Closer to the Art

Art is great. I don’t always understand it, but it’s still great. Being able to convey feelings or stories in many ways is a treasure. Even if you’re like me and the best image you can draw is a stick-figure, visual art forms can be fascinating.

The most amazing bagel with tomato sauce, pizza pepperoni, and molten mozzarella cheese you've ever seen (with a bite taken out already by an overzealous Zach)

First Nations House Lunch on Friday Nov. 28: Simple, delicious, a work of art! (Photo by Zachary Biech)

For me, guitar can convey feelings when words just won’t do. But visuals really help me learn best.

String-level view looking down the fretboard of my electric guitar (did I mention the guitar is bright green!)

One piece of my rock n’ roll arsenal (Photo by Zachary Biech)

I visited the Art Gallery of Ontario with my Mom (which I mentioned in last week’s blog) to see the Anishinaabe Artists of the Great Lakes special exhibit. It’s incredibly powerful stuff. There were many stories, some ancient and some about present-day life. And there was me wandering around in deep thought. People probably thought I was just lost and that I didn’t know I was in an art gallery.

The top half of my head, wearing an awesome bright red Calgary Flames toque

The flames toque I’ve needed to wear all over the place becaus of the November cold also makes people look at me funny, especially at the AGO (Photo by Zachary Biech)

Music can be just as moving. For instance, my Mom brought me a CD called True Blue, by a pow-wow drum group called Northern Cree. It’s awesome. Those guys can really sing. Such music reminds me how much I enjoyed starting to learn the “N” dialect of the Cree language over the summer at the Native Canadian Centre of Toronto.

A picture of the CD case for the album True Blue by Northern Cree

Awesome Album (Photo by Zachary Biech)

I always enjoy the artwork in First Nations House. The more I look around, the more I find. The paintings on the walls are a nice change from most U of T buildings and I think the birch bark canoe is grand. There’s a Great Lakes Canoe project run through Mizwe Biik, in which they built that canoe and paddled it out onto one of the Great Lakes. It’s a different style of art and I recommend you check out their next project if you’re looking for a really cool opportunity.

A wall mural of a river, forest, and Toronto skyline, with a bear and it's cub, in Indigenous woodland style

Just one of the huge murals that adorns First Nations House’s walls (Photo by Zachary Biech)

At the Native Canadian Centre, you can also do a lot of fun volunteering projects. Over the summer, I helped do the judging for the Young Native Artists 2015 Calendar contest, where kids from reserves all over Ontario from kindergarten to grade 12 submitted artworks (about a thousand in total) for us to choose from. We had a blast. We picked a winning piece for each month, plus one for the cover and one for a small motif which is on all the pages.

The inside cover of the 2015 Young Native Artist's Calendar, with all the names and communities of the winning artists and other contributors

The amazing artists for this year’s calendar! Note my name under the committee member list in the bottom left-hand corner (Photo by Zachary Biech)

Those kids are amazing, they are all winners. Two kindergarten students got into the calendar, they blew me away. Their art is all very beautiful and skillful, and some of the pieces are so witty, we just had to choose them!

The calendars are available at NCCT for 5$ each. They are a perfect gift for the holidays. NCCT is also having their big craft sale on November 29th. I’ll be volunteering there as well, and maybe next week I’ll post pictures of the action!

One last note: First Nations House, The Centre for Aboriginal Initiatives, the NSA, SAGE, IEN, and the Office of Indigenous Medical Education are all working together to host this year’s Indigenous Winter Social at OISE on Friday December 5th from 3:00 to 5:00 pm. Come check it out!

A great whale wall mural in western Indigenous art style

More of First Nations House’s beautiful imagery (Photo by Zachary Biech)

Gearing Up

Brace yourselves: exams are coming. Don’t forget about essays and assignments due soon. I know how daunting these tasks can be, especially in first year. But we’re all in this together!

Street-level view, looking up into a snowy night sky amidst the glowing lights of towers and old Victorian houses

In this crazy huge community, we have to stick together to make it through the hard winters (Photo by Zachary Biech)

It’s all in the way you think about working. When I feel overwhelmed, I tell myself to breathe, not to worry and that there are many hours between me and the tests or due dates. When you see how many hours you have, your subconscious can adjust to the overwhelming to-do list and plan how to use that time. The power of the mind is limitless!

