Workers install the new sign outside the BioArt Studio of professor Jennifer Willet.Workers install the new sign outside the BioArt Studio of professor Jennifer Willet.

Downtown space to act as BioArt studio and hub for community engagement

The Incubator Art Lab sign was installed last week at 144 University Ave. West, the location of School of Creative Arts professor Jennifer Willet’s new BioArt Studio.

“It is an art and science or BioArt studio and it is linked to my Canada Research Chair, which is a Canada Research Chair in art, science, and ecology,” says Dr Willet.

The studio has two primary functions. It will be a space to build the large three-dimensional objects that are central to Willet’s art practice and it will serve as a hub for community engagement.

“We’ll be hosting BioArt workshops and events through that space regularly. And one of our goals is to engage with school-aged groups as well as adult members of the community in hands-on BioArt workshops, but also events and exhibitions,” says Willet.

She enthuses about the location, across University Avenue from the Capitol Theatre, the Artcite gallery, and Phog Lounge, and two blocks from the SoCA Armouries building.

“(Acting associate vice-president, external) Vincent Georgie agreed to go out looking for spaces with me a couple of years ago. I was interested in the ones that had a little more old architecture,” she says. “But he said: ‘I don’t know, Jennifer, location is everything.’ He helped me pick that spot because it really is in the middle of the new cultural hub downtown.”

Willet says that her team has brought its own aesthetic to the space. The signage, designed in collaboration with recent visual arts alumnus Brodie Macphail (BFA 2020), is inspired by Art Nouveau. Research co-ordinator Domenica Mediati (BFA 2015) oversaw its installation. The interior has some unique design elements as well.

The lab has seven to 10 paid staff, all University of Windsor alumni. Willet hires graduates from arts, science, and business for different roles, providing them job experience, and she is committed to helping them find their next positions.

Due to COVID-19, they will create a series of “soft rolling openings” online until they can launch in person.

—Susan McKee

Incubator art lab sign

The sign outside the BioArt Studio of professor Jennifer Willet is an Art Nouveau design.