Dear friends of the Anna,
This July, Director of the Anna Leonowens Gallery Systems and Interim Academic Dean, Melanie Colosimo, is leaving her role at NSCAD to pursue the position of Gallery Director at Mount Saint Vincent University Art Gallery. Like so many of you, we at the Anna are both excited to see Melanie take on this new endeavour, yet extremely saddened to see her go. Speaking on behalf of all our staff, it’s hard to imagine the Anna without her!
For the last 15 years, the gallery has been transformed by Melanie’s exceptional leadership and vision. She oversaw the installation of 1500+ exhibitions, facilitated 250+ public events, mentored dozens of student employees and brought in over $1million in project grants and sponsorships. Although her contributions are far too numerous to count, I want to reflect upon some of the highlights:
I first started working with Melanie when she took a chance on hiring me as a Temporary Exhibitions Coordinator in 2014 (a decision that, to this day, I feel was a great stroke of luck for me!) Her first official exhibition as Director was facilitating Robert Frank: Books, Films, 1947-2014, a high-profile retrospective curated by Gerhard Steidl which brought Robert Frank, June Leaf and the famed publisher to NSCAD. A very favourite memory of mine is how we were instructed by Steidl to take down the show: Melanie, Professor Robert Bean and myself ripped down each wall-length print, tearing and crumpling them before boxing up the remains for return to the press.
Recognizing the longstanding need for a performance art and events space on campus, Melanie founded NSCAD’s Art Bar +Projects (2016-2020) in an empty restaurant space a few doors down from the gallery. Professor Bruce Barber had the idea for Cabaret Voltaire Atlantique, a series of performances commemorating the 100th anniversary of Dada, which was the catalyst for the Art Bar and a perfect project for launching the space. Over the next 4 years, Art Bar became a hub for hundreds of student, faculty, alumni and community events: artist talks, screenings, performances, drag shows, dances, book launches, a tin foil-themed party, karaoke, pecha kucha, yoga, calligraphy workshops, DJ nights, zodiac bingo, free jazz, and also just a great place to hang out.
From 2017 - 2019, Melanie co-curated //RESPONSIVE: International Light Art Project, a series of bi-annual outdoor exhibitions showcasing the medium of light through interactive, responsive, and performative artworks. Working in collaboration with partners in Halifax, Cologne, Germany, these exhibitions featured a roster of international artists using projections, digital media, televisions, fluorescents, and neons, illuminating select sites throughout downtown Halifax, broadening the possibilities of public art in Halifax. This project created an international touring opportunity for many Atlantic Canadian artists.
Also in 2017, Melanie spearheaded a successful Canada Council New Chapters grant intended to build upon the enduring legacy of the NSCAD Lithography Workshop. The NSCAD Lithograpy Workshop: Contemporary Editions brought eight contemporary Canadian artists to the NSCAD Printshop to Master Printer Jill Graham, producing a portfolio of limited-edition, hand-printed lithographs over a two-year period. Participating artists include Shuvinai Ashoona, Jordan Bennett, Shary Boyle, Brendan Fernandes, Amy Malbeuf, Ed Pien, Derek Sullivan and Ericka Walker. This project was a launching point for a series of documentaries on CBC (Print's Not Dead by filmmaker Marcia Connolly), artist talks, studio visits with students and brought renewed interest in the original Workshop editions. This led to a steady growth in sales of the original editions, solidifying long-term stability for the NSCAD Permanent Collection.
On a personal note, Melanie’s guidance and mentorship have been invaluable to me. Melanie, thank you for your outstanding leadership, unwavering support, and dedication to the Anna. Your contributions have made a profound impact that will continue to inspire myself, our staff and students for years to come.
With deepest appreciation,
Exhibitions Coordinator, Anna Leonowens Gallery
P.S. See you at the Mount!
"During my time at the Anna Leonowens/ NSCAD, I have had the privilege of working with an exceptional team of artists, staff and students who have had a profound impact on me. The collaborative culture fostered here has truly been a beacon of growth, and has greatly influenced my leadership style, for which I will be forever grateful. I am proud of the work I have accomplished alongside Kate Walchuk and the countless student assistants who have made it possible to hand on a gallery that is financially, and programmatically stable. It is an ideal time to make room for a new voice and new ideas. It is still very difficult to leave behind a place that has played a significant role in shaping me as a leader, as an artist and collaborator.
I would like to extend my heartfelt thanks to each and every member of the Anna; past and present, as well as the faculty and staff who have been the Gallery’s champions for their unwavering support!”