I also try to look forward to the holidays. For my holiday, it means flying home to snowy, frigid Alberta for some serious chillaxation. Winter is a great time. It’s a time of rest, peace, and reflection. We just have to get through the fall semester, our peak mentally focused time, reel in those marks and get those jobs done. Then we’re home-free.

Family support is key. I know too many students who don’t have strong enough family connectivity and it’s heart-breaking. Everybody needs a hand sometimes and everybody (including young people like us working hard on our studies) deserves a hand.

I’m a lucky, lucky guy. My parents and I are best pals and our little family stays connected no matter what. My Dad stayed with me last summer and my Mom came to visit me right at the time that I started this blog post! She and I always have a great time together in Toronto and perhaps we can share some of that fun with you too!

A snowy afternoon sky, surrounded by the massive bright signs on all the buildings at Yonge-Dundas Square, with a large silvery ornamental evergreen tree right in the middle

My Mom and I thought the holiday display at Yonge-Dundas Square was pretty cool (Photo by Zachary Biech)

Once she was settled in my apartment after the long flight, my Mom gave me some amazing gifts from the Tsuu T’ina peoples who live just west of Calgary to liven up my place. We also reorganized and redecorated my bachelor-pad. I can’t take all the credit for my home layout; I’ve had an excellent interior designer helping me.

A large dream-catcher with three bundles of feathers, hanging above the bar in my kitchen

A new Tsuu T’ina dream-catcher, chosen special for me by my parents! (Photo by Zachary Biech)

Four coasters, hand-woven beige cloth with rich dark blue, turquoise, and orange  imagery

My Mom also gave me these beautiful Tsuu T’ina coasters, among many other little items (Photo by Zachary Biech)

You don’t need family to do this, and if you’re lonely, a change is as good as a rest. Even the little things can make a world of difference. Little things, like moving some furniture, sorting, and redecorating, can have a big impact.

Fancy blue and red decorative boxes placed in a row, with a Métis sash draped over one, on top of my TV stand next to hilarious little Lego sets

Some new interior design mastery atop my TV stand (Photo by Zachary Biech)

One of the shelves in the middle of my apartment, no longer in line with it's larger neighbour, thus freeing up much more space

Shifting this shelf 90 degrees may seem like no big deal, but for a guy who’s used to it the other way, this is life-changing (Photo by Zachary Biech)

There’s a lot of wintertime fun downtown. While we were window shopping on Bloor Street in the Yorkville ritzy area (my Mom loves the awesome window displays; you can’t get those back home!) we even caught a glimpse of a big holiday parade.

A giant metal reindeer standing in a hall in Eaton Centre, with the big skylight as the backdrop

Eaton Centre has these giant holiday reindeer to terrify us into shopping faster (Photo by Zachary Biech)

But there’s even more to this winter wonderland. We toured all over snowy downtown. We even made it to the Anishinaabe Artists of the Great Lakes special exhibit at the Art Gallery of Ontario. It was massive! Each piece of artwork had a powerful story attached to it and each was more moving than the last. I can’t describe the beauty. You have to see them yourself.

The wavy exterior design of the Art Gallery of Ontario, totally draped in snow

Snowy day at the AGO (photo by Zachary Biech)

The ultra-modern, wavy wooden rafters in behind the AGO's crazy glass exterior

Now we know what that crazy glass part of the AGO looks like from the inside (Photo by Zachary Biech)

Giant printing on the gift shop wall which says "This is the mos important place in the museum"

This giant sign is on the wall in…you guessed it…the gift shop (Photo by Zachary Biech)

We’re entering a time of celebration. Even if you’re on your own, remember: celebrate your home, celebrate what you’re working towards.

Reading, Writing, and Relaxation (They Can Go Together, I Promise)

When brainstorming ideas with the rest of the blog crew this week, we were discussing libraries and using academic resources.  I made a joking comment that you could, hypothetically that is, actually get a book out for pleasure reading.  The crew laughed and made comments about all the spare time they don’t have, but it got me thinking.

As a humanities student I spend about 90% of my time reading and writing.  While that’s allowed me to develop great skills, it also takes away the pleasure and novelty of those two activities.  It turns something that provides most people (non-students at least) relaxation and comfort, into a chore or a cause of stress.

So over my last two years here at university, I’ve mad a conscious effort to not let this be the case.  I’ve continued to find time to read and write recreationally. 

