At the end of the her first semester, MFA student Sage Sidley is still deep in the theory of her master’s degree. “I thought I would have more studio time, more making time, more thinking time,” says Sidley, “but it makes sense that in the first semester first year that they have to get this stuff out of the way – pedagogy and theory courses – so later you can add it to your studio time.” Looking around her studio this seems to be her process at the moment – digesting all she is learning and working through those ideas in her art practice. “I’m trying this new method where I’m creating visual representations of the research as I go. I just start making something… even if the thing I make isn’t resolved … maybe their only purpose is to be a visual representation of the research.”

Sage Sidley is the recipient of the Robert Pope Foundation Graduate Scholarship.

Sidley is also keen to take advantage of all the resources NSCAD has to offer. After taking a three year break between her undergrad and her masters, she’s already noticing the stark contrasts between her degrees. “When you’ve been out of school and have had a lot of studio practice and you’ve been doing your own thing… you approach being a student very differently, especially because you have a focused agenda and a heightened awareness of time.” Sidley tells me she’s had over ten meetings with faculty recently. “I become obsessive and I just want to meet so many of the faculty members” but in a two year program Sidley knows that time – and resources – are fleeting and is determined to make the most of her studies at NSCAD.

The large 30+ person MFA class might seem daunting, but Sidley says there are benefits to having such a wide range of students working together. “It’s really nice that I can talk to someone in multimedia and I can talk to someone in printmaking and have someone in sculpture, and bounce ideas off of them and get tools from them” says Sidley.

Originally from the interior of BC, Sidley is adjusting to life in Halifax. “Any coast is different for me, and Halifax is pretty old, it’s really different.” Like with any move to a new city there have been growing pains, but with the help of her scholarship she has been able to keep afloat. “The scholarship was amazing and very helpful and very much needed for art materials and trying to live in a new place.”

Sidley is excited to have more time in the studio in the coming semesters, but is also grateful to be exposed to so much so quickly during her MFA studies. “I basically want a little incubator where I can bring all my ideas and just plant seeds and then go out and have a thing to work from,” says Sidley, though she is not pushing herself to digest all of this new information in a rush. “Later, maybe five years, that’s when those seed turn into a plum.”

In this season of giving, we hope you will consider renewing your support for NSCAD by making a gift of any amount. All contributions to the NSCAD Annual Fund directly benefit our young artists, primarily in the form of scholarships and bursaries.

Many thanks and happy holidays from all of us at NSCAD!