2015 Gala Artist and Performer Profiles

Art Out Loud, was selected as the theme of the 2015 Creative Nova Scotia Awards Gala as a reflection of the award finalists and winners who work tirelessly, sometimes against serious obstacles, dedicating their lives towards a career in the cultural industry.

To honour these achievements, Artistic Directors Mireille Bourgeois (IOTA) and Jeremy Webb (Off The Leash Creative) invited more than twenty talented artists to participate in the evening event in order to offer collaborative artistic expression that demonstrated the diversity of artistic vocation in the province. Visual, media, performance, light and sound design, craft, and installation were all featured and helped to emphasize that that Art is Out Loud.

Representing pioneers of the Nova Scotia arts and culture sector, the dynamic evening included the artistry of Desiree Adams, Lukas Pearse, Arianne Pollet-Brannen, Leigh Ann Vardy, Lydia Zimmer, Hannah Levin McGrath, Annie Onyi Cheung, and Cory Bowles.

Emerging curators Mollie Cronin, Amanda Shore and Sara Roth, with mentors Susan Hanrahan and James MacSwain, were also featured in the evening’s programming through the screening of video shorts, and a pop-up exhibition where audience members could purchase an original piece of art from the curated selection. The final touch of the night was the contribution of cellist Benjamin Marmen, who created a dynamic musical quartet to fire up the audience.

Below, you can learn more about the all of the amazing individuals who contributed to the 2015 Gala's success.


Performing Artists:

Desiree Adams, Spoken Word

In 2010, Des Adams was named one of the Maritimes’ most “influential individuals in their 20’s” by the Halifax Chronicle Herald. He discovered the art of spoken word in 2007 and has been on a mission ever since, taking spoken word from the heart and encouraging youth to open their minds and speak up for themselves. Des has been featured at the Toronto Rock Paper Sistaz event, on CBC's ALL THE BEST, and has performed for the NS Department of Justice as well as the Rt. Hon Michelle Jean former Governor General and Commander in- chief of Canada.

Lukas Pearse, Bassist / Composer / Media Artist

Having recently been made Artistic Director of the Upstream Music Association, Lukas is a graduate of Goldsmiths College UK, NSCAD and Dalhousie University Music. Working across a wide array of musical genres and creative media forms, Lukas is frequently part of collaborative projects and also, works extensively in sound and music for film and video. Rooted in visual art as firmly as in music, Lukas specializes in providing projection designs and musical soundscapes for modern dance, performance art, art installations and theatrical events. He also enjoys composing and playing in wildly diverse traditional and experimental bands, and was recently awarded the prize for Best Original Score at the Atlantic Film Festival, for the feature film North Mountain. Learn more at www.lukaspearse.ca.

Arianne Pollet-Brannen, Artist / Costume Designer

Arianne has designed costumes for a number of opera and film projects, winning Theatre Nova Scotia’s Merritt Award for Outstanding Costume Design in 2011. A NSCAD University graduate, Arianne has exhibited in solo exhibitions at Cape Breton University Art Gallery and Mount Saint Vincent University Art Gallery.  She recently showed her sculptural artwear at the Fashion Art Toronto festival. Her artwork is included in the Nova Scotia Art Bank and Mount Saint Vincent University Art Gallery permanent collections.

Leigh Ann Vardy, Lighting Designer

Based in Halifax, Leigh Ann designs lights for theatre and dance across Canada. Recent favorite projects include The Diary of Anne Frank (Stratford), the World Premiere of The Colony of Unrequited Dreams (Artistic Fraud), The Glace Bay Miners' Museum, Metamorphoses, The Importance of Being Earnest (National Arts Centre), Anne of Green Gables (Charlottetown Festival), The God That Comes (2b theatre) and Oil and Water (Artistic Fraud). Leigh Ann is a member of the Associated Designers of Canada. She is the recipient of five Merritt awards for design, and was nominated for the Siminovitch Prize. When not designing, she teaches at the National Theatre School of Canada.

Lydia Zimmer, Dancer / Choreographer

A native to Halifax, Lydia graduated from Walnut Hill School for the Arts in 2007 and joined The Boston Conservatory Dance Division, where she received her B.F.A. 2011 magna cum laude on The Conservatory Scholarship. Lydia has trained at Canada’s National Ballet School, Royal Winnipeg Ballet School, Springboard Danse Montreal, and Halifax Dance Association. She has also trained extensively at American programs such as Jacob’s Pillow Contemporary Traditions, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, and The Movement Invention Project. 

From October 2011 to May 2013, Lydia created a number of well-received solo and group works in Los Angeles, California, and premiered an evening length piece for Julie Bour (France). Since re-locating to Halifax, Lydia has been offered a choreographic residency with Kinetic Studio and Halifax Dance Association, and was sought after to be on Arts Nova Scotia’s Grant Approval Committee. Lydia is also a personal trainer and fitness instructor in Halifax, as well as a teacher, choreographer and past rehearsal director for Halifax Dance’s Young Company.  Lydia’s evening length work Bonne Nuit will be re-mounted and performed at The Sir James Dunn Theatre in Halifax, supported by Canada Council for the Arts and presented through Live Art. Learn more at http://zimmerdance.com.


Film and Video Curators:

Mollie Cronin

Born in Windsor, Ontario, in 1993, Mollie Cronin grew up in Fredericton, New Brunswick, and Halifax, Nova Scotia. She completed the Foundation Year Programme at the University of King’s College in 2012, before transferring to NSCAD University where she earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Art History in 2015. A self-described “art brat”, Cronin was raised by two parents both heavily involved in the Halifax arts scene and has grown to become an involved member herself – whether this involvement takes the form of curation, writing, speaking, volunteering, or through the arts podcast that she runs out of the No Offense* Gallery on Gottingen street. Mollie Cronin currently resides in Halifax where she works full-time as a collections supervisor, as well as a freelance writer and curator.