Picture of two adorable grey tabby kittens leaning their heads against one another posing on top of  large open textbooks

How could this NOT make you want to read?!
[Source]

Everyone knows that reading has benefits.  Not only does it keep your mind active, but reading expands your knowledge in a natural way.  Even reading works of fiction educates you in certain subjects, or at the very least helps to inspire your creativity.

For this reason, I read every night before I go to bed.  Even if it’s just a few pages, reading a magazine or a book is one of the sure-fire ways to relax my mind and help me fall asleep.  I would have just been spending that time scrolling through instagram or tumblr anyway, and the added bonus of not being on a LCD screen means that I’m also giving my eyes a break before bed.

Picture of book that reads "The Bang Bang club by Greg Marinovich" laid out on a bed spread with a pair of reading glasses on top.

The book I’m currently reading/loving – The Bang Bang Club by Greg Marinovich. I picked up this gem used at the U of T Bookstore!

Many of the U of Libraries on campus carry fiction books, or like at the Laidlaw Library, feature a “new and noteworthy” section of books you may interested in reading for pleasure.  I also find it fun to scour through the College book sales or the U of T bookstore to see what catches my eye.

A selection of magazines stacked on top of one another. Titles include various publications such as vanity fair, vogue, and fashion magazine.

Reading magazines (even fashion magazines) is better for you that taking that last minute scroll through Instagram before bed!

While reading before bed has become a natural part of my routine, incorporating creative writing has definitely been a struggle.  This year, I’ve found two solutions that seem to be working pretty well:

Firstly, I keep a journal and pen next to my bed at all times.  I don’t give myself a schedule or force myself to write in it every night, but I do keep it there for any times I feel inspired.  Sometimes I just write a journal entry about my day, sometimes I write a poem, or other times just a lyric or phrase that’s been stuck in my head.

Picture of two paperback journals stacked on top of each other. They're sitting on a wooden dresser next to a white bed with a bedside lamp shining of them.

My trusty bedside journal and inspiration/work book! I keep it nearby at all times just in case inspiration hits!

It’s amazingly cathartic to write in a journal and realize all of the little things that my mind has been holding onto throughout the day.  Often, I’m surprised by what comes out and how relieved I am to have it on paper.

The other form of creative writing that I do is letter writing.  Every month or so I write a letter to my grandmas letting them know what’s been going on in my life lately, how I’m feeling, and what I’m looking forward to in the next couple of weeks.  My grandmas love receiving them, and love being able to write back.

Picture of hand-written notes next to envelopes and a package of Canadian stamps

For selfish-reasons it also helps me to put my life into perspective.  It forces me to look back at everything I’ve done in the month, good and bad, and decide what the highlights are.  Even better is it forces me to look into the future and prioritize what I need to get done.

Overall, continuing to read and write for pleasure has made reading and writing for school feel like less of a chore. It’s also expanded my vocabulary and now I feel more comfortable participating in conversations, because I feel like I know a little bit about a lot of different subjects.  But mostly, reading and writing has helped me to disconnect from technology and the world around me and create time for myself.

UC Does Rocky Horror Picture Show

This past Wednesday I attended the UC Follies Rocky Horror Picture Show Shadow Cast presented by the UCLit.  Although I’ve seen Rocky Horror Picture Show many-a-times, I’ve never actually been to a live performance or interactive screening of it.  I’ve heard how fun it can be, getting to throw rice onto the stage or yell things back to the cast, but nothing prepared me for the night of shenanigans the Follies had in store for us.

I think a part of me was still expecting things to be toned down the way they were in high school.  They couldn’t possibly re-enact every provocative scene from Rocky Horror… could they? 

Two Photo Set: Photo on the left is of a man standing on a table with a movie projector in the background. He is naked except for a small blue speedo and bandages across his chest. He has a crazy look in his eyes and has just been "created" by the mad scientist. Photo on the Right: one of the party-goer characters being thrown into the air in the middle of a dance routine.

Oh my naive, naive mind. 

To start off the night, my best friend and I came dressed as the main character duo of Brad and Janet – gaining ourselves entrance into the intermission costume contest along the way. The University College JCR was packed full of people in costumes enjoying food and drinks, and discussing all the insider secrets of an interactive Rocky Horror show.

Photo of boy and girl staring at each other seductively, posing heavily for the camera. Man is dressed in a lab coat and white briefs with slicked back hair and nerdy glasses. The girl is hidden behind a large red bed sheet.

