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December 6, 2001 Fine Arts students swep the Quebec du Maurier Awards



Carlos Sanchez

Photographer Carlos Sanchez with a work from his Model Citizen series.

Photo by Andrew Dobrowolskyj

by Barbara Black

Seven out of 11 new grants for promising young artists given by the du Maurier Arts Council recently went to students in Concordia’s Faculty of Fine Arts.

The du Maurier Arts Council is the largest private-sector source of arts funding in Canada. The 11 awards are worth $105,000 in total.

Photography Professor Penny Cousineau-Levine deserves credit for their suggest. Students are not eligible for grants from the regular funding agencies, such as the Canada Council and the Conseil des arts et letters; Cousineau-Levine suggested to the Council that grants to senior students would be a good idea.

“Even a short film can be very expensive to produce, for example, and well-established filmmakers in Canada have trouble securing funding. Financial support for film, video and other senior projects is an absolute godsend.”

When Fine Arts Advancement Officer Philippe Turp gave Cousineau-Levine and two Cinema professors an opportunity to explain the facts of life to a representative from du Maurier, it resulted in action. “I was extremely surprised when, a couple of weeks later, du Maurier called and said they were interested in pursuing the idea of grants to senior students working on projects that would eventually be made public.”

The students applied last spring for the grants, which were announced at a press conference on Nov. 21. Here they are:

Robin Dupuis has a BFA in film from Concordia and a master’s in media arts from the École des arts visuels et médiatiques de Montréal. His entry was a digital video.

Yechel Gagnon is a graduate student who explores the dichotomy between artificial and natural materials in a landscape environment. Using plywood as her palette, she creates “constructed landscapes.”

Oleksa Lozowchuk came from Regina to do his master’s at Concordia. His thesis film is Anna’s Wedding, an experimental narrative film set in post-Chernobyl Ukraine. Oleksa is also musical, and has created material for the award-winning TV series Culture Shock, and for two National Film Board productions. He is finishing a DVD compilation of sacred choral and folk music that he recorded in Ukraine.

Marisa Portolese has her BFA and MFA from Concordia, where she teaches photography. She also teaches visual arts at Champlain College. She will have a solo exhibition called Belle de Jour at the Observatoire 4 gallery in January. She reportedly produces colour photos of women that play on the notion of the pin-up, but using as subjects women who are not necessarily concerned only with the male gaze.

Carlos Sanchez is also a photographer. His most recent work is a series called Model Citizens, a stylized take on contemporary news. However, he deliberately creates his scenes as though they are occurring a generation ago, and attributes their success to this unusual approach.

Mackenzie Stroh is a photo-based artist and freelance photographer who did her BFA in intermedia at the Emily Carr Institute in Vancouver. She is now doing her MFA, and teaching undergraduate photography at Concordia. She does contemporary portraits.

Michael Yaroshevsky was born in Leningrad, raised in Toronto, and has a degree in Japanese. His roots in Russian culture are fascinating — his great-great-grandfather was the butler of Czar Alexander III — and his entry was a film ode to St. Petersburg called Petropolis.

Selena Liss is not quite a Concordia student, but almost. She has been in the military and studied business, then turned to art, earning a BFA from the Emily Carr; she has been accepted into a graduate program.