelations and find out what it means for us and what we can do. Snowden gives us hope that something can be done.”

Wendy Huot, owner and operator of The Screening Room, is “always looking for opportunities to bring in a local expert to speak in conjunction with a film.

“Having an expert give a brief talk or conduct a Q&A transforms what would otherwise be a routine movie screening into a proper event -- it's a community learning experience that deepens our appreciation of both the film itself and the expertise of fellow Kingstonians.”

Citizenfour is showing Monday, Jan. 26 starting at 6:55 pm at The Screening Room.

The Surveillance Studies Centre (SSC) aims to be a leading global hub for research on expanding surveillance practices. Through collaborative and international projects, the SSC promotes multi-disciplinary understanding of a full range of surveillance and the issues raised by its increasing organizational centrality.

LIVES LIVED: A gifted mentor and educator

Professor Emeritus David McTavish died on Nov. 27, in Kingston, depriving the Queen’s community of a gifted scholar, educator and friend.

Professor Emeritus David McTavish studied at the University of Toronto before completing a Ph.D. at the University of London’s prestigious Courtauld Institute of Art (1978). His exemplary dissertation on the Italian Mannerist painter Giuseppe Porta Salviati was published in 1981, and more than 30 years later it remains the seminal monograph on this important artist. Dr. McTavish’s reputation as an Italian Renaissance scholar and drawings specialist was international. He was extraordinarily broad in his knowledge of the visual arts, but was particularly esteemed for his authoritative opinion in his field, loved for his soft-spoken nature, reluctant to seek the limelight.

Professor Emeritus David McTavish
Professor Emeritus David McTavish

Dr. McTavish began teaching art history at Queen's in 1973 and was promoted to full professor in 1989. He was Curator of European Painting and Sculpture at the Art Gallery of Ontario from 1986 to 1989, where he had served as chair of the first collection committee of the newly-formed Department of Prints and Drawings in 1978. Upon his return to full-time teaching at Queen’s, Dr. McTavish served as Head of Department (1989-1997), and simultaneously as Director of the Agnes Etherington Art Centre (1991-2001). Under his watch the art history graduate programs began, the Bader fellowships for Ph.D. students were put in place and the first of two endowed Bader chairs was established, and the Macdonald Stewart Lectures in Venetian Culture were inaugurated. He taught and directed the Department of Art’s Venice Summer School, and his staunch support of this treasured student experience ensured its survival; it will celebrate its 45th anniversary in 2015. Dr. McTavish was also a driving force in shaping the university collection at Queen’s, leading the Agnes Etherington Art Centre (AEAC) through an $8 million fundraising campaign towards a major renovation project in the late 1990s. He was instrumental in attracting at least two major private bequests which established the AEAC as a premier university collection with a strength in European historical art: an impressive assembly of Italian drawings from Duke Roberto Ferretti, and the bulk of the collection of Old Master paintings belonging to Drs. Alfred and Isabel Bader. Dr. McTavish curated numerous important exhibitions at the AEAC and the AGO, and since 2009 had been advisor to the acquisitions committee of the board of the National Gallery of Canada.

Dr. McTavish retired from the university in 2013 but continued to engage with a range of professorial duties, from graduate supervision to research and publication with commitment and dedication. He was particularly active over the course of the last year in research relating to El Greco’s Adoration of the Shepherds, a picture he first attributed to the painter and later helped to secure for the AEAC. The publication of this magisterial study was well timed to the celebrations surrounding the 400th anniversary of the death of the painter, and another essay on the subject, completed during the last weeks of David’s life, is to be published in the acts of a conference he attended in Greece last summer.  

