Ryerson's first and only general interest publication
RYERSON FOLIO MAGAZINE EDITOR’S NOTE
A lot has changed at Ryerson since its transition from a polytechnic institute to a university in 2002. Transformation is something that’s inevitable with time, be it five years or 10. In the past couple of years, we’ve all seen growth within our surroundings and, hell, even within ourselves. This year marks the year of change. No, it’s not written anywhere—but everyone is sensing it. During this academic year, we’ve seen campus expansion with the Student Learning Centre, the various paint jobs of Gould street, we’ve had Canadian fashion icon Jeanne Beker curate Mass Exodus and soon the Mattamy Athletic Centre will host Pan Am/Parapan Am 2015 Games.
Like the change everyone has experienced individually during their time at Ryerson, Folio’s gone through some stuff, too. I’ve been with Folio since my second year of university three years ago and have seen it through its ups and downs. Where there is transition, there is bound to be some stumbling. However, it hasn’t hindered us from starting anew. Despite all these changes, one thing has remained true: Ryerson is an urban hub full of culture and identity—and that’s exactly what Folio aims to showcase and celebrate. That’s why the theme of change is so prevalent in this issue of Folio. We see it in “Sheldon’s Shoes Too Big To Fill,” a story by Robert Liwanag that explores Ryerson’s advancements under Sheldon Levy’s 10 years as president—a role he recently announced he’ll be keeping for two more years. Change is seen within opposition party Transform RU’s win in the student elections, a first in Ryerson history. Change is deciding whether or not to attend graduation, or taking a risk in your life to make your dream of starting a business a reality. It’s important to embrace times of transition because it almost always leads you to something better. We see the benefits of this within our alumni, faculty and students—all profiled in Issue 4. In an environment like Ryerson, it’s easy to feel inspired. We discuss what it means to be in Ryerson’s art scene in a round table discussion titled “An Elective in the Arts,” moderated by Maham Shakeel.
Zinnia Naqvi Som Kong Carolyn Johns Chloe Wise
BUSINESS Sheldon’s shoes too big to fill How to run a successful student campaign
ARTS & LIFE Digital by design Not missing out: why convocation isn’t worth your time More than a piece of paper: why you should attend convocation An elective in the arts Homegrown mixtape
FASHION Mass Exodus 2015 Starting up a fashion revolution
With the support of RCDS, we are able to bring you stories of cultural happenings and successes that are happening in our space right in the heart of Toronto—Ryerson University.
Here’s to change.
The Dead of Winter
Coffee Minus Control
BOOK REVIEWS The Buried Giant –Emily Rivas, editor
Grace’s Guide: The Art of Pretending to be a Grownup
RYERSON FOLIO TEAM EDITOR-IN-CHIEF
EXECUTIVES OF FINANCE AND MARKETING
Emily Rivas, Journalism ‘15
Chris Martins, Retail Management ‘17
Ahmad Hussain, Business Management ‘16
Erica Lenti, Journalism ‘15
Kareem Rahaman, Undergraduate Admissions and Recruitment
Benji De Lorenzi, Graphic Communications Management ‘15
ASSOCIATE EDITORS Arts Erica Ngao, Journalism ‘17
CONTRIBUTORS Karen Chan, Journalism ‘17 Oriena Vuong, Journalism ‘17 Anna-Maria Stavridis, Creative Industries ‘17
Lifestyle Jessica Murray, Journalism ‘15
Vjosa Isai, Journalism ‘16
Fashion Taylour Nembhard, Fashion Communication ‘15
Daniel Rosen, Journalism ‘15
Fiction Lauren Matera, English ‘15
Isabelle Docto, Journalism ‘17
Business Alisha Sawhney, Journalism ‘15
DESIGNERS AND ILLUSTRATORS Dasha Zolota, Journalism ‘15 Miguel Betz, Graphic Communications Management ‘17 Benji De Lorenzi, Graphic Communications Management ‘15 Hannah Stinson, Fashion Communication ‘16
Maham Shakeel, Journalism ‘16 Jessica Murray, Journalism ‘15 Patricia Karounos, Journalism ‘17 Robert Liwanag, Journalism ‘ 16 Emily Betteridge, Creative Industries ‘17 Jessica Defreitas, Journalism ‘15 Samantha Tapp, Journalism ‘16 Debbie Hernandez, Journalism ‘15 Cameron MacDonald, English ‘15 Kylie Coleen Tan, English ‘18 Geraldynn Lubrido, English ‘17
Pedro Hespanha, Photography ‘16 Petrija Petrusi, Photography ‘16 Sam Yohannes, Journalism ‘17
Cover by Miguel Betz
Andre Varty, Journalism ‘17 Dasha Zolota, Journalism ‘15
RESEARCH AND COPY Erica Lenti, Journalism ‘15 Aeman Ansari, Journalism ‘15 Patricia Karounos, Journalism ‘17 Isabelle Docto, Journalism ‘17 Victoria Shariati, English ‘18
Ryerson Folio is brought to you by RCDS, PFACS
PROFILED ZINNIA NAQVI Photography Alumna, Filmmaker ERICA NACCARATO Psychology Student, Varsity Athlete SOM KONG Fashion Design Alumna CHLOE WISE Artist CAROLYN JOHNS Assistant Professor Politics and Public Admin. 4
View from the other side Zinnia Naqvi By Oriena Vuong Photography by Pedro Hespanha Exploring her roots from behind the lens, Zinnia Naqvi tackles the challenge of perception IMA 307, one of the largest lecture rooms in Ryerson’s Image Arts building, is filling up with students who murmur as they enter. A petite young woman with dark hair in a messy bun and a bright smile on her face chats animatedly to one of the professors as they wait for the fourth-year class to settle down. And then it begins: after a two-year labour of love on her first film, photography alumna Zinnia Naqvi makes her debut as a solo photographer at the Ryerson Image Centre with Seaview. The first sequence begins with grainy home videos of people
and a young Naqvi, standing in the water at the beach. Sounds of waves crashing and children laughing pitch the ear as camels wander around on screen. The camera pans around shakily at an off-centered angle, while subtitles, narrated by Naqvi’s thoughts 17 years later, appear. They read: “I pretended I was there alone with just my camera,” before fading to black. At the age of 14, Naqvi was inspired to take up photography after viewing pictures of beaches in Pakistan—where her family is from—on Flickr. She recalls fond memories of spending time there as a child, thinking the place looked dull. But the photographer changed her mind after his captivating images of the beach. “Because of that, I started to get more and more interested in photography, like how you can use photography to make somewhere seem more beautiful [and it] will change someone’s perception of a place,” she says. Since seeing those beaches, Naqvi took a trip of her own to Karachi, Pakistan. She wanted to recreate her version of the country while attempting to showcase the beauty and essence of the country through Seaview. In one particular scene, the messy traffic of Karachi is shown. Naqvi speaks Urdu to the viewer, notingd that the traffic there scares her, but she still enjoys it. She tackled the challenge of speaking Urdu because it had always been a bit of “shame” for her that she didn’t speak it often in her household. Naqvi is the only child who didn’t grow up in Pakistan like her sisters. “I wanted to give a really honest depiction of what it is like to be there and
all of the challenges, in a way that’s not sugar-coated or dumbed down,” she adds. Besides focusing on Pakistan’s culture, she discusses the challenges she’s faced throughout the journey of recreating these images. “[The film is] talking about my experience of going back and trying to do the same thing, and having problems doing that,” she says. “I guess now that I’ve studied four years of photography, I realize that you can use photography to change the way someone thinks about something, but it’s not necessarily the truth.” Near the film’s end, hundreds of images are imported onto a MacBook desktop. The sequence accelerates as image icons blow up large enough to see what the photographs look like. A cursor opens up stunning beach photographs taken at different times of the day. Each photograph, rich with colours and breathtaking scenes of life at the beach, are much like the kinds of images that inspired Naqvi to take up photography. “I’ve always wanted to take a picture like this,” she says in her voiceover. “Now when I look at it, all I can really think is, ‘What am I really saying about this place?’” Now, Naqvi realizes that photography is more than just trying to document a place. “Being a photographer, a lot of the time you expect it to be a neutral perspective, but it isn’t. There’s no perfect way to document or portray one place or one thing. There’s always a million different perspectives and that’s the challenge.” Naqvi cites Ryerson as having been a great influence in helping 5
her grasp the meaning behind creating photos. “I never really thought about what I was trying to say with my pictures before that. Ryerson’s photo program taught me to be really critical of what I’m saying with my work,” she says. As the showing concludes, she explains how she felt after finishing the film and overcoming the obstacles of creating it. “The work is very cathartic for me, because it really touches on a lot of issues that I’ve [wanted] to address for a really long time.” Naqvi will be exhibiting in the NS Photo Exchange Project in July at Gallery 44—a showing that also involves a different culture. She’s currently in the process of collaborating with an artist from Argentina, whom she’s never met, as part of a pen-pal project in celebration of the Toronto 2015 Pan Am/Parapan Am Games.
