Sarach Bay Cheng

Foreword from the Dean

On behalf of everyone in the School of the Arts, Media, Performance & Design (AMPD), it is a great pleasure to share the following annual report with you.

Much has been written about the effects of the pandemic on the fields of the arts, design, and cultural sectors. Not only the coronavirus and the global lockdowns, but also the long overdue attention to equity and the need to address economic and environmental justice have reshaped the creative industries. Although the challenges of the past two years have been significant, our commitment to excellence across the performing and visual arts, film and media, design and critical inquiry has been unwavering.

In AMPD at York, we are proud to have been longstanding leaders in creating great work for the greater good. Our graduates serve as cultural leaders across Canada and beyond. I’m grateful for their leadership and willingness to give back to the students at AMPD. Their accomplishments and acts of generosity are true inspirations.

Our faculty similarly serve as leaders in their fields, bringing both their research expertise and commitment to innovative pedagogies to cultivate a thriving landscape for experimentation, exploration and learning. Their individual and collective accomplishments are detailed throughout this report. But if you were to visit the many studios, classrooms, and performance spaces across our School, you would witness an intangible yet pervasive generosity of spirit and enthusiasm among faculty, staff and students. This is what makes AMPD such a special place to learn, work and create.

If you are reading this report, you too are part of our community. We believe that the many distinct disciplines of the arts, media, performance and design succeed when we all thrive together. Many thanks for your support in creating exceptional opportunities at the ever-changing intersection of the arts and education.

With my warm enthusiasm,

AMPD at-a-glance

Degree Programs
worth of scholarships, bursaries, and awards available to AMPD students.
scholarships, bursaries, and awards dedicated to AMPD students.
potential student receipts of AMPD scholarships, bursaries, and awards.
Research Funding
Awarded to Endowed research chairs, post-doctoral fellows and student research assistants
Research Chairs
Notable Highlights
Completion of AMPD Equity Review and Launch of AMPD Equity Plan.
Creation of the York University Motion Media Studio at Cinespace to develop emerging screen artists and arts practices in Toronto’s $2.5B film and television industry.
Launch of Final Mile Club – student career preparation program for arts, design, and creative industries.

Creating Play

Creating a new form of play

Rebecca Caines is uniting artists across Canada with MultiPLAY, a three-year community art experience challenging society to create play funded by Canada Council for the Arts Digital Strategies Fund and Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Partnership, The International Institute for Critical Studies in Improvisation.

As lead artist, Caines oversaw MultiPlay from conception to implementation, bringing together 12 experiences spanning from St. John’s to Whitehorse. With collaborators, she mentored and trained participants as they created sound art, wearable technology, digital stories, photography, visual art, and exhibitions.

Caines also brought two partnered sub-projects to life. The first, Yukon Wanderers, was created alongside long time collaborator researcher Michelle Stewart and two Whitehorse community supports. The second, Sonic Blankets, with Stewart, musician James Harley, and youth artists from Saskatchewan. Both projects explored sound,play and space and strengths-based responses to disability.

Web Story
Rethinking adaptive technology

Rethinking the future of interactive-adaptive technology

Shital Desai’s Social and Technological Systems (SaTS) lab believes assistive technologies should intuitively adapt to older adult habits and rituals for ageing gracefully with autonomy.

With a $100,000 award from the Canada Foundation for Innovation’s John R. Evans Leaders Fund and Ontario Research Fund and a $153,100 NSERC Discovery Grant, the Lab is inventing a new generation of accessible emerging technologies for older adults with dementia. Desai’s research will drive independence and social inclusion for older adults in an increasingly digital world, advancing Canada’s position as a leader in interactive-adaptive technology.

Desai has been awarded several awards and grants, including the 2021-22 AMPD Research award, the 2021 Petro Canada Young Innovator Award and tri-council grants from SSHRC, CIHR and NSERC.

Caitlin Fisher teams up with international experts to create Shadowpox: The Antibody Politic

Shadowpox: The Antibody Politic is an interactive installation designed to make the invisible consequences of an individual’s immunization choices visible.