David’s scholarship was concerned with relationships, networks, the way information moved, and indeed, he dedicated much of his life to facilitating these same things in our community and beyond. He genuinely cared about people, something that shone through in the speech he gave at his retirement celebration, in which he reflected on three “Cs” – community, civility and collegiality – things he valued about his time at Queen’s, and indeed, things he modelled as a gifted mentor and educator. David brought to his teaching a generosity of spirit and an enthusiasm for his subject that was infectious, and through his own example, inspired his students to new levels of intellectual rigour. His legacy is evident in the remarkable works he has contributed in print, in the many initiatives he facilitated on campus, but it resides most powerfully in the countless generations of students in whom he has instilled an enduring appreciation for the visual arts, and especially in those whom he has inspired to pursue careers in the history of art, many of them contributors to a forthcoming Festschrift edited by his colleague, Una D’Elia, Rethinking Renaissance Drawings: Essays in Honour of David McTavish (McGill-Queen’s Press in 2015). David McTavish is survived by his wife Anndale, their daughter Sarah and her husband, Gregor Campbell, as well his beloved grandson, Sebastian.

Allison Sherman is a former student of Dr. McTavish’s, and is currently the Graduate Chair for the Department of Art History as well as the Director of the Queen’s Venice Summer School. Pierre Du Prey is a Professor and Queen's Research Chair Emeritus in the Department of Art History.

Artful reveal

  • [Jan Allen, Director, Agnes Etherington Art Centre]
    Jan Allen, Director, Agnes Etherington Art Centre, spoke to a full house at the season launch. (Photo by Tim Forbes)
  • [Marla Dobson explains her exhibition]
    Marla Dobson (second from right) curated The Park and the Forest under the supervision of Alicia Boutilier as part of a practicum course in the graduate program of the Department of Art History and Art. (Photo by Tim Forbes)
  • [Charles Stankievech]
    Artist Charles Stankievech in his exhibition Monument as Ruin. (Photo by Tim Forbes)
  • [Stephanie Dickey]
    Stephanie Dickey (Art History), Bader Chair in Northern Baroque Art, introduced Artists in Amsterdam. (Photo by Tim Forbes)

The Agnes Etherington Art Centre at Queen’s unveiled its new exhibitions during a season launch event last week. Several hundred patrons explored the exhibitions and met artist Charles Stankievech, whose works are featured in Monument as Ruin, a probing examination of 20th-century military forms and the ways they’ve shaped spaces of conflict. Mr. Stankievech also participated in a panel discussion with David Murakami Wood, Canada Research Chair in Surveillance Studies, on Jan. 14 that filled the atrium of the Agnes.

Other shows featured this winter include The Park and the Forest – an exhibition of watercolours and sketches by British-born artists who received artistic training in England and worked in Canada during the 19th century – and Artists in Amsterdam – a new exhibition drawn from The Bader Collection that offers insight into the flowering of a distinctive school of art in 17th-century Amsterdam. The Agnes has also created a new display in the Etherington House focused on Sir John A. Macdonald.   

Researcher lends expertise to oil spills panel

Queen’s University professor Peter Hodson has joined a new Royal Society of Canada panel that will study oil spills and their impacts on freshwater and marine environments.

Peter Hodson has been named to a new Royal Society of Canada panel dedicated to studying the impact of oil spills.

Dr. Hodson, an expert in the area of toxicity of crude oil to fish, joins five other experts tasked with examining strategies and regulatory requirements for spill preparedness, spill response, and environmental remediation.

“If there is a spill and you can’t contain it, the panel is going to study where the oil will go and what effects it will have,” explains Dr. Hodson (Biology, Environmental Studies). “My expertise is focused on species that live in water and their responses to spills of crude oil.”

The panel, set up in response to a request from the Canadian Energy Pipeline Association and the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, will endeavour to answer a number of questions including:

  • How do the various types of crude oils compare in the way they behave when mixed with surface fresh, brackish or sea waters under a range of environmental conditions or when chemically treated for spill remediation?
  • How do the various crude oils compare in their toxicity to organisms in aquatic ecosystems?
  • Given the current state of the science, what are the priorities for research investments?
  • How should these scientific insights be used to inform optimal strategies and regulatory requirements for spill preparedness, spill response and environmental remediation?

To answer these questions, the panel will hold a series of scientific stakeholder consultations and prepare an expert report for release this fall.

“We are developing this document to really highlight areas we don’t know a lot about,” says Dr. Hodson. “There is a lot of publicity and concern about the potential effects of oil spills associated with oil production and shipment by pipeline and rail, and it’s critical to emphasize these areas of research.”

