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New Bourse Concordia-CCGV awarded to Colleen Leonard

The Department of Art Education and the Centre Cultural Georges Vanier create a scholarship for graduate students to exhibit work and teach in the community
March 19, 2019
By Kenneth Gibson

Colleen Leonard, Allium. Colleen Leonard, Allium.

Art Education Masters student Colleen Leonard has been chosen to be the first recipient of the Bourse Concordia-CCGV, an annual prize created to honour and deepen the existing relationship between the Centre Culturel Georges Vanier (CCGV) and the Department of Art Education.

“We want to work together to have a stronger impact on the communities served by both the university and the cultural centre” says Kathleen Vaughan, an associate professor in the department.
Student artists–teachers from graduate and undergraduate programs in the Department of Art Education currently facilitate art programs in dozens of community, museum-based and school sites throughout the city, explains Vaughan, “and the CCGV is an important cultural and educational resource for the diverse populations of Montreal’s Sud-Ouest borough and beyond. We are thrilled to be make our collaboration more official.”

Blooming Period opens at CCGV March 21

Colleen Leonard, process. Colleen Leonard, process.

From March 21st to April 25th, Leonard will display art at the CCGV she created using cyanotype, a 19th century photographic printing process.

To produce a cyanotype, a light-sensitive solution of iron salts is applied to paper or cloth and an object is placed against its surface while it is exposed to ultraviolet light, such as sunlight. Where light passes through, the surface turns cyan-blue; where it cannot, the surface remains white.

“I was trying to find a practice that would let me create photographically outside,” she says, away from darkrooms or computer screens.” Cyanotype allows her to produce photographic works using translucent natural materials like plants, leaves or flower petals.

For her exhibition at CCGV, Leonard will also show large-format digital prints she made in the Post-Image Cluster at Concordia’s Milieux Institute. The prints enlarge the original cyanotypes to 40 x 60 inches, revealing details in the fabric of the Japanese washi paper that Leonard used to make them.

‘The beauty of cyanotype is its simplicity’

Colleen Leonard, chemical. Colleen Leonard, chemical.

Leonard will also lead a cyanotype workshop on April 7 from 12 to 3 p.m., allowing people to create their own cyanotypes that they can take home with them.

“The beauty of cyanotype is its simplicity,” says Leonard.

The chemicals used are non-toxic and can be safely washed away in natural water sources. Moreover, the materials are low-cost and there is little chance of failure in producing the photographic image, making cyanotype ideal for beginners.

The ease of the process is part of what made Leonard’s project so appealing to the CCGV, as their mandate includes a commitment to make art accessible to amateur artists and the general public.

“The way she approaches art, in terms of technique and themes… that is something that a lot of people can connect with,” says Hanieh Ziaei, interim Director of CCGV.

‘An opportunity for students to connect their work with the public’

The annual Bourse Concordia-CCGV recognizes outstanding artistic achievement and teaching potential of graduate students in the Department of Art Education, as well as a shared commitment to community outreach on the part of the CCGV and the department.

“It’s an opportunity for students to connect their work with the public,” says Vaughan.

Vaughan adds that the seasonal timeliness of Leonard’s exhibition, entitled Blooming Period, with its focus on new growth, environmental justice and plant life in the city also helped her clinch the prize.

Beyond the educational component, Ziaei says the CCGV wants to emphasize the exhibition space they have available for emerging artists.

“Sometimes young artists, when they try to find space, people say you can come here for one week or 10 days, it’s not enough because you put in a lot of energy, a lot of time,” she says. “They deserve to have a space for a longer period, at least three to five weeks.”

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