Visual Arts Alumni News 2016

Laska Paré looking out at Himalayan Mountains in northern IndiaLaska Paré, is an enthusiastic mountaineer who is now certified in basic training thanks to the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute (HMI) and is planning a major expedition in 2016.

Chelsea Alexander,  BA, Visual Arts (VABE) ‘13

Chelsea is currently an Intern Architect at CS&P Architects in Toronto, ON.  CS&P is the firm that designed and is currently building/renovating our new SoCA buildings downtown.

Susan Blight, MFA, Visual Arts ‘07

Click this link to view an article about a recent significant public project by Susan Blight in Toronto.

Geoff Church and familyGeoff Church, BA, Visual Arts ‘97

After graduating from UWindsor, I used my degree to attend a fast track program at Humber College for Packaging Design that got me into the line of work I do today.
Currently I live in Toronto with my wife Meghan and our sons Simon 5 and Oliver 3. I've been designing award-winning point of purchase displays for 16 years, 12 years at Artisan Complete in Markham.  My biggest achievements are 2011 Temporary Display of the Year, 2012 Global Marketing at Retail Award and finally 2013 Creative Best in Show Award.  These awards are handed out yearly in either Chicago or Las Vegas at the POPAI awards.
Geoff Church's design for Playtex Sport displayGeoff Church's design for a Schick in store display
Geoff Church's design for a Sharpie POP display

Patricia Coates, MFA, Visual Arts ’15

Patricia recently received a Canada Council Visual Artist Project Grant (March 2016).  Patricia’s solo exhibition, Lucy Palustris: Propagation Project was featured in Canadian Art Magazine (below) and was shown at the Thames Art Gallery in Chatham, until May 8, 2016.
The Thames Art Gallery published an essay on Patricia’s work written by Professor Lorenzo Buj, and an interview by Robert McKaskell. The publication is available at the Thames Art Gallery.

Lucy Palustris: Propagation Project by Patricia Coates, MFA '15

EXHIBITION MAR 18 2016 - MAY 8 2016
Lucy Palustris: Propagation Project
Patricia Coates, MFA ‘15
March 18 – May 8, 2016
The Thames Art Gallery presents a new exhibition featuring Windsor-based artist Patricia Coates. Coates explores concepts of habitat loss and GMO technoscience through an immersive exhibition of video and installation. “I imagine how provocative it will be to re-stage a show that comments on our relationship with the living world in Chatham, Ontario, a place smack in the heartland of industrial agriculture.  You see, what I really want to get at is to raise a question that is psychological: What does our relationship with the living world, our relationship with the land, say about who we are?”
Art critic and professor Lorenzo Buj writes “…Here we are in 2016, hurling ourselves against a world-engirdling disorder that we’ve engineered out of our arrogance as a species… Lucy Palustris has internalized it all (the catastrophism, the intersectionality, the overdetermination), but she’s not fanatically doom-minded; she doesn’t lapse into spasms of self-inflicted nihilism, and that’s why she persists in her stoic, her superhuman, her five- and seven-hour marathons to save the planet….Lucy’s creator Patricia Coates tells us that this alter ego of hers was “born” to undertake quixotic gestures of renewal and repair. Lucy, she writes, is an Eco-warrioress, engrossed, obsessive and irrational, an innately absurd agent, tragic and comedic in one and the same exploit. As the performative extension of her maker, Lucy stands at the centre of Coates’s remarkable rise as an artist.”

"Obsoletism" creative digital image, on archival paper 2002 by Susan CollacottSusan Collacott, BFA, Visual Arts ‘71

Susan COLLACOTT is now building a house in Cobble Hill on Vancouver Island. She graduated 1971 with a BFA and finished her formal education at the University of Northern Illinois in 1973 earning a MA and MFA. In the last few years, Susan's paintings have been curated into two exhibitions in public galleries and her photography has also enjoyed much exposure. Visit
Photo: "obsoletism" creative digital image, on archival paper 2002
Book of Tree by Laurie D'Alessandro

