Sophia Topper
Staff Reporter

Student artists have added a splash of colour to the Wilson Hall construction site. Their mural in progress is a part of the Spotlight on the Arts, a yearlong festival generic viagra buy usa run by the School of the Arts. Students are transforming the plain white boarding surrounding the construction site into murals depicting themes related to Hamilton’s blue collar history.

Inspiration came from the vibrant public art movement, with its associated vulnerability, mystery and public accessibility as important components to the modern movement.

The work “raises questions with community…in a different kind of context,” said Beth Marquis, a lead coordinator of the festival. The murals continue Spotlight on the Arts’ September theme of community.

“It’s a collaborative effort,” explained third-year Studio Art student Kirby Tobin. “The designs were all by our class…we each have a few panels to work on in pairs, but we’re all working on it.”

The chosen media are stencils, latex paint and wheat pasted images, which are being used to represent the reassembled remnants of the students’ past work.

The idea arose from preliminary discussions about the Wilson Building, and the hope was to create an “interesting art project that could engage the community, instead of just a practical fence,” said Marquis.

Carmela Lagense, assitant professor in the School of the Arts, volunteered to adopt the project, using it as an assignment in her Painting and Drawing class. The festival worked with Facility Services and the Department of Public Relations to gain approval for the project.

"I think this project represents everything Wilson Hall is going to be about," Laganse told the Daily News. "It's community-driven, collaborative and innovative."

“I really like the opportunity to work outside and interact with the viewers during the process; that's something new in terms of putting the work up,” said third-year Studio Art student Natalie Richard, a member of Lagense’s class.

“I wouldn't say we do public art of this sort often,” she said. “Our work is open to the public but this sort of space is a lot more inviting, especially since going to see art can be intimidating.”

“This kind of public art is a unique opportunity this year,” echoed Tobin. “I think this is possible as an extension of the effort to get the arts community at McMaster more recognized.”

The murals will be up as long as the boards are, but after that, their fate remains uncertain. Some hope to preserve the murals, but the mural’s ephemeral nature could be an asset. “[Street art] pops up and engages the community for a period of time,” said Marquis.

While the bulk of the murals are found on the boards facing Sterling Street, other classes have contributed to collaged prints on the side facing Forsyth Avenue, and the students have been given permission to use the remaining blank space for their work, and will continue depending on remaining time and material.


Photo Credit: Tyler Welch / Assistant News Editor

In the midst of a large research university, some disciplines may get lost in the shuffle. But this year is the time for Mac’s arts to be in the spotlight.

McMaster’s School of the Arts is launching a yearlong festival designed to highlight the arts and their role in the university. The Spotlight on the Arts festival will see eight months of events, including lectures, exhibitions, and theatre productions.

Virginia Aksan, former Acting Director of the School of the Arts and one of the main coordinators of the festival, sees it as an opportunity for the department to be more vocal on campus.

“My vision was to promote the [image] of School of the Arts —which surprisingly, very few people know about,” she said of the reasoning for the event.

School of the Arts was created in 2001 to amalgamate the departments of Art and Art History, Music, and Theatre and Film Studies, a move Aksan considers to be primarily economically driven. But she also believes they hold a further connection.

“They share a vision about human creativity that I think is so much part of downtown Hamilton now,” she explained.

And it’s this vision that she has seen flourish under the leadership of current university president Patrick Deane, whom she describes as a “huge fan of the arts.”

Aksan felt that the leadership of Peter George, president previous to Deane, left something to be desired when it came to arts education. Deane began his role as president in 2010.

“What Peter George did was to create a university that was internationally renowned in heart research or in health studies,” she said.

“[But] the humanities… are the continuity of intellectual life of the human, and we kind of take it for granted. We’re in an age when we can’t have that happen anymore.” She added that she hopes to remind people “Mac does things besides what it’s renowned for.”

While the purpose of the Spotlight festival is chiefly to promote the work of School of the Arts, the project has been “building and growing from the original purpose to stimulate more arts based activity,” said Beth Marquis, another of the lead coordinators of the festival.

Marquis serves as a professor in the Arts and Science program, in the School of the Arts, and works at the McMaster Institute for Innovation and Excellence in Teaching and Learning (MIIETL). She sees the festival as an opportunity to create more connections within the McMaster community, between disciplines and departments, especially considering the size of the university.

“It’s such a big and complex place,” she said of McMaster. “Sometimes you miss a lot of great opportunities that are happening…I think it’s just the nature of a place like this.”

The festival, with its variety of events, will be organized into four different clusters: connect (September), activate (November), empower (January), and integrate (March). Through the different themes, Marquis hopes to encourage people to think about the role of art differently.

