After more than five years of consultations, planning and construction, the Student Life Centre (SLC) and Physical Activities Complex (PAC) expansion is finally open.
This new expansion will feature the work of several artists from the University of Waterloo community.
A second-year mechatronics engineering student with a passion for visual art, Joyce Chen has loved drawing and painting since she was little. As a child she would spend time drawing with her grandpa, who was one of the early artistic influences in her life.
“One of my favorite things is to go out and draw people from real life and maybe you would find it awkward at first because you have to stare at them for a long time, but as long as you get over that, it’s actually really good practice,” Chen said.
For the SLC/PAC expansion she is painting three big canvases using acrylic paints. The piece will showcase the community of Waterloo, landscapes from Waterloo Park and some of the campus architecture. Many of the people in these paintings are people that she saw at the park and drew in her sketchbook, which she then transformed into the painting on canvas.
Rachel Jung, a third-year fine arts and business student, has always liked many different art forms— music, writing and more. However, it wasn’t until later in high school that they started taking more fine arts courses and spent their free time drawing. Jung has also been exploring digital art through co-op.
“There’s a saying — write about what you know, and it’s talking in terms of literature or written work, but I think that has everything to do with art in general,” Jung said. “I think art is a great medium to reflect on what interests you. Not just visually, but thematically and identity wise.”
For the SLC/PAC expansion, they are working on a piece called The Great Gaggle. It will be a two meter tall, seven meter long vinyl printed piece that will go across a glass divider in the new black and gold room. The piece will have over 300 geese, each in their own bubble, interacting with each other in ways that are both conscious and subconscious. Jung says that The Great Gaggle showcases how we’re all part of this bigger community, even if it’s something that we might not necessarily actively engage with.
Jung’s inspiration comes from their experience of being in the SLC — eating snacks, studying, playing. They have also drawn inspiration from their larger experience of being a student here at Waterloo and finding their own identity in the other people around them, even strangers.
To see Jung’s work you can visit their Instagram account, @itsracheljung.
Stephie Reimer, a knowledge integration student who graduated in June 2021, has always enjoyed visual arts. When she was 14, she was already drawing a lot, and then got more involved with camera work and started to love filmmaking. When she was 19, she was inspired by a friend to begin watercolour painting. Later, she began working towards a degree in graphic design and animation in Mexico, where she took an illustration course that she fell in love with. As she learned the digital tools for illustration, she began combining mediums. She would animate watercolors by doing watercolor on paper, scanning it and adding digital elements to it. It is her dream to animate an entire short film using watercolor.
For the SLC/PAC extension, Reimer is using digital illustration to make a large vinyl mural somewhat inspired by Reimer’s love for children’s books. The main idea behind this piece is that viewers can find new intricate details in the piece every time they pass by it. The tiny details in this illustration tell many different tiny stories of everyday things that people will do within the athletic complexes of the new building. Talking about the piece, Reimer said, “Now that I’m leaving, I will never get to experience this new building, but at least I get to leave a little bit of a small part of myself in that building, so that’s exciting.”
To see Reimer’s work, you can visit her Instagram: @stephie.rr.
Queenie Wu, a fourth-year systems design engineering student, loves to create things. Lately, she has been experimenting with participatory art, which she describes as “creating art that’s kind of surrounded more around the community rather than just one person creating something.” She finds this form of art to be an intersection of her many interests, including data journalism, design, collaborative creation and art.
Wu said she is still in the phase of experimenting and figuring out what she is interested in, what her style is and if this is something that she would like to start doing more. She thinks it’s less important to go about trying to fit the requirements of being an artist or a designer and more so to simply do what you want to do and, in doing so, create a label for yourself.
“I don’t quite have the vocabulary of how to describe the type of art that I want to create, but by creating it, one day I’m going to be loud enough that the things that I want to do can find me,” Wu said.
For the SLC/PAC extension, she is working on a piece called Balance. It is a participatory piece where she is digitally compiling quotes from students, faculty and alumni about how they find balance in their lives or what balance means to them, alongside a composition of the local ecology, more specifically the Grand River watershed. With this piece, she hopes to illustrate the relationship between individual balances among the collective.
To see Wu’s work, you can visit her website, queeniwu.com, where she will soon be uploading her artwork.