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FIERCE T H E - T E S T - R U N

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FIERCE /fi(ə)rs/ adjective, fierc·er, fierc·est. 1. having an unrestrained nature


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C0NTRIBUT0RS

WRITERS

.WEBSITE. Lisa Alves, Kevin Bonnell, Talysha Bujold-Abu, Abi Jeeva, Vishmayaa Jeyamoorthy, Catherine Lambert, Lyndsey Merry .MAGAZINE. Sonia Dheer .BOTH. Brittany Davis, Sawayra Owais, Krisha Ravikantharaja, Srishti Jain, Kat Kalenteridis

FEATURED

.DESIGNERS. Diana Li, Mary Young, Theresa Wilson .DANCER. Carissa Gordon .FINE ARTIST. Alicia Giansante .MODELS. Mithushaa Berinpalingam Samantha Wilson

LOGISTICS

.CONTENT EDITOR. Carissa Gordon .DIRECTOR OF SOCIAL MEDIA. Pranavi Suthagar

art direction, content curation, magazine design and photography by Whyishnave Suthagar this magazine is an independent publication currently funded by McMaster University Š FIERCE media


a letter FIERCE magazine is a test run, so we thought that it would be interesting to take that idea literally and make it the theme of the first issue. So throughout this magazine you’ll come across people talking about their firsts, the firsts of others, the hardships and rejoices of beginnings and endings, individuals striving to move out of their comfort zones and everything in between. So let us know what you think and we’ll work from your comments and suggestions. Sincerely, Whyishnave Suthagar founder / managing editor

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C0NTENTS

TEST RUN the first issue

this month it’s all about starts, beginnings, the new, ends and trial & error

{create}

010 DESIGNING FOR A BEGINNING A behind the scenes look at the work involved in three of the final collections shown at Ryerson’s Mass Exodus 2014. Featuring fashion designers Diana Li, Mary Young and Theresa Wilson. 046 THE FIRST SHOW A look at fine artist Alicia Giansante’s creative process as she prepares for her first collabrative exhibition fresh out of school.

RFLCT

{reflect}

008 THE MIDDLE To start or finish, that is the question. A contemplative piece on the comforts and restraints that come with being in the middle. By Krisha Ravikantharaja 062 THE ODD YEAR OUT The thought process behind a university student choosing to take a year off to learn about herself and the world around her, without the constraints of institutionalized academia. By Sonia Dheer 076 BEING IMMORTAL A little spiel about mortality, lack there of and leaving a legacy. By Srishti Jain

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{reason}

043 HAS THE GLASS CEILING FINALLY FROZEN A small piece recapping why and how women can play powerful leads in the workforce. And on screen for that matter. By Kat Kalenteridis 044 YOUR PRINTER IS OUT OF PLASTIC Commentary on how 3-D printing is slowly being integrated into everyday society and how it one day may affect you. By Sawayra Owais 045 TALENT AND LABELS Looking at the first time Tona Brown has performed as a solo violinist at Carnegie Hall, and also a bit on how labels sometimes unfortunately overshadow great talent. By Brittany Davis

XPRS

{express}

067 THE WARMEST SEASON An editorial featuring dancer Carissa Gordon paying hommage to the beginning of summer.

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THE MIDDLE

By Krisha Ravikantharaja

’m not one for beginnings. I mumble awkward greetings before leaning in for even more awkward handshakes and hugs. I don’t look forward to first days. I dread the spring showers. And I am the furthest thing from a morning person. I suppose it is only fitting that I have put off having to start writing this. See, I lurk in the warmth of ‘the middle’: living in the body of the essay alongside the ‘moreover’s’ and the ‘in addition’s,’ indulging in the story after the characters’ names have long been introduced and their tragic flaws are blatantly apparent. I find solace in running in a pair of well-worn but sturdy running shoes, and I long to laze in the never-ending bliss of late afternoons. Perhaps my distaste for beginnings and my weakness for the middle are actually more telling of my far more profound fear of endings. My eyes sting as I pull away from a hug on the doorstep. My fingers quaver at the thought of handing in my two weeks’ notice. I dread the melted puddles that the snow banks are sure to leave behind. And I am the furthest thing from a night owl. I suppose it is only fitting that I have spent the last hour deciding whether or not to include this sentence. Essentially, I love being far enough immersed in something that I have a hang of things, but far enough away from the certitude of the end—that’s where the fun is after all. While I turn painstakingly slowly through the pages of the first chapter, I also leave the last unread for months at a time. The middle consists of all of those moments when you finally think you might have something good on your hands but you know that there is still another half draft and a few revisions that need to be made before hitting submit.

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The middle is forgiving. Because despite any delays or mistakes or changes of heart, I know, by definition, I can still make alterations, fix things or steer in a different direction altogether. And there is an inherent, soul-warming comfort about that which draws me in and keeps me there as an all too willing prisoner. But the middle is also often average, ungratifying and downright boring. We need look only as far as the habits that underline our very nature: we procrastinate, avoid change and hide from the unknown. But surely we must know—at least on some level—that all things must start and end. It’s irrational to think otherwise, but that of course would naively imply that we are rational in the first place. We know all too well that all good things must end…but they must start if they are ever to meet their end. It really is the ultimate irony: we are afraid of the end before things even begin. It’s not easy to say hello knowing that someday you’re going to have to say goodbye—especially when that goodbye might be untimely or one-sided. But every part of an experience commands respect and thought: the risk of the beginning, the uncertainty of the end and even the indulgence of the middle. While the middle has its comforts and its lessons, this is where the least growth usually occurs. It is far more often our decisions to start and end experiences that shape our lives. We fearfully put off these decisions and an unfortunate few go through life without knowing these decisions exist at all…but they do. So here’s to every experience in our lives. For however easy or difficult, short or long, self-deteriorating or self-improving an experience may be, may we have the courage to allow each its own beginning, middle and end.


