If you’re missing a refreshing bit of art in your life, be sure to scroll through the John & Maggie Mitchell Art Gallery Facebook page. The page features work from MacEwan University fine art and design students. Due to COVID-19, gallery displays and portfolio shows were displayed solely online this year, but that hasn’t made the pieces in them any less memorable. The online displays demonstrate and celebrate years of hard work put in by MacEwan fine art and design students and feature drawings, paintings, sculptures, installations, performances, various intermedia, and more. Each student is featured in an individual post that highlights their work and allows them to explain a bit of who they are as artists. It is a great opportunity to view some of the talented work created by our own MacEwan students, or for prospective fine art and design students to see what can come out of the two programs here at MacEwan.
It’s harder to display art for a digital world. Carolyn Jervis, organizer of the fine art showcase, says students were definitely disappointed when the event was forced to be online for the first time. “There is nothing that can replace the embodied experience of viewing an artwork,” says Jervis. However, she says students rose to the challenge by finding photographs of their work, creating content for social media, and one student even reimagining a performance artwork to share on social media.
The new medium for displaying the showcase pushed fine art students in various positive ways. “Although there are challenges to sharing certain media in a virtual form, students have been exploring time-based media such as video, audio, and photo-based work in the Fine Art program — in addition to net art — so it’s a great opportunity to highlight student and program strengths in those areas,” says Jervis. Net art refers to artwork that uses the internet as its primary material.
Jervis says the online format also allows people who may not have been able to physically visit the gallery the opportunity to see student work. People can scroll through the Facebook page, Instagram, or websites to view the various pieces with the option of visiting the students’ personal websites and portfolios. It is a great way for students to highlight some of their favourite works and potentially market themselves as artists and designers.
Chanelle LaFitte, a recent design program graduate featured in the design portfolio showcase, says she has been falling in love with creating things for people since she was young. She was drawn to the design program at MacEwan because it was hands-on. “I wasn’t studying how I would make something, I was actually making it while learning the academic foundations at the same time.”
LaFitte says being in the program taught her about the way she works and thinks, and how to combat any problems she was facing. She discovered her strengths and weaknesses, where to push herself, where to ease up, and where to experiment. “I wouldn’t have known those without being in this environment,” she says.
Her work in the design showcase is a culmination of the work put in and created throughout her years in the program. “I tried to pick a piece from each ‘chapter’ of my education,” she says. LaFitte says she fell in love with the user experience and interface courses offered by MacEwan. “(They) are rare to find and make MacEwan a gem.”
As a recent graduate, LaFitte’s advice is to not focus on perfection, but instead on learning and growth. “You’ll have the advantage of professors helping you learn, so you’ve got nothing to fear.” She also says not to take criticism to heart, “any and all work has flaws, it’s all subjective.”
Images courtesy of Chanelle LaFitte.