My friend Matt and I dressed as our very best interpretations of Janet and Brad!

At 9:30 the lights dimmed, and the show began.  I actually didn’t understand what a shadow cast was until the show had began, but essentially the UC Follies acted in the foreground while the movie played in the background.

Two picture set: Picture on the right is of characters Rocky and Janet laying in bed together. The second picture is of Janet after her "transformation" performing the final number.

At the beginning of the show you could buy a “kit”, the purchase of which went to support the chosen organization SKETCH.  The kit included all of the things you would need to interact with the show such as rope, a sponge, and newspaper.  The narrator behind the screen would announce to the crowd when to get their object ready, and on cue from a line in the show, we would throw the object into the air or out onto the stage.  The first opportunity to use this arose when Janet and Brad were stuck out in the rain, and the chorus came around spraying the audience with water unless you put the newspaper over your head.

The cast was absolutely amazing, and the production was hilarious.  They had the crowd (myself included) laughing, gasping, and even singing and dancing along at some points. The characters would walk through the aisles, dancing with audience members and eliciting involvement, all while staying perfectly in character.

Girl dressed in outlandish costume of leather and fishnets with largely teased hair and over-the-top makeup, throwing her hands in the air dancing.

The cast leading us in the Time Warp dance!

The whole night was a perfect break from midterm stress, and definitely an amazing first Rocky Horror experience.  The UC follies do a variety of performances throughout the year, including musicals such as this, as well as dramas and improv nights.  Any member of University College can join and exercise their acting muscles, or just come along and view one of their shows.  Check out more pictures from the night, and find out more about the UC Follies, at ucfolliestheatre.ca

Getting Theatrical on Campus

I’m a pretty big theatre fan so this weekend I caught not one, but two shows on campus. The first one, on Friday night, was the Trinity College Dramatic Society’s production of A Midsummer Nights Dream and the second was Hart House Theatre’s The Importance of Being Earnest. 

I took a few pictures during the pre-show and show of Midsummer, and a couple of the Hart House Space but couldn’t take any of The Importance of Being Earnest itself. If you want to see pictures from that production you can go to the Hart House Theatre website here.  Keep scrolling for the pictures I took at the shows this weekend!

The TCDS performs “Shakespeare in the Quad” every fall and this year the production jumped out of the quad and made use of three spaces throughout Trinity College: Seeley Hall, the Chapel, and of course the Quad.  Midsummer is probably my favourite Shakespeare play so I was very excited to check this production out (plus my roommate was playing Peaseblossom so obviously I had to go and see her flounce around all fairy-like), and it did not disappoint — it was probably the best Shakespeare show I’ve ever seen! Instead of being in the traditional format, this show had the characters moving around Trinity with action happening in various spots simultaneously so the audience had to physically follow the action around the college, and it worked so well! The acting was of course superb and I was really impressed overall!

a girl dressed as a fairy looking confused into middle distance below the camera. Slightly blurry and out of focus because she is moving.

During the Pre-show all the characters walked around interacting with the audience in Seeley Hall. Here a fairy is very confused and intrigued by my bright orange umbrella. Also it was kind of dim in Seeley and everyone was moving fast so the pictures are all a little blurry – sorry.

a girl dressed as a fairy looks confusedly at a plastic bag in her hands. The bag is a blur because she is moving it.

Plastic bags are confusing

two actors dressed as fairies (The Changeling and Titania from a midsummer night's dream) take a selfie. They both have sparkes and lots of makeup on their faces.

All the fairies were really intrigued by my camera, here The Changeling and Titania took it and took a selfie with it.

a picture of the Trinity College chapel. The pews are filled with spectators watching people dressed as mimes/clowns acting out a play at the front.

Moving to the Trinity College Chapel to see the mechanicals rehearsing one of their plays.

a girl partly hidden in shadows holding up a cut out paper puppet of a monster in front of a light source so it's shadow falls on a sheet.

Inside the Fairy Bower the fairies tell the story of Puck and Titania with shadow puppets. There were also games in the bower which was really fun.

an actor dressed in a pale blue suit acts as if he is sleaping below a tree. Spectators watch from a distace.

Lysander sleeping beneath a tree before Puck comes to mess things up.

