VABE students to showcase third-year projects tonight

Chelsea Alexander was only 15 when she had her first brush with real architecture. Her father was building a new home in Toronto’s Yonge and Eglington neighbourhood, and gave her the chance for some input on the plans, soliciting her opinion on the location of a bathroom and some of the bedrooms.

“I was so excited,” she said. “I’ve always been interested in art, and I had been drawing floor plans ever since I was a little kid, so I was thrilled for the opportunity.”

It’s that kind of enthusiasm that’s carried her through the last three years of the Visual Arts and the Built Environment (VABE) program, a unique cross-border offering in the University’s School for Arts and Creative Innovation, which marries art with architecture.

The program shares expertise and resources with the School of Architecture at the University of Detroit Mercy. Besides their regular course load here, students cross the border almost daily attending classes on both sides in such subjects as architectural design, art history, contemporary art, visual culture, construction, and environmental technology.

On Friday night, the seven students in the program’s third year will hold a public meet and greet for the final night of a week-long exhibition of their projects called Coda, which began on Monday in the school’s Le Bel gallery.

“It is a great opportunity to see what has been produced during these students' three-year experiences in the program,” said professor and VABE director Veronika Mogyorody. “Some of them are very impressive.”

The show is also part of the adjudication and review process that helps determine whether students continue in the architectural program at UDM for their fourth year. At the end of their third year, students have the option to continue at UWindsor for another year to complete a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree, or can apply to UDM to earn a Bachelor of Science in Architecture.

Alexander, who intends on becoming a licenced architect someday focusing on residential design and adaptive reuse of existing spaces, said many of the students in her class plan on going to UDM for the architecture option.

The reception for the exhibit—which showcases the works of Alexander, Katrina Blanshard, Stephanie Guthrie, Shannon Hawke, Alana Lesinky, Michael Pfaff and Ayssia Seidl—takes place tonight in the LeBel gallery from 5 to 9 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.