I Made It! Spring 2013 Student Show & Sale

April 29, 2013 § Leave a comment

The inspiring talent of our students was on full display Saturday April 19th at the Biannual Student Show & Sale. With works from the Glassblowing, Jewellery Essentials and Sculpture Certificates as well as participating VCAD students, there was so much to see and something for everyone! Congrats to all of our students and staff on another great show and we wish all our grads the best for the future!

The Year-End Party hosted by the Student Association

April 15, 2013 § 1 Comment

Though it may have been a wet & crazy day (as evidenced by a rare College closure)…quite a few students still turned up at the Year End Party hosted by the Student Association at the Haliburton Curling Club.

With endless karaoke, a temporary tattoo competition, a photo booth plus the theme of Masquerade (and prize for best mask!) there was fun for everyone!

Artist of the Week – Bryce Petersen

March 8, 2013 § 1 Comment

Today’s long-awaited installment of548057_10151955751155553_1512290208_n our Artist of the Week series features HSTA alumni and faculty, Bryce Petersen. A graduate of the Artist Blacksmithing and Glassblowing Certificates, Bryce has gone on to become the Fine Arts Teacher in Nelson House, Manitoba, and he’s been a regular faculty member in the summer programs with his continually popular “Youth/Teen Build Your Own Skateboard Deck” workshops. Most recently, Bryce has introduced two new workshops for summer, “Youth/Teen Amateur Telescope Making” and an advanced skills skateboard workshop. Today, he shares his amazing career journey with us. Thank you for sharing, Bryce!

Q: What did you graduate from at the Haliburton School of the Arts and how did you come to the school initially?

I graduated from HSTA’s Artist Blacksmith and Glassblowing courses in the 2004-2005 school year. My decision to study at HSTA was greatly influenced by my high school visual arts teacher who encouraged me to sculpt in metal. After my first week in Haliburton, I never wanted to leave. As a rich creative learning environment, it felt only natural to extend my studies into the second semester and glassblowing had already been a growing curiousity of mine. To this day, those were two of the best choices I have ever made in my life.

Q: What was one of the most lasting learning experiences you had as a student here?

As a student at HSTA there were many meaningful learning experiences. One that stood out to me occurred while in the glassblowing program. It came from more than just one instructor, which I think is what made it so potent. Anyway, throughout the program we had the opportunity to study under several established glass artists and for me, a strong aspect of their tutelage came from seeing their passion for what they were doing. It then dawned on me, that the only correct career decision was the one that captured my interest at the deepest level. If you’re going to do something for a living, love it. Do what you love and love what you do. This is the most profound lesson I learned while at HSTA.198288_4585982691_9641_n

Q: You’ve also been a long-time summer faculty member, what did you teach and how has that experience enriched your career path?

I am the instructor for the “Youth/Teen Build Your Own Skateboard Deck” program, and have been since 2008. This summer I will also be launching two new one-week programs called “Youth/Teen Amateur Telescope Making” where we will build reflector telescopes and an advanced build curriculum to the Build Your Own Skateboard Deck course.

By the time I received this opportunity, I was confident that teaching was my path. That said, as a recurrent position, I have learned a great deal each year that I have taught the course. As I have grown as a teacher, this program has also developed in its ability to demonstrate cross-curricular connections between science, art, business, design and woodworking. Furthermore, the success of the program has now spread and is quickly gaining interest up here in Nelson House, Manitoba where I am currently teaching.

Q: Where are you now in your career?

How I came to be where I am is a point of great credit to HSTA. After graduating, I was hired as an educational assistant in the glassblowing studio. To this day, these were three of the most enjoyable weeks of work ever. During this time, I found myself working excessive hours, sweating buckets because we had a really hot summer, and smiling the whole time. It was this position that confirmed my love for working in education.

IMG_0784Okay, fast-forward 7 ½ years. I am applying to teaching jobs and find one titled “Fine Arts Teacher – High School”. I figure I’d be a fool to not pursue it so I apply and get a call back. Four days later I have a job offer from Nelson House, Manitoba, which is 800 kms north of Winnipeg! As the fine arts teacher here, I have built a new arts program that aims to engage the students’ strong tactile strengths and learning aptitudes. It has required that I learn a great deal about differentiated instruction and program planning from the ground, up.