The second show I saw was on Saturday, when I went to Hart House Theatre to see the closing day matinee of The Importance of Being Earnest. I’d never seen this show before but I’d heard it was hilarious so I was eager to see it. Hart House Theatre is a really nice space and there isn’t a bad seat in the house. The show itself was really good: the sets, the costumes, and the acting were all top notch.

photo showing the poster for the importance of being earnest outside of hart house theatre. The poster has the name, a picture, and the show dates.

the hallway going into Hart House Theatre. the walls have shadowboxes with theatre posters. at the end of the hall is an arch.

such a beautiful space!

a hand holding out the programme for the 2014-2015 hart house theatre season

These two shows have unfortunately already closed, but there are still lots of upcoming shows at U of T this year, some of the ones that I know are happening are:

  • The Tempest (Hart House)
  • Jesus Christ Superstar (Hart House) 
  • This is for you Anna (Hart House) 
  • Fiddler on the Roof (SMC)
  • The Third Story (Trin)
  • 12 Angry Jurors (Men) Trin
  • Company (Vic)

You can check out what will be put on this year through the U of T tickets website.

What other shows are happening at U of T this year that you think I should see? Let me know in the comments below!

Scotiabank Nuit Blanche 2014

Nuit Blanche… What is it?

Nuit Blanche is an all-night arts festival that happens every year! For 12 hours, the entire downtown core becomes a giant open art museum. What is art?

A picture of Spadina Ave. A lot of people are walking around, and there is a rainbow laser being shot across the skyline.

What a crowd!

Nuit Blanche answers this question for you — everything and anything can be art. You see a pile of rocks with Cheetos thrown all over it — that is art. In my view, that image represents how the white supremecist heteropatriarchal captalist system is destroying our natural resources to make profit through unjust means in order to maintain social stratification.

A picture of me smiling in a maze-like art installation.

Hey!

Okay, maybe I’m looking to deep into that. Maybe that wasn’t an art installation, maybe someone just accidentally spilled their bag of Cheetos onto the ground. Still, I love that Nuite Blanche can make me think like that. It’s cheesy (GET IT?), but the concept of art is not objective. Art is a completely subjective experience, and that’s what makes Nuit Blanche a wonderful event.

A projection of tiger heads floating in a very glittery version of space.

One of my favourite presentations. But, what does it all mean?

In my three years at U of T, this is the first year that I actually went out of my way to experience Nuit Blanche. I’ve “been” to Nuit Blanche twice before this, but I didn’t visit any art installations barring the ones at Dundas Square or on campus. The event was all too tiring for me, and at that point it became more of a normal social gathering rather than what it should have been — the privilege of having the opportunity to experience the work of the great artists in our city.

Cranes with plants with growing out of them in the skies of Queen St.

Queen Street. The second coolest neighbourhood in the world, according to Vogue magazine.

Admittedly, I didn’t travel as much as I wanted, but I did see a lot more than I did in my previous years. I made the best of the experience by going to Nuit Blanche with a small group of friends instead of going with a large group of people. Everything felt more special, and I definitely got to discuss art a lot more than in previous years. Considering that I’m a third-year student, and 12am is now my bedtime, I think I deserve some congratulations. Also, the artists — the artists deserve a lot more congratulations!

A storefront covered in clothes, from top to bottom. All clothes.

Clothes?

Unfortunately, because I stayed out until 6am, I was too tired to remember to get the names and artists of many of the works I saw. I will try to find out who made what, because the majority of the art pieces were outstanding, and truly made me proud to be a citizen of Toronto, where creativity never runs dry.

My friends and I taking a selfie at a mirror art installation.

The ultimate selfie.

If you didn’t get to attend Nuit Blanche, no need to worry! Some of the projects have been extended, and are still up. Make sure to check them out!

For the Love of Books: Used Booksales on Campus

I’m a huge bibliophile so when Victoria College’s annual booksale rolled around there was no way that I could resist it. Vic’s booksale lasted from September 18-22 and took place in Old Vic, where it’s Alumni Hall, second floor, and Chapel were absolutely packed with books.

I started my search on the second floor where I spent about 45 minutes looking through general fiction and about 10 minutes debating if I really needed 8 books (the answer was yes I did). I also checked out the Chapel which held, among other things, some really nice art books that I had a hard time resisting. Inside Alumni Hall on the main floor were History, Classics, Philosophy, Biography, and Literature books (and more) where I scooped up an additional 4 books – including a volume of (some of) the works of my main man Victor Hugo. The booksale is a really great place because most of the books are under $6.00 which means you can just buy more than you would at a regular bookshop. I definitely left the booksale happy with my purchases (and very grateful for my friend’s help in carrying them all home -bring a friend, you might need their muscles).