‘A’ positive leader
Erica Naccarato By Emily Betteridge Photography by Dasha Zolota Ryerson student Erica Naccarato founds first yearly blood drive on campus Amidst a rush of chaos and needles, exhausted from helping to save lives, 20-year-old psychology student and varsity athlete Erica Naccarato takes a step back from her surroundings and absorbs the event happening before her, the one she pioneered: Ryerson’s second-annual blood drive. Naccarato began planning for what would become an annual— and revolutionary—event about two years ago. The motivation for her to initiate such an event was cultivated back in high school when a desire to overcome her 6
fear of needles, coupled with an aspiration to help others, inspired her to donate blood for the first time. She attended her first clinic with her father, a donor of 35 years, and immediately fell in love with the atmosphere and the people. It was after this experience that she decided she wanted to begin volunteering with Canadian Blood Services (CBS). During her time volunteering, Naccarato noticed a list on the wall of the clinic identifying universities that support CBS. Curious as to why Ryerson was not on the list, Naccarato inquired about its absence. Apart from a simple lack of initiation or awareness for such an event, she discovered a history of conflict between the two parties due to a discrepancy with regards to the support of gay rights. Centered in diverse downtown Toronto, Ryerson University is an avid supporter of gay rights and has previously expressed concern with some of the pre-donation assessment questions that have to do with sexuality. This concern has prevented the university from running a blood donor clinic in the past. Passionate and a self-identified dreamer, Naccarato was not afraid of a challenge. “I thought it was something we should try to move forward from,” she explains of her goal to eradicate the issue. Though she knew it was not something that would dissipate overnight, she felt it was important to continue taking steps in the right direction. As a member of the varsity women’s volleyball team, she and the athletic department encouraged initiative. She pitched the idea of the blood
drive to Ryerson’s athletic director, Ivan Joseph. Her proposal did not come as a shock though given her enthusiasm on the volleyball court, her consistent involvement in the Ryerson Athletic Volunteer Experience and her burning ambition. Her teammates are eager to compliment her too, praising her leadership and dedication, as well as her selfless nature. “She is always putting others first and never asks for anything in return,” fourth-year senior and teammate Alex Whyte says. With the support of Joseph and Ryerson Athletics, Naccarato began coordinating the event that in its first year would garner an impressive 72 donors, helping to save roughly 210 lives. This year, Naccarato’s preparation for the blood drive began in January with extensive advertising and promotion, both within the athletic department and around the school. The promotion included hundreds of posters, Facebook events and Twitter posts, as well as registration and recruitment tables where CBS runs a special activity titled, “What’s your type?” to attract donors. This involves a finger prick administered by a registered nurse to test for your blood type. In addition to the donors that register during recruitment, Naccarato explains that walk-ins are welcome and common on the day of. Once the day arrives, Naccarato breathes a little easier. “I feel really good about it,” she says with a smile. “There are tons of people flowing in and out. I feel like we have definitely improved. Last year I found there were some lulls, but this year there has been a steady flow of
donors.” Though this year’s clinic was only scheduled for four hours (two fewer than the previous year), Naccarato and CBS accommodate 55 donors, saving another 165 lives—a 10 per cent increase in donors per hour from last year. When asked how she manages school, volleyball, volunteering and her social life, Naccarato says her personality is conducive to her lifestyle. “That’s when I’m happiest, when I’m busy. I go nuts if I feel like I’m not being productive,” she says with a laugh. She also says it’s about balance. “I don’t think I should have to give up one aspect to do well in another,” she explains, acknowledging that finding the right balance can sometimes be a difficult task. She credits her tenacity and enthusiasm to her biggest supporter: her mother. “My mom pushed me to bring my ideas to the table. She made me believe my opinion was valuable and she always told me, ‘You will have such a better time if you get involved.’” Simply “getting involved” is an understatement when it comes to Naccarato. As she circulates the clinic, she shares her genuine smile and chats openly with donors, her dedication and passion evident from her demeanor or a glance into her kind eyes.
The world of Som Kong
Som Kong By Jessica Defreitas Photography by Petrija Petrusi Graduated from Ryerson’s fashion design program, Som Kong is quicky rising as an emerging menswear designer in Toronto’s fashion scene In the past eight months, emerging fashion designer Som Kong has debuted at the first Toronto Men’s Fashion Week as well as secured America’s Next Top Model contestant Winnie Harlow to walk in his Toronto World MasterCard Spring 2015 show. It’s been a remarkable year for the 24 year old, who graduated from Ryerson’s fashion design program last June. “When you’re backstage, it’s organized chaos. Being a part of something [where] you see your creations coming to life, it’s an amazing feeling. It’s fast,” Kong 7
says while sitting in his Toronto studio. “If you don’t take that one moment to breathe and actually just take a step back and look at it all, you miss it really quick.” Originally, Kong wanted to pursue a career in photography. It was through photographing models at the age of 16 that he developed an interest in fashion. Fortunately, his mother, who is a seamstress for Levi’s, had supplies readily available for him, he explains, pointing out that the sewing machine sitting on his table was once hers. In Grade 11, Kong transferred high schools so that he could take a basic sewing course. At the end of his graduating year, Kong put on his first fashion show. He chose to study fashion design at Ryerson University and in his third year, Kong studied abroad at the Hong Kong Polytechnic Institute. While at PolyU, Kong was able to explore knitwear and 3D draping—two techniques that are present in his work today. His travels to Hong Kong influenced the collection he produced for Mass Exodus the following year. The collection featured Kong’s favourite article of clothing: the sweatshirt. “You know, it’s a casual item, but when you look at [how] Kenzo or Alexander Wang do their sweatshirts it’s very luxurious and I love that balance of the two,” says Kong, who happens to be wearing a sweatshirt he designed. The androgynous collection included five sweatshirts, each depicting personal moments from Kong’s life. The ram logo represented both his Chinese zodiac sign and school mascot, whereas his concept Braille 8
sweat top, when decoded, says, “I promise to buy my mom a house”—a personal reminder for Kong, whose mother lost their house while he was in second year. His Mass Exodus collection won him the Best Production Award and placed him at the top 18 of his graduating class. Shortly after his graduation, Kong presented at Toronto Men’s Fashion Week. He was one of the top five finalists in the Emerging Menswear Designers Awards, competing for $10,000. Kong had only one month to create a 12-piece collection. Though he did not win the monetary prize, Kong says being Audience Favourite led him to other opportunities like World MasterCard Fashion Week (WMCFW). He had one month to come up with yet another collection. For WMCFW, Kong was advised to design a womenswear collection, as he wanted to compete in The Toronto Fashion Incubator’s New Labels Design Competition, which required him to have experience in womenswear. “This is when I felt like I compromised my aesthetic a little bit,” Kong admits. “I felt pressured. I was trying to do something to please others more than I was pleasing myself.” Kong’s WMCFW collection was inspired by his “grey” feelings after losing TOM*FW, as he was intending to use the prize money to help him produce his next collection. A highlight from his WMCFW collection was that Kong was able to secure model Winnie Harlow to walk in his show. He was able to personally connect with Harlow as they both have vitiligo, a disorder that causes depigmentation
patches to develop on the skin. “It was perfect designer-muse relationship,” says Kong, who once covered his vitiligo because of insecurity. “Seeing her embrace this beauty and her accepting this uniqueness made me realize that I am unique [too] and it’s okay to accept it.” Having Harlow walk in his show gave the designer international press. It seemed like Kong was on his way. “You know as a designer you had hoped to dream to come out of grad school and be able to show at a platform like this,” he says. However, behind the beautiful garments, there was a designer who was having trouble dealing with all of the pressure. After WMCFW, Kong decided not to compete in the New Labels competition. “I took a step back and thought, ‘Maybe this is not the direction I thought I would want to go to.’ So [for now], it’s kind of just focusing on sales and figuring out what I want to do.” What Kong does know is that he will continue making garments, specifically with a focus on menswear. “I feel like after TOM* there was a passion for menswear,” he says. However, Kong says that he isn’t done with runways either. “I see myself doing runways, but they have to be theatrical runways. For instance, Tom Brown presents amazing spectacular show, that has a story to tell, and that’s what I essentially want to do . . . Ideally I would want to create my own space and take the audience into the world of Som Kong.”
