Concordia University

https://www.concordia.ca/content/concordia/en/finearts/research/urban-futures/research-fellow.html


Student Research Fellows

In 2018 the IUF implemented a Student Research Fellow Program to support and amplify the research/ research creation activities of one outstanding Concordia graduate student, and in 2019 we implemented a fellowship for undergraduate students. Calls for nominations and proposals for candidates will be circulated on February 15th Submissions should include a one page letter of intent, outlining a project and stating how the applicant will benefit from the fellowship, an up to date CV, and one letter of support from the candidate’s supervisor, or in the case of an undergraduate student, a course instructor. Submissions should be sent to the Director by March 15th . The Director will work in consultation with the IUF Advisory Board to select one graduate and undergraduate candidate per year with the fellowship beginning on September 1st.


2019-20 Graduate student Research Fellow

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Miri Chekhanovich (Graduate)

Our Environment Ourselves: Biological Art Towards A Sustainable Future is a cross-disciplinary research creation project that I have been developing for the past year. This work seeks to evoke thought and create new meaning in regards to waste and the material world. My work reflects on questions like: How can a work of art offer an engaging platform from which to propose new sustainable and biodegradable materials? How can an esthetic experience significantly impact shared conceptions about waste? How could the perception of our environment as ourselves alter both manufacturing and disposal practices? Working within the theories of political ecology and vibrant matter, I challenge the perspective that frames humans and the environment in a binary divide and the hierarchy that this dichotomy implies (Latour, Haraway, Ingold). Accordingly, my art practice links to the idea of Aesthetic Activism which regards the aesthetic experience as a tool to invoke social, ecological, and political engagement. At the Speculative Life BioLab at Milieux Institute for Art, Culture, Technology at Concordia University I am currently developing two bio-materials that I am using to create audio visual installations. The first is using the growth of mushroom roots called Mycelium and the second is Agar Agar, a material that is made out of red algues. These materials allow my work to challenge the ways in which our built environment is experienced. During my fellowship with the Institute of Urban Futures, I wish to organize a few public experiential events, where my installation work can be experienced, shared and reflected upon. My goal is to take my experimentations out of my personal studio space and turn them into shared environments of learning.  


Noémie Fortin (Graduate)

iuf research fellow

Noémie Fortin is an emerging curator and writer (Inter Art Actuel, EX_SITU, Vie des Arts) enrolled in the MA program in Art History at Concordia University. She lives and work in the Eastern Townships (QC), originally coming from Lac-Mégantic and currently established in Sherbrooke. Her research considers urban and rural futures in relation to art and cultural institutions, along with ecological concerns and community engagement.

On July 6, 2013, a deadly train derailment and ensuing explosions decimated the small town of Lac-Mégantic and caused a spill of millions of litres of crude oil in the environment. This human and ecological disaster turned the downtown and waterfront area into an oil-soaked wasteland for several years, leading to the loss of the community’s landmarks. While this event and its aftermaths firstly impacted Noémie on a personal level, it also sparked a particular interest for the role of the arts and creative placemaking in shaping the natural and built environment, particularly in situations where they inspire resilience to people inhabiting precarious territories (i.e. remote islands, isolated northern territories and post-disaster landscapes).

Noémie’s thesis is motivated by her connection with Lac-Mégantic and her keen interest in the potential of art and cultural institutions to intervene directly in larger questions of landscape and collective stewardship in the wake of environmental crisis and change. She considers the extent to which they can participate in (re)shaping specific geographical and social landscapes. To better understand how art and cultural institutions could address the recent ecological disaster in her hometown, Noémie’s principal research question investigates the intersections between art, environment, and community when asking how other small-scale, deeply-rooted cultural institutions and projects have grappled with themes of landscape, ecology, and community. While this project entails research methods based in theory rather than research-creation, Noémie plans to benefit from the support of the IUF’s Graduate Research Fellowship Program to explore a more creative approach and community-based research in various urban and rural settings.
 


William Normand-Robichaud (Undergraduate)

iuf research fellow

“Erasure poetry, or blackout poetry, is a form of found poetry wherein a poet takes an existing text and erases, blacks out, or otherwise obscures a large portion of the text, creating a wholly new work from what remains.”

Montreal’s Griffintown neighbourhood represents a prime example of Erasure. A case study of gentrification and the consequences of zonage laws that have transformed Griffintown twice in less than a hundred years. This project, with the help of the IUF fellowship, will explore this history of erasure from the perspective of the architectural ghost of St Ann’s church. Once representing the community hub for the Irish community in the neighbourhood it now represents the Irish diaspora that followed soon after its demolition.

The ruins of St Ann’s exist to this day. This is what it sees.

From a population of 30 000 at its peak, in 1971 the population plunged to 810. Griffintown is now home to Montreal's condo boom. A renewed attempt at saving the neighbourhood through a new set of zoning laws.