I am also teaching a digital photography program that will develop students’ as observers and more importantly, their technological literacy. There is a strong creative inclination on the part of the students here and one of my primary goals is to use our time together to demonstrate the many career paths they can pursue with the knowledge they will gain through our new arts program.

Q. A successful career in arts doesn’t always mean that you have your own practice – is that a goal for later down the road?

Most definitely! I miss the regularity of a studio practice, especially blacksmithing and glassblowing. What I do not miss at the moment is the financial weight of them. When I began on my path to become a teacher, I knew then that a large impetus was to facilitate an artistic practice free from the pressure of creating work for financial survival. My first initiative is to create work for myself. And, if it engages an audience or some of it sell227335_29066125552_811_ns, great!

However, with that said, one of the great opportunities I associate with my position here is that I will be able to work personally in various ways i.e. drawing, painting, photography and most importantly, various forms of sculpture. The trick as a teacher of course, is finding/making the time.

Q. As an artist-educator, what is some advice you can pass into others who feel drawn to the path of educating in the arts?

Three things: My first piece of advice would be to explore, explore, explore! Working in new processes, develops and prepares you for the unpredictable and richly diverse student body you will come to work   with. This is especially appropriate when teaching specific groups be they cultural, behavioural or otherwise.

Second, technological literacy is essential and coming from a generation “Y” perspective, it is something that even us ‘young teachers’ stand to fall way behind with. I know how technology engages youth but feel that it is a growing part of our lived experience that one will and should always struggle to keep up with!

Third, always try to balance your personal studio practice with curriculum. While there are always general expectations in a given curriculum, I would argue that the ‘wiggle room’ is there to accommodate the many skill sets we as art-educators bring to the classroom. Balanced with general artistic endeavours, these strengths will be the crux of a unique and memorable curriculum.

Thank you for all you taught and continue to teach me HSTA! Your time and investment in my future will always be cherished.

Artist of the Week – Stephanie Rayner

June 1, 2012 § 4 Comments

Watercolour Print Artist, Stephanie Rayner

Dan Brown has it. Nelson Mandela has it. And this week’s Artist of the Week, Stephanie Rayner, has it.

“It” is the ability to inspire people to question their beliefs. Perhaps not change anyone’s mind, but to start an internal dialogue. To encourage someone to realize that the status quo can evolve, that the necessary evolution of ideas will lead to a greater depth of understanding. Rayner engages the viewer not by forcing them to question whether what she creates is art, but instead, whether or not they are ready to ascend to a new level of perception.

She blends religion, mythology, science, art, music, media, and ideas into thought-provoking works. Every piece is not just beautiful, but opens the doors to new dimensions waiting to be discovered. Her print works are layers upon layers of watercolour and subtleties of colour and texture; her gallery creations are typically large, often installation-style pieces blending research, innuendo, metaphor, and allegory.

Although her epic creations take hundreds of hours to create and years of planning and research, her beginnings were humble enough. In this day and age, many children and youth are raised to be empowered – they believe they can do anything, be anything. Despite coming from a long line of artists, Rayner’s father discouraged her, claiming that “There’s no place for women in art”, nor would there be.

Stephanie took the advice to heart. Rather than pursuing her lifelong dream, she decided that if she couldn’t be an artist she would choose a field so closely related to it that it would amount to almost the same thing: interior design. But, either through a cruel twist of fate or part of a larger, grander design, Rayner soon realized that while her part-time jobs could collectively pay for tuition, her pockets weren’t deep enough to pay for the supplies and materials required. (Sadly, her “burlap and found-object chairs” simply didn’t impress the instructors – after all, there are only so many things you can make out of burlap before it loses its novelty…) She abandoned her studies to see the world…

In this day and age, it is hard to find places as yet undiscovered, or at the very least, off the “beaten-track”. But fortunately for Stephanie (who’d always wanted a TIME MACHINE!), there were still places in the 70s that just hadn’t quite made it into the 20th century. And the call to adventure began… Afghanistan, Iran, Central & South America, Hindu Kush…

In Africa, she lived in a tree house à la Swiss Family Robinson, during one of her trips to North Africa she was caught by slave-traders. In Central America, she rode out a hurricane with her partner in a tiny mail boat out of Belize, only to be marooned afterwards by the sailors when provisions ran low. As though torn from the pages of R. L. Stevenson’s Treasure Island itself, they met their own Ben Gunn: a man stuck on the island who’d built a raft. With three people to man it, they landed on the shores of Guatemala at 2am. At gun-point.