Caitlin Fisher teamed up with Vanier Scholar Alison Humphrey, creative coder LaLaine Ulit-Destajo, epidemiologist Susan Rogers Van Katwyk, website programmer Sean Sollé and Scientific Director of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research’s Institute of Population and Public Health Steven J. Hoffman to bring the viral experience to life.

Preserving and supporting Inuit culture, art and ways of life

The Mobilizing Inuit Cultural Heritage (MICH) project was a multimedia, multi-platform collaborative research and creation project supported by the Social Sciences & Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC). As the Principal Investigator, Anna Hudson oversaw MICH in recovering, preserving, documenting, facilitating and disseminating Inuit knowledge, culture and creativity.

MICH broke new ground in curating Inuit art in Virtual Reality. The project ignited an ongoing dialogue within the arts and research communities to help understand the role of colonialism in disrupting Inuit cultural traditions and raised public appreciation of Inuit and circumpolar Indigenous resilience to virtual reality participants from around the globe.

Now, in collaboration with co-editors Heather Igloliorte and Jan-Erik Lundström, Hudson has just published Qummut Qukiria!, which records MICH activities over the last decade and celebrates art and culture within and beyond traditional Inuit and Sámi homelands in the Circumpolar Arctic.

Trees are alive

The Trees Are Alive with Jane Tingley

Presented as part of the 2021 Contemporary Art Forum Kitchener and Area, Jane Tingley’s Foresta Inclusive installation turns real-time data from live trees around Waterloo Region into sensory-rich art experiences in galleries across the globe. Now taking the project across the pond, Tingley is installing the sensors on the grounds of Herstmonceux Castle in East Sussex, England.

With Foresta Inclusive, Tingley redefines “perceiving” to help society develop a deeper sense of empathy and understanding of the workings of more-than-human minds.

The Helen Carswell Chair

The Helen Carswell Chair for Community-Engaged Research in the Arts

Since 2015, the Helen Carswell Chair for Community-Engaged Research in the Arts has focused on conducting rigorous academic research exploring the benefits of community music programs. The group researches the links between music and learning, fortifying community music programs globally through publications and knowledge mobilization.

With a long-term partnership between York University and the Jane & Finch community, the research group drives new knowledge and practice to community-based groups serving children in the Jane and Finch community.

In 2022, Chair Amy Hillis leads the research team as they uncover the power of community- based music programs to spark change and improve quality of life. Researchers take on a specific project, with this year’s team is focused on promoting racial equity and reducing barriers to access in high-risk neighborhoods.

Uzo Anucha: Re-imagining Music Education After a Pandemic helps the Regent Park School of Music (Jane and Finch) develop a revised strategic plan for a more substantial presence in the Jane and Finch community using online virtual programming tools.

Sophie Bisson: Black Opera: A Showcase of Black Opera Companies, Works and Artists dissects Canadian operatic history through an inclusive lens to develop a curriculum focused on Black opera in Canada.

Patty Chan: The Cultural Connections Through Music workshop series introduces Jane and Finch students to Chinese music with a culminating performance between students and the Toronto Chinese Orchestra members.

Sharon Hayashi and Barbara Evans: Programming Youth Media Arts via Sight, Sound, & Storytelling Modules, where the Regent Park School of Music (Jane and Finch) students and BIPOC filmmakers/media artists co-create workshops about modes of production, music videos, advocacy stories, and cinema-verité films.

Pratik Gandhi: Improvisation and Creativity Workshop for Wind, Brass, and Percussion students (featuring guest composers) is a one-day workshop for Jane and Finch music students and York Music students to collaborate in the exploration of diverse composers.


Centre for Digital Arts and Technology

Based in AMPD, the Sensorium is a research centre for creative inquiry and experimentation at the intersection of media arts, performance, and digital culture. Bridging disciplines and diverse communities, Sensorium researchers, artists, and scientists explore networked connections between people, sentient environments, and ecologies of place.