Chloe Wise By Anna-Maria Stavridis Photography by Sam Yohannes Armed with fashionable baked goods and plenty of humour, Chloe Wise takes on pop culture with her tongue-in-cheek approach to art Taking art where it has never been before, a new creative species is merging satire seamlessly with fashion and pop culture. Unsurprisingly, it has taken the world by storm both on and offline. This is the work of Canadian artist Chloe Wise. Far from bashful, Wise’s art tackles social issues head on, commenting on consumerism and tearing apart taboos in wildly inventive ways. Both have been lifelong phenomena to Wise. Her mix of painting, sculpture, images and video shocks and evokes
thought in the viewer. “They are the same body of work,” she says about her projects that mash up media and blur the lines between them. It was only after completing her bachelor of fine arts at Concordia University that Wise realized there can be a marriage between pop culture references and traditional art forms and techniques. Exploring this artistic fusion skyrocketed Wise’s career to unprecedented heights, largely thanks to her sculpture collection of designer bread bags. The Chanel-inspired Bagel No. 5 took the Internet by storm after friend and actress India Menuez wore it to a Chanel dinner, fooling guests and the media into thinking it really was a Chanel design. Wise does not just turn to her pop idols and flashy ad campaigns to fuel the commercial fire of her style. Instead, she finds inspiration anywhere and everywhere. She says there is no filter when she brainstorms and imagines ideas. Costco, commercials, bakeries and selfies all possess an unorthodox beauty to Wise, who looks at the world like a heart-eyed emoji. Hyper and bold, she tears through her creative process, always making a mess and thinking of projects to take on. A selfie queen in her own right, Wise uses her artistic voice to embrace the selfie culture and abolish bias against those who participate in it. She explores the absurdity of this criticism with her 2014 series Literally Me, a collection of painted selfies, as well as meta-portraits of Wise standing with her series of paintings. She says her goal for the project was to tell people,
“Look at the banality of this, look at the ridiculousness of this discussion. People can promote their self-appearance any way they want, and they should not be judged.” Observing Wise’s work is the artistic equivalent of hosting a comedy roast for millennials: some people get the joke and others don’t. Her aim is always to probe the minds of her audience. She revels in the confusion experienced by others. “The more confusing it is, the more it invites a dialogue,” she says. “I think that’s where the actual art comes in is in the dialogue. What happens when you ask yourself, ‘What am I looking at?’” Wise embraces life and art equally with open arms, and she never gets bored. She has the guts to genuinely express herself through her work—and although she is fresh on the art scene, she already has the glory to show her fearless style has paid off with international success. One can’t help but imagine that Wise will one day ascend to global power, ruling the world with a selfie stick in one hand and a Montreal bagel in the other.
Up all night to get lucky Dani Reynolds By Samantha Tapp Photography by Andre Varty
MTV Fora to Free Agency, Ryerson graduate Dani Reynolds is a key player in the Toronto art scene If you asked Dani Reynolds how she landed a dream job fresh out of university she might suggest that she was “lucky.” But with a quick glance at her work with Free Agency, her past experience with MTV Fora or a scan of her Instagram account, it is clear that while luck may be a factor, her creative talent is overflowing. The Ryerson fashion communication graduate spends her days writing and editing for the hip Toronto-based company Free Agency. A network-powered content studio, this ambitious young company focuses on 10
creating content to boost creativity through all platforms—a perfect fit for Reynolds, who embraces all art forms and whose appetite for creating is strong. Reynolds’s creativity lies within her writing, photography, fashion and creative directing but she expresses her extensive interest in all art modes. “We’re all about highlighting talented people that do what they love. I love writing about people and learning new things that I wouldn’t have known,” Reynolds says. “People are the most fascinating to me.” When she’s not working at Free Agency, you may see Reynolds staying active doing yoga, running with her “Night Terrors” group or walking her husky around the city. Pay attention and you may also spot her byline anywhere from her written pieces for sites such as MTV Fora to her photography spreads in print catalogues. She is a frequent freelancer, completing six projects in February alone. Her freelancing spans many outlets, most recently, she directed a photo shoot and did prop styling for Capezio Shoes, which will be featured in a print catalogue. Starting off in the incredibly competitive fashion program, Reynolds used her time at Ryerson networking and gaining experience. Ryerson’s fashion school competes at an international level, with students claiming the program turns away thousands of applicants every year. The school is known to push its students to strive for excellence. For fashion students, along with 400 internship hours, a full course load is required to graduate. Describing her experience at Ryerson as “sleepless,” Reynolds praises the school for requiring
students to intern. Securing her first internship the day after her first-year seminar urging students to get involved, Reynolds fully endorses their importance. “Intern while you’re in school and even after. Do freelance work and collaborate with friends,” she says. “Always create and put stuff out there.” Fast-forward to third year, and Reynolds had started her three-month internship at MTV Fora, which, unbeknownst to her, would be key to her future. Working as an editorial assistant for the site that provides relatable beauty and culture pieces for girls, Reynolds established herself through her blog pieces and photography, along with her social media accounts that she swears are absolutely crucial. “Always promote yourself and don’t feel like you’re being obnoxious. People want to see what you’re creating, so never stop self-promoting,” she advises. Throughout her final year of school, Reynolds continued to contribute one article a week for Fora. This would prove to be vital. During this time, her boss at Fora was creating a new company, one that would give Reynolds the opportunity all university students dream about: the chance to start working fresh out of school. The day after her final university exam, Reynolds started working at the new company, Free Agency. The company, whose studio opened in 2014, is quickly expanding, providing Reynolds with invaluable experience. “It’s a great learning experience because I get to do way more than I would with an established company. Working for a startup is really something people should
think about,” she says. Currently she is working on “The Creator Class,” an up-and-coming Free Agency channel. Highlighting inspirational individuals who live through their passion of art, music, adventure and style, the channel is self-described as “for creators, by creators.” This seems perfect for the former fashion student. Although her passion for fashion is still alive, she explained that Ryerson taught her to find inspiration through different outlets—and that is exactly what she is doing. Living with a “go-with-the-flow” philosophy, Reynolds plans to keep on creating art; and while she may have gotten by with a touch of luck, her passion for art makes this Ryerson graduate a key player in Toronto’s art scene.
Troubled Waters Carolyn Johns By Isabelle Docto
How Ryerson professor Carolyn Johns is fighting to save the Great Lakes Ryerson professor Carolyn Johns remembers splashing in the waters of Nickel Beach as a kid. It was the main summer destination in her hometown of Port Colborne, Ont., a city situated right on Lake Erie. Families parked their cars right on the sand. Children floated in their water tubes with Lake Erie enveloping their treading legs below. For a city that relied on the lake for purposes like fishing, agriculture and recreation, Johns doesn’t remember being concerned about its state. One day in February, Johns is sitting in her office on the 7th floor of Jorgenson Hall at Ryerson. She furrows her brows and looks up at the ceiling, trying to recall memories from her childhood. “We continued to go to Lake Erie and Nickel Beach when the waters probably were not particularly of good quality,” she says. “But, you know in the 1970s and 1980s, even though the lake was declared dead at certain times, the consciousness of the quality of water was not there.” Now, Johns, an associate politics and public administration professor at Ryerson, is director of the Great Lakes Policy Research Network (GLPRN), trying to raise awareness of issues affecting the lakes. The network was established in 2012, partnering up Canadian and American social science researchers. The team of 24 faculty and student
members from both countries develops policy research about the lakes and makes it available to policymakers, environmental groups and the public. But it wasn’t until she pursued a graduate degree in arts and public policy administration at McMaster University that Johns started digging into environmental policy. She says the time was right: “In the late 1980s and early 1990s, environment was on the forefront of government agendas and so a lot of students in that time period were interested in those types of issues,” she says. These issues started in the late 1960s when Lake Erie was declared dead. Phosphorous seeped into the lake, creating algae blooms that prevented living things from getting oxygen. As a result, Canada and the United States signed the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement (GLWQA) in 1972. It recognized how both countries were responsible for the maintenance of the lakes. Fast forward to 2012, when the GLWQA was last re-negotiated. That introduced new partnership grants by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. Johns applied and received startup funding for the GLPRN. Two years in and they’ve compiled data from public opinion and government elite surveys about their knowledge and use for the Great Lakes. Johns says environmental groups have been able to use this data for their campaigns. Jennifer McKay, manager for the Great Lakes Environment Canada office thinks it’s an interesting project to gain support to improve Great Lakes water quality. “[Johns] has 11
been able to reach out to various partners and levels of government, First Nations, water management agencies, the public and the international joint commission,” she says. They’re also working on ways to measure the effectiveness of government programs on the lakes’ maintenance. “Our research is really focused on how do we make sure that governments can do a good job implementing policies better than they have the last 40 years,” Johns says. She still manages to balance her busy schedule to educate future policy researchers. Piles of unwritten exams sit on her office floor and a pamphlet from the Ryerson Urban Water collective, of which Johns is also a member, lays on her desk. But she’s not alone in her work. Tara Disenhouse, a graduate student in public policy and administration, was interested in Johns’s work and became her research assistant. “I think it’s really important what [she] is doing creating the network and doing all this research as a way to raise awareness for something that affects everyone,” Disenhouse says. Today, Johns lives in Burlington, Ont. Just like when she was young and swam in the waters of Lake Erie, she now takes her children to the beaches. “We go to Lake Ontario a lot more,” she says, quickly adding, “. . .and sometimes we don’t let the kids put their head under.”
SHELDON’S SHOES TOO BIG TO FILL Robert Liwanag HOW TO RUN A SUCCESSFUL STUDENT CAMPAIGN Vjosa Isai
Sheldonâ€™s shoes too big to fill After more than 10 years as president, Levy has bettered student life and Ryersonâ€™s reputation Illustration by Dasha Zolota
SHELDON’S SHOES TOO BIG TO FILL By Robert Liwanag
n a chilly Monday morning, Ryerson University’s Student Learning Centre (SLC) finally opens its doors. Students flock inside from both the streets and the library building, more curious than skeptical—after all, this building was almost three years in the making. At the first level’s amphitheatre, people take selfies, wait for friends, sit on benches and take elevators to the upper floors. While the building’s modern glass design—as well as the ground floor’s distinctive blue triangular ceiling tiles—have already been visible for some time, the inside is new to most. Built on the remnants of Sam the Record Man and five other properties with a budget of $112 million, the SLC is one of Sheldon Levy’s latest projects. Levy first took over as president of Ryerson in 2005 and originally planned to step down at the end of this term. But, a last minute announcement on March 6 revealed that he was staying after all. The reason? The school couldn’t find a decent replacement willing to take the job. “I fundamentally believe that great architecture creates great public spaces. I am totally against buildings that are personal places as a priority,” Levy said last November during his keynote address for “Who Builds the City?” (a Ryersonsponsored symposium exploring architecture’s ongoing role in the
development of Toronto). “This way of thinking is uncommon for a university, but we’ve proven it right.” Levy, who was appointed last year to Mayor John Tory’s advisory council, already has something of a notable reputation in the city. In 2012 and 2013 Toronto Life named him one of the 50 most influential people in the city. As students venture through the SLC on its opening day, walking from room to room and level to level, many comment on the lighting in a study space referred to as “The Beach” and the introduction of a Starbuck’s on the first floor, among other things. One of these students is Amita Rajan.