Worn Thin by Laurie D'AlessandroLaurie D. D'Alessandro, BFA, Visual Arts ‘11

"The Book of Trees" will be in an upcoming exhibition entitled Transformation: An Exhibition of Altered Books at the Helson Gallery, Halton Hills Cultural Centre in Georgetown, Ontario.  The exhibition runs from September 14 – November 27, 2016.
The other three images "Worn Thin", "Tightly Wound" and "G.G.'s Box" will be included in the 4th biennial Fiber Options exhibition in Annapolis, Maryland at Maryland Federation of Art Circle Gallery.  This exhibition runs from July 14 to August 6, 2016.
I completed my Bachelor of Fine Arts at the University of Windsor in 2011, my Master of Fine Arts degree at Wayne State University in 2014, and was elected to the Ontario Society of Artists in 2013.  In 2015 I became a member of the faculty at Wayne State University where I currently teach drawing.  I live in Lakeshore, Ontario where I maintain a studio.

Amanda Dudnik, MFA, Visual Arts ‘15

Here is the link to my feature on the CBC show Exhibitionists 
Amanda is a 2015 MFA graduate and also a SSHRC recipient.

Barbara Emard-Haskett, MFA, Visual Arts '84Barbara Emard-Haskett, MFA, Visual Arts ‘84

My name when I attended the U of W was Barbara Emard.  I graduated in 1984 with my MFA degree in studio arts:  painting/drawing.
The news I would like to share is that I am now ‘happily retired’.  I completed my career as a secondary school art teacher with the Grand Erie District School Board in Dec. 2013.  Since then, my husband Jeff and I winter in Lakeland, Florida and spend the remainder of the year at home in Simcoe, Ontario.  Home renovations, biking, painting, reading, crafting and gardening are among some of my pastimes.  We still visit family in Alberta and B.C. and feel blessed to be able to spend time with our two grown children regularly.

Shannon Hawke, BA, Visual Arts (VABE) ‘13

Shannon is now an Architectural Designer at Kraemer Design Group PLC in Detroit MI.

Josephine C. Hazen, BFA, Visual Arts ‘85

Josie complete a MFA Fine Art degree from Wayne State University in Detroit, MI in   2011. She is looking forward to touring the new SoCA downtown campus next year!

Elizabeth Gaye MacDonald at Ojibway ParkElizabeth Gaye MacDonald, BFA, Visual Arts ‘01

It's hard to believe that a year slipped by since the last alumni news article. 2015 was indeed another eventful year for me, and my group, the Windsor & Essex County Plein Air Artists.  I co-founded the group in 2009, with a long time artist friend. For those who don't know what Plein Air is, it is the act of painting out of doors. Most visual arts tend to be solo endeavours. What is unique about Plein Air painting is the social aspect. Working with these incredible artists brings me immeasurable joy. In 2015 we held a very successful group exhibition at the Gibson Gallery in Amherstburg. The group receives invitations to demonstrate Plein Air at many events and venues around Essex County, and is now receiving invites provincially.
I consider myself an extreme Plein Air painter, in that I paint outdoors in all weather. I love winter painting the best of all the seasons. My coldest paint out day this winter was Monday Jan 18th, 2016. The temperature hit -8° C or 17° F. I had five brave painters follow me out to suffer for our art at Ojibway Park that day.  Recently I've been experimenting with a limited pallet, usually consisting of no more than four colours and white. This practice is valuable in plein air. My gear is heavy. You only want to make one trip to your painting site. The weight of paint tubes can quickly add up. It is amazing how so few colours can give varied results. I used this method to create my entry into Nancy John's 24 x 48 juried exhibition this year. Nancy featured my painting in her window, and I am exited to say that it sold before the opening.
Ojibway Last SnowI participate in many events during the year. One event, Artilicious is a fundraiser charity event for the Kidney Foundation. In 2015 Caesars Windsor generously hosted the event in one of their ballrooms. My display caught the eye of BizX magazine, and Eyes on Windsor online news. As a result, I was featured on the cover of the BizX January 2016 issue.
I consider myself a life long learner. My days are filled with web related research on marketing strategies. As a visual artist I take marketing into my own hands. As a result of many hours of work, my calendar is full of amazing opportunities. I'm looking forward to painting in plein air festivals again this year. I thank SoCA for this opportunity to reach out to others. Feel free to follow or friend me on Facebook at . You can also visit my personal website at where you can view and purchase my work.
Hands Across the WaterPhotos:
-  Image of myself at Ojibway painting on coldest day of the year
-  Image of Ojibway painting coldest day of the year (Last Snow Ojibway oil on panel 12 x 9 Plein air limited palette 4 colours plus white.)
-  Image of entry to Nancy John’s 24x48 exhibition (Hands Across the Water 24x48 studio painting acrylic on canvas limited palette 3 colours plus white.)
Images of the LEYDAN Awards