The Sensorium partnered with the Stamps School of Art and Design at the University of Michigan to bring Re[new]All to life. The virtual space exhibition provides cultural context to today’s public health crisis, focusing on mobilization and its effects on creation.

Sensorium Glass

Joel Ong is a media artist whose works connect scientific and artistic approaches to the environment, particularly with respect to sound and physical space. Ong’s work explores the way objects and spaces can function as repositories of ‘frozen sound’, and in elucidating these, he is interested in creating what systems theorist Jack Burnham (1968) refers to as “art (that) does not reside in material entities, but in relations between people and between people and the components of their environment.”

From exhibits on Anishinaabeg ontologies and microscopic imagery to exploration of Asian Futurist Diasporic aesthetics, Re[new]All was hosted completely online in purpose-built Mozilla Hubs 3D “rooms.” The exhibit asked participants to view the pieces from a place of discomfort by providing sensory (dis)pleasure to contrast in-world comfort, allowing a deeper reflection.

Re[new]All opened September 30, 2021, curated by York’s Melanie Wilmink (co-curator), Ian Garrett (co-curator), Joel Ong (co-curator) and Simon Lynch (digital design support). Exhibits feature AMPD community members including Jane Tingley and Patrick Alcedo, students Michael Palumbo and Ilze Briede [Kavi] and alums Mariel Belanger (Ph.D. ‘20), Ella Morton (MFA ‘15), Jonathan Scott (Ph.D. ‘19) and Dan Tapper (MFA ‘20).

Creating Space: Precarious Status Women Leading Local Pandemic Responses

A project out of York University, led by fund co-recipient and Sensorium Director Joel Ong, will advance gender equality in the social and economic response to COVID-19 is one of 237 projects to receive funding under Women and Gender Equality Canada’s $100-million Feminist Response and Recovery Fund.

Creating Space: Precarious Status Women Leading Local Pandemic Responses is a collaborative, two-year project that brings together five organized research units (ORUs) and six researchers representing five York Faculties, as well as 10 partners, working on issues of equity, diversity and inclusion to advance a feminist response to the impacts of COVID-19 through systemic change.

The project was awarded $667,609 and aims to centre precarious status women’s experiences to support self determination and accelerate systemic change to reduce gender-based violence, promote workplace health and safety and increase economic security.

Research at-a-glance

Royal Society of Canada Members
Order of Canada
Governor General’s Awards
Current Canada Research Chairs
Current York Research Chairs
Current Carswell Chair
Canada Council Molson Prize
Governor General’s Gold Medal Award (Doctorate)
Actively Funded Research Projects in AMPD
Number of AMPD Alumni in Top Leadership Positions at Arts Organizations in Canada

Research Infrastructure

Five AMPD faculty members received over one million dollars in funding from the Canadian Foundation for Innovation grants, matched by the Ontario Research Fund, to invest in innovative research technology. Research areas include:

Shital Desai
Social and Technological Systems (SaTS) Lab

Desai and the SaTS Lab will focus on developing inclusive design technologies for aging populations.

Laura Levin
Hemispheric Encounters Network

Levin and the Hemispheric Encounters Network are building digital and communication infrastructure to connect artists and activists. Using performance to address shared human rights and environmental justice issues, the project will connect multiple sites in the Americas.

Janine Marchessault

Marchessault and CineMobilia are tailoring media archival technologies to the unique archival needs of marginalized Canadian communities, making collections discoverable and accessible.

Graham Wakefield
Alice Lab

Wakefield and the Alice Lab are developing research, software, art and training toward collaborative human-machine creativity within immersive media, including Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR).

Douglas Van Nort
DisPerSion Lab

Van Nort and the DisPerSion Lab are creating human/ machine (AI) for collective musical improvisation, expanded senses of presence in networked musical performance spaces and biophysical analysis (biosensing) with the aid of immersive media.

2022 York Research Award Winners

York University distinguished five AMD faculty for their remarkable creative and artistic accomplishments. Winners enriched creative and cultural expression and understanding.