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A fashion designer’s design process has been long documented as formulaic in the sense that it begins with illustrations, then pattern drafting and finally the sewing of fabric together. And though there is typically some following of this generic model, as these steps have been noted to be core for the design process, what goes largely unnoticed is the diversity of this regiment that varies from designer to designer. Some designers begin with a sketch, but others prefer to work in 3-dimensional space right off the bat. Innovative design, is anything but cookie-cutter, as each designer will produce their garments differently based on their individual design philosophies and aesthetics. By visiting three recent graduates from Ryerson University’s Fashion Design program in their studios (makeshift or otherwise), and have them explain their design process, we see how designers from the same cohort can approach and create their final thesis collections so differently. Though these collections mark the end of their undergraduate years, they also act as a jumping off point for their future endeavours into this unpredictable yet captivating field.

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Diana Li ~

What makes something beautiful is its past and process - a painting is beautiful because of each brush stroke that marks the artist’s touch, a person is beautiful because of the experiences that makes them who they are. My second collection DEVOTION is an appreciation, not only for aesthetics, but also for the process and time taken to construct each garment. Starting with intricate hand drawn designs, the collection incorporates hand cut leather pieces that are both sophisticated and contemporary. Focusing on the beauty of time and process, the result is something powerful & alluring, and stories of art and dedication are told through the garments. The best part of the design process for me was the inspiration, which came from my travels in Europe during the summer of 2013. After thousands of photos, hundreds of amazing meals, 75 days, 11 cities, 5 countries, and a couple wrong turns, there was only 1 word left to describe the experience - inspirational. To be able to create a collection that encompasses my short time in Europe, is truly the most rewarding part of this process.

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evotion is my second collection, although it’s really a continued exploration of my first which I had previously entered in a competition. While preparing the submission for that competition, I was in Paris, and sketched during class and at the hotel. From that collection, I learned what to do and what not to do for this collection, so my sketches were revised.Through the pieces in this collection I wanted to bring back the appreciation for the passion and devotion that goes into works of art. The inspiration for the collection came from my trip to Europe. Everywhere I went, I saw beautiful works of art from Turner paintings to the stone lace of the cathedrals. You could physically see the skill, craftsmanship, and dedication that went into each creation - which is why I want to capture people’s attention and celebrate such work. While in Europe, I took thousands of photos, and sketched at various locations for inspiration. My sketchbook is filled with collages and random illustrations. The pattern inspiration for this collection actually came to me while being stuck at the airport in Nice (yes, the flight was delayed for 6 hours and they turned off the lights at the airport at midnight). I wanted to create a soft and feminine, yet bold and luxurious aesthetic, so I chose a neutral palette of creams, and light mauves contrasted with rich burgundy.

In terms of firsts for me, the collection was the first time I created 5 looks as well as hand cut leather patterns and try my hand at top stitching it all. After the designs were finalized, I had to test out techniques for working with leather. I tried every kind of glue and fusing there is to determine the best way to stabilize the cut leather, but eventually discovered the best way was really the most time consuming way (fits my theme I guess), which is topstitching around each and every cut out. I also did a bunch of target market/competition research. All the leather was sponsored by Danier (thank you), and all the fabric was sourced in Toronto. There were lambskins, silks, silk-wool blend, and stretch silks. With regards to the workmanship involved, all the leather patterns were hand drawn on paper, revised again and again, then cut out into a stencil. The stencil is then used to cut the leather (over 100 exacto knife blades were sacrificed in the making of this collection). All the garments are lined, including the pants! And because of the unique silhouette of the shoulders, the shoulder pads had to be hand made for each garment. The biggest challenge when designing was creating a collection with variety and unity. To be honest, I don’t think I did overcome that for this collection, but because mistakes were made, I know better for the future! One of the most important things that I learned through this venture is that you don’t need sleep to survive. Just kidding, that’s the second most important lesson. The first most important lesson is to not be afraid to design. Never let the process and execution stunt your creativity. It’s better to build your skills to realize your designs than to design within the limits of your skills.

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Mary Young ~

My self-titled collection of lingerie and loungewear was inspired by rap and hip-hop music, specifically during their introduction stages of the late 1980’s and early 1990’s. These two genres use the theory of pastiche, defined as the art of modifying or restructuring previous works in meaningful ways to be combined and to convey a new meaning, to create music. With these genres of music and use of pastiche as inspiration, my collection consists of different fabrics, techniques, and styles that result in each piece and look evoking the fundementals of this theory. The most rewarding experience thus far has been seeing the garments and looks come together. The hardest part of being a designer is having an image in your mind of what the final collection will look like and working day in and day out to produce it exactly as how your mind’s eye has envisioned it. Each time I create something new, I fear that it will not turn out the way that I’ve imagined it to. Thankfully, this collection came together just right.