For more information on the panel, visit the website.

Researcher digs deep

The search for dark matter continues in earnest at SNOLAB and the scientific team in Sudbury has a new research ally in Gilles Gerbier (Physics), the newest Canada Excellence Research Chair. In the four months since his arrival in Kingston, Dr. Gerbier has been busy setting up his home base at Queen’s and his lab two kilometres below the surface in the Vale Creighton mine.

Gilles Gerbier is working hard to establish his research facilities at SNOLAB and also at Queen's.

A world-leading researcher in particle astrophysics, Dr. Gerbier is currently setting up a major collaborative project on cryogenic detectors for dark matter discovery, one of the most advanced detectors to date. This international research collaboration is pulling in 20 scientific teams from North America and 15 teams from Europe.

“My own technical contribution involves installing a detector tower test facility at SNOLAB,” explains Dr. Gerbier. “My expectations for the coming year are to start operating my lab at Queen’s, gather the parts needed for the facility and prepare to assemble it starting in 2016. SNOLAB is providing me with excellent opportunities.”

Dr. Gerbier is also preparing a second project of a two metre in diameter gaseous spherical detector at SNOLAB. He has met with research teams from France and Greece and the technical team at SNOLAB to determine the scope of the detector project.

Closer to home, Dr. Gerbier has hired one PhD candidate to work with him and invited two post-doctoral fellows and another PhD candidate to join his laboratory starting in the spring. They are coming to Queen’s from Germany, the United Kingdom and France.

SNOLAB and the Queen’s University Particle Astrophysics group, including Dr. Gerbier, were recently featured in Horizon 2020 report, which describes the European community’s strategic long-term science projects in Europe. SNOLAB is also gaining further international recognition after the DEAP-3600 dark matter detector was featured in National Geographic.

Queen’s distinguishes itself as one of the leading research-intensive institutions in 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 a variety of disciplines.

Piano Festival a treat for music lovers

Piano Festival
The Queen's School of Music's 10th Piano Festival is being held Jan. 16-18, featuring Roman Rudnytsky and Amanda Johnston (Mus’93). (Supplied photos)

The Queen’s School of Music is marking the 10th edition of the Piano Festival with an outstanding lineup of artists and events.

Being held Jan. 16-18 and March 13, the festival will be headlined by Roman Rudnytsky, a winner of 10 international competitions who has enjoyed a varied career as performer and is currently Distinguished Professor at Dana School of Music, Youngstown State University.

Mr. Rudnytsky will hold a piano master class on Saturday, Jan. 17 starting at 11 am in Room 124, Harrison-Lecaine Hall. He will also perform a recital at the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts on Sunday, Jan. 18 at 2:30 pm.

Bringing top-level artists to Kingston has drawn interest not only from music lovers but students as well.

“I have found that the master classes, recitals and lectures offered by PianoFest guests inspire students to play better,” says festival organizer Ireneus Zuk, a professor in Queen's School of Music. “They hear the calibre of performances by artists on the international scene and then strive to reach that level. It is very important for students to be able to interact with and learn from such exceptional individuals."

Also participating in the festival is Amanda Johnston (Mus’93), an associate professor of music at the University of Mississippi. Her studies at Queen’s and institutions in Germany and the Czech Republic helped her establish a multifaceted career as an accompanist, coach and diction specialist. 

Ms. Johnston will take part in a pair of events Friday, Jan. 16: a colloquium presentation at 12:30 pm and a master class for voice students at 3 pm. Both events are in Room 124, Harrison-Lecaine Hall. On Saturday, Jan. 17 she will hold a voice and piano recital with tenor Robert Martin at the Isabel.

On March 13, a pair of events will be held featuring Yoko Hirota, a professor of piano at Laurentian University.

The festival receives support from the G.T. Richardson Fund, the Faculty of Arts and Science Visiting Scholar Program and the International Visitors Program.

All events are free with the exception of Mr. Rudnytsky’s recital which is $10 for adults and $5 for students and seniors. Tickets are available at the door.