They were stood against a wall, a firing squad in front of them.

Rayner recollects that she walked right towards the man in charge, his machine gun raised and trained on her, fearlessly whistling. It wasn’t until she had to sleep in a cabin with thousands of rats that her mettle deserted her. “They were like maggots, if you’ve ever seen a lot of them: they were sliding back and forth over each other, and wriggling and writhing. I didn’t scream when I thought I was going to be shot. I screamed when I saw the rats.”

Detail of “Spirit”

These experiences perhaps ingrained what Stephanie now understands to be a universal truth : “[The human] ability to deal with the world has always involved art and expression, it is a window for the soul,” she explains, “From the beginning, cavemen used art to deal with things beyond their understanding.” That might begin to explain why she whistled a tune in the face of almost certain death…

Nor was the episode in Guatemala the last of her adventures. In 1999, Rayner was asked to speak in Malta at joint INSAPP II, a Vatican Symposium on religion and science. Then, Stanford University’s Centre for Advanced Learning hosted her in 2002, to lecture a group of international scholars on “Art and the Evolution of Human Consciousness” in Palo Alto, California. A couple years later, the Zygon Centre in Chicago invited her to speak at their “Epic of Creation Lecture Series”. While the next few years calmed down ever-so-slightly, the momentum picked up once more when she was invited to China in 2009 to teach her own unique printing process at Lu Xun Academy of Fine Arts, in Shen Yang, and to lecture on her art at various other universities and institutes throughout China.

She spoke of meaning and soulfulness in art; and how, possessed of the best technique in the world, an artist (or a work of art) can still lack soul and vitality. It was, for her, an incredible experience. Teaching energizes her; she sees the potential in each and every student and she loves to see the students blossom in their creativity.

The two courses she’s offering this summer in watercolour printmaking will no doubt be fantastic; the first, Watercolour Monotypes, will be running from July 30th – Aug 3rd and encourages students to loosen up in their creative process, while still achieving outstanding and breathtaking results; the second, Impasto Waterbase Printmaking, will be running the following week from Aug 6th – 10th and teaches the intense layering of pigmentation that reveals itself as the prints are pulled. Students have virtually filled the halls with drying prints – all exceptionally beautiful and totally unique to the artists.

“The medium is forgiving, it’s experimental but you can have control, too,” she says about her watercolour printmaking techniques. “If you dance with it, it dances back. And there has to be teamwork in the process as well: students assist each other at the press and everyone is excited when a new print is pulled. You can hear us cheering in the halls!”

Her current work in progress will be the culmination of many years of work and research: a twenty-nine foot boat titled Eternal Return, it reveals the shared mythology of the many cultures that make use of a boat to journey to the Otherworld. It is an epic mixed-media work involving moose ribs, wood, glass, DNA-sequencing, Mozart’s Requiem, dice, and countless hours of research and construction. We can’t wait to see it!

To register for either of Stephanie’s workshops, or for more information, please call 1-866-353-6464 x3 or visit us online at www.hsta.ca

To get in touch with Stephanie, please visit her website at www.stephanierayner.com

Graduates of 2012!

May 31, 2012 § 1 Comment

If you couldn’t make it to this year’s convocation, take a browse through some of these highlights of the day!

(Were you at the event? Do you have pictures you’d like to publish to this page? Contact Ashley Kirby at akirby@flemingc.on.ca)

If you couldn’t make it to this year’s convocation, take a browse through some of these highlights of the day!

(Were you at the event? Do you have pictures you’d like to publish to this page? Contact Ashley Kirby at akirby@flemingc.on.ca)

My face is a white canvas..

May 25, 2012 § Leave a comment

My face is a white canvas...


A combination of photography, painting, sculpture… Absolutely brilliant! Make sure you take a look!

Andy Alcala is the young and talented artist behind these fantastic works…



Artist of the Week – Helen Donnelly

May 25, 2012 § Leave a comment

Clowning: It’s Serious Stuff. Seriously.

