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If you’re in an arts program,
chances are you’ve had someone
ask you the dreaded question — so
what are you going to do with that?
To be fair, whoever asked you
that question probably didn’t mean
to be condescending. They prob-
ably didn’t mean to imply that
you’re going nowhere with your
They were probably just legiti-
mately curious about what sort of
career paths you have in your fu-
ture. They were probably wonder-
ing about what someone who ma-
jored in New Media goes on to do
with their lives. They’re probably
wondering why a degree in fashion
And if you’re in an arts program,
you’ve probably struggled to an-
swer these questions. Justifying a
degree in your life’s greatest pas-
sion can seem a lot harder than it
So, this goes out to every arts ma-
jor that has ever felt even a shred
of doubt. To every actor, photog-
rapher and graphic artist who has
worried about those dark years af-
You aren’t wasting your time.
Sure, let’s not kid ourselves —
you probably aren’t going to make
millions. You probably aren’t go-
ing to drive a Ferrari to work at a
sleek downtown ofce.
But you aren’t in it for the mon-
ey, are you?
You also probably won’t have
a mid-life crisis at 30. You won’t
wake up in the morning wonder-
ing what you’re doing with your
life. You won’t lose sleep worrying
about the choices you made — the
things you gave up.
The fact of the mater is that arts
majors haven’t made the decision
to waste their university careers.
They’ve chosen to do something
diferent with them.
An arts major isn’t going to
school to make a career that soci-
ety considers appropriate, and they
aren’t studying to get rich.
The truth is, if you’re taking an
arts degree, you’re doing what you
really want with your life.
In fve years, your friends will
probably be making a lot more
money than you. And you’ll prob-
ably be happier.
Now, I’m not going to get up on
a soapbox and preach at you. If
you’re a business major, or study-
ing to become a lawyer, there’s
nothing wrong with that.
But let me ask you something
you probably haven’t thought
about since you were twelve years
Is that really what you want to do
with your life?
This week, we’re taking a look at
ten Ryerson students that are doing
what they love, and loving what
they do. We put out an open call
for nominations to the campus, and
this is the result.
It’s probably worth noting that
this list is in no particular order, it’s
just a chance to showcase some of
the amazing talent on campus.
The people in this issue are do-
ing some amazing things, both on
campus and throughout the greater
From interior design students
fghting homelessness and poverty
with a gorgeous design, to a pho-
tographer making a splash in com-
mercial photography, we’ve got an
enormous variety of artists.
So, instead of asking an artist
what they plan to do with their
lives, maybe we should try ask-
ing them how they’re going to get
Let’s celebrate our artists, instead
of marginalizing their talents.
Next time someone asks you
what you’re doing with your life,
don’t be ashamed. Hold your head
high and say, “I’m an artist.”
Concentrate on the awesome
work you’re doing. Stop fxating
on the future.
Because the future, my friends, is
ARTS & LIFE
March 7, 2012
ARTS TOP 10
Third-year fashion design
“Art is who I am,” says Yusun
Kang, a third-year fashion design
student. “It’s been something that
I’ve been doing for such a long time
that it’s become a part of me. I don’t
think I would be able to live with-
Kang, 20, started drawing when
she was a litle girl. But she started
taking the craft seriously when she
was in middle school. During par-
ent-teacher interviews in Grade 8,
her English teacher mentioned that
Kang was talented and could make
something big out of her abilities.
Kang’s parents then enrolled
her in several painting classes and
she eventually atended Etobicoke
School of the Arts, a specialized
Her switch from the fne arts into
the fashion world was as much of a
surprise to her as it was to everyone
“Coming to Ryerson was quite
spontaneous,” Kang says. She had
applied to OCAD for illustration
and even received an early accep-
“But two months before applica-
tions were due, I applied for fash-
ion at Ryerson.”
When she started, the experi-
ence was terrifying. “When I came
to Ryerson, I had no idea how to
Last year, Kang was able to dis-
play her work — a beige dress with
pink and red rufes — in the Wan-
derlust Fashion Show.
She says that her style is avant-
garde. “I like designing things that
aren’t really wearable.”
Kang hopes to graduate as both
a graphic artist and a fashion de-
signer, because her frst love is still
But, the competitive nature of her
program leaves her anxious about
going out into the real world and
makes her doubt whether she made
the right choice with fashion.
Kang says she is waiting for the
moment in which she will fnally
“I don’t think I’ve felt it yet.”
