Current student profiles

2022-2023 Cohort

Ashley Beerdat

Ashley BeerdatAshley Beerdat is a painter and arts facilitator based in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) who primarily works in an impasto style to narrate fantastical stories based on references from pop culture, her childhood, and her imagination. She has a BA in Studio Art and Art History from Western University and is currently an MFA student at the University of Waterloo. In her practice, she explores themes of mythology, folklore, and storytelling to navigate the world around her. Her work is held in Mississauga’s permanent corporate art collection and has been exhibited at the Small Arms Inspection Building, Latitude 53, the Artist Project and Withrow common. Beerdat also dabbles in public art and has designed murals and art activations for Business Improvement Area (BIA)'s across the GTA. 

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Charlie Star

Charlie Star Charles

Charlie Star is a multiracial woman, interdisciplinary artist and second generation astrologer, born in St. Martin, with descendants from French Canada and the Caribbean. She obtained her BFA from OCAD University in 2011.

Mixing and assembling various materials and mediums is at the center of her studio practice, where she has created 2-D and 3-D textile-based sculptures and installations, wearable art, drawings and collage. She has participated in music and art festivals as an installation artist and DJ, and facilitated art-making workshops and community art programs in both gallery and non-gallery venues.

As an emerging arts worker, she operates program coordination and administration for various projects, organizations and institutions.

During her MFA tenure, Charlie is experimenting with sonic technologies, new media, contemporary DJ practices and multiple layering techniques as a means to create immersive site responsive sound installations. Her research explores and merges Afro-Caribbean cultural music legacies and astrological interpretations of cosmic events to identify the ways that sound and music can shape and reframe notions of identity, belonging and empowerment.

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Christine De Vuono

Black and white portrait of person wearing glassesChristine De Vuono is a multimedia artist working with drawing, sculpture, collage, installation, and photography.  The materials of each project are chosen specifically to engage viewers in new ways to examine societal norms and values. Her work utilises antiquated practices and mindful labour, emphasising the disparity between past traditions and present efficiencies.  Often focusing on the transitions we face in life, her work celebrates the needs of the psyche for beloved care and lived beauty.  De Vuono’s work is being shown in the Salt Spring National Art Prize, British Columbia, and has been shown in London, UK, the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair, Toronto, Ottawa, in her home town of Guelph, and in online forums.  She completed a Bachelors of Arts (With Distinction) in Studio Art from the University of Guelph and is currently pursuing an MFA at the University of Waterloo.

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Brent Garbett

Behnaz Fatemi

Portrait of Behnaz Fatemi holding a pyramid sculptureBehnaz Fatemi (she/her) is an Iranian artist who moved to Canada in 2018, based in the KW region. Fatemi graduated from the University of Guilan, Iran, with a BFA in Studio Arts. She is an interdisciplinary artist who works across various mediums and techniques, mainly in drawing, sculpture, installation, and performance. She investigates the deep connection between humans and their behaviors. This investigation is an answer to her question of how human sensibility interconnects with topics such as society, politics, religion, personal beliefs, and the like. Her recent research-creation effort (the triangles series) was a reaction to her immigration-related experiences, using repetition as a method of hilling. Behnaz considers herself an activist artist who works on projects reacting to sociopolitical events. In her MFA program, she aims to research interactive and socially engaged arts, focusing on artistic interventions that can bring diasporic lived experiences into public spaces to support and strengthens human rights, social justice, and freedom.

Behnaz's work has been exhibited in group and solo exhibitions throughout Iran and Canada. She was the 2020-2021 Kitchener Artist in Residence, working on immigrant- and immigration-related themes in the Pegman project. In the same year, she was also one of the members of the Art$Pay Artist in Incubator program supported by the Region of Waterloo. In November 2020, Behnaz received Arts Awards Waterloo Region in the Emerging Artist category.

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Clara Laratta

Black and white photo of a person looking at camera through a window covered with condensationClara Laratta is a Canadian artist whose practice is located in Hamilton, Ontario, on the traditional territories of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy and the Anishinaabe nations and within the lands protected by the Dish with One Spoon wampum agreement.  Laratta's practice is interdisciplinary drawing upon lived and academic experience within and outside of the visual art field.  Some of these experiences include former professions as a regulated health care provider, change agent and educator as well as artists residencies at the DVSA, Artscape Gibraltar point and Ayatana Artists’ research program.  Past work has focused on relational identity and her current research interests are grounded at the intersection of power, disease, healing, and value viewed through a sociologic lens.  Her research questions the impact of patriarchal and colonial histories and values on health and well-being equity in relation to gender, education, income, and other factors. 