Patrick Alcedo

Patrick Alcedo

Alcedo received the Cannes Indies Cinema Awards’ Best Short Documentary for the film, They Call Me Dax; and received an award at the All-Asian International Independent Film Festival for the film, A Will to Dream.

Michael Greyeyes

Michael Greyeyes

Greyeyes won the Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role at the 2021 Canadian Screen Awards for his work in the film, Blood Quantum.

John Greyson

John Greyson, FRSC

Greyson won the Teddy Award for the Best Short Film at the 71st Berlin International Film Festival’s Berlinale Shorts for his work, International Dawn Chorus Day.

Katherine Knight

Katherine Knight

Knight received the Rogers Audience Award at the 2021 Hot Docs Festival for her film Still Max.

Christina Petrowska Quilico

Christina Petrowska Quilico

Petrowska Quilico was elected as a Fellow for her celebrated career as a classical and contemporary pianist and for championing Canadian music.

The Dean’s Student Leadership Award Winners

AMPD created the Dean’s Student Leadership Award to recognize exceptional undergraduate student contributions to the environment and well-being of the AMPD community.

The award’s criteria focus on leadership, including specific initiatives and elected positions, representation within respective departments, and a demonstrated commitment to equity and inclusion.

Selwyn Tchang

Devki Patel

Third-year BFA Honours
Double Major (Film Production and Psychology)

Selwyn Tchang

Selwyn Tchang

BFA Honours Music

Ali Kazimi is Reel Asian’s Canadian Artist Spotlight

Kazimi’s documentary and media arts work explores race, social justice, immigration, and memory and emphasizes essential connections across racialized communities, between personal and public, through past and present. Previously, Kazimi became the first Indo-Canadian to win the Governor General’s Award for Lifetime Achievement in Visual and Media Arts in 2019.

Design Students Take Home National Student Awards

York U Design students took home big wins at the 2021 The Advertising & Design Club of Canada (ADCC) Student Competition. The ADCC looks for the best portfolio pieces from students in advertising, graphic design, editorial & book design, and interactive.

Out of 850 applications from across Canada, 20 AMPD design projects were shortlisted and six won top prizes at the 2021 RGD Student Awards. For its 25th festival, Reel Asian honoured Ali Kazimi as its Canadian Artist Spotlight. The festival celebrates Kazimi’s over three decades of vital contributions to Canadian media.

Patrick Alcedo honoured by the Republic of the Philippines’ Office of the President

Filipino President Rodrigo Roa Duterte and The Commission on Filipinos Overseas (CFO) honoured AMPD Dance Chair Patrick Alcedo with a 2021 Presidential Award for Filipino Individuals and Organizations Overseas (PAFIOO).

President Roa Duterte bestowed the Pamana Ng Pilipino Award onto Alcedo for his exceptional work in the arts with the film Cannes Indies Cinema Award winning, documentary They Call Me Dax.

Sundar Viswanathan’s Avataar wins 2022 Juno Award

Sundar Viswanathan’s Avataar wins 2022 Juno Award Sundar Viswanathan’s world-jazz group Avataar won the 2022 Juno Award for Jazz Album of the Year (Group) for their newest album, Worldview. The album provides a commentary on the “state of the world, pandemic, and moral inability of world leaders.” While the group’s music styling is rooted in modern jazz, the deep musical traditions of India, Africa, and Brazil inspired the group’s overall sound.

Bill Thomas recognized for longstanding commitment to the Canadian live music scene

MusicFest Canada inducted Bill Thomas into its Hall of Fame for his contributions to music education in Canada as a festival organizer, adjudicator, director, and composer.

Thomas has arranged music for more than 40 marching bands and drum and bugle corps in Canada and served on the board of the Ontario Music Educators Association.

Signy Lynch wins Governor General’s Gold Medal

Signy Lynch, 2022 Ph.D. graduate in Theatre & Performance Studies, won the Governor General’s Academic Gold Medal recognizing Lynch’s outstanding scholastic achievements.