“Sheldon Levy, compared to many university presidents across Ontario, has been a ... very studentfriendly president. He’s made himself known on campus.” - Rajean Hoilett “Everyone’s in awe because it’s something new,” says Rajan, a first-year nutrition and food student at Ryerson, who witnessed the progression of the building every time she visited the city. “It’s not only visually appealing from the
outside, but it’s got heart and soul when you walk into it too.” For Rajan and many other students, the large property on corner of Yonge and Gould streets was always under some stage of construction. Ryerson, which officially became a university in 1993 after spending decades as a polytechnic, was a completely different place before Levy took over—the original brown brick facade of the O’Keefe Brewery still stood where the Image Arts Building is now, the quad was unkempt and campus roads were open to vehicular traffic. Under his leadership, Ryerson has become one of the most popular universities in the province— approximately 70,000 students compete for the 7,000 available first-year positions. Last October, Maclean’s released its annual university rankings, placing Ryerson eighth on a list covering national reputation. “I think it feels more like a campus now, a university,” says Rajan, who commutes from Ajax for most of her week. “It’s simple things that matter. You don’t have to be afraid of getting hit by a car trying to get to class anymore.” To many, Levy has never been a behind-the-scenes figure, indifferent to the campus life of an underdog university mostly known as a commuter school. On the contrary, Levy has often been seen at Ryerson Rams games, strolling near Kerr Hall, or in 15
one case, riding his motorcycle to the stage to start off Ryerson’s 2013 Blue and Gold Ball. His availability to students may be his biggest impact. “When RESS [Ryerson Engineering Student Society] sends him invites to events, he always does his best to make it to those events, even if it’s stopping by for a few minutes,” says Urooj Siddiqui, RESS president and engineering student. This availability includes supporting student initiatives and agreeing to fund projects. One year, when the Ryerson Formula Racing team asked Levy for a dynamometer—a fairly expensive device that measures the force, power and speed of a car—he simply gave it to them. “Sheldon Levy, compared to many university presidents across Ontario, has been a very approachable president and a very student-friendly president,” says Rajean Hoilett, Ryerson Students’ Union (RSU) president. “He’s made himself known on campus.” Almost five years ago, Levy found himself being approached by students with science and business ideas when a light bulb flashed in his head. The Digital Media Zone (DMZ), Ryerson’s business incubator that assists start-ups and entrepreneurs, was the result. Now, it’s ranked the top university incubator in Canada, and fifth globally. “He has allowed students to try, experiment, succeed and fail,” says Abdullah Snobar, student engagement and business development director at DMZ. “And that’s uncommon for someone in his position, that sense of empowerment.” While he says 16
the school could have tried harder to find a replacement, to Insobar, Levy staying for two more years is good news. His time as president, however, has also garnered its fair share of criticism from students. Perhaps the most disputed project was the painting of Gould and Victoria streets—a striking light blue and bright yellow made as a tribute Taddle Creek, a river that once ran through many Toronto neighbourhoods on its way to Lake Ontario. It cost approximately $195,000.
“...We’re a humble university in the sense that we don’t have to say we’re the greatest...” - Amita Rajan “I know that a lot of students were really frustrated to see that $200,000 was poured into a project that students really didn’t prioritize, but beyond that, that students didn’t see as being something that needed to happen on campus,” Hoilett says. Student opposition of tuition fee hikes, departmental budget cuts and prioritization issues has been raised many times throughout Levy’s tenure, most notably in last November’s “Freeze the Fees” campaign, in which tents were established on campus. In response, Levy and his administration agreed to hand over financial documents to the RSU to work on what Hoilett described as a “better picture.” “Our ability to meet with Sheldon and work with Sheldon on a variety of issues, and also being able to hold him accountable on things like painting Gould Street,
have been a pretty remarkable relationship that we’ve had there,” Hoilett says. This working relationship, he says, has allowed the RSU to do a variety of things, such as push the campus to go bottled-water-free or call for more multi-faith spaces on campus. But the SLC is not Levy’s last major project. Before Levy decided he was leaving, he launched the planning of several other developments: a health sciences building on Church Street, a residence building on Jarvis Street and a Centre for Free Expression to be housed somewhere in the Faculty of Communication and Design. The former will open in 2018, while the second is still in the planning phase. The respective latter has just been proposed recently and is still in the works, according to Jim Turk, distinguished visiting professor at the School of Journalism. “I think we’re a humble university in the sense that we don’t have to say we’re the greatest, because I think we have a lot to offer that we haven’t really explored yet,” Rajan says. “I’m all for comfort, and I feel 100 per cent comfortable here. As a student, Ryerson makes me feel safe.”
How to run a successful student campaign Soon-to-be Transform RU vice-president of education Cormac McGee spills the secrets of winning student politics, Vjosa Isai reports For the first time since 2009, an opposition party, Transform RU, is leading the Ryerson Students’ Union. Cormac McGee, incoming vice-president of education, shares his party’s secrets to a successful campaign.
1. Hire a campaign manager Finance student Jeff Logan came on board as Transform’s campaign manager, and quickly began conceptualizing—with everything from platform proposals to branding. The group brainstormed and vetted campaign points, which were scrawled across large sheets of paper during meetings.
2. Pool your money The RSU allocates $300 to candidates running for an executive position and $100 for faculty directors. All 25 members of the Transform team pooled their funds together for a total campaign budget of $3,500.
3. Make the campaign pretty Nothing says campaigning like posters. The Transform executives enlisted the help of FCAD Director Tavia Bakowski to design graphics and campaign posters. More than 1,000 posters were printed for the campaign. “We wanted to make sure that wherever the opposition had a poster, we had one too,” McGee says.
4. Think outside the box “One of the things we were really focused on was making this campaign fun and trying to get students engaged,” says McGee. “I’m a big believer that handing someone a pamphlet isn’t the way to do that, so we wanted to have fun.” To accomplish this, Transform channeled a peprally vibe with loud music, chants, tutu-costumes and dancing.
5. Educate the people Despite the goofy antics, McGee maintains that their goal was always to teach students about their platform and contribute to their understanding of why the election matters. “It’s hard to do that in a 30-second pitch. So, as much as it’s ‘Hey, I want to educate you and I want you to care about this election,’ the other side is ‘OK, look at this funny thing I’m going to do because I need your vote,’” McGee says.
6. Show enthusiasm about change Transform’s platform—right down to its name— is all about change. That’s what influenced the team’s campaign. The party lobbied for greater transparency in student government and more accessibility to students. It paid off: this year, voter turnout increased by 75 per cent. “We’re not doing it for ourselves,” McGee says. “We’re doing this to create a change at Ryerson.”
ARTS & LIFE DIGITAL BY DESIGN Karen Chan
NOT MISSING OUT: WHY CONVOCATION ISN’T WORTH YOUR TIME Daniel Rosen MORE THAN A PIECE OF PAPER: WHY YOU SHOULD ATTEND CONVOCATION Jessica Murray AN ELECTIVE IN THE ARTS Maham Shakeel HOMEGROWN MIXTAPE Debbie Hernandez 18
DIGITAL BY DESIGN Architecture students learn how to design art fit for an entire city, Karen Chan reports
Photography by Daniela Olariu
rainbow of strings wind up the stairwell against the plain, grey concrete. The colourful strings shoot out from a black box in the lobby up to the second floor before coming together to its end. Small, translucent triangles soften the glow of blinking lights that can be seen just beyond the strings. The lights flicker a curious purple-blue colour in a dim corner on the second floor. These mesmerizing artworks are just two of several prototypes currently on display in the Architecture Building at Ryerson, which have been submitted for consideration at this year’s Nuit Blanche. Created by the fourthyear digital tools class in the Department of Architectural Science, the prototypes were built in the last two weeks of the 2014 fall term. The class focuses on the conception and creation of architectural designs through digital software and technology. Architecture professor Vincent Hui, who teaches the class, says that he always believed in projects that could “kill two birds with one stone.” He says that he gives his students projects that allow them to
explore different aspects of digital fabrication, while also providing them with the criteria that allow them to submit their projects for competitions and events. “Our students design amazing stuff and also make it happen,” Hui says. The prototypes that are built for possible display at Nuit Blanche have become one of the main and most well-known projects of the digital tools class. The assignment is the biggest one of the term.