Examples of porcelain masks from Greek comedy

Comedy has been around for a very long time: the Ancient Greeks roared with laughter at the masked characters of Aristophanes and Menander, Plautus and Terrence had the Romans rolling in the aisles at their stock characters, court-jesters and fools brought levity to medieval courts, Commedia dell’arte troups entertained the street crowds and royals of the Renaissance.

The character Harlequin or “Arlecchino” from Commedia dell’arte.

These characters and clowns were able to mock society, politics, famous people and rulers all under the guise of comedy. If a political commentary was made during a comedy, what would otherwise be treasonous if said by anyone else, became acceptable. And it served a crucial role in the social order.

For thousands of years, it was understood that these characters and clown figures could offer up a mirror to society and through comic lightness and pathos, had access to truths that were otherwise taboo.

Bozo the Clown

Fast forward a few (hundred) years and one person changed that image, that understanding: Bozo. That’s right. The children’s storybook clown. What was once an honoured art form turned into an industry of children’s birthday-party entertainments. (Let’s face it, making kids laugh is a fantastic calling; anyone that can make a child laugh has done a great and wondrous thing… And yet…)

So began a rift in the clown realm: clowns that entertain at birthday parties (think Bozo), and those that pursue its historic traditions (think “Cirque du Soleil”). For the first time in history there was a divide between artistic and inartistic clowns.

This past week, the Haliburton School of The Arts was able to catch up with one of the “traditional-style” artistic clowns and ask her a few questions about her incredible – and much misunderstood – art form.

Haliburton School of The Arts – First and foremost… These days there aren’t a lot of people that grow up with the intention of being a clown (some are clowns, but I think that’s mostly a lack of maturity). When did you realize that this was what you wanted to be? Did it creep into your life? Was it more of a “Eureka!” moment?

Helen Donnelly as “Leonardo da Foo”

Helen Donnelly – I have to say it was more of a creeping in; at first I resisted the artistic life. I wanted the steady teaching job, teaching art and drama. Then I tried my hand at acting and soon was seeking a more physical form of theatre and something with consistency. The gig-to-gig rhythm in the theatre world did not suit me; I wanted to dive into a discipline and devote myself to it entirely. I just never thought it would be theatrical clown!

HSTA – Many artists often are not supported (I don’t mean financially, but morally) when they finally break the news to family and friends that they will not become a lawyer or accountant or doctor… Were the people around you receptive to the idea at first? If not, have they come around since then?

Helen Donnelly as “Daisy”

HD – I can only remember my mom’s worried face when I announced I was dropping the idea of going to teacher’s college. I come from a long line of teaching, so I could empathize with her struggle! I’m fortunate that teaching found me eventually and I enjoy the 5 workshops I offer

each year, most of them in Toronto. It makes for an amazing break from the performance rhythm. Now, 20 years later, mom remains supportive and is placated by the steady work that comes my way. But I love to tease her by reminding her friends her daughter is ‘just a clown!’

HSTA – A lot of people associate clowns with funny-coloured wigs and balloon animals. How does your clowning differ from that?

HD – Yes, yes. Short answer is mine is the theatrical form of clown whereby the kind of clown you are alluding to stems from the American Circus clown and then to Bozo and then finally to the current ‘birthday party’ clown. Before Bozo, our art form was laudable, theatrical, and would never be seen on tv or in the privacy of people’s living rooms. Bozo (based on a book by the way) changed all of that. I like to refer to him as a ‘virus’, which spread throughout North America in the 50s and 60s till it reached places like Europe and South America. Now, sadly, it’s all a big mess. It’s a horrible time in history to be a theatrical clown.

Helen Donnelly as “Miss Posey”

HSTA – With the creation and subsequent success of Cirque du Soleil in recent years, have you noticed a marked difference in “clowning”. All puns aside, are people starting to take it more seriously?

HD – Well, not really. The ‘virus’ has a stranglehold on most North Americans. When I toured as a clown with Cirque du Soleil for almost 2 years, some people would come up to me after the show and ask me if I could come perform at their kid’s party…or they would walk right by, like we’re a dime a dozen. The public’s taste for clown has been sullied and I don’t know if we will ever recover. (I’m a laugh a minute, aren’t I?!) But I do feel that at the very least with companies like Cirque du Soleil, Cirque Eloise, Circus Orange, Theatre Columbus and Theatre Smith/Gilmour…at least there is a new reference out there for clown. It may make a difference in the long run.