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his self-titled collection is my very first women’s wear collection. It was full of ups and downs, specifically with learning new techniques and skill sets. As a fashion communications student I only had knowledge of basic pattern drafting and sewing skills. Learning to draft, construct lingerie, and use the industrial sewing machines provided by the school all for the first time, were just some of the obstacles I had to overcome whilst designing the collection. There was a lot of trial and error, time, patience and dedication invested into the finished pieces. The main concept behind my collection relates to my thesis that began with the theory of pastiche which I defined as the art of modifying or restructuring previous works in meaningful ways to convey a new meaning. I looked to rap and hip-hop, specifically during their innovation stages of the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, as well as the artist The Weeknd and his modern use of it. I wanted my pieces to convey this theory of pastiche, with the use of different fabrics, techniques and styles. I even incorporated leather combat boots as accessories for the final show and in the lookbook to tie in the inspiration that came from The Weeknd. During his early years in music, Abel and his friends were often referred to as the combat crew, for their constant wearing of combat boots and he is often seen wearing this type of footwear today. The onset of my collection has been brewing for years really. I own and operate a small women’s accessories company that offers hand knitted headbands and scarves, this really was the base for my collection. I wanted to expand my knitting from only accessories to garments but in an unconventional manner. Hence the reason I chose to include lingerie and simplistic knitted garments to challenge the ideas of what knitted garments in fashion are today, as well as what lingerie can offer. There wasn’t a particular narrative or story that drove my collection but I always had a ‘woman’ in mind when designing and producing the collection. The idea behind the lingerie and loungewear is that it is to be worn at home after work or on the weekends, to allow the wearer to feel comfortable and confident. Most of the references I made in my collection are extremely subtle but all relate back to pastiche. I chose hand knitted garments to reference the past in terms of how the basis of knitting has been traditionally used to create garments that are meant to keep the wearer warm and covered from the elements. I chose a monochromatic colour palette of greys to further incorporate the theory of pastiche by referencing another art form, in this case the literary world. I looked to the novel 50 Shades of Grey as inspiration for the colours since it’s content was so fitting with the lingerie aspect of my collection. Heather greys that were a blend of viscose and elastane were chosen, making sure they were extremely comfortable and soft to touch. The wool was all 100% alpaca, again making sure they were inviting when felt. Most of the materials were sourced in Toronto but a few of the fabrics came from New York. I must say, I did a large amount of research for the collection, from inspiration for the formal qualities of the pieces to research on what women are wearing today, the sheer quantity of information that I was exposed to was immense but necessary, and every bit of it informative in one way or another.

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Theresa Wilson ~

For this collection, Bartolo turns to the Burj Khalifa, the tallest tower in the world, as inspiration. This Dubai landmark is known for its asymmetrical design and during sunset, the tower radiates hues of lavender and apricot. These colours are incorporated throughout the evening wear collection. Ultimately, the collection transcends the statuesque silhouette of the tower and brings forth the essence of femininity. The most rewarding experience is to see everything come to fruition. From sketching to sourcing fabrics, every step of the design process has been truly exciting. It’s such a great feeling when your collection evolves into the dream you envisioned.

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esigning the Burj Khalifa line for Bartolo (the brand’s name was based off of my mother’s maiden name), was both intellectually stimulating in terms of how my skill set has expanded as a result of the experience and also very interlinked to my roots with my family. I’d say I was very much influenced by my family’s love for design and fashion and wanted to keep that in mind as I produced the collection. My mother own’s a bridal shop, and my siblings and myself included all throughly enjoy the world of design (interior, fashion etc.). Being surrounded by this creativity has always motivated me to produce more and expand my line in many ways. For my first evening wear collection for Bartolo, you can see how being surrounded by extravagant wedding dresses and other aspects of bridal wear may have seeped into my subconscious. I love the lavish and the elegant, so that’s how I wanted to begin my brand. So naturally I turned to one of the most elaborate and beautiful pieces of architecture from this century the Burj Khalifa. The colours it radiates at sunset can be seen throughout my collection. Each gown reflects the opulent tower through the use of Swarovski crystals and interlaced binding. I learned a whole lot about sourcing my fabrics and other materials which I wasn’t as blatently aware of before making the colleciton. I created works with quite complicated patterns that had a lot of embedded cut-outs to work through as well as pleats and trains that often need the occasional adjustment to just right. All in all though, I loved the process, and I am extremely pleased with the results. I can’t wait to figure out and start on what lies ahead of me and further develop and learn as a professional.

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HAS THE GLASS CEILING FINALLY FROZEN?! By Kat Kalenteridis

This year Disney has managed to keep audiences enthused with newly released and upcoming movies like Frozen and Maleficent. From film critics to children alike, Frozen has managed to captivate and continue the Disney legacy. With Frozen, the legacy has evolved from the classic prince saves princess tale, paving a new feminist path for Disney princesses. The film revolves around a princess who saves her sister as well as the kingdom, and falls in love with someone other than a prince. This film being centered on a female heroine comes as no surprise as it is one of the few movies to be directed by a woman at a renowned stage. Co-directed by Jennifer Lee, it has grossed in a billion worldwide sales but has also won an academy award and been nominated at the Oscars. This is a huge success for a film believed to be less than profitable with little promotion, thus proving, that female leads are not only sellable, but garner great support on a world stage. Frozen has become success not only within the film industry, but also echoes many sentiments felt across the world as women flourish within their own right. There have been many great advances within the last year alone in terms of equity, and many of these successes of women in authority have become common household names. One such example is Sheryl Sandberg, the COO of Facebook, one of the youngest female billionaires and company executives. Another known name is Sonia Sotomayer, an asso-