“Our students design amazing stuff and also make it happen.” - Vincent Hui “We just think about it for the whole semester,” says fourth-year student Yupin Li with a laugh. Li was a member of the group who made “Aurora,” a hanging display with blinking lights. Described as a canopy of digitally fabricated materials, the lights react to the presence of movement. Made with frosted acrylic sheets cut into triangles and LED light strips, the display glows blue. But when people walk under it, the lights
change colours and flash with the help of digital software. Li says that they would like for it to be able to react in different ways to sound as well. Mark De Souza, a member of the group who made “Synesthesia,” a display with rainbow-coloured strings, says that they were strongly encouraged to build a display that is interactive. De Souza describes it as similar to “a big-ass guitar.” The piece is interactive and based on the function of the human brain. Synesthesia is a neurological phenomenon that is caused by the triggering of one sense that leads to the involuntary triggering of another, and the display interprets this phenomenon. When a string is plucked, the sound emitted from the string activates a colour to light up in the black box at the base. “We wanted people to be able to connect with it,” De Souza says. “We figured no better way than letting music be represented in something visual as well.” Shirley Lewchuk, director of outreach and communications for the Ryerson Faculty of Communication and Design, 19
agrees that it was always better to have “large projects that people could interact with, rather than small things.” In recent years, Ryerson has had to focus more on the larger projects of those like architecture students’ as a collective to get more exposure at Nuit Blanche. Ryerson first partnered with Nuit Blanche in 2007. “We were at the epicentre, because the actual geographic location of exhibitions for the city was all located around here,” Lewchuk says. Open calls for artwork from students were made, and the pieces were displayed around campus. But Lewchuk says that with Nuit Blanche’s many exhibits moving further south and west in Toronto, fewer people were coming to Ryerson’s campus to see the works displayed. Ryerson decided to stop exhibiting pieces for Nuit Blanche on campus in 2012. Since the decision, fewer pieces of artwork have been presented from Ryerson, according to Lewchuk. From 2007 to 2012, a total of 19 pieces were displayed on Ryerson
Photography by Daniela Olariu
campus, with artwork from several different faculties and schools. Five pieces were displayed in both 2010 and 2011 — the school’s highest participation in years. In 2014, only three pieces were part of the exhibition, two of which were from the Department of Architectural Science’s [R]ed[U]x Lab, a group of digital fabricators and designers which also consists of the digital tools students. In 2013, only two pieces were displayed, both from the [R]ed[U] x Lab. This is largely thanks to the stable working relationship the digital tools class currently has with the Bata Shoe Museum. In conjunction with the City of Toronto, the museum reached out to the architecture students to give them a space to display their work during Nuit Blanche. Since 2013, the pieces created from the digital tools class have been shown at the Bata Shoe Museum. Each year, the projects are judged, mainly on feasibility and the possibility of the piece actually working. Only one is chosen among those made in the
class. “Will it work? That’s the big question,” Li says. “Can it be done? Technically, can you make this into what it’s supposed to be?” Although they’ve all made prototypes, Li says that it took a long time to draft and build, and the process was very difficult. “If it was such a huge struggle to even make a one-metre-square piece, then how hard is it going to [be to] make a room or whatever area it is?” This year’s Nuit Blanche will celebrate the 10th-year anniversary of the event. Lewchuk says that there are more specific criteria this year for most projects due to the anniversary. For the digital tools class, their submissions for Nuit Blanche have already been made and Li says that they will be notified of who gets to build and display their piece of art at the Bata Shoe Museum at the end of the summer.
Not missing out: why convocation isn’t worth your time After four long years of hard work, only two people get to celebrate your moment with you
By: Daniel Rosen
he last time I graduated, it was four years ago, and I had been recently freed from the social minefield we collectively refer to as “high school.” The ceremony was long and boring, and I spent most of it being embarrassed that my dad was trying to haggle his way closer to the front. He tried standing on chairs, pushing through the crowd, even slipping someone a $20 bill. Seeing him go through all that effort for one crummy picture the school was already taking anyway taught me something really important:
graduation isn’t for us. Don’t get me wrong, it’s technically for us. We get to wear the body-obfuscating robes and the hat that makes our heads look like pizza boxes. The school also gives us a fancy piece of paper as a parting gift, which is a raw deal for tens of thousands of dollars, but I’ll take it anyway because all the school ever gave me was that fridge magnet they sent before first year. Beyond those generous gifts, graduation is an event for other people. It’s an event for our families. Think about it: you don’t really 21
Illustrations by Dasha Zolota
need a ceremony to tell you that you graduated. All you need is an email and a piece of paper. I’m done, I don’t want to come back for a few hours to be dressed like a maniac while waiting in the sun for someone I’ve never met to shake my hand. But I’ll do it anyway, because my family wants to see it. If you’re like me, your family helped finance a pretty big chunk of your education, and the least I can do for them at this point is let them take pictures of me wearing a pizza-box hat. They deserve the whole show more than I do, considering I spent a not-insignificant amount of my time on campus drunk. The problem is, they can’t enjoy 22
it. If you’ve been thinking about graduation, you already know that you only get two tickets. I don’t know about your family situation, but I have a feeling there are more than two people in your life who want to see you finally escape after four years. If not your parents, then your boyfriend, maybe, or your grandparents or your best friend or your cat. This event, this big, over-the-top display of bureaucracy, it’s all so that the people who love you can feel proud that they were part of this. But they can’t come. They’re not allowed. I’m going to graduation. My parents are coming with me. Not my brother, not my grandparents, not my uncle, not my cousin, not
my friends from other schools. It’s not because they don’t want to. It’s because someone arbitrarily decided pride is an emotion felt by only two people at a time. Probably a robot. It’s probably related to money somehow, because all things are eventually. Maybe it costs too much to give everyone more tickets, and maybe it’d make tuition go up, which would be even worse. At the end of the day, though, it makes the whole ceremony irrelevant. If graduation is meant to be shared with the people who are proud of us for graduating, and we’re not allowed to share it with all of them, why should we even go?
More than a piece of paper: why you should attend convocation Although it’s you that’s graduating, it’s a moment that matters to others too By: Jessica Murray
s a kid, I actually looked forward to getting my report
card. In my family, report cards were more celebrated—and expected—than birthdays or holidays. Each term, I would bring home a brown envelope in my hand to my waiting parents. We would spend that evening reading over the report together. If it was a good report, they would beam more and more after reading each praise typed out by my teacher. For me, my favourite part was showing my grandparents my report each term. As two working Canadian immigrants with no formal education, they valued school and every success up until I entered university. My grandmother, who only attended
school until Grade 3 in Italy, was especially proud. Hearing her praise was the best thing about accomplishing anything in school. Knowing that she was proud made me want to work harder. I was raised with the understanding that education is the most important thing someone can acquire in life; it’s the one commodity no one can take away from you. Fast forward some odd years, and I’m accepted at Ryerson for journalism. After receiving a high grade average and multiple subject awards in high school, my family was a little surprised in my decision for such a program, but nevertheless supportive. My 23
grandparents were especially happy and never failed to tell me that they would watch me on the evening news one day. What I never realized as a child during all of those celebrations for school was that they were in some way living through me, finishing something that they never had the opportunity to do. I felt it was especially important to make my grandmother proud and do something that she never got the chance to because she was a woman. Not a lot of people have the support of someone who believes in them no matter what—even more than they believe in themselves—and I was lucky that I did. The unexpected happened just before Christmas when my grandmother passed away
suddenly. The shock of it sent me spiralling into a whirlwind of emotion, and devastated me and my family. After the flurry of a winter break that consisted of saying goodbye to her, I had to return to the last—and most important—semester of my undergrad. Going back to school and working until graduation wasn’t easy, but recounting all the times my grandmother was proud of me pushed me to do it and kept me going. Remembering her beaming face and knowing she would have been proud of this moment is what got me through. It’s also the main reason I will be attending my graduation and why I think it’s important to do so. In my generation, I think we tend to get caught up in ourselves. It is often viewed as
my” education, “my” graduation, and “my” life. But what a lot of people don’t realize is how these pivotal moments are important to those around us. If it were up to me, I could miss convocation and without being too distressed about it. But when I think of my grandmother and my family and everything they’ve done to support me to this point, I feel like I owe it to them to walk across that stage. Sometimes, these celebrations aren’t just about you, but more about what the people around you have done to help get you there. For me, it’s about doing something my grandmother would have loved to see me do. Although she won’t be able to sit out in the audience, I know she’ll be watching me as I receive my diploma that day.
AN ELECTIVE IN THE ARTS A round table with student leaders of the arts scene on the value of the university’s creative community
By Maham Shakeel Photography by André Varty You don’t need to put your agenda on hold for weeks or months and grab a flight to take a vacation. A break from the hustle and bustle of the busy, sleep-deprived academic life is in the arts community at Ryerson. Creating or absorbing all of the diverse projects that are happening in every pocket of this campus are worth looking at to lighten the stress that weighs spirits down. Even if it’s just for that little while, there is something about art that distracts or diverts attention. This is just what a roundtable with four representatives of differing arts groups on Ryerson’s campus highlighted when discussing the diversity and vibrancy of the university’s innovative and creative face. The four groups included Poetic Exchange, the Ryerson Musical Theatre Company, The Continuist and Function Magazine.