Her dissertation, “Intercultural relations: direct audience address in contemporary theatre in Canada,” examined how theatremakers construct performer-audience relationships to facilitate ethical exchange, intercultural understanding, and social change.

Laakkuluk Williamson Bathory wins prestigious 2021 Sobey Art Award

Laakkuluk Williamson Bathory earns the 2021 Sobey Art Award, one of the world’s most valuable prizes for Canadian emerging visual artists. Williamson Bathory took home the $100,000 Canadian prize, generously supported by the Sobey Art Foundation.

Karen Burke

Harmoniously creating a globally connected and socially distanced learning experience

Karen Burke is no stranger to pioneering new pathways. In 2005, she established the first-ever post-secondary gospel music course in Canada. In 2021, Burke partnered with Nathan De’Shon Myer of Arizona State University to create a cross-border gospel choir curriculum connecting seventy students across academic disciplines.

For a year, Burke co-taught both the Arizona State Gospel Choir and the York University Gospel Choir by virtually switching zoom lectures with Myers.

To conclude the course and partnership, the two gospel choirs were accompanied by Corey Butler in an international chorus, singing Kirk Franklin’s arrangement of James Weldon Johnson & J. Rosamond Johnson’s Black national anthem Lift Every Voice & Sing.

Teleport to the Collaboratorium

As the lockdown kept students physically apart, Mary Bunch merged gaming and pedagogy by building a virtual island, the Collaboratorium, on the gaming platform Second Life where students could connect and create with virtual avatars. The Collaboratorium allowed filmmaking students to digitally construct the world of their stories while virtual avatars acted out scenes.

Global Partnership Climate Change Theatre Action takes the world stage in Calgary

Climate Change Theatre Action (CCTA) builds student literacy in contemporary sustainable thinking using a combination of research, modelling, and fieldwork as strategic change agents in professional settings.

Through the CCTA, Ian Garrett led students through a partnership with their Australian peers at Griffith University and the Queensland University of Technology to develop experimental stage designs for 50 short plays in preparation for an exhibition at World Stage Design in Calgary.

Albert Ng retires with a legacy after 20 years of inspiring design

For over 20 years, Albert Ng, also known as the “Father of Canadian Graphic Design Accreditation,” pushed students to design bigger, bolder, and better. From being the second graphic designer inducted into the Order of Ontario to his latest beautiful project with the Royal Canadian Mint, Ng’s long-standing brilliance is only dulled by his passion for his students.

AMPD has established the Albert Ng Design Scholarship, awarded annually to the School’s most promising design students, to honour Ng’s creative legacy. This will help remove financial barriers and propel future designers forward toward careers as accomplished as Ng’s.

C4: Cross-Campus Capstone Classroom wins AirbusGEDC Diversity Award

Danielle Robinson partnered with Lassonde School of Engineering space engineering director Franz Newland to merge the powers of art and science curriculums with C4: Cross Campus Capstone Classroom. In 2021, C4 was recognized for its new age fusion of teaching disciplines and problem-solving immersion, winning the 2020 Airbus GEDC Diversity Award.

In C4’s first year, 74 students from 23 programs and eight faculties took part as student teams researched and designed a sustainable solution for one of 11 social impact challenges identified by companies, non-profits, start-ups, and government-linked organizations.

The show must go on at Richmond Green Secondary School

Marlis Schweitzer teamed up with Richmond Green Secondary School’s theatre department to bring a 28-person senior musical virtually and safely to life as Ontario lockdown kept students socially distant. AMPD students were so eager to support the project that Schweitzer created a credit class for the partnership.

The end-product, Out of Sync, went live on June 23, 2021, via Zoom. The completely student-written musical left the audience with a feel-good reminder of music uniting people in tough times. Schweitzer created an outstanding experience for all parties. Both AMPD students and secondary schools called for an encore leading to the program’s expansion to six additional high schools throughout the York Region.

