21 February 2020: Yale-NUS Storytellers organises art masterclass workshop for students

By Muhammad Firdaus

Participants having a discussion with visiting artist Ms Tay (second from right), curator Dr Krischer (on screen) and Asst Prof Jack (far right). Image by Darren Ang for Yale-NUS College.

Storytelling is a powerful craft, with the ability to engage, connect and influence its audience. Championing the power of storytelling, Yale-NUS Storytellers organises events that give students the opportunity to tell their stories through text, performance and art.

Founded in 2018, this student organisation provides a space for students to tell their own narratives, with a focus on collaboration and medium experimentation.

To this end, Yale-NUS Storytellers organised a masterclass workshop on 5 February with visiting artist Ms Wei Leng Tay and curator Dr Olivier Krischer. The cross-disciplinary workshop focused on the subject of image-making, by allowing participants to develop multimedia artwork around photos and curate their own creative photography exhibitions.

Christie Chiu (Class of 2023) was part of the organising committee for the workshop, in which students were tasked to watch a short film as well as make an artwork based on the last photo they took on their phone as of 30 January, 9pm. “The workshop was meant to give students some insight into the process of curation,” she explained.

The produced artwork could take on any medium. Through small and informal discussions, participants tapped on valuable insights from experts who guided them along the process of conceptualising and preparing their artwork.

“In this intimate workshop, Dr Krischer and Ms Tay provided primary insight on the dynamic potential of curator and artist in dialogic practice, where each of their perspectives nourishes the other’s creative process through deep conversation,” said Assistant Professor of Humanities (Visual Arts) James Jack, who helped facilitate the event.

The Other Shore | 彼岸 (2014-2016, 2018). Transparencies in Lightboxes of variable sizes, audio installations of variable durations. Image provided by Wei Leng Tay.

Prior to the workshop, the artist and curator hosted a talk at the Elm Rector’s Commons. Ms Tay shared about her current project revisiting images and interviews she had done in Hong Kong over the past 20 years. Joining her, Dr Krischer, who specialises in modern and contemporary art in Asia, shared his thoughts on artistic practices as a form of informal life politics in Asia.

“I hope sharing their collaborative process working on a touring exhibition The Other Shore (2014, held at Australian National University), the book Crossings (2019, published by NUS Museum) and their current project leading up to an exhibition opening in Sydney later this year, can inform creative projects and exhibitions in progress by Storytellers and other upcoming student art activities,” said Asst Prof Jack.

Sun Woo Yoon (Class of 2023), a participant in the workshop, found it particularly eye-opening. “The workshop ended up being a really informal session where we got to talk about the ways in which artists and curators work together to create unique viewing experiences for viewers that furthered the effects of the art,” he said.

“I learned a lot from this talk as it got me to start thinking about how the presentation of artwork can be just as important as the artwork itself.”

Asst Prof Jack is optimistic about the tone such workshops set for future artistic endeavours on campus. “The new ideas and artworks made by students in this workshop, as well as the learning taking place through the dialoguetalk , artistic production and other interactions with visiting curator Dr Krischer and visiting artist Ms Tay, are an exciting part of the larger arts programming occurring on Yale-NUS campus,” he said.

Besides presenting narratives through visual arts in workshops, Yale-NUS Storytellers also explore the craft in the form of creative zines and exhibition series.

In collaboration with the Roosevelt network at Yale-NUS College, works are underway for a zine and exhibition series that aim to illustrate how individuals live with the impacts of public policy. The zine hopes to chronicle personal responses to government policies through narration.

Another zine has also been composed in celebration of Diversity Week, with the theme ‘With Open Eyes’, reflecting students’ unique identities through poetry and fashion design. These zines are available at the Yale-NUS Library.