Patrick Richard Garcia,Poetic Exchange president & co-founder
Robyn Hoja, Ryerson Musical Theatre Company president
Lucy Lu, research & editorial director at Function Magazine
David Eatock, editor at The Continuist
Getting to know the groups and the people representing them Poetic Exchange Patrick Richard Garcia, president and co-founder Poetic Exchange gives rap pieces, poetry and all forms of spoken words a platform to be shared. Garcia is a fourth-year public health student who formed the group with five other friends in September 2013 and saw Poetic Exchange officially take off this fall semester. Garcia says he wanted to form the group because there was nothing like it on campus. “I’m a poet myself,” Garcia says. “I started writing two years ago and was learning how to express my emotions and feelings.” Ryerson Musical Theatre Robyn Hoja, president Ryerson Musical Theatre is an organization that allows students from any program and faculty to be a part of a major musical production each year. A secondyear creative industries student, Hoja created the group in January. It is an official group under the Ryerson Communication and Design Society and Hoja hopes to see it become a group under the Ryerson Students’ Union next year. Since its inception, she says she’s seen an incredible amount of students who want to be cast or part of the production team. “When I came to Ryerson, I looked and couldn’t find anything like this here,” says Hoja, who was involved with the musical theatre company at Trent University. “And it’s so important because nothing showcases hidden talent like groups like this and nothing helps for forgetting everything on your plate like getting involved with a fun project like this.” 26
The Continuist David Eatock, editor The Continuist is an online and printed student-produced publication of zines. Including written and visual arts, these zines give local artists in Toronto a way to publish their work for free. Eatock, a fourth-year English student and one of the current editors, described The Continuist as a curator of talent. With submitters hailing from all around the Greater Toronto Area and even in the U.S., Eatock says the reach of this platform is growing and meeting the goal of The Continiuist, which is to get student art out there. Function Magazine Lucy Lu, research and editorial director “There’s so much good work being made by students in image arts and they dedicate their time and their effort in creating incredible art for Function Magazine,” says Lucy Lu, fourth-year photography student and current research and editorial director of the magazine. She describes Function as a platform for arts, photo, film and new media students at Ryerson to showcase their work in and out of the campus. After 16 years of publication, Function is recognized at large as something people look forward to creating as well as viewing. “As art students, we don’t really have resumes, so what matters is what you have in your portfolio, where you’re getting published,” Lu says. Accomplishments and future projects Poetic Exchange Patrick Richard Garcia, president and co-founder
Poetic Exchange’s biggest project right now is bringing together a poetry slam team and going to Virginia Commonwealth University for a spoken word competition. There will be workshops held as well, which Garcia hopes will cultivate the team’s current talents. “We would be the first Canadian team to take part,” Garcia says. “I’m surprised Canadian teams aren’t competing, and if people see that Ryerson’s going, they might think of branching out too.” Ryerson Musical Theatre Robyn Hoja, president “Our biggest project is making this happen,” Hoja says with a laugh, playfully throwing her hands in the air. “It’s so fresh and new, which is good but so overwhelming in all the kinks we need to sort out.” Hoja says the theatre is aiming towards having the production ready for next year February. Applications are currently open for auditions that will be held in September. “In August it was just the question of ‘Can we do this?’ and now I see people really dedicating themselves and it feels great,” Hoja says. “What I hope is that more interest is sparked [and] that we can continue for years to come to the point where we become a staple to the arts community at Ryerson.” The Continuist David Eatock, editor Featuring the best submissions of the past year, The Continuist launched its biggest annual project, a perfect-bound publication on March 18. The event took place in the studio of the Arts and Letters Club with displays of art and live music. This marked the third zine to be published this year by The Continuist. The first
one, called “Natural Habitat,” was released in the fall with the theme of space. Function Magazine Lucy Lu, research and editorial director Function’s annual issue will be launched in May. Everything has been boiling down to this for their team—a year’s worth of work, collecting submissions from all years and various programs, editing, curating and all the fun and stress that comes with publishing. “That’ll be our last hurrah,” Lu says, slowly waving her hands at her sides in celebration. “Our focus is definitely showing student work—it’s been our mandate for 16 years. What’s new is that want to talk about topics students actually care about. Another thing we want to address is the shifting landscape of education and the arts— the way of getting a university education for the arts and how the digital era is affecting this multidisciplinary nature,” Lu says. How to get involved or how to experience the art for yourself Poetic Exchange Patrick Richard Garcia, president and co-founder “We’re not selective, and welcome everyone to help them find their voice and talk about issues they face in a real way instead of being passive about their feelings and struggles,” Garcia says. “Go to school, get a degree, go home—we’re getting too old too quickly because we’re not exposing ourselves. For people who say they don’t have the talent to do this: you’re not looking inside yourself.”
Ryerson Musical Theatre Robyn Hoja, president “There are people who were involved with something like this in their hometowns and in high school but, coming to university, they push it aside as a hobby that doesn’t need as much attention. I think with any kind of creativity and with anything regarding theatre, people will say, ‘I’ve never sang before, I’ve never danced before or acted before, but I really like doing class presentations,’” Hoja says, letting out a laugh. “But that’s OK. That’s a great start. There’s so much room to discover what you might like doing and this group gives you guys the opportunity to pursue that passion, even if it’s not an investment towards the rest of their life and is just something fun they can do outside of studying.” The Continuist David Eatock, editor “You don’t need a huge list of credentials of places where you’ve been published to contribute to us,” Eatock says. “We’re just trying to get people out there so we can be that first credential. If you’re just starting out as an artist—whether that be poetry, visual arts, anything that can be published in an online platform—then send your work in and we’ll put it there.” Playing off Hoja’s idea of stepping outside studying, Eatock says, “You don’t need to do something for the rest of your life, but to get passion out of it is should be enough of a reason.” He explains, “I know we’re here to get degrees and to get good marks but I really don’t believe that’s all university is for—there are life experiences, networking, social things.” Function Magazine Lucy Lu, research and editorial director
Function runs all year, but there’s no pay because full-time commitment is not expected, Lu explains. She says if this is something a Ryerson student wants to put on their resume, four hours a week is enough. At the same time, what gets published is less lax than the other groups. Every year, four students are chosen to take on the magazine in place of a fourth-year image arts thesis project. In order to get her position, Lu needed to apply through professors and administration like applying for a job with a resume. This is followed by an interview depending on how many students apply. “We aim to make a very wellput-together publication that would be taken very seriously in the professional world and so we’re a little picky with what we put in each issue,” Lu says. Still, she wants to be as inclusive as possible: “If you’re in creative industries, we need people in our advertising team and sponsorship team, and if you’re in English and want to edit, that’s something we’re always looking for. You don’t have to be in image arts.” Soak some rays: why experiencing and creating art is important Poetic Exchange Patrick Richard Garcia, president and co-founder “Too many people are wrapped up in their routines to realize they need a break. You don’t need to work every minute of the day or spend all your free time sleeping,” he says. “The more you put yourself out there, the more you learn about yourself. Art can help you see parts of your soul that shouldn’t 27
stay hidden behind papers and in libraries. Even though that is important, it is not everything.” Ryerson Musical Theatre Robyn Hoja, president “There’s definitely this notion of art as therapy,” Hoja says. “The last line to your poem, being behind the camera, curating a publication, any of these could be your happy place. It’s cool to be able to have opportunities like this when we’re at Ryerson, in the heart of Toronto, where these creative outlets are at every corner.” The Continuist David Eatock, editor “Art is a mediating thing. Whatever form you take part in, it’s kind of that balancing force for when you get stressed because you can escape from whatever that is and really just dive head first into something that just takes you into another place,” Eatock says. “It takes you to another feeling
that you couldn’t experience just walking out of your front door or anything like that and that’s where my passion lies. It’s just the feeling of creating something, putting it in the world and having this artifact that lives on in the world as an extension of yourself.” Function Magazine Lucy Lu, research and editorial director “These things are therapeutic,” Lu says. “You get a sense of community by going to the events, you get a sense of purpose when creating something.” Lu recalls someone telling her that art is both the most and least important thing. Lu explains, “It doesn’t serve any utilitarian purpose per se, but it heals you, your soul and the world. Artists speak out about things and emotions others can’t. That’s why it’s so important to stop and just create art or witness art. It will heal you.”