Shooting the Set sets standard for collaborative career-based teaching

Ingrid Veninger’s pan-faculty course Shooting the Set offered students across AMPD an immersive collaborative filmmaking experience by creating an omnibus film project.

News of Veninger’s pedagogy tact and immersive, hands-on learning opportunities reached The York University Board of Governors. They invited Veninger to deliver a presentation on her experiences with Shooting the Set (Isolation Edition). The Board singled out the course – and Veninger’s teaching – as representative of best practices, innovation, and creativity at York University.

Eunice Belidor appointed curator at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (MMFA)

After earning her MA in Art History and Visual Culture at AMPD, Eunice Belidor worked as an emerging curator and programming coordinator at Articule Gallery in Montreal. Now Belidor is the newest Curator of Contemporary Art at Canada’s oldest and most popular art museum, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts.

Set and Costume Designer Gillian Gallow wins Canada’s top theatre award

Set and costume designer Gillian Gallow (BFA ‘04) was named the 2021 Laureate of the Siminovitch Prize, Canada’s largest and most prestigious theatre award. Gallow is a Toronto-based artist who most recently designed costumes for the Shaw Festival’s The Devil’s Disciple and 2018 recipient of the Virginia and Myrtle Cooper Award in Costume Design, and four Dora Mavor Moore awards.

Lily Kao selected by the Royal Canadian Mint to create lunar coin series

The Royal Canadian Mint marked the new year by selecting Lily Kao (BDes ‘14) to design a new lunar coin series. The 12-year series contract began with the pure silver Lunar Year of the Tiger coin inspired by traditional Chinese folk art Cloth Tiger, which is often gifted to children as a blessing for prosperity and good health.

Cinematographer Matthew J. Lloyd welcomed into the American Society of Cinematographers

At only 37, Matthew J. Lloyd (BFA) has brought both fictional and real superheroes to life with blockbuster hits like Marvel Studios’ Spiderman: Far From Home and Ava DuVernay’s Colin in Black and White. Now, Lloyd has officially been invited to join the American Society of Cinematographers.

Luis Ramirez commissioned by the Toronto Symphony Orchestra

The Toronto Symphony Orchestra commissioned an original composition from PhD candidate Luis Ramirez for its 2022 season. Ramirez’s Celebration Prelude took part in Gimeno + Dvořák’s New World concert series conducted by Gustavo Gimeno, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra’s Music Director

Jonelle Sills earns spot in Vancouver Opera’s Young Artist Program

Soprano Jonelle Sills (BFA ’16) earns a spot in the Vancouver Opera’s Yulanda M. Faris Young Artists Program lead by industry leaders Leslie Dala, Kinza Tyrrell, Tina Chang and Vancouver Opera Music.

$3.12M in renewed support for York University Motion Media Studio at Cinespace

Longtime supporters Cinespace Film Studios and the Mirkopoulos Family renewed their support with a $3.12 million investment to enhance the York University Motion Media Studio at Cinespace and elevate the student experience.

With Toronto’s multi-billion-dollar film, television and digital media industry set to grow significantly in the near future, the Motion Media Studio will serve as an incubator for diverse talent development, hands-on training, industry partnerships, community engagement, and research excellence within burgeoning media production facilities and mixed reality spaces.

The York University Motion Media Studio – established by Cinespace Film Studios (currently owned by TPG Real Estate Partners) and the Mirkopoulos Family in 2016 – is located in the heart of Cinespace in the GTA’s west end.

“Since the pandemic, we have experienced increased demand for content, and content production. One of the key investments we can make in supporting our industry is to support its emerging talent and its next leaders.” – Jim Mirkopoulos

Jim Mirkopoulos, whose family was instrumental in establishing the initial commitment from Cinespace, knows the importance of providing the next generation of talent with the space to experiment and learn by doing.

The renewed support for the York University Motion Media Studio will enable access to state-of-the-art technology, such as markerless motion-performance capture, augmented reality, virtual reality, immersive environments, motion simulation, and more. Students will also find production process support, a suite of digital post-production equipment, and high-performance computing technology.