For further information, visit the Queen’s School of Music’s website.

Fruitful fellowship

  • [Emily Gong in China]
    Emily Gong (Artsci'15) on site at the Mogao grottoes in Dunhuang. (Submitted photo)
  • [Emily Gong]
    Emily Gong (Artsci'15) explains her research to Principal Daniel Woolf during the Undergraduate Student Summer Research Fellowships poster presentation held in October 2014. (University Communications}
  • [Emily Gong with artwork]
    Emily Gong (Artsci'15) displays her artwork that was inspired by the research she conducted as a participant in the 2014 Undergraduate Student Summer Research Fellowship program. (University Communications)

With graduate school on the horizon, Emily Gong (Artsci’15) credits her participation in the Undergraduate Student Summer Research Fellowship (USSRF) program for expanding her options.

“Through the research fellowship, I became much more interested in exploring China’s ethnic diversity, a different area of study compared to what I had been doing during my previous three years of undergrad,” says Ms. Gong, a fine arts major. “The experience last summer gave me the resources and confidence to apply for master’s programs in Chinese studies.”

USSRF provides an opportunity for continuing undergraduate students in the social sciences and humanities to develop their research skills under the guidance of a faculty researcher. Over the course of the summer, students complete a research project in an area of interest and/or participate in the research program of a selected researcher.

Working with Xuelin Bai (Languages, Literatures and Cultures), Ms. Gong researched the Mogao and Yulin grottoes at Dunhuang on China’s western frontier. Dunhuang is historically significant because the city is situated at the junction of the northern and southern Silk Routes.

While in China, Ms. Gong conducted field research, collected data and observed the paintings on the cave walls in Dunhuang. The fellowship gave her valuable experience analyzing archival information and literature and working with scholars and experts in a variety of fields such as Imperial Chinese history, cultural anthropology and archaeology.

Read more about Emily Gong’s experience with the Undergraduate Student Summer Research Fellowship in the current issue of (e)AFFECT

“This research fellowship allowed me to apply the knowledge from my rigorous academic studies and then expand on my area of interest to develop a deeper understanding informed by primary research,” she says.

Applications for summer 2015 are due on Jan. 28. More information is available on the University Research Services website.

Loran Scholars recognized by Queen’s

[Loran Scholars]
Queen's University recognized its Loran Scholars at a special event on Monday. This year's scholars are: front, from left, Emma Clark (Artsci’18) and  Jena Hudson (Artsci’18); back, from left, Sean Davidson (Com’18), Callen Hageman (Sc’18), Terry Zhang (Com’18) and Kit Dashwood (Sc’18). (Photo supplied by Loran Scholars Foundation)

A group of exceptional Queen’s University students were recognized Monday with a special reception that highlighted their activities.

Queen’s Loran Scholars gathered along with supporters, mentors and representatives from the university and the Loran Scholars Foundation.

Only 30 students nationwide each year are selected to receive the multi-year scholarship and of the most recent group, six are attending Queen’s for their first year of studies. Overall, Queen’s has 22 scholars covering such programs as Arts and Science, Commerce and Engineering.

More than a scholarship, the students create a bond with the foundation, the university and each other says Devon Jackson (Artsci’15) who spoke at the event.

“It is at Queen’s that we find and nurture our communities and it is through Loran that we are pushed to improve them,” he says. “While there is certainly merit in alone-time, Queen’s and Loran ingrain it in our mindset from the first September that this is the beginning of four years of partnership, not only with them, but with the people you will meet at the university. Both institutions support us, root for us, and challenge us.”

Thousands of students apply each year and scholars are based on a mix of academic achievement, extracurricular activity and leadership potential. The program provides students with a tuition waiver and a living stipend.

Loran Scholars also receive personal and professional development opportunities, participating in enterprise-related summer employment, a professional development experience (often an international volunteer experience) and an opportunity in a public policy environment.

The program also connects the students with a mentor for the duration of their undergraduate studies. The mentors are generally individuals who are influential in communities, government or various disciplines.

For more on the Loran Scholars Foundation, go to loranscholar.ca



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