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HOMEGROWN MIXTAPE Debbie Hernandez reviews four student muscians and bands you should be listening to
The Lifers Liv and Anita Cazzola are the two sisters that make up The Lifers, a folk singer-songwriter duo from Guelph, Ont. When I first heard the lilting melodies in their album “Set the Sails,” it made me think of a scene from an indie movie where the main characters skip along the boulevard during a light rain with the sun still peeking through the clouds, splashing through puddles. The album is easygoing and gentle but enthusiastic and earnest, from the up-tempo songs to the ones that slow it down a little. Listen to: “Lucky Day” Charlotte Fabro I could listen to Charlotte Fabro sing all day. The singer-songwriter’s voice is heartfelt, captivating and sweet, but with all the smooth soul and range to suit a variety of genres— from pop to classical standards to rhythm and blues. Fabro confidently experiments in some of her original songs with
a loop pedal, producing every piece of the song before your eyes, and she’s dripping with the talent to pull it off. It’s not just her velvety voice that sets Fabro apart from most aspiring musicians, but how long her original melodies stay in your head way after the songs have ended. Listen to: “Lightspeed” Sydney Delong Sydney Delong is the kind of musician that makes a crowded bar on Friday night go silent with her first few notes—and stay quiet—until she’s done her set. The singer-songwriter is a veteran, having played at the NXNE festival, Canadian Music Week and at well-known Toronto music venues like the Horseshoe Tavern and Free Times Cafe. She has the talent to be the singing voice of a beautiful princess in a Disney movie with her clear operatic tone and wide range, but her album “My Vow to You” uses these qualities instead for
angrily powerful songs. Delong is an artist with a voice that needs no tricks or frills to arrest your attention. Listen to: “Darling (Intro)” Mayraki Mayraki is a six-piece hip-hop fusion band that first got together in 2012. The band can’t seem to be pinned down to any particular genre—they bounce around from metal to jazz to funk and everything in between. But the crowd doesn’t seem to mind since Mayraki is playing shows regularly at venues well-known as hotbeds for rising Toronto music, such as Lee’s Palace, The Mod Club, The Rivoli and The Velvet Underground. You can groove easy to Mayraki’s clever lyrics while still admiring their fearless experimentation as they slide effortlessly from genre to genre. Listen to: “C’est Magnifique”
Photos from left to right: The Lifers, Charlotte Fabro, Sydney Delong & Mayraki. Courtesy of respective artists
FOLIO STYLE Mass Exodus 2015
Photographer: Pedro Hespanha Editor and Stylist: Taylour Nembhard Assistant Stylist: Jaclyn Patterson Model: Mel Pallin Make up and Hair: Sarah Ahalim Spread Designer: Benji De Lorenzi
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3RD LOOK Designer: Bri Foster Denim jacket (100% cotton denim) Designer: Olivia Rubens Leather-layered shorts with handcut holes
5TH LOOK Designer: Olivia Dâ€™Alessandro
4TH LOOK Designer: Olivia Rubens Poly accordion pleated sheer jacket with silk screening through layers of facings
Blue vest (laminated organza) White sleeveless shirt (Coolmax knit) Designer: Bri Foster Mesh Skirt (Carpeting Underlay) 33
6TH LOOK Designer: Bri Foster Coral-cropped jacket (polyester) Designer: Olivia Dâ€™Alessandro Beige shorts (nylon) 34
Starting up a fashion revolution Personal connection, teamwork and vision are key factors for Fashion Zoneâ€™s entrepreneurs, Leo Park of Parker & Pine and Polina Roufanova of Love Winter Inc., in driving their startups to success By Anna-Maria Stavridis
Photography by Petrija Petrusi
he fashion industry stealthily creates an illusion of glamour and fortune that covers the real difficulties that businesses incur within the industry. With the saturated variety of products and services available to consumers, at first thought, apprehension and fear can strike into any prospective entrepreneur in the fashion industry. This is where the Fashion Zone at Ryerson comes in, an incubator for innovative entrepreneurs seeking to enrich the fashion industry as well as consumer lives. Entrepreneurs Leo Park of Parker & Pine and Polina Roufanova of Love Winter Inc. began their startups through the Fashion Zone, and both have the knowledge to successfully launch a business and to continue learning how to grow their companies. Established in 2013, the Fashion Zone and the businesses nurtured by it collectively share the same goal: to innovate the fashion industry. Fashion Zone managers, Olga Okhrimenko and Ayyyna Budaeva, talk of how the Fashion Zone aims to bridge the large gap between entrepreneurship and fashion by giving students the opportunity to explore their passions for the two fields. When considering
businessâ€™ applications to join the Fashion Zone, they look for the inventive ideas that have the power to solve problems in a creative way or provide a novel product or service to consumers. Businesses in the Fashion Zone do not need to necessarily have to be garment based either; the zone believes that all aspects of life involve fashion, and so inspiration can come from anywhere. When considering to start a business in the fashion industry, the core feature that will drive success is an entrepreneurâ€™s personal connection to their business. This was key to both Park and Roufanova when they got the inspiration to start their companies. Parker & Pine is a plus-size menswear brand, seeking to change the perspective of plus-size men in fashion, and address this segment of consumers that are severely neglected by the industry. Park himself used to face these challenges when he was plus size, and sees many of his family members still struggling, motivating him to change that. Roufanova of Love Winter Inc. drew to her Russian heritage for her business idea. Looking back three hundred years in Russian history, she saw a style called the Valenki boot that is widely no longer
Leo Park in the Fashion Zone
worn and she redesigned them to appeal to the tastes of modern women. “I was looking for ideas for what is not available on the market and I think whatever you do has to be authentic, I don’t think anything can be done unless you are truly passionate.” Her inspiration is two-fold, coming from her background as well as her love for animals. No boots are made with leather or fur and her company works in conjunction with Polar Bears International. This is an organization that helps save polar bears in the midst of climate change and educates people about the rapidly declining environment for not just polar bears, but all species on the planet. Her goal with Love Winter Inc. is all said in the name: she wants people to see the season in a new light. Instead of dreading the snow and cold, people should embrace it and make the most of what nature offers. Roufanova puts emphasis on how entrepreneurs should not look to network but to develop personal relationships with new contacts and potential business partners. Networking only achieves a “quick transaction” and she believes that long-term alliances are worth investing in to help businesses grow. Park adds that being approachable makes all the difference, “I think I’m very approachable, and I think it really helps when it comes to when I’m out there talking to people about my business and asking for help, finding mentors, and finding resources,” she says. Without teamwork, the business cannot thrive and generate an environment conducive to creative and original work
that will fulfill the vision of the business. “Have a vision you truly believe in,” Park says, “because if you don’t believe in your vision, how are you going to start planning stuff? You won’t know where you’re going.” Vision is what unites a company to fulfill their goals, and with confidence in a company’s vision; entrepreneurs will make the first crucial steps toward launching a lucrative business. Both entrepreneurs agree that developing a dream team is a necessary and difficult task for business owners starting up. Vision is also important in creating marketing and public relations campaigns, which Roufanova believes are essential to differentiate her business/ company from competitors.
In the fashion industry, fierceness is typically associated with the strut of a model down the runway, but this characteristic is inherent in the entrepreneurs who want to start businesses as well. Entering the business with a unique quality is a challenge, but with hard work and creativity it can be pulled off. Commanding attention and respect with confidence in their products, the Fashion Zone coaches businesses like Parker & Pine and Love Winter Inc. how to walk down the runway of entrepreneurship and earn the applause of success from their customers, partners and even competitors.
Polina Roufanova in the Fashion Zone
LITERATURE COFFEE MINUS CONTROL Kylie Coleen Tan THE DEAD OF WINTER Geraldynn Lubrido FREEZING RAIN (POWER OUT) Cameron MacDonald BOOK REVIEW: BURIED GIANT Robert Liwanag BOOK REVIEW: GRACE’S GUIDE Patricia Karounos
COFFEE MINUS CONTROL By Kylie Coleen Tan
Illustration by Miguel Betz
It is Thursday, November 6, 2014. A cup of coffee turned into two cups of coffee. There is no immense coffee consumption in
the last two years and I know why. This is reflection, and this is history, therefore I will write what I will understand. I will not apply poetic
structure or fancy words found on Thesaurus.com. I want to keep my authenticity. You see, I cannot be forceful in terms of expression 39
because that is just creating an unwanted hoax. Now in theatres, Try Hard, starring Spruce Willis. Speaking of sprucing things up, coffee is dreadful, quite the opposite of what it is intended to do. Every last drip is the opposite of what it is intended to do. My philosophy behind the creation of the McDonald’s coffee cup is that the empty spaces that these cups provide are meant to be filled. McDonald’s created a detachment card so the consumer can detach their feelings of buildup (that is more built up due to the powdered nonsense the coffee contributes) and apply them to the blank space, as wonderfully executed on the picture provided. Thus, after reading this, all I ask is fill me up. Just fill me up, buttercup.
The first class, first cup. Half empty, half full… like it matters. Ha… Try Hard. This is all I see: cats on slides, ovulation and the woman’s pregnancy test. I think to myself, “give me something more, Hollywood!” I am a voyeur is what I have learned, and well, tell me something new. This is a creation of powder to liquid and the liquid is still warm. The clock hits midway, midway of the class. I run down the hallway and encounter a sign that expresses femininity. Since when were skirts a feminized attribute? Thanks for the assurance. Finally, I release. Concluding, coffee minus control.
Break time; a suggestion that there is two hours of me. Scratch that, a change of plan, with this plan involving human interaction. Forced into acting out a fake image and pretending to be responsible. Capitalism minus the profit. Labour minus the income. 40
Posters plus the tape. Hands on wall. Squats like there is no tomorrow. I hold great balance and flexibility; I know because a man of greater age expresses his envy with a stare and a comment, “How?” The covering of East and South of the second and third floor. Coffee minus the balance, resulting in almost fainting. Here it comes, a 9th grade flashback: speaking French, an offering of a cookie, I am a saviour. Concluding, coffee minus control.
Second class, second glass, second cup. Skittish but I finally paid attention. Flashback: this is the same class slash/ location that allowed me to face a mid-life crisis. Why global management? Why?! Coffee update: Half full… half empty? Stop being philosophical. The knowledgable female asks with enthusiasm, “What did you learn about Nietzsche today, class?” He needs a fucking hug other than his mother’s, that is what I have learned. Do not get Freud involved. Most importantly, do not get his sister involved. Evil sister stereotype. Concluding, coffee minus control.