If you missed the Victoria College booksale don’t worry! University College, Trinity College, and St. Michael’s College will all be having booksales between now and November 1st (which I probably won’t be able to resist either – oh well, who needs floor space?).

Check out some pics from the booksale below!close up of books in the travel section

13 copies of "the help" by katherine stockett

anyone need a copy of The Help?

close up of books to show availible titles

picture of mystery books authors l-p resisting the urge to buy them all


 

photo of art and dance books propped against the wall under stained glass

person holding up a book "constantinople: city on the golden horn"

the light in the Vic Chapel was so pretty due to those amazing stained glass windows

3 books are propped up on the chair rail on the wall

photo of a person holding an aged book from 1836

the rare books room had some pretty cool finds! this book is from 1836.

close up of literature: authors c-d      sunlight on books stacked in a pew in the chapel

Did you check out the Vic booksale? What books did you add to your collection? Share them in the comments below, on Instagram with #LifeatUofT, or tweet me @Amie_UofT

 

Getting Artsy: The Hart House Film Board Fall Screening Party

In one of my many writers block moments this summer I was scrolling the #UofT hashtag on twitter in search of some inspiration. Hidden between messages about course selection and Orientation week was a post by Hart House.

Tweet from User: Hart House on August 13th stating: The Hart House Film Board and the University of Toronto Film Festival are accepting short videos with a link connecting to the Hart House website for more information

I was originally intrigued on behalf of a friend of mine who’s an aspiring filmographer. I thought it would be the perfect opportunity for him to showcase his amazing work to a crowd of film enthusiasts as well as up-and-coming artists such as himself. After suggesting/forcing him to apply, I did some more research into the Hart House Film Board.

I had never heard of the organization before, and after speaking the Program Advisor Rick Palidwor, I learned that it’s one of “U of T’s best kept secrets.” The Hart House Film Board has been dedicated to assisting aspiring artists since 1975. Not only do they offer inexpensive equipment rentals and workshops, they also provide extensive support to the U of T film community at large.

Picture outdoors at night time. There is a screen in the background with a movie playing on it (the details are not visible). Behind the screen where the movie is playing you can see the light shining through old gothic style windows that look into the building'd auditorium.

The Outdoor Screening!

The film screening showcases the eclectic work of U of T students and alumni. The annual screening is held in the picturesque Hart House Quad, with a lit cocktail tent and make-shift outdoor theatre.

Having a personal connection to one of the filmmakers, David Bedford the creator of Film II, I expected to go into the screening with a bit of a bias. However once the first film began to play I was immediately amazed and captivated. The films were a variety of lengths and styles, and covered a variety of subject matter. Everything was showcased from documentaries, to comedies, to experimental films.

Four individual images collaged together showcasing four of the movies shown. From top left to bottom right there is a picture of a young girl standing on a balcony at night with a wineglass in her hand, the skyline of Toronto is visible in the background. Next is a picture of a middle aged man with brown hair speaking onto a cell phone looking concerned. Next there is a picture of a tennis court at dusk in a suburban setting with a young man off to the far right holding a tennis racket. Finally there is a picture of a family, all wearing tie-dye, holding hands and walking outside in a wooded area.

Four of the films that premiered.
Photos provided by the Hart House Film Board.

The Hart House Film Board hosts an even larger screening party, as a part of the U of T Film Festival, each year in March. They bring in outside judges to critique the film submissions and choose a select few to be shown at a large gala style screening. This event, as well as the one I attended, is completely free to attend and even offers free food and a cash bar.

As someone who is enthusiastic about film, but not a content creator themselves, I loved getting to attend such a unique event. Not only did I get to witness some amazing art, but I also got to experience an entire other world that exists within U of T.

Two young students, a male on the left and a female on the right, posing in a hallway. The architecture of the hallway is gothic with dim lighting, cement floors and large archways.

Myself and my friend David after his film premiered!

If you’re an artist yourself, check out www.harthouse.ca/classes. Upcoming classes include 100% Hands-on Film Exercises for Absolute Beginners and Digital Video Editing with Adobe Premiere.