ciate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, the third female justice on the bench. A final is Arianna Huffington, president and editor-in-chief of the Huffington Post, one of the most influential women in media on Forbes. These are some of the real life stories, like Frozen, where a woman takes charge and creates change in the world. There are hundreds, thousands more women today having the same opportunity to pursue their dreams and be equally, perhaps more, favoured for the same job across the globe. As this is a time like no other in the fight for women’s rights, the film industry supporting the sentiment of the day is a true testament to the power women have in the workplace as well as in society. Although we have come so far, there are still so many issues women face that need to be addressed. Jennifer Lee herself notes that when being noticed in the media, there is far more pressure for women to dress appropriately and look beautiful while there is less focus on her work and successes. This is common not only in the film industry but in workplaces around the world where women feel as though their success is not based on their own knowledge and work, as noted by Sheryl Sandberg herself in her novel Lean In. This and other issues still need to be addressed but having little girls look up to princesses and real life heroines changing the world is a good step in the right direction.

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“Your printer is out of plastic”

By Sawayra Owais

Often, we joke about the kinds of technology that our grandchildren will have. Driverless cars? Increased supply of fresh water? 3-D Printing? Luckily, you may not have to wait as all these technologies are attempting to integrate their way into our societies, some better than others. 3-D printing, or additive manufacturing, has been around for almost 30 years but only recently has buzz about it increased its popularity. This machine allows one to choose an object they’d like to print and, as the name suggests, the printer will generate that exact object. Just like filling your printer with ink cartridges, you’ll have to fill this one with plastics, metals or whatever materials are needed to make your object. Items made can range from pens to ornaments to shoes. But 3-D printers are not only for banal use. A few months ago, doctors in the Netherlands performed a revolutionary surgery, the first of its kind – they replaced an entire human skull with a plastic one. That was printed by a 3-D printer. The patient had an undisclosed condition where her skull reached a thickness of 5cm, 3 times its normal thickness. Consequently, her enlarged skull pressed against her brain, causing debilitating vision and motor problems. One of the benefits of the printed plastic skull was that it was entirely transparent, rendering this patient useful for research in optogenetics. In addition, one of the neurologists that performed the 23-hour surgery, Dr. Ben Verweij explained that, “implants used to be made by hand in the operating theatre using a sort of cement which was far from ideal”. You can view a video of the surgery here (though not recommended for the faint of heart). So, you may be casting doubts on the efficacy of a plastic skull, however the surgeons have reported that, “the patient has her sight back entirely, is symptom-free and back to work. It is almost impossible to see that she’s ever had surgery,” Fortunately, this is not the only success story. An 11 year old Argentian boy, Felipe, is learning how to use his new prosthetic hand that was made by a 3-D printer. As 3-D printers slowly integrate themselves in the medical realm, surgeries are becoming more customized, effective and affordable. Indeed, Felipe’s mother was quoted $40 000 for a regular prosthetic but the 3-D printed version cost her a mere $250.

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You may have the impression that these fancy-schmancy gadgets must cost thousands of dollars and are reserved for NASA, surgeons and people of that ilk. But you, yes you, can have your very own 3-D printer for only $300. Admittedly, the reason that every single home doesn’t have one of these lying around is because we lack the software to translate our digital image into a tangible product. While most users have been using 3-D printers for amusement or medical research, others have used it to print guns. Though these numbers are low and cases are rare, 3-D printers are nonetheless posing a serious security risk as these individuals can effortlessly bypass border control and virtually print weaponry anywhere. But, before a bullet-proof vest becomes part of your daily attire, consider that the majority of plastic guns that are made explode upon firing. In fact, the shooter is probably at more risk that the target, due to flying shrapnel. Nonetheless, there have been few instances where metal guns have been printed that are functional, precise and 100% lethal . The good news is that security officials are now aware of this technology and therefore are creating measures to deal with this new crime. Arthur Clarke, an esteemed British novelist declared, “ Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic,” Perhaps we’ve reached the period where rather than flicking our wrists, fumbling with our slight-of-hand and mumbling rhymes, all we need to do is press print.