Working on projects at the Leydan Art GalleryLeyla Aysel Munteanu B.Sc, B.Ed, MFA, Visual Arts ‘07

I am not a big writer, actually I do not like to write but I can paint and sculpt almost everything and in almost all media. I take care of a small space around 650 sq. feet and transformed it in an art gallery and art academy,  that opened in 2012 at 3214 Sandwich St. West Windsor, very close to Mackenzie Hall . I started to organize group shows for artists along with me teaching art classes. I teach children and adults classes 4 times per week.
Last year, I started to organize one international juried contest exhibition called LEYDAN Award 2016, that will be held every year from now on. 34 artists responded to the open call from all over the world (Germany, Switzerland, UK, Iceland, The Netherlands, Iran, Bulgaria, Mexico, Ecuador, Brazil, USA, Norway, and Canada).  The jurors were from Canada : Leyla Munteanu MFA – mixed media and sculpture, Chad Riley MFA – photography , painting, Nautartis Associazione from Italy – painting, drawing, Prof. Daniel I. Gonti from Romania/Italy – painting, sculpture, photography, Prof.  Giuseppe Maci from Italy, Painting, mixed media, photography. The exhibition was on view from May 1st to May 31st. The winners of the contest in each media won a free two person  exhibition in LEYDAN ART GALLERY. The exhibition has a catalog in a pdf format and a hard cover one that can be purchased from the printing company or can be found on Amazon. In June the winning artists’ artworks can be seen on the walls of the gallery. Everybody can drop in and enjoy the amazing pieces of art.
Next international thematic exhibition will be in July, and gather 15 artists, again from all over the world. The gallery is open from 2pm to 7pm from Tuesday to Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 1pm to 5pm.
The gallery is on Facebook:

Michael Pfaff, BA, Visual Arts (VABE) ‘13

I graduated from University of Detroit Mercy with my Master of Architecture last year and from the University of Windsor's VABE program with a Bachelor of Art in 2013. After studying the nature and aesthetics of Beaux Arts classical architecture in my Master's thesis, I decided I wanted to explore this topic further and Notre Dame was the best school due to its curriculum based in classical and traditional architecture. I was admitted this March to its two-year post-professional Master of Architectural Design and Urbanism (M.ADU) program with support from professors from both the University of Windsor and University of Detroit Mercy. I was awarded with a full tuition scholarship and graduate stipend along with financial assistance for a study abroad term in Rome. I start this fall in South Bend with a foundational semester in architecture and urbanism, followed by concentrated studios in classical architecture. After I am finished with the program, I hope to work in high-end residential and commercial architecture or consult in heritage building work.
History Begins With Us an exhibition by Amin Rehman

Portrait of/by Ahmin Rehman 2014Amin Rehman, MFA, Visual Arts ‘11

I had graduated from the School of Visual and Creative Arts, University of Windsor in 2011. Since than I have been showing solo exhibitions at important venues such as the Art Gallery of Mississauga and the McIntosh Gallery, University of Western Ontario. I have also produced an important body of new work stemming from the collaboration with the British Pakistani activist and writer of international repute, Tariq Ali. The Other Histories was recently shown at the Zahoor ul Akhlaq Gallery, National College of Art, Lahore, Pakistan and now making its way to Toronto this year. My recent work Where Do We Go From Here will be on display at the Art Square Gallery from August 8 to 14, 2016 at 334 Dundas Street West (in front of Art Gallery Of Ontario), Toronto. The exhibition opens on August at 6 pm.
Photos: From the exhibition "Other Histories".