HSTA – What is your favourite aspect of clowning? Is it the interactions with people? Helping people laugh? Taking on different personas? Something else entirely?

Helen Donnelly as “Creature Foo”

HD – It’s all of those, but most of all, I am most ‘me’ when I’m clowning. I don’t feel fully alive till I’m ‘in nose’, as strange as that may sound. I can’t explain it any other way and I feel so lucky and strangely cursed at the same time!

HSTA – How did you create your different clown personalities (all 5!)? Are they based on people you’ve encountered or were you inspired by any works of literature? Do any of them contain pieces of you?

HD – One is a hybrid (character/clown—‘Daisy’) who speaks English and is an autograph hound. She has some aspects of me but mostly I created her for Cirque when I first toured with them. The rest–Foo, Miss Posey, Mildred and Dr Flap(my healthcare persona)—are 100% rooted in me. My training is rooted in authenticity; I AM the material. The idea is to be honest with your audience; what is more honest than to be yourself, but show and reveal MORE of yourself?  I like to say clowning is you…times 10! It’s life…times 10!

HSTA – How is clowning different than acting, for example? In both, you are required to take on different characters and both are certainly performance art. But does clowning bring any new challenges with it? Is there anything that’s easier? (ie no lines to memorize?)

Daisy “breaking the wall” and interacting with people directly

HD – With clown there is no 4th wall, meaning we see and interact with our audience directly. We do not pretend they are not there. Also, even if there is a script (for example my one-woman clown gibberish musical goes up June 1 and 2nd; there is a script), the clown can ‘leave’ the script for a moment in order to ‘deal’ with an audience member. My favourite moments are latecomers to the show. I love giving them a particularly hard time! It’s funny, and honest and a great release for all. Bonus is, those people will never be late again! The other major difference is actors ‘play’ a character, clowns are ‘playing’ themselves. It’s the art of gently mocking and celebrating who you are, and not being precious and guarded. It takes a very brave, secure person to train in clown in my opinion.

HSTA – Did you grow up in a household where laughter was important? Has it always been something that comes naturally to you?

HD – Yeah, I did. We were constantly looking for ways to make each other laugh. I was the stereotypical ‘middle child’, vying for attention constantly. Humour developed very early. Growing up in a rural setting also ensured an insanely evolved fantasy life. And as a family we’d listen to old Hancock records or watch Laurel and Hardy or Lucille Ball on TV and Danny Kaye movies….I was very very lucky to be exposed to such great clown geniuses from such a young age!

Helen Donnelly as her therapeutic clown, “Dr. Flap”

HSTA – Dr. Patch Adams gained widespread renown for the ’98 movie of the same title for his experimental “laughter-is-the-best-medicine” style of practice. Since 2004, you have been working as a therapeutic clown; first at SickKids Hospital and currently at Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital. Do you think he’s on to something? Have you noticed any marked improvements in patients over the years that have experienced the healing power of laughter? Are there any cases that stand out for you personally?

HD – I like to separate my practice from that of Patch Adams for one very important reason: he is a medical doctor who donned the nose as a tool to relate to his clients better, whereas therapeutic clown artists use the art of clown as trained actors/artistic clowns as a tool to serve clients in healthcare. That said, there is a lot to be said for people who are fortunate enough to work as a clown in healthcare. I have a plethora of stories I could tell you about what I’ve witnessed or heard from other staff members who witness the work we do. Because we are Canada’s largest rehabilitation hospital for children, we often work in tandem with staff (nurses, OTs, PTs, Child Life Specialists) to help achieve team goals as well as working in duo with clients—to play for play’s sake. It would be impossible to pick just one story…the benefits are most often immediate and obvious.

Dr Flap and sidekick Nurse Polo (Manuel Rodriguez)

But one unique thing I’m very proud of is our involvement with research in 2010. The challenge: Hospitalized children with profound disabilities can’t show or tell us if they’re benefiting from interaction with therapeutic clowns.
The solution: A Bloorview team designs the first study to measure the long-term physiological effect of therapeutic clowns. Scientists measured physiological arousal, emotion and behaviour in eight inpatients. The results were so exciting! Every child showed unique patterns of skin temperature, sweat level and heart and breathing rates during clown visits that are not seen while watching television. Behavioural and emotional data suggest the children’s physiological responses to the clowns are positive. We were interviewed by CTV and since then I’ve shared our findings globally. They are published in a medical journal. That was a thrill!