TALENT & labels By Brittany Davis Tona Brown has many talents and is a phenomenal musician. Brown is a respected violinist and mezzo soprano singer and is also the first openly transgendered African-American to be invited to play at Carnegie Hall. For any artist, being invited to perform on such an impressive stage, as is Carnegie Hall, is a dream come true. An artist must work hard and overcome many obstacles in order to achieve such a high honour, but for persons within minority groups, it can be argued that the struggle is more difficult and the obstacles are more numerous. The artistic community, especially within artistic academic programs, is usually considered very liberal, with many of its members being LGBT themselves. Yet, minority groups appear to be underrepresented at the professional level. According to Brown, as she states in an interview with policymic, the reason that minorities are not represented in symphonies or at other professional levels is due to the “casting of roles by the administration,” as they appear to have certain biases that lead to this underrepresentation. Of course, these unspoken prejudices become obstacles for great artists such as Brown. When their identity is pinned down to a minority, their musical ability is pushed to the background and their career can suffer. These labels are indeed a part of Brown’s identity. She is, in fact, transgendered and African-American, but neither one of these things should affect how she is treated in the professional realm or in society as a whole. Without the label of “transgendered” or “African-American,” Brown’s identity will remain the exact same as it always has been. The label itself just acts as device to help other people understand aspects of Brown’s identity. In a similar way, when I label myself as “female” it suggests certain biological aspects of myself that aid people in understanding parts of who I am. These labels are meant to be simply aids when identifying a person, yet they can often do much more damage. Every label for a person has certain cultural connotations. To go back to the example of me calling myself female - when I label myself in that manner certain people may also think that being female also means that I wear dresses and skirts, or that I would rather do ballet than play football. Some assumptions that people make when they see a label, such as “female” or “transgendered” can be fairly harmless, but they can also be very dangerous and can lead to harmful prejudices. Brown even notes in her interview that outside of the artistic sphere she is faced with many dangers due to her transgendered status: “Trans women have very few safe places anywhere right now.” The labels that she attributes to herself definitely leave her at disadvantage in society as a whole. The same is true for most LGBT persons across North America. In Canada, for example, the statistics seem to support Brown’s claim. According to Statistics Canada 13% of all hate crimes are based on LGBT status. This may seem like a small number but it becomes rather large when considering only 2% of Canadians consider themselves LGBT. In any case, Brown is right in suggesting that it is not safe out there for those with such a minority status. Even the fact that such hate crimes persist in our society suggests that the labels that one puts upon themselves systemically affect how these persons are treated by their surrounding populous. The labels, while meaning to be helpful, can thus actually be detrimental. The label can act as a useful tool if it does not overshadow the person as a whole. But that is the key issue as to why many people today want to do away with labels altogether. More often than not, a label becomes the person: instead of “Tana Brown” we are left with “Transgendered” or “African-American.” Her identity can definitely entail these things, but it should not become these labels, and these labels should not then become a hindrance in her career. First and foremost she is Tana Brown: a violinist, a singer, a transgendered person, and an African-American, among a myriad of other traits and characteristics. She is not a single aspect of herself, but rather an amalgamation of many different abilities, attributes, and talents.

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first show can be nerve racking for any type of artist. The preparation involved for a good one is rigourous, and the scrutiney one may receive from the public for a bad one is harsh. Coming out of a relatively sheltred academic setting for displaying ones work, and then just putting it out for the public to see with their unfiltered judgement can be daunting but also exciting and informative, which is exactly why sculpture artist Alicia Giansante fresh out of univeristy has decided to embark on such a venture with fellow artist, Ianitza Vassileva. So the following, is a behind the scenes look at Alicia’s process of creating her first gallery show.

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he name of my series is “Findings”.

These findings (ie. the pieces in my series) appear to be strange plants and creatures from another world. By recognizing familiar materials presented in an unfamiliar way, the viewer may be unsure of whether they have stumbled upon these findings before. The combination of common natural materials with the unusual forms I create with them inspires curiosity. The pieces from “Findings” are supposed to be reminiscent of the fantastical worlds found in childhood fairy tales. It entices the nostalgia for childhood storytelling, in which discovery and wonder run rampant. Through my pieces I want my viewer to create their own narrative for them. Where did this finding come from? Have I seen this before? How was it made? In terms of influences, this series began with an exploration of animal architecture, for example, birds’ nests and beaver dams. I have always been fascinated by the amazing structures that insects and animals build. The repetition of simple behaviour, like collecting sticks, can form intricate structures. I modelled my art-making process after this concept. With regards to artists that have inspired my work, I refer to Judy Pfaff’s ability to create unusual, attractive forms and shapes and also Barry Underwood’s landscape photography. His fantastical play between light and landscape has stuck with me for years. When beginning the process of making a sculpture, I only plan the general shape of the sculpture. The other aspects are improvised, like the materials and where I use them. This method allows the work to be fluid and uncontrived. However, my biggest challenge is the vast amount of prep time that my sculptures require. The collecting and sealing of natural materials is very time consuming, as well as building bases that support the materials and installing lights within them. Applying the embellishments is the fun part, it makes the prep time worth while! About half the time I spent on this series involved collecting materials and sealing them. I would usually take a walk down a nature trail, park or go in my own backyard to scavenge for materials. I would then decide what a sculpture would look like by starting out with the basic form of the sculpture. I create the base then start applying the embellishments. I like to keep the inner workings of the sculpture a mystery. All natural materials like flower petals, pine cones and sticks are the prominent materials in the Findings series. These materials create a warm yet subdued colour palette, which to reiterate helps to communicate the nostalgic fairytalesque mystique I’m going for. Viewers often ask me what the material is that the light shines through. Honey? Tree sap? I like to keep that a secret.

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n making Findings, I experienced a lot of “firsts”! It was the first time I had made a series outside of the university environment. This was a challenge for me, as I would usually get a lot of useful feedback from peers and professors throughout the art making process. I had to be confident in my work and myself, and gage if I was on the right path. Another “first” was showing my work in a commercial art gallery. This presented new experiences for me, like pricing work. The most enjoyable part about creating “Findings”, was that as a recent graduate, I finally had the extra-time to re-connect with my art practice, it felt great to give it the time and attention it needs. When I saw my pieces in the Nathaniel Hughson Gallery space alongside fellow artist Ianitza Vassileva’s, the feeling was happy relief. Ianitza and I have been friends for a few years and we work well together, as does our artwork. It was wonderful to see everything come together. I am planning to continue making sculptures like these, but I may start to introduce man-made materials in combination with natural materials. I like to keep it fresh, so that I nor my clientele get too accustomed to any one entity of what defines me as an artist.

