Last Wednesday, the Department of Visual Studies Student Society held its first-ever AGM, following its establishment as an official student society last September. Also known as “Devious Minds”, the group aims to “enrich the experience of students at UTM enrolled in the Department of Visual Studies by providing support, resources, and events that promote academic, professional, personal, and social development”. This includes locating new spaces on campus for the exhibition of student art, planning academic workshops throughout the year to assist students (e.g. with grant-writing and installing their own work), and offering mentorship opportunities in the form of panel discussions and networking sessions with artists, professors, and curators.

President Ebony Jansen and secretary Dorothea Hines opened the meeting by addressing DVSSS’s desire to bridge the gap between the departments of visual studies, including the departments of art history, art and art history, visual culture and communication, and cinema studies. Until recently, the CCIT Council was the only academic society affiliated with programs like VCC (while A&AH and cinema studies had no student representation whatsoever), and now that VCC has branched off into its own department independent of CCIT, a small group of students felt it was time to form a new society that addressed the interests of a much larger portion of art and visual culture students at UTM. The executive council—made up of Jansen, Hines, vice-president Sophia Leonard, treasurer Chris Fletcher, advertising and communications director Zach Honey, and Chev Burbidge, Robyn Lew, and Joe Measures (the department liaisons for A&AH, VCC, and cinema studies, respectively)—outlined some of Devious Minds’ upcoming events for the rest of the semester, but especially stressed the need to plan ahead for future years as DVSSS continues to build momentum as an up-and-coming academic society.

Events this semester include “The Blackwood Talks”, a roundtable discussion surrounding Seripop, the current exhibition at the Blackwood Gallery (March 8), Pie Day, an afternoon of pie-making followed by a one-of-a-kind  lecture on pies led by Amish Morrell (March 14—3.14, get it?), and the DVS end-of-the-year party, where you can mingle with other DVS students and staff while chowing down on delicious goodies (March 23). Other plans include implementing soup kitchens on campus to raise enough money for the establishment of a grant, which will be awarded to one student to fund an undergraduate project.

Devious Minds is currently looking for new members to become involved in the arts community on campus, assist with event planning, and offer ideas for future endeavours. The executive council is also preparing for its upcoming spring elections on March 20. Whether you’re a VCC specialist concerned about deregulated fees, an art history major hoping to see more art opportunities on campus, or a cinema studies minor looking for ways to expand the department, consider running for an executive position or simply getting involved with DVSSS. They’re eager to listen.

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