— SuSana Gómez Báez
Second-year interior design
At Ryerson’s school of interior
design, every year a group of six
second-year students volunteer to
work on a special project for the an-
nual interior design show’s student
Enter Katherine Egenberger,
Erika van der Pas, Sarah Prest,
Michelle McEachern, Sandra Ste-
phens, Pooja Ramaswamy and
their professor, Jana Macalik, this
“The project should be something
that the students come up with and
that they themselves identify as a
problem,” says Macalik. “A prob-
lem they’d like to solve.”
The problems brought to the
table this year were homelessness
and using wasted space, and oth-
ers. The result: lum.in.drop.
Lum.in.drops are bright pods
designed to hang from the side of
buildings and store supplies for
those in need.
“I think very early on we knew
we wanted to address a social is-
sue,” says Prest. “Using wasted
urban space, hoisting [the lum.
in.drop] up, and using it for a social
issue were main components.”
The project involved about six
weeks of constant work, and went
on to win best student booth at the
Interior Design Show.
Although lum.in.drop is current-
ly only a prototype, and the team
lacks the resources to create them
on a larger scale, Macalik says the
project was meant to be starting
“I think the idea was to start a di-
alogue more than thinking of lum.
in.drop as the ultimate goal,” she
“It was to potentially start a dia-
logue with how you use those un-
used spaces as potential avenues or
beacons for help.”
— Sean wetSelaar
14 March 7, 2012 The Eyeopener ARTS TOP 10
Fourth-year new media
For fourth-year new media stu-
dent Xhensila Zemblaku, her work
is all about movement.
Zemblaku creates kinetic sculp-
tures — an art form that has be-
come her specialty since she began
studying at Ryerson University.
“Everything that I’ve been do-
ing so far has had a kinetic element
to it,” she says. “I’m interested in
learning about how things move in
a mechanical and analog manner
with the help of technology to aid it
in a somewhat minimal way.”
Zemblaku has used her interest
in kinetics to make pieces like a hu-
man hand that uses a mechanical
structure with a motor to make mo-
tions, and a robotic jellyfsh.
When someone waves their hand
in front of or gets close to her jel-
lyfsh sculpture, its tentacles move.
But geting sculptures to move,
even in the subtlest ways, can be
frustrating says Zemblaku.
“I’ve come to realize that you
can’t really depend on technology,”
“There are defnitely certain set-
backs where something won’t work
for no reason and then it will fve
Despite the difculties of mov-
ing pieces, Zemblaku is currently
working on a kinetic sculpture that
she says is “the most time-consum-
ing” sculpture she’s ever made.
She began working on the series
in October and has spent about 20
to 30 hours a week creating it since.
The series will get its debut at the
end of March at Ryerson’s annual
META exhibit, which showcases
fourth-year new media students’
— tara deschamps
While some flmmakers make
movies about hitmen, vampires
and love triangles, fourth-year new
media student Josh Adler worked
with stars. Literally.
Adler’s flm, White Dwarf, which
will premier at META (the New
Media program’s end-of-year
show) follows the lifespan of a star,
and combines both 2D and 3D ani-
“It stems from a love of astrono-
my,” Adler says. “It’s about a star,
it’s a character, and [it follows] its
ups and downs and its ultimate de-
Adler has been heavily involved
with art since his childhood, but
says it was flmmaking that eventu-
ally sparked his love for animation.
“I started making flms and then
I decided to combine flmmaking
and the visual arts,” he says.
“Instead of shooting something
through a lens, I [decided to] create
video with my two hands. And it
all started from there.”
What really acted as a catalyst
for his current work, though, Adler
says, was a flm he created in his
frst year at Ryerson called Take
Flight. Though experimental, it ig-
nited his passion for the craft.
“It was my frst experience creat-
ing this mock-3D world,” he says.
Following graduation, Adler has
plans to atend Vancouver Film
School for a post-grad animation
program. From there, he hopes to
work animating feature flms.
Adler says he loves the process of
giving inanimate objects personali-
ties in his work.
“You’re taking this abstract idea
and you’re breathing life into a vi-
sual piece,” he says.
“It’s prety powerful.”
— sean wetselaar
Fourth-year new media
13 March 7, 2012 The Eyeopener ARTS TOP 10
Film student Stephen Dunn has
not slept enough this week.