Third class, second cup. This is not free advertising. I enter the classroom, knowing it is all a facade. Young man playing all his songs classical. The older the composition is, the more impressive it is on the piano. Not. He taps second last note. He taps last note. There is no applause from the audience; just glued to their digital native heritage. McLuhan do not influence me. Piano player stands and sarcastically expresses his appreciation, “Thank you for being a wonderful audience.”
Oh my possibly existing figure, get out and never return. Do you want recognition and praise? Post it on Facebook. A minute before class starts; vintage fashion, shaven sides, bad eyesight, melancholic yet loud personas. That is all I see. Am I proud? Ha… Try Hard. Midway through class and a passage from a criticallyacclaimed novel appears on the slide. What does it suggest? Italian women should not touch the inner thigh of a young Irish girl who only faces innocence. Apparently, touching is equivalent to homosexual advances. Coffee, no more, I realize. “Detach card once cup is empty.” “Une foise le verre vide, détachez la carte.” I do not speak French, though I sure do know what that means. Concluding, coffee minus control.
It is detached, I see. It is detached, I feel. Crisp and clean, with a coffee stain located top left. A slap of contradiction. Let’s keep the authenticity. Drawn. This is how I feel. Removal of awkward interaction. An increase of silence. Do me a favour and understand. Coffee minus control. I am no Tupak Soiree; I have not learned anything on the largest mountain that is currently existing. But what I do know is, coffee minus control.
FREEZING RAIN (POWER OUT) By Cameron MacDonald
Glass cage limbs! The sheath of cable cords, graze timber wood computer desks. That freezing bone left in the refrigerator in the basement beneath the monitor gray sky. White disc of sun! Machine on. The branches scratching like fingernails on keys, linger along the icy sidewalk, cracked spine lullaby, pines frayed in harlequin shades. Everyone else is opening a window, that fragile marrow of pixels! Icicle slung, the arrow of the searcher, drip low, lower, snap! electric â€”
Illustration by Hannah Stinson
THE DEAD OF WINTER By Geraldynn Lubrido Illustration by Hannah Stinson
On the longest night in the season of snow The elders told me of a place I must go To the waterfall valley, where frozen in time The gushing rush clung to precarious rocks And all the moon’s flowers that bloom without sunlight Will put on a show just for me. I didn’t believe it but I was still curious Wasn’t obedience. Something else drove me: My curiosity. Savage little thing. It chokes you and holds you and never gives in It drags you down under and just when you think You’re finally free, it drags you down under again. I’d never been allowed in the sacred place I heard people died there; that sirens chased you That people hung nooses – left them to hang That something else killed them instead of their hands Empty and silent the nooses still danced Swaying to songs of invisible wind. I didn’t believe it. Exhausted as hell I trudged along mindlessly, down the snow trail That went on and on Down Down Down Down Stuck in the arms of curiosity’s chokehold. And there at the bottom, a lake unfrozen With slow moving creatures all blurry within Their serpentine tails slicing the surface Which shimmered in such a pretentious sheen 42
Of aquamarine, too bright to look at With pools of slippery moonlight. A floating fish, all bloated and dead Was surely the first sign of danger One of the things that unfortunately I decided not to take seriously (I thought to myself that whatever killed a weak little fish was harmless to me) Besides, the flowers had begun to dance. Tall and looming, did I mention how huge And eerily clingy they were? Their deep green leaves had needle-like teeth Their stems all moved with minds of their own Towards me – towards me. A faint lonely melody rose from the lake Languidly lounging, a fish out of water Her tail swishing slowly, her eyes dark and piercing “I have to get closer to hear what she’s singing” I thought, and I moved – the next thing I knew Her cold dripping fingers around my neck flew And with a loud splash! She dragged me down under The water was freezing! No time to wonder When out of the blue some thick slimy ropes Around my limbs tangled, and pulled me to shore Shivering bitterly, hard to ignore The flesh-eating flowers surrounding me Their ropes of slick, slimy stems Squeezing, squeezing, worse than a noose As their teeth sunk into my limbs. 43
BOOK REVIEW: BURIED GIANT By Robert Liwanag
n the wake of The Buried Giant’s release—Kazuo Ishiguro’s highly anticipated seventh novel—critics began likening it favourably to The Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones. But Ishiguro, the acclaimed BritishJapanese author, is not so quick to deem it as one belonging to the epic, sprawling realm of “fantasy.” He’s not sure that’s the appropriate label, even if his newest work does feature ogres, dragons, witches, pixies, rivaling communities and a palpable sense of dread. He’s already tackled restrained upper class society (The Remains of the Day), bleak science fiction (Never Let Me Go) and the detective story (When We Were Orphans). But Ishiguro, despite telling many of his stories within a specific genre, has always been obsessed with the same things: mortality, memory and a British sense of duty, to name a few. The Buried Giant, with all its medieval weirdness and magic, very much fits in with his oeuvre, despite the jarring shift in time and place. Ishiguro’s first novel in a decade drops the reader right into the post-King-Arthur British countryside, a time when candles were seen as one of life’s most
special gifts, while a brief jaunt to a nearby village can be met with death as a result of the natural or supernatural. The novel’s main characters, elderly couple Axl and Beatrice, despite being loving and peaceful, are unpopular among their fellow villagers, many of whom seem to be experiencing various forms of memory loss.
“From its opening pages, one gets the sense that this novel isn’t supposed to be viewed as some sort of grand statement from its author.” While a strange mist lays over their surroundings, the couple decides to venture out and visit their adult son, a journey the two of them know is guaranteed to be dangerous. From its opening pages, one gets the sense that this novel isn’t supposed to be viewed as some sort of grand statement from its author. On the contrary, The Buried Giant is a much more humble and calm work, just like its protagonists. While it may be excessive in terms of its set pieces
and descriptions of violence, Ishiguro’s simple, imaginative (but unpretentious) style of prose makes for a shockingly engaging, laid-back read. It’s never once made obvious to the reader that The Buried Giant was a difficult book to finish writing that went through many stages. “When I was their age, I’m sure it was the old ones who were full of fear and foolish beliefs, reckoning every stone cursed and each stray cat an evil spirit, but now I’ve grown old myself,” Beatrice tells Axl at one point. To call The Buried Giant something other than fantasy is by no means disrespecting the fantasy genre. To designate it to only one genre, however, limits its scope. While The Buried Giant is bound to be a divisive book, one that may turn either casual readers into new Ishiguro fans, or cause longtime fans to lose faith in the author, one thing is clear: by this point in his career, Ishiguro feels he has nothing to lose. He tells the story he wants to tell—whether his audience is ready for it or not.
BOOK REVIEW: GRACE’S GUIDE By Patricia Karounos
o one really knows how to transition into adulthood. It kind of just happens. Suddenly, it seems, you’re juggling school with work, socializing, and making life decisions. There’s no school to teach you how to travel on your own or make adult friends. You just have to figure it all out. On your own. But with her first book, Grace’s Guide: The Art of Pretending to be a Grown-up, popular YouTube vlogger and soon-to-be TV star Grace Helbig is here to help. Described as a “self-help book that went to happy hour,” Grace’s Guide serves as a handbook for millennials growing up in the age of the Internet. From dealing with anxiety to handling a walk of shame, Helbig covers it all with striking honesty and her trademark wit. Although Helbig claims not to have all the answers, she writes with decisive authority. She offers genuine, relatable, legitimately helpful advice without ever being condescending to her audience. Every topic she covers is treated seriously and considerately, with the sincerity of someone who has had these same experiences. As someone who grew up with the
Internet, Helbig understands the millennial experience. She knows how to navigate between the scary grown-up world and the depths of social media because she’s been doing it for most of her life, and now it’s her job. Laugh-out-loud funny at times, Helbig doesn’t hold back on her signature dry humour and heavy sarcasm. Through personal anecdotes and ridiculous acronyms (such as “WORK POOT”) that bookend each section, she crafts hilarious lists of tips and tricks that manage to be surprisingly insightful.
“Helbig’s strength is as a comedian, and she knows how to use it to her advantage here.” She isn’t afraid to make jokes at her own expense, either. Readers and fans trust Helbig because she comes across incredibly honest; her honesty develops directly out of her comedy. She proudly embraces her stupid mistakes, generously sharing them to relay her advice, mocking herself in the process. And Grace’s Guide succeeds at being a handbook
for millennials for exactly that reason. Sarcasm and wit make sense, of course, when writing about curing a hangover or learning to enjoy hanging out on your own. But even when writing about more serious issues, Helbig keeps it light and funny. The standout chapter on anxiety is no exception—it is entertaining and amusing but respectful, making anxiety seem possible to manage and overcome. Helbig’s strength is as a comedian, and she knows how to use it to her advantage here. The gorgeously designed Grace’s Guide is a quick, fun read, perfect for discovering the many uses of deodorant and mastering the art of faking it until you make it. Fans of Helbig will revel in finding the strong presence of the voice they’re so familiar with throughout the pages, and millennials will find some form of comfort and wisdom. But even those who already have it all figured out — or are at least skilled at pretending they do — will find Helbig’s outrageous style a delight.