Amanda Shore

A freelance curator, producer, and writer, Amanda Shore is based in Halifax. She is currently living in Venice, Italy, participating in an international course for curatorial studies and co-curating Symphony of Hunger: Digesting Fluxus in Four Movements as a member of September Collective. She has acted as producer and makeup designer for over twenty main stage productions for the King’s Theatrical Society, and promotes partnerships between theatrical and fine arts institutions. Together with Mollie Cronin she curated WHEREABOUTS in a black box theatre, showcasing large-scale works dealing with place, space and navigation. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Art History from NSCAD University.


Film and Video Mentor:

James MacSwain

Born in Amherst Nova Scotia, James MacSwain received a B.A. in English from Mount Allison University and studied theatre arts at the University of Alberta, Edmonton. In 1973, he settled in Halifax where he began a career in theatre and arts administration. Since 1980, he has been working in film and video, receiving Canada Council, Ontario Arts Council and Arts Nova Scotia grants as a media artist. He has been a former board member of the Nova Scotia Arts Council, the Independent Film and Video Alliance and the Canadian Conference of the Arts. Three years ago he retired from his employment as the Director of Programming for the Centre For Art Tapes. James was the recipient of the 2011 Portia White Prize.


Craft Exhibition Curator:

Sara Roth

A multidisciplinary artist, Sara Roth’s work bridges illustration, installation and sculpture in the exploration of constructed and imagined stories we tell about the places we live. She holds a BFA (Interdisciplinary) from NSCAD University and a Diploma in Fine Craft from the New Brunswick College of Craft and Design. Most recently, she has worked as one half of the collective Moving Arms II, exhibiting at art-at-night festivals Art in the Open, Charlottetown PE, and Lumière, Sydney NS. She works as Education and Outreach Coordinator at the Cape Breton University Art Gallery. Sara was born in British Columbia in 1980, and lives and works in Sydney, Nova Scotia.


Craft Exhibition Mentor:

Susan Hanrahan

Susan Hanrahan is Executive Director of the Nova Scotia Designer Crafts Council.  A graduate of Dalhousie University, majoring in Philosophy, she joined the staff of the NSDCC in 1987. She became their Market Coordinator in 1991, with responsibility for coordinating the organization’s two annual retail markets, as well as other marketing initiatives and outreach.  In 1995 she became the NSDCC’s Executive Director.  Not a craftsperson herself – she describes her fingers as being ‘all thumbs’ – Susan considers herself to be the other half of the craft equation: a knowledgeable, appreciative consumer of craft. For her, jewellery is an occupational hazard. Susan has been a member of the Arts Nova Scotia board since 2012.


Installation Artists and Other Programming:


Cory Bowles, Videographer


Hannah Levin McGrath, Durational Performance

Working largely through improvisation, Hannah Levin McGrath has recently found her way into performance art, an avenue where she is able to synthesize her interests and find new means to communicate. Through improvisational performance, she responds to her immediate environment, fluctuating between arranging/rearranging objects, writing/talking/making sounds, and intuitive dancing. Adjusting is the third instalment of a performance installation of the same title. Having recently graduated with an Interdisciplinary Fine Arts degree from NSCAD University, Hannah will continue thinking and playing.


Library Artist Talk:

Annie Onyi Cheung

An emerging performance, video and installation artist, Annie Onyi Cheung’s work is concerned with relational politics, with a focus on site and material culture. Her projects have shown at Ed Video Media Arts Centre (2012), Anna Leonowens Gallery (2012), Port Loggia Gallery (2012), various sites and galleries in Japan for the traveling exhibition entitled Field Trip Project (2012), Varley Art Gallery (2012), Scotiabank Nuit Blanche (2011 and 2010), and Labspace Studio (2011). She has been a member of the 7a*11d collective since 2009, and co- curated the biennial 7a*11d International Festival of Performance Art in 2010 and 2012. This autumn she started Nova Scotia College of Art and Design University’s Master of Fine Art program. Born in Hong Kong, Annie currently lives and practices in Halifax, while occasionally returning to Toronto where she maintains part of her practice.


Creative Nova Scotia Awards Gala Artistic Directors:

Mireille Bourgeois

Over the last ten years, Mireille Bourgeois has independently curated and contributed to programs internationally and throughout Canada, as well as published critical writing for Visual Arts News, Creative Times Press, C-Magazine, and the Canadian Film Institute. Her research explores themes on synesthesia, nonsense, the sublime and stupidity, with research currently underway in the field of BioArt. Bourgeois has travelled through England, Ireland, Germany, France, Scotland, India and south Australia for conferences, exhibitions, independent research and curatorial scouting (2006-2015). Bourgeois completed a BFA at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design (2001), and an MA from the Centre for Curatorial Studies at Bard College (2009) and is currently based in Nova Scotia as Artistic Director for IOTA, a research institute for unconventional artistic and social practices, focusing on art forms based in technology, social interventions, and science. Learn more at http://www.iotainstitute.com/.

Jeremy Webb

Jeremy Webb has been producing theatre as Off The Leash Creative since 2009. He has appeared regularly at Neptune Theatre (Great Expectations) and for WillPower Theatre he played the title character in Macbeth. His website offtheleash.ca has so much more information. His plays Shakespeare On Trial, A Christmas Carol and Fishing (along with his production of Dylan Thomas' Under Milk Wood) have toured extensively. Both Shakespeare On Trial and A Christmas Carol have been handed over to new actors this fall. Jeremy won a Creative NS Established Artist award a few years ago and the Mayor's Award for Achievement in Theatre.


2015 Creative Nova Scotia Awards Gala