The reason? He’s been working
on his fourth-year thesis flm Life
Doesn’t Frighten Me. And although
he says the road leading to its pro-
duction has been full of personal
and professional challenges, Dunn
has never stopped working at his
Dunn started his career as a child
actor, but quickly moved towards
production. He says he was very
lucky to progress noticeably during
each year of his university career.
“I’ve had a lot of milestones,” he
says. “I’ve been really fortunate to
have each year something really
amazing that’s happened that cata-
pulted the next opportunity.”
Dunn’s frst-year flm The Hall
went to Cannes Film Festival, and
his second-year production Swal-
lowed won a number of awards at
the Toronto International Film Fes-
He is currently at work on a
number of projects, including two
But he says Life Doesn’t Frighten
Me, starring well-known Canadian
actor Gordon Pinsent, is more rel-
evant than his past achievements.
“That flm is really close to my
heart,” Dunn says. “I’m really
grateful to have made that. It was
a huge challenge — it’s harder and
more elaborate and more ambitious
and, I feel, more complete than any-
thing I’ve ever done. And I’m re-
ally proud of it.”
When it comes to why he loves
flm, Dunn says the answer is easy.
“It’s the collaborative medium of
[the] art that draws me to flm,” he
“It really encompasses every me-
dium of art … and I’m so grateful
that flm exists.”
— SEAN WETSELAAR
Harveen Sandhu was nine years
old when she knew what she want-
ed to be when she grew up.
“We were doing a class produc-
tion of the Three Litle Pigs,” Sand-
“And the girl who was supposed
to play the wolf, I think she got
injured, or she was sick, and I got
pulled in at the very last second.
And it was my frst time actually
doing anything on a stage.”
Sandhu calls it, one of the most
exciting times of her life, and notes
that it was around this time that she
realized acting was her calling.
“There’s something about per-
forming and being on stage that
made me feel really comfortable,”
Since then, Sandhu has appeared
in numerous productions both for
the Ryerson Theatre School and in
the larger Toronto community.
Despite her numerous roles,
Sandhu calls her role in The Bundle
last semester one of the highlights
of her career.
“I was cast as one of the leads
and it was a really big challenge,”
“It wasn’t easy and it wasn’t
smooth, but it was an extremely ed-
ucational experience for me. And
that for me stands out as one of the
reasons why I came to the school —
Next year, Sandhu has plans to
look for work both on stage at To-
ronto’s various theatre groups and
on camera in flm and television.
While she loves performing, for
Sandhu much of the appeal of act-
ing is her interest in others.
“I have a huge love for people,”
she says. “And for people’s sto-
ries, for where people come from,
for human psychology, for the hu-
man condition and what it is to be
human. And through acting, I can
— Sean WetSelaar
12 March 7, 2012
The Eyeopener ARTS TOP 10
For Tracy Lam, creating stage
props is bitersweet.
Lam often spends hours con-
structing pieces for productions at
the Ryerson Theatre and the Lower
Ossington Theatre that only appear
on stage for minutes.
“A lot of time, you spend hours
and hours working on a prop but it
gets cut from the production,” says
Lam. “That hurts the most but if
they don’t need it, they don’t need
Last semester, Lam spent 13
hours each day for a week creating
a log for Ryerson’s production of
This piece in particular was a
challenge for Lam because the log
not only had to look realistic but
also had to be transportable and
able to hold the weight of two ac-
To build the log, Lam took a
solid construction tube and built a
wooden structure inside it to sup-
port weight. Then she decorated it
by wrapping it in cheesecloth and
using clay and paper maché to give
the log its shape.
“Because the tube rolls around, I
had to build a base for it. But hav-
ing a log on a base doesn’t look re-
alistic so we covered the platform
in moss and used lighting to make
the base disappear,” Lam says.
Although the log was only on
stage for fve minutes, Lam says,
“it was the one piece that the entire
theatre school enjoyed looking at.”
The log isn’t Lam’s only piece
that’s earned her compliments.
She’s been praised for pieces
shown at Ryerson Theatre School’s
40th anniversary, her set design for
Ryerson shows and her prop de-
sign for the Lower Ossington The-
atre productions like Joseph and The
Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.
This month, her props will be
seen on stage at the Lower Ossing-
ton Theatre’s production of Legally
Blonde: The Musical.
— Tara Deschamps
Many actors and directors may
have said that the stage is their
home, but that is perhaps never tru-
er than in the case of second-year
production student Jasmin Goode.
Since she was 11, Goode has
worked in the industry, starting
with a group called Milton Youth
Theatre Production (MYTP).
“I kind of grew up in the com-
pany,” she says.