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t h e O D D. Y E A R . O U T Life begins at the end of your comfort zone A Repurposed Blog Entry by Sonia Dheer

I can’t deny that I’ve had a blast this first-year at university. I’ve met so many new people, lived on my own for the first time, attended a lecture or two and felt part of such a strong community. However, as great as this year has been, it’s tough to explain in words, but since the day I applied to university, I’ve always felt like something was missing. For a while, I tried to ignore that little voice inside of me. I pushed it aside and told myself that going to university right away was the right decision because according to my parents, school and society, that was what I was ‘supposed’ to do to be successful. During the application process, I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do with my life, career wise. Like many, I was convinced I had to pursue either science, engineering, law or business, the “core four”, as I like to call them. Because I can’t look at blood without feeling nauseous, am not the most mathematically inclined individual and have never taken an interest in law, I chose to pursue business. Like many kids my age, I was convinced I had to apply to something within the core four because it’s a safety net in a sense. You’re more likely to get a ‘prestigious’, high paying job with a corner office holding a business degree rather than an arts degree and that, (big bucks and white collared shirts)

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is the definition of success. Well, at least this was my mindset for the first 17 years of my life. After starting university, this mindset was altered completely. University was great in the social sense but it is first and foremost an educational institution and you’re there to work towards the fancy certificate that one day you’ll place in the nicest of frames and hang in your home office. So, when it came to the academic aspect, I really wasn’t ‘feeling it’. It took a lot of effort to drag myself to class and when I got there, my mind would drift off into different tangents. I would lose focus within 10 minutes of my 80-minute lectures, my eyes glancing at the clock every 2 minutes. My homework, projects and assessments were cures for insomnia and reading even a page of my readings was agonizing. I crammed chapters of information from thick textbooks into my mind, and then reiterated it verbatim in the hopes of getting good grades on my exams. Right after I finished one exam, all the info was poured out of my brain to make room for the next subject. If you asked me today what the slope of the average revenue curve for a perfectly competitive firm looks like in comparison to its marginal revenue curve, you would be met by a blank stare. When second semester came along, the cycle began again. Whenever I tried to


Whenever I tried to do my readings or homework, I couldn’t help but think of what I could be doing outside of school that wasn’t being done in it. Things I could be doing that would be of value and actually help me grow as a person; something that I found wasn’t being accomplished through attending what felt like never-ending lectures on cookie cutter models and one-size-fits-all ways of thinking. What I’ve learned from this year is that what separates a successful person from an average one is not the degree they possess or the name of the school they graduated from. What differentiates the influencers from the inept is truly their passion and their drive. This passion and drive is evident in every success story; from billionaire mogul, Richard Branson, to the local filmmaker who lives and breathes his art. Their zeal and perseverance is worth more than any degree. They love what they do and focus their efforts on revolutionizing

work will pay off. It won’t be easy and it won’t be glamorous. You’ll have to make hard decisions and sacrifices but if it’s what you truly love, you’ll be willing to take on the challenge and you’ll come out stronger and smarter because you did. See, if I were doing something I actually enjoyed, I would’ve worked so much harder, would’ve looked forward to classes and would’ve been overall more successful in school. In grade 11, I was set on being a CA, not because I actually had any interest in accounting but because it is a profession that is regarded as prestigious, respectable, secure and of course, high paying. I realize now that if I became an accountant, I would be making tons of money but would hate my job and hating your job is problematic when you spend such a large portion of your life doing it (but that is not to say there aren’t passionate accountants). Did I really want to spend 40+ years stuck in an unfulfill-

“The most dangerous risk of all is the risk of spending your life not doing what you want on the bet you can buy yourself the freedom to do it later” –Randy Komisar their respective industries because there’s nothing they’d rather be doing. They are polar opposites of those who reluctantly wake up for work every morning, put in their 40 hours and call it a week. I cringe at the sight of those people who constantly long for the weekend and feign illness to avoid going to work. I didn’t want to live like this. I had to do something I thoroughly enjoyed, something that made me look forward to work. Actually, I longed for something that didn’t feel like work, but was instead a natural extension of my passions and interests. So, I asked myself the following question; “If every job had the same prospects, was equally respected, and received the same pay, what would I be doing right now?”. Now, I know what you’re thinking, “Sonia, we don’t live in a perfect world and those circumstances are unrealistic”. Oh, I know. Pursuing something that is considered very competitive, not highly regarded or where it’s hard to make it big or make it at all is a daunting thought. But if you’re genuinely passionate about it, you’ll work for it. You’ll work harder than anyone else and in the end your hard

ing position, regretting not pursuing something I loved while I had the chance? No. Definitely not. So, I decided it was time to re-examine my current path. I would literally spend every waking moment reflecting on myself; where I was, where I wanted to be and what I wanted to get out of life. After confronting these questions, I realized that my current state wasn’t aligned with the answers and that, was a problem. It was time to take action and finally put an end to my days and nights of feeling lost and confused. I needed to do something to turn my life around and I had to do it now. So, I considered the three options in front of me, one, I could such it up and finish up my remaining 3 years of BBA. Two, I could transfer to another program that I may enjoy more. And three, I could drop out of university for a year. After laying down the options, I then considISSUE 1