Amin Rehman with guests at his exhibition at the  Zahoor ul Akhlaq Gallery, National College of Art, Lahore, Pakistan

Work of Amin Rehman
Amin Rehman Other Histories

Laska Pare is an author and mountaineer these daysLaska Paré, BA (H), Visual Arts & Communication Studies, ‘10

As a former U of W student, Resident Assistant, and Alcohol Education Coordinator, it's nice to hear about developments that are occurring at my former institution and one that I continue to support and admire. Here is my update:
In 2014 I boldly stated to friends, ‘I am moving to India in the fall!’  My friends looked at me and fell silent; a little stunned, but not too surprised because I never stay in one place for very long. When asked ‘Why?’ I responded, ‘Because I don’t want to waste another second not doing what I love. And if you’re not doing what you’re passionate about, then what the heck are you doing?!’ Although I was happy and living a good life, I realized it was time to step forward and really DO something. I had experienced the deaths of three friends in just 10 months. The previous September, my best friend and her boyfriend were hit by a mudslide while travelling overseas. At 26, I realized that I too could go at anytime – that I didn’t sign any contract guaranteeing 97 years on this planet.
Passion over Past book coverIn March 2014, I had started a book project called Passion over Past, and although I was committed to this project and worked on it during my spare time, in that moment I decided THIS is what I needed to do full-time.
On November 4th, 2014, I left Canadian soil. After spending a few weeks in Hawaii, I landed in Mumbai, India. I arrived with a backpack and a passion, that’s it. I sold all of my possessions in Canada leaving behind a few tubs of photo albums, my job, my family and friends, and my old ways of being. I had a few thousand dollars, but no timeline or idea how I would sustain myself past a couple of months; a mountain of student debt and no clear way as to how I was going to make the monthly payments; no in country contacts and literally, NO CLUE how I was going to bring this whole project to fruition. While I have travelled many times and have lived overseas before, this time I really was in an unknown state. Yet, instead of wallowing in what I didn’t have and concerning myself with a never-ending list of questions, I instead turned my focus to my vision... My vision was to create a platform (a book) where people would openly share their experiences and empower each other with their testimony. While there was no clarity about HOW exactly it was all going to come together, I was clear on one thing, my gut feeling. Every time I spoke about my project and shared it with someone, my gut told me‘Keep going’ so I did.
Fast forward a few months; to spring 2015, and the book project is complete. Looking back, I cannot explain how it all came together – the funds, the people, the experiences, the lessons – it would take me days to chronicle all the miracles I encountered along the way since everything just ‘showed up’ when it was needed.
Not only did I complete the book project, but I created a completely new reality for myself – one I am deeply proud of and brings me utter joy! I am a passionate Ultra marathon runner who is currently training for a 72km mountain run in north India. The race takes place at 17,600ft – notably, one of the highest runs in the world. I am an enthusiastic mountaineer who is now certified in basic training thanks to the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute (HMI) and am planning a major expedition in 2016. Overall, I enjoy outrageous physical feats, extreme sports and expanding my body and mind to new limits. 
The book project I pursued and completed in India is called Passion over Past (P>P). Passion over Past is an inspirational collection of testimonies from women around the globe as they struggle with harsh experiences and emerge transformed. By using techniques and powerful ideas expressed in this book, readers can transform their attitudes, thoughts and actions, choosing to live life passionately over their past.
The book is available for purchase on You can connect with the community of those choosing to live passionately over their past through their social media: Twitter: @PassionOPast. For more information about Laska, her services and the book (and book discounts), check out Passion > Past (@laskapare via Twitter and Instagram)

Vesper Shoushounova-Cormier, BA(H) Communication, Media & Film & Visual Arts ‘13

I have been living in and teaching English in Japan for three years since I graduated university. Here is a visual representation of my journey since graduation.  Enjoy!