However if you’re like me and lack a single creative bone in your body, but do have an enthusiasm for film and art, check out the Hart House calendar. There are hundreds of unique and free events featuring student made film, photography, and theatre production.

So congratulations to all the amazing teams that put together the films showcased, and to the Hart House Film Board for hosting such a great event. If you go to any events at Hart House, or see any other great opportunities you think I should check out, leave them in the comments below or share them with me over on twitter at @Rachael_UofT.

New Discoveries: U of T Art Centre

During Orientation week I participated in an ask-an-upper-year panel as part of Kickstart Orientation that was held in the University of Toronto Art Centre (UTAC).

This was the first time I had been in UTAC and I was totally blown away at how great a space it was. Admission to UTAC is free so the other day I went in while killing time before classes to take a longer look. There are currently 3 temporary exhibits and 1 permanent exhibit to check out: one consisting of the photographs of Allen Ginsberg, one of the photographs of Robert Giard, one of the works of AA Bronson, and one consisting of Byzantine and Post Byzantine Icons from the Malcove Collection.

My favourite exhibit was “We Are Continually Exposed to the Flashbulb of Death”: The Photographs of Allen Ginsberg (1953-1996)”. The photographs were amazing and there were timelines around the exhibit that illustrated his life as well as a recording of him speaking playing throughout the room. I also loved the healing tent (shown below) that was part of “AA Bronson: Life and Work” and had to resist the urge to crawl inside with a book.

I can’t believe that I didn’t know about this place for the past two years and I will definitely be going back very soon! AA Bronson, Tent for Healing, 2013 in the AA Bronson exhibit

Allen Ginsberg Exhibit: wide shot of the ginsberg exhibit wide shot of the ginsberg exhibit   photographs from the Ginsberg Exhibit close up of papers and  in the Ginsberg exhibit

Robert Giard Exhibit:photographs from the Robert Giard exhibit

wide shot of the Robert Giard exhibit

Have you checked out the U of T Art Centre in the past? What has been your favourite exhibit? 

TIFF: The Student Edition

The arrival of the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) means a couple of things;

  1. All the Starbucks in the city will suddenly be filled with people clad in all black and over-sized sunglasses.
  2. There will be groups of people waiting in Yorkville, often at hotels and Holt Renfrew, awaiting a glimpse of their favourite celebrity.
  3. There are hundreds of opportunities for students to see the world premiere of movies just minutes away from campus.

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I had never experienced TIFF first hand until this year. I had always know about it but I had never actually sat down in a theatre to watch one of the movies. So this summer, when the advanced tickets came on sale I decided to buy a My Choice 10 ticket pack and see what all the hype was about.

The cost of my 10-ticket package evened out to about $20 a ticket, and with the price of going to see a regular movie creeping up to around $15 anyway, I thought it was a good deal. A few weeks after I purchased my tickets I was able to scroll through the TIFF programming and choose my movies. I decided to opt out of any big-ticket movies and premieres to go with 4 smaller films with a variety of subject matter.

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Hanging out at the TIFF Street Festival on King St. W.

The first movie I saw was Kabukicho Love Hotel, a foreign film set in Japan that was premiering internationally for the first time. Following the advice of many TIFF-dedicated blogs, I showed up an hour before my movie to line up as there’s no assigned seating. I was also immediately surprised by the diversity of the crowd. Everyone from grandparents to students like myself were in line, all dressed very casually.

Before the movie began a representative from the TIFF Selection Board came on stage and gave a background to the film we were about to see. She introduced the director, who came up and said a few words. Then the movie began, and I was completely captivated. The showing ended with a 1 hour question period in which the director answered everything from why he choose the lead actor, to where his favourite place to eat in Toronto was.

Director Ryuichi Hiroki speaking about the premier of his film Kabukicho Love Hotel

Director Ryuichi Hiroki speaking about the premier of his film Kabukicho Love Hotel

What I loved the most about my TIFF experience was that it exposed me to subject matter that I normally wouldn’t encounter in blockbuster films. Even if you’re not a film studies major, or don’t consider yourself to be extremely passionate about film, I would suggest checking out some of the TIFF programming that lasts until the end of this week.

The tickets can be bought at the TIFF Box Office on King, or online at TIFF.net. The films premiere at  variety of locations, including the extremely convenient Isabel Bader Theatre here on campus! So experience one of the best events Toronto has to offer, and when you do, make sure to share it with me here on the blog and on twitter at @Rachael_UofT.