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ered the opportunity cost (maybe I did learn a thing or two from economics!) of each option and evaluated them accordingly. Option 1 would mean I could finish up my degree in 3 more years and have the piece of paper my parents pay thousands of dollars for under my belt. But…Then what? It would also mean being stuck in misery. Being trapped in a little world, unaware of the adventures waiting outside the lecture halls, my curiosity itching away. Thus, option one wasn’t looking too attractive. Option two would be great in the sense that I could study something I love. But the problem is, I don’t know what I love and what I want to devote my life to. Switching programs would be too risky because if, once again, I didn’t like it, I would be in the same position I was in initially, wasting yet another year or more and a LOT of money. So, another option was scratched off the list. That left only one other viable option: taking a year off from school. A year off would mean I would start second year a year later than my friends. It would mean I’d be leaving school, the only thing I’ve ever known. It would mean that I would graduate at the age of 22 instead of 21. It would mean a year free from stressing out about tests, late night cram sessions and endless hours at a desk. It would mean a year of self-discovery, experiential learning, adventure and new experiences. A year of ‘finding myself ’. Another realization that I came to this year that I’m sure a lot of people in the same place as me can relate to, is that we’re burnt out from the academic pressures of high school. For 14 consecutive years we’ve gone to school every September. For 14 years we’ve studied information that we won’t recall a week after the final exam, subjects we couldn’t care less about and stressed out about every single grade we’ve gotten, because we let our lives revolve around the number that appears on our transcripts and wrongly base our worth on it. But it’s familiar territory and that’s what I think makes post-secondary school so appealing; it promises us defined routes to success and so, out of fear, we give in. But fear, seldom, if ever, brings about happiness and well-being. So, once I concluded that dropping out for a year was the best option for me, I started thinking about what I wanted to get out of this year. I was not going to spend it sleeping or indulging in Toddlers and Tiaras marathons while refreshing my Facebook

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newsfeed every five minutes. So for months, I thought long and hard about what I wanted to accomplish as a one-year dropout and identified the following 11 core goals that I would center my specific plans around: 1. Find my passion/Figure out what I want to do with my life - this goal definitely tops the list. A year off would allow me to explore different options freely and try things that I don’t have the time to do while being a full time student. I can have the freedom to ‘experiment’ risk free as a single 18/19 year old with no major responsibilities, no one depending on me for food or shelter and no debts to pay off. This is the perfect time to go out into the world and explore what it has to offer while becoming one step closer to finding my purpose. 2. Step out of my comfort zone - I’m proud to say that the first checkpoint of this goal has been reached just by dropping out. Making this decision was not an easy one. As I mentioned before, I’ve been in school every September for 14 years. It’s all I’ve ever known and stepping away from that is a scary thought because I have no idea what to expect! I want to use this year to step further away from my little bubble by challenging myself and testing my limits. I want to do things I’ve never done, experience things I’ve never experienced and go places I’ve never gone, no matter how frightening or foreign they may seem. I refuse to live with the constant regret that comes with “what if ?” any longer just because I let my fears conquer me. I want to break out of the mental boundary that I’ve set for myself and unlock my true potential. 3. Make a positive change - I have a roof over my head and clean clothes on my back. I have a fridge full of food and live in a safe neighbourhood. I am literate and have a family that supports me. By these standards, I’m more fortunate than almost half the world. I’ve become more and more appreciative of what I have these past few years and want to use my resources to help others in order to leave my mark on the world. I want to learn more about local and global issues that are affecting developmental progress and work on coming up with solutions to alleviate these issues. I want to devote more time to causes I care deeply about and use this year to do that. I long to inspire and be inspired through the power of change and empowerment.


4. Learn - I want to take a break from school but by no means a break from learning. I want to learn more about the world, about people and about things that go on outside my little world, all through experiential learning, not from reading a textbook. I also want to use this year to develop new skills while honing my current ones. Lastly, I want to immerse myself in new interests, especially ones that I’ve never even considered trying before. 5. Explore the world - I’ve been bitten by the travel bug a.k.a the one bug I don’t despise. Travel is undoubtedly one of the best ways to learn about yourself and the world around you. However, I’m not thinking about the kind of travel where you relax within the confines of an all-inclusive resort, sipping pina coladas poolside. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for relaxing but it’s just not what’s going to help me accomplish what I want this year. I’m young and able and want to take advantage of this to have exciting adventures and out of the box experiences during my travels while learning about new cultures and gaining a grassroots global perspective that is so valuable in our increasingly shrinking world. 6. Expand my network - In conjunction with exploring the world, I want to expand my network, not for the sake of unlocking the 500+ connections achievement on LinkedIn but because I’ve always had a genuine interest in people and their journeys. I want to meet interesting people from different countries, backgrounds and demographics who hold different views, experiences and live different lifestyles. Everyone brings something unique to the table and this is the basis of meaningful conversations and “aha moments”, two things I love. 7. Have stories to tell - Where would we be without stories? Life without stories would be bland and unexciting. Stories engage our emotional and physical senses in ways that very few other mediums can. They change our perception of the world and let us go through life with our eyes and mind open. Stories give our experiences meaning and influence our souls with the valuable lessons they teach us. When I return from my year off, I hope to have stories to tell with which I can contribute more value to my life and the lives of those around me