Although she acted with MYTP
through her high school career,
Goode didn’t realize how impor-
tant it was to her until her fnal
“In my last couple years there, I
guess I started realizing how much
I enjoyed it,” she says.
“I loved theatre, so I took a year
of … It was that year that I realized
how much I loved theatre and how
much more I wanted to do theatre.”
And so, with that in mind, Goode
started the MYTP Alumni Program,
meant to give the company’s grad-
uates a chance to keep working.
This group eventually became MY
Stage Left, Goode’s own theatre
MY Stage Left is a very new com-
pany, still in the process of prepar-
ing for its frst season, but Goode
says she plans to keep expanding.
“I hope that MY Stage Left will
continue for many years,” she says.
“Even if you’re working in other
jobs I guess it’s a really nice change
of pace if you need it.”
But Goode doesn’t expect she’ll
ever need that change.
“Each year [shows] ofer some-
thing new and diferent that is just
as thrilling as the year before,” she
“I feel like I learn new things, ev-
ery single time. That’s the beauty
of theatre I guess — it’s never the
— SEAN WETSELAAR
11 March 7, 2012 The Eyeopener ARTS TOP 10
Four years ago, Clifton Li was
more than half way through his
software engineering career in Wa-
terloo when he decided to drop out
of the program and study photog-
“All my engineering colleagues
are working for Google or Amazon
right now,” Li says.
But Li, 26, is currently a fourth-
year photography student at Ryer-
He found many of his co-op
placements for school boring and
“Maybe I’ll like smaller compa-
nies,” Li told himself at the time, as
comfort. “They’re cozier.”
Li then went back to school for
the second year. That summer, he
worked at a small software com-
pany, but he still hated it.
He stuck it out until the end of
third year, when he landed a sum-
mer position in Hawaii to design a
There, Li picked up his frst DSLR
camera and he has never been able
to put it down since.
“It was Hawaii,” he said. “You
have to get a camera and take pic-
tures because, well, it’s Hawaii.”
Li had no experience with pho-
tography at the time. The only pic-
tures he had taken before had been
shot with a point-and-shoot.
He made an online photo gallery
and people started complimenting
“That’s when I started thinking
that maybe I was good,” Li says.
Li then embarked on an exchange
program to Hong Kong, still trying
to fnd something to like about his
engineering career. He spent the
exchange working for an advertis-
ing company. Li says he believes he
was put in that company by God to
realize that he loved photography.
He came back to Canada in 2008,
fnally deciding he was going to
drop his engineering career, and
took the year of to prepare his
portfolio and apply to universities.
Li entered Ryerson in 2009,
where he immediately shone be-
cause of his hard work and talent.
He has received countless pho-
tography awards including the
2011 Applied Arts Student Award,
and his work was published in Ap-
plied Arts magazine.
Despite the risk, Li says he
doesn’t regret dropping out of en-
“Photography is really power-
ful,” Li says, fnally at home with
— SuSana Gómez Báez
In a tiny room, in a tiny house,
tiny pieces of paper futer through
the air. Next door, doll-sized
couches and furniture fll a scaled
down living room. Across the hall,
a sailboat foats in a waterlogged
This is the miniature world of Ju-
lia Callon’s photography.
Callon takes a unique approach
to photography. Instead of photo-
graphing real environments with
life-size elements, she builds the
environments herself, creating min-
iatures for each seting.
“I was defnitely interested in
having control over a particular set-
ting,” she says.
“It was a desire to see things that
you can’t really seek out. I’ve cre-
ated realistic things that are believ-
able but also completely unreal.”
Callon’s miniatures are a combi-
nation of dollhouse furniture and
“I always start with my idea of
what I want to create and build on
that,” Callon says.
“I usually start with building the
structure. Everything is built out
of foam board, wood, glass, things
But, Callon adds, while some
more detail oriented pieces are
prebuilt, it’s not always possible to
fnd exactly what she wants, which
is when she creates the items her-
Of those pieces, Callon’s favou-
rite is called The Creative Process #2.
It involved a room full of futering
paper, which she says was especial-
ly challenging to shoot.
“The ability to get the paper to
blow a certain way and [to have]
the lighting be right and get the
shot I really had pictured in my
mind was really hard to pull of,”
she says. “I was really happy with
how that turned out.”
But despite the challenges associ-
ated with that series, Callon appre-
ciated the end result.
“It was labour of love, for sure,”
— Sean wetSelaar
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