“[We want people] not only to approach the arts as entertainment…but also [to understand] that the sense of social work while we’re being entertained.”

Photo: Studio art students printing their original T-shirt designs last year in Arts Quad. They will do the same this year at Supercrawl. C/O Anqi Shen.

Once a year, students take the time to pay tribute to those people who make their education possible: their professors. After the recent announcement of this year’s MSU Teaching Awards, and the ceremony on March 14, the Silhouette sat down with some of the award winners to get their take on what it means to get recognized by their students.

Dr. Felicia Vulcu is not your typical professor. Hailing from Romania, Vulcu spent her high school years in Edmonton and was pointed to McMaster by her guidance counselor. After completing her undergraduate degree, Master’s, and PhD all at Mac, in 2008 she ended up with a job in the same department that had trained her. As an assistant professor and undergraduate advisor in the Department of Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences, Vulcu is focused on the learning experience, making her a perfect recipient for the Pedagogical Innovation Award.

What exactly do you do here at McMaster?

I do a lot of things in the program, but mainly I was hired to run the teaching labs. We are very research intensive, so we have a full-year second year lab — that’s the one I won the award for. The idea behind it was to introduce students to research but really sneak in techniques, instead of just giving them techniques. [We have them] do many different things – some inquiry, some presentation. I try to minimize their stress, especially with assessments. That’s my goal in life. For me it’s not to get students to learn, because I think everybody learns. It’s to get them to understand the research process, and then see if they like it, because if they like it, they should stick with it.

How did you end up in your current job?

I had no plan on getting here. I know people sometimes sculpt, but I bumped through life. I didn’t know what to do in my undergrad. I liked the research concept, and when I went in, I loved it. Then I matured and I saw who I was as a person, what I wanted out of my own personal life—I wanted to be happy, and I wanted to have a social job, where I interact with people. I saw that the researcher job…didn’t fit my personality. I applied to every job known to man, and I just bumped into this. You can say it was luck—it was dumb luck. But once I got in it, I absolutely loved it.

What does this award mean to you?

It was not something that I set out to do—I just enjoy teaching. Getting this was very humbling for me, so I just felt warm all over. When the students give me something like this, it means that they really are responding to me. But it’s not just me doing this—we make a huge effort in our department to be innovative to get students to just see how passionate we are about research. It was huge for us—everyone in the department is happy that this program is being recognized. You can’t be innovative on your own.


Joe Argentino always knew that music was his calling. And now, as an Assistant Professor in Music Theory in the School of the Arts, he lives that dream and teaches music skills, as well as and music history for non-music majors. First coming to McMaster to fill a position for a professor on sabbatical, he has found a home at Mac over the past four years. As the teaching award winner for the Faculty of Humanities, and a nominee for last year’s awards, it’s clear that students like having him here.

What exactly do you do here at McMaster?

I teach skills classes, such as sight singing and keyboard harmony. I also teach upper level theory courses, in twentieth century analysis and history courses, and courses for non-music majors. This year it was my keyboard harmony class that nominated me. Most of them were from this 2D03 class. It’s not usually a very popular course—it’s one of those classes where students are constantly assessed. Last year I was nominated for a sight singing class, which most people don’t like because they have to sing in front of their friends and it’s a bit scary. And obviously teaching is as important to me as research; they’re neck and neck. For my research, I generally analyze music from the twentieth century, and I would consider myself an expert on the music of Schoenberg. I try to bring new approaches to the music. Sometimes this type of analysis I do can be very math heavy, and some of the work that I do takes the math away from it and makes it user friendly.

What do you hope students get out of your classes?

I generally want my students to enjoy themselves in my class. I want it to be an experience where they feel fulfilled, even just being there. Of course, I always have the goal to get through the content, but to be better thinkers, to have confidence in themselves…I try in all my classes where it’ll benefit them regardless of where they end up. I just think I try to make my classes very relaxed, so people can approach me. I use a lot of humour and try to be as encouraging as possible all the time, but at the same time…I really want people to excel and do their absolute best. People are not afraid to talk to me, ask me questions, or make mistakes in front of me.

What does this award mean to you?

To be nominated, already I’d felt like I’d won. There’s nothing better than getting that recognition from my students. Sometimes you don’t know—last year when I was nominated, I was really surprised. I had no idea my students were enjoying the class. And this year it was kind of the same thing. Sitting at the ceremony, I felt very emotional. I wasn’t expecting to feel that. Having won, being on stage—it was the absolute highlight of my career so far. I can’t remember ever having experienced a better feeling.


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