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June 09, 2021

Welcome To Our Incoming Team Members!

[Image Description: Three photos sit side by side. On the left, Emily, a White, long dark-haired woman wearing a multi-coloured dress poses in front of a large painted flower; part of the mural at 201 West 7th Avenue in Vancouver entitled “Music Magic Ride” by Bunnie Reiss. In the middle photo, Fegor, a Black Person wearing a pastel pink collared shirt, with fuchsia eyeshadow, poses in front of a light gray background. On the right, steph, a White Person wearing a deep red scarf and black rimmed glasses, poses in front of a wall decoration of a cross sectioned tree.]

As the summer approaches, ArtStarts is welcoming three summer students to join our team—Emily, Fegor, and steph! These students will be providing their support and skills to the Programs and Communications teams, assist with the systems change initiative, and work on digital accessibility at ArtStarts. To get to know everyone a little better, we asked them a few questions about themselves: 

Tell us a bit about yourself (name, pronouns, school/program) and what you will be working on during your time at ArtStarts? 

Emily: Hello! My name is Emily Clarke, she/her/hers, and I am a Master of Arts in Contemporary Arts student at the School for the Contemporary Arts at Simon Fraser University. I am incredibly grateful to ArtStarts for the opportunity to be working exclusively on the Systems Change Initiative.

Fegor: My name is Ogheneofegor Obuwoma, my pronouns are she/her/hers. I’m an international student in SFU’s film production program. I’m currently an immigrant from Nigeria living in these unceded Coast Salish lands. During this period, I’ll be working and helping around with captioning.

steph: I’m steph, I use she/her pronouns and I’m a 3rd year student at Emily Carr University of Art and Design majoring in Critical and Cultural Practice. I will be assisting with Communications and Events planning at ArtStarts: from working on blogs like this one, to helping out with social media posts. 

What is your own creative practice like? 

Emily: My research practice centres on my ultimate ambition of creating positive change in arts education and arts integration in schools. I am interested in curating interdisciplinary arts programming that is multicultural, diverse, inclusive, anti-oppressive, and accessible for all young students. I want students to connect with the arts in a way where they not only see themselves and their peers represented in the classroom, but are using artistic methods and activities to encourage creative and critical thinking skills. I am motivated by the philosophy that the arts are fundamental to education because they are fundamental to human knowledge, culture, communication, and expression.

Fegor: I’m a filmmaker, artist and storyteller. I work around culture and relationship with Nigerian culture specifically. I’m also interested in the performative nature of film and life. Playing with form is a big part of how I centre my work visually. As a big Afro-futurism and fantasy fan, I’m always trying to imagine alternative realities with/for Black people. I also enjoy writing for my work and as part of my work. As an artist, I believe in the power of art to give dignity and respect.

steph: As a writer, social practice, and interdisciplinary artist, I experiment with different ways of relating. My work aims to collaboratively build an emergent community poesis that raises consciousness and resists colonial methods of knowing. With the tools of collective story-making, I hope to transform and expand our relationalities—working towards a more just world.

How has your own educational experience been shaped by art?

Emily: I was fortunate enough to grow up with a deep love of the arts as a settler on these traditional unceded First Nations lands, with the privilege of being part of an artistic household and attend a French immersion public elementary school here in BC that genuinely valued the arts in education. Presently, watching my own children attend public school where the arts are not valued or appreciated in the way that they should be, is heartbreakingly sad. This lack of arts in so many schools is what prompted and inspired my passionate advocacy and research practice for cultivating arts integration and arts in education. I believe every child has great potential but what they need is the opportunity. Arts integration is a tool that is about learning and teaching through the arts and with the arts. Treasuring students’ individuality and creative expression empowers them to imagine limitless possibilities, seek solutions, and be active discoverers of knowledge. If we want to improve the system, we need to change how arts in education is valued right now in the curriculum. I think that an excellent, well-rounded education should include engaging in arts practice, consistently, and social and economic status should not define those opportunities.   

Fegor: As a film student, my education is constantly being shaped by art. I am inspired by the things I encounter and moved to a relationship with others and communities through their artworks.

steph: Coming to Emily Carr U (ECUAD) and the stolen lands of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-waututh peoples, I began to realize how many gaps existed in my own education. I didn’t know that I grew up on the traditional lands of the Anishinaabek, Haudenosaunee, Lūnaapéewuk and Attawandaron peoples. I grew up learning in a Catholic Choir and Orchestra school and looking back, I realize my experience with education centered Western colonial history and pedagogy. Spending three years at ECUAD, I have come to understand how art is, and was used as a world making tool. Arts education has become urgent and necessary in understanding my own situatedness: it has helped shape my understanding of how some stories and ways of being become dominant. Most importantly, it has taught me how to resist and subvert dominant narratives while making space for a plurality of stories to emerge.

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