Master of Visual Arts student
Bachelor of Visual Arts
The visual arts staff made her university experience special, says Chantel Matthews, who came to AUT to study a Bachelor of Visual Arts.
"I've enjoyed the visual arts lecturers and the technicians at AUT. They are all artists in their own right, and they go above and beyond to help bring students' ideas to fruition. They are what makes this experience enjoyable because they are so passionate about what they do to ensure student success."
There are a few staff that have stood out to her over the years.
"I appreciate Dr James Charlton, who pushes his students to not only be their best but to push past the norm and look beyond language through an ontological lens. Dr Nooroa Tapuni is essential to visual arts because of her playful approach, allowing students to freely explore and experiment while also supporting cultural principles. The team of technicians led by Harold Barton is amazing, and they carry a wealth of knowledge. Special mention goes to Harriet Stockman, who is not only an incredible technician but made me fall in love with making, especially with clay. And Dr Layne Waerea and Associate Professor Albert Refiti have always had an open-door policy for Māori and Pacific students, creating spaces like Va Moana that give students a place that speaks to and understands their language."
A Pacific lens on visual arts
One of Chantel's highlights has been completing the Contemporary Pacific minor as part of her Bachelor of Visual Arts degree.
"The Contemporary Pacific minor would have to be my favourite minor, and I would highly recommend it to any student. It's the only minor that looks through a Pacific lens, and that allows discussions to be had around cultural history, diaspora, and how we as Pacific and Māori can learn, reflect and respond in a safe and supportive environment.
"The Contemporary Pacific minor operates like a village that traverses between the past, present, and future. Students can be multidisciplinary in their approach, working in collaboration to create works that wouldn't otherwise be made because I believe there is no other minor that allows such opportunities that operate within a Pacific context.”
The creativity is endless, says Chantel, who received the 2019 School of Art and Design's Head of School Award as well as a BC Collective Indigenous Award.
Chantel came to AUT after previously completing various art and design courses at different tertiary institutes.
"Before I came to AUT, I had studied traditional and contemporary Māori weaving and graphic design, but I wanted to explore how I could use and extend these skills within visual arts. I chose AUT because it was a university with excellent resources and lecturers who were practising artists."
Chantel has returned to AUT for postgraduate study and is now enrolled in a Master of Visual Arts.
"The support I've had from the staff within visual arts has been amazing. My last year of the bachelor's degree showed that I still had more to explore, learn, and understand, so it made sense to enrol in postgraduate study. One day, I'd like to give back by teaching within visual arts as I feel there is a huge opportunity, especially as a Wahine Māori artist."