8. Check things off the ol’ bucket list - From becoming a polyglot to couchsurfing, a year free from school is the perfect opportunity to cross things off my extensive bucket list! 9. Make money - As you can probably tell, a wholesome year off can be an expensive venture and so, one of my goals is to make some money, especially through entrepreneurial ventures because don’t get me wrong, I do love business…I just hate business school. I am constantly conjuring ideas for new projects and am fascinated by the world of business; I just don’t think business school does it justice. A year off would be the perfect opportunity for me to implement these ventures and learn more about business than any class could teach me. 10. Come back to school, fresh, with broadened views, perspectives and purpose - I believe that a year of learning and adventure will benefit me by allowing me to bring my newfound practical knowledge and skills, fresh ideas and new perspectives to the classroom while renewing my focus and passion for school. 11. Be a better me - I want to end this year off a more confident person; one who doesn’t doubt or underestimate herself. I want to stop worrying about what others think and trust myself more. I want to use this year to wholly invest in my personal growth and come back a better me. Life is short and unexpected. “Someday” doesn’t exist, so there’s no point waiting for it. The power of now is strong. I don’t want to waste any more time sitting in lecture halls, my mind itching away at the idea of the adventures, lessons and opportunities that await outside the confines of the university walls. I don’t want to waste another minute regurgitating useless information and enduring a theoretical approach to learning. It’s time to take a break from all this for the very first time in 14 years and use it to experiment, to develop, to learn and to do something greater with my life. Regardless of what degree I decide to pursue later on, I’m very confident that what I bring back from my year off will play a crucial role in my academic success and my success outside of school. So, here’s to trying something a little different. Here’s to a year of new experiences, a new wealth of knowledge and adventures to share. ISSUE 1

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season the warmest

“And so with the sunshine and the great bursts of leaves growing on the trees, just as things grow in fast movies, I had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer.� ~ F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

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By Srishti Jain

BEING IMMORTAL No one ever said it would be easy to live forever. Though it is possible. Those poor scientists, geneticists, doctors, researchers – all with impeccable credentials I must say – have been so focussed on winning the war against ageing when the solution to the eternity formula is so simple. Don’t get me wrong, the genetic breakthroughs relating to particular diseases of ageing and stem cell work are very intriguing and highly promising avenues in the medical and anti-ageing field, and there is no physical law that would necessarily prevent a human’s body from being immortal by design, but the pursuit of extended longevity is, of course, not without opponents. There are the obvious consequences such as diminishing resources and overpopulation. And naturally, not everyone wants to live forever. What would become of ’till death do us apart’? Or of YOLO, the motto that has become so popular over the years? It’s funny, but just the other day I had come across a comment on a Facebook page that read: “YOLO? LOL, I got Immortality. # Immortalswag”. I had a good laugh at this individual’s comment because it seemed so counterproductive. I mean, even if you are immortal, you are only living once…but just forever. And when you think about it, isn’t the essence of YOLO living forever as well? But in this case, living for eternity does not have to mean to be forever physically alive, but it can be as simple as leaving a legacy.

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The human desire to leave a legacy, to make a mark, to accomplish something, is driven by the fact that there is so little time. Our determination to complete something and our incentive to achieve within a known lifespan would disappear if we lived forever. Think of it this way: if your professor or boss gave you an assignment with a strict deadline that was approaching soon, you would (hopefully) make your way to completing the assignment. But what if you were given years of time to complete it, would you still be as motivated to immediately start the task at hand? If you responded yes, then you are in denial. So, a longer lifespan may as well in fact be undesirable and threatening to the spirit of man and woman. We can wait for the scientific advances to (potentially) achieve immortality one day, if we are even alive then. Or we can realize that we are already immortal if we want to be, and gasp for effect. It’s a paradox really, because the first step to becoming immortal is by realizing that you have very little time to live. The second step is to acknowledge the opportunity of truly living life, an opportunity that far too many people miss out on. Most of us just follow a simple routine day after day in hopes of achieving something larger, when the only true success is immortality. It’s like what the author James Dean once wrote: “If a man can bridge the gap between life and death, if he’s alive after he’s died, then maybe he was a great man.” We are tiny people in a tiny corner of the fabric of this infinite universe, and we may feel small and unimportant in the grand scheme of things, but each one of us has the ability to make an impact on the rest of us. It is thus how we may cheat death – what we do for ourselves dies with us, but what we do for others and the world remains and is immortal. So in the normal hustle bustle of daily life, try something new. Take action for a worthy cause, and you will be remembered for the difference you’ve made in someone’s life. Invent or discover something, and your story lives in the minds of its users. Write a book, and your ideas live. So make your mark in the world. Become immortal.


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the end. or beginning...


edit0r’s valedicti0n I If you have come this far then I’d like to thank you for reading (or atleast clicking through) this piece in its entirety out of ideally your own will (or perhaps surrendering to the persistence of our contributors requesting that you have look). I hope that all in all it was a good or atleast tolerable viewing experience, and in the case that it wasn’t we do hope our next issue will be more tailored to your tastes. Again thank you for reading FIERCE for the first time,it was our first time making it and we hope that you come back for more.

*As an aside, for many of the pieces that you believe require citations that are none existent here, they are in fact cited in the form of hyperlinks in our fiercemag.co archives.


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