Faria Firoz, Andrew Ina and Aiden Kirkegaard Receive Griffin x ECU Residency Awards

May 9, 2024

The artists and 2023 MFA graduates will receive studio space, stipends and networking opportunities as part of the initiative, co-led by Griffin Art Projects and the Shumka Centre for Creative Entrepreneurship.

Faria Firoz, Andrew Ina and Aiden Kirkegaard are the 2024 recipients of a trio of awards offering professional development to graduating Emily Carr University MFA students.

Led by the Shumka Centre for Creative