This project aims to question how cities are planned in our current day versus how the foundation of our cities were built before the advent of zoning laws. Our neighbourhoods used to be self regulated through small municipal governments as was the case with Griffintown; can we therefore learn and implement some of these methods to build up our existing communities rather than resorting to gentrification and displacement.
 

2018-19 Graduate student Research Fellow


Eduardo Della Foresta

iuf research fellow

Eduardo Della Foresta is an artist and MFA candidate in Studio Arts at Concordia University. As a sculpture student, he is concerned with the distance between spheres of social engagement and shaping space to elicit discourse and open dialogue.

He concurrently works as a caseworker with Projet logement Montréal (PLM), an organization committed to social integration and inclusion. PLM is a recovery-oriented approach to ending homelessness which centres on moving people experiencing homelessness into independent and permanent housing. The project has assisted and provided subsidized housing to 250 men, women and young people suffering from episodic or chronic homelessness.

Eduardo’s research considers various ways in which imagination can help reduce the painful effects of isolation and disaffiliation. His research has been support by the IUF’s Graduate Research Fellowship Program which further allowed for the launch of Atelier Mobile Montreal (AMM). AMM is a mobile workshop that provides tools and supplies for those who are excluded from cultural exchange due to socio-economic factors. Marginalized communities are at a higher risk of seclusion and need access to alternative creative spaces.

The goals of AMM are to provide marginalized urban communities with resources that offer a pragmatic approach to making and sharing, and reduce sustained social isolation through creative expression.

AMM’s mobile truck provides services across Montreal that promotes creative expression by providing tools, supplies, and instruction free of charge. The Atelier facilitates making and fabricating based on the interests and projects of our participants.

Photos of the AMM mobile truck

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2018-19 Undergraduate student Research Fellows


The Gravel to Grass Project

How can we intentionally deregulate the design of an urban space in order to create an environment that is gradually shaped by those who use it? How do we design a space that encourages personal interpretation?

As designers, how can we reintroduce the natural world into our cities and promote a symbiotic relationship between both? Do cities and the natural world really need to be antithetical?

        The Gravel to Grass is a design research-based project that seeks to transform a vacant lot on Mackay Street, located in downtown Montreal, adjacent to the Sir George Williams (SGW) campus of Concordia University. The project originates from a class assignment in which undergraduate Design students Auguste Courvoisier, Thomas Heinrich and Judith Maltais were tasked with studying a space in the city of Montreal designed in a “less-than-desirable” manner and to come up with a proposal to improve it. Addressing the importance of cohesion among a student body and student’s emotional attachment to their learning environment (in regards to architecture and space), the team drafted a critique of the SGW’s campus that highlighted the absence of large communal areas and the difficulty for students to develop personal relationships with those that exist today. Combining experience design principles and Jonathan Chapman’s theory of emotionally durable design, the team sought to imagine a space that could be organically shaped by its users over time in order for them to develop a stronger emotional bond with it. Their design proposal at this time offered the transformation of a littered gravel parking lot on Mackay Street near Saint-Catherine Street West. The initial proposal for the future of the site offered a vision of transforming the abandoned parking lot into an unfurnished, entirely vegetated green space that offered both the possibility to be interpreted gradually and naturally by its users (students or any downtown resident) as well as psychological benefits of ‘well-being’ through encountering natural landscapes in the built environment.

        As futurists in residence at the IUF, Courvoisier, Heinrich and Maltais will continue to pursue the Gravel to Grass project and focus their research on the site’s history, the spatial politics of the neighbourhood, urban ecology and biophilic design. From their research, the team hopes to acquire the tools and knowledge necessary to produce a series of design proposals for a public space on Mackay Street that encourages creative and social exchange, that utilizes the multidisciplinarity of a university campus and that promotes a rewilding of the urban environment.

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Judith Maltais

        Judith Maltais is a second-year undergraduate Design student. She views design as a way to strengthen the relationship between the individual and its surroundings on large and small scales. Her main interests reside in print media, infographics and graphic design. Drawing, illustration and woodworking additionally play a distinctive role in her creative work. She works towards making sure that the artistic and technical qualities of a project are synchronized with the environment and its people.

Thomas Heinrich

        Thomas Heinrich is an undergraduate student in his second year in the Design program at Concordia University. Over the past year, his work has been guided by a growing interest in the behavioural effects of urban environments, in particular vacant lots, abandoned buildings and organically created spaces. His work also focuses on sustainable architecture, bio-materials and upcycled materials with the purpose of designing beyond an anthropocentric (or human-focused) framework. 

Auguste Courvoisier

        Auguste Courvoisier is a Montrealer who discovered her love for design while working as an event space manager and curator in Hong Kong. Now completing her undergraduate design degree at Concordia University, she is passionate about print media, photography and queer theory. She continuously explores her creativity through a fusion of disciplines using any medium available in order to produce a multi-faceted identity to an object, space or visual work. She hopes this project will further expand on these notions in order to create a free and inclusive urban environment.

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