HSTA – Do you have any advice for aspiring clowns? Is there anything people should be aware of before they decide to start clowning?

HD – Yes!  For those looking to explore this unique art form as a curiousity,  I heartily encourage them to try it. It’s an amazing journey if you have the right teacher at the helm.

Those who look to clowning as a second career should know it will be a long road, and longer if there is very little artistic background and training. The art of clown, no matter where you apply it (healthcare, on stage, in the circus) involves ‘hard skills’…there is a strange assumption out there that if you have a good heart and love children you can pull it off with very little training (I think this is not their fault…again, I blame Bozo!). People like that are a little naïve and those who do it anyway with no training are a little scary. There is too much that can go wrong. So, advice for those who want to do it professionally? Proceed with caution and get great advice from those who know.

Helen Donnelly as “Foo”

HSTA – You have a workshop coming up at the Haliburton School of The Arts this July 23rd – July 27th.  What sort of things can people expect to take away with them from this workshop?

HD – It’s the kind of workshop that is very unique; it’s a mix of playful exercises, solo and group work, intro to stage. Students will be going on this personal journey of discovering who their clown is and at the same time sharing this journey with others in the class. So very private and very public at the same time. People take this workshop for many reasons, but sometimes the best reason is not knowing why they are taking it! I have been lucky in the students I’ve been honoured to teach over the last 8 years at Haliburton. They have been extremely generous and supportive of each other which, at its heart, is what clown is all about.♦

For more information about Helen Donnelly, or to contact her, please visit her website at www.helendonnelly.com

To learn more about this course, or to register, please contact the Haliburton School of The Arts at www.hsta.ca or 1-866-353-6464 x3

And the Awards go to…

May 24, 2012 § Leave a comment

Two outstanding members of the Fleming family…

Read about these two amazing ladies below:

“Peterborough’s arts and heritage community is organizing and hosting the Canadian Association for Conservation of Cultural Property (CAC) Conference from 22-26 May.   The conference will be held at the Holiday Inn and will see conservators from across the country and abroad gathered to discuss issues related to preserving and conserving cultural property.

While it is exciting to see this conference taking place in Peterborough, what is even more exciting is that two members of the Fleming family will be honoured during the conference banquet: Gayle McIntyre (Program Coordinator, Arts & Heritage Program) and Carolyn Sirett (Collections Conservation & Management Program Graduate, Class of 2012).
Gayle will be awarded the Charles Mervyn Ruggles Award.  Recipients of this award are celebrated for their outstanding contributions and achievement in conservation science, treatment, training, and/or education, for development work in the field of conservation in Canada, and for promoting the ethics and ideals expressed in the CAC/CAPC Code of Ethics and Guidance for Practice.
Carolyn will awarded the Emerging Conservator Award.  In recognition of outstanding effort and accomplishment during the course of full time studies in a Canadian conservation training program, as demonstrated by academic performance, contribution to the field of conservation, leadership, and promotion of the ethics and ideals expressed in the CAC/CAPC Code of Ethics and Guidance for Practice.”
Way to go, girls!
We love to see all of the hardwork and outstanding achievements of everyone that walks the halls at Fleming – be it staff, student, volunteer, etc.If you know of anyone else deserving of a mention, please let us know!

Art Tips and Tricks for your next art project – JerrysArtarama.com

May 23, 2012 § Leave a comment

Art Tips and Tricks for your next art project – JerrysArtarama.com.

Looking for great tips and tricks for your art projects? Look no further!

This image borrowed from http://www.suzyssitcom.com, another great place for tips, tricks, and project ideas!

Here are tried and true ways of making the most of what you’ve got as well as improving old techniques! Great for drawing and painting artists, but don’t be discouraged if you work in a different medium… There’s loads of cool stuff in this article! Click the link at the top of the page…

Advanced Individual Studies class displays their work

May 18, 2012 § Leave a comment

Steve Rose’s group of artists displayed their incredible pieces in the Great Hall yesterday afternoon. We were able to snap a couple of quick pics to share online…

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