Laratta graduated with an Honours Bachelor of Fine Arts in Studio Art (with distinction) from McMaster University (2014-2018).  After graduation she was awarded an Exhibition Assistance Grant from the Ontario Arts Council (2020) and an Explore and Create Grant from the Canada Council for the Arts (2019).  She was the recipient of the People’s Choice Award, McMaster Museum of Art (2018), Juror’s Choice Award, Fieldcote Museum (2018), Lorna and David Somers Community Contribution Award for the Arts (2018).  Her work has been shown in group exhibitions in Canada (2016 – 2021), the United States (2018, 2019), Germany (2021), Italy (2019) India (2019) and in Solo Exhibitions locally.  Her work is a part of permanent collections in Austria, France, Germany, Hungary, India, Japan, Poland, Russia, Switzerland and the USA. 

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Sarah Martin

Photo of smiling person leaning on railingSarah Martin graduated from Brock University with a BFA in Studio Arts in 2019, where she spent 2 years working for the university's gallery before pursuing her MFA.  With an interest and early exploration of curatorial work, Sarah grounds her practice in considering spaces and the body. 

Photography is the connective tissue of her work, where her early explorations involved photographing interior spaces and the relationship to the people that inhabit them.  This inspired considerations of intimacy between image and viewer, developing into a focus on internal mind-body and occupying space.  Reflecting on anxiety-related illness and body image, her work explores body, object, and gender through re-evaluating gender norms and investigating body dysmorphia.  She speaks to these experiences with utilitarian objects, specifically chairs, as seen in her Honours exhibition oh, that's nice, at Rodman Hall in 2019.

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Jill Smith

Black and white portrait of Jill SmithJill Smith (she/her) is a queer, Jewish multi-disciplinary artist and non-profit fundraiser/administrator, born and based in Tkarón:to (Toronto, Ontario). Her work involves exploring the archival properties of (often domestic) materials, objects, and rituals. With an interest in the intimacy of the maker-object relationship, Jill combines malleable materials, including clay and paper pulp, with found objects, recontextualizing familiar motifs and archetypal symbols, and leaving traces of the hand. As an MFA candidate, Jill is researching the intersections of sculptural practice, material identity, and sustainability, viewing objects and spaces as ever-evolving assemblages.

In 2017, Jill graduated from Western University (London, Ontario) with a Bachelor of Fine Arts (Honors Specialization in Studio Art). Since then, she has exhibited work in spaces across Ontario, such as the plumb, The Brandscape, Ed Video Media Art Centre, and Forest City Gallery, as well as Friends and Neighbours Gallery in Montreal, Quebec. Jill has participated in artist residency programs at Sparkbox Studio in Picton, ON, AGA LAB in Amsterdam, NL, and Artscape Gibraltar Point (Toronto, ON). Prior to beginning her MFA, Jill held the role of Donor Programs Officer at The Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery. She is currently a Board Member of Arts Assembly, and Member of Gallery 44 Centre for Contemporary Photography’s Special Events and Fundraising Committee. Upcoming projects include a solo exhibition at Xpace Cultural Centre (Toronto) in 2023.

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Stephanie Florence // Stephanie Wilson

Portrait of Stephanie Florence seated on curved shapeStephanie Florence is a neurodiverse artist and curator originally from amiskwacîwâskahikan, colonially known as Edmonton, Alberta. The name Florence was previously used in the matriarchal blood line through first and middle names of relatives born in Denmark for generations. The legal-colonial name Wilson was given to Stephanie's ancestors upon entering Canada. In an attempt to usurp this patriarchal-colonial act, Stephanie has chosen to reform their identity as a Florence. 

Their artwork is primarily based in collage and collaboration, borrowing from sculptural objects, installations, performative gestures, explorative painting, and photographic means. Currently, Florence is conducting exploratory research on the coevolution of interspecies interactions, and how living bodies become a commodity for capitalist culture. They are a graduate of the University of Lethbridge with a BFA in Art Studio and a Diploma in Fine Art from MacEwan University. After completing a two-month residency at the Yorath House Studio, Florence showed the Human Wheel at the Lowlands Project Space. The production of this interactive artwork is to inspire laughter and joy during the pandemic about the cyclical and sinister nature of employment exploitation. Recently, they curated the SkirtsAfire Festival for a second consecutive year, and they are currently launching their collaborative book titled COVID COLLECTIONS. This shared project funded by the Edmonton Arts Council and the City of Edmonton interweaves collections of experiences, interviews, art, and poetry into a book from an inclusive array of Edmontonians during the COVID-19 pandemic. As a non-binary artist, Florence acknowledges the use of pronouns such as they, their, them, she, her, hers, he, him, and his.

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