Mel Arsenault has sound advice for anyone who wants to study fine arts at Concordia University: Go to Portfolio Day.
“Faculty members will review your work and give you constructive feedback. They’ll give you advice about what work to include in the portfolio you submit with your admission application – and what to leave out of it,” says Arsenault, a first-year undergraduate student in the painting and drawing program. She was advised to include figure work, so she taught herself to draw the human body.
“Some people don’t have a clue about what to include; I didn’t. This puts you on track.”
Concordia’s next Portfolio Day is Saturday, February 2. It takes place in the Engineering, Computer Science and Visual Arts Integrated Complex (EV Building, 1515 Ste-Catherine St. W.).
The event allows prospective fine arts students to get a one-on-one critique about their artwork, discuss their academic and career aspirations, and learn more about one or more of the 58 programs the Faculty of Fine Arts offers. It’s a valuable opportunity to discover if they’re on the right track and to help them prepare a strong admission application.
Portfolio Day is open to those considering either the undergraduate or graduate fine arts programs, from design and film animation to photography and art education. Participants can sign up for a review by faculty members in several areas, if they wish.
Christopher Moore, an associate professor in the Department of Design and Computation Arts, has reviewed work at five Portfolio Days. “We have information on the website about how to prepare a portfolio, but it’s just text. It’s not a conversation. At Portfolio Day, prospective applicants can ask questions.”
As someone who also reviews formal applications, Moore says it’s often possible to tell if an applicant has gone to the event or received specific direction – from their Cegep, for example - about what Concordia is looking for: potential, and creative ways of looking at things. “We can tell the portfolio is better edited,” he said. “The applicants also tend to give better explanations of what they’re trying to achieve with their work.”
Home isn’t the only place Concordia’s Faculty of Fine Arts gives feedback about artwork. Under the auspices of National Portfolio Day, the faculty participates in similar events in key markets to provide the same opportunity to young artists in other Canadian and American cities who’d like to study in Montreal.
When Toronto native Burcu Emec brought her photography to the portfolio day hosted at the Ontario College of Arts and Design (OCAD) University, she received valuable direction from the Concordia representative.
“I had no understanding of series work. The person doing the review emphasized that there was some sort of a comprehensive idea or story that they were looking for in the photography portfolio submissions,” writes Emec, who’s working towards a major in photography.
“The reviewer definitely helped in letting me know that I had to edit my portfolio so that it could be seen as one complete piece rather than, say, 20 different random images.”
What: Portfolio Day
When: Saturday, February 2, 2013, from noon to 4 p.m. (No newcomers after 3 p.m.)
Where: Sixth floor of the Engineering, Computer Science and Visual Arts Integrated Complex (EV Building, 1515 Ste-Catherine St. W.), Sir George Williams Campus (Guy-Concordia metro station)
Pre-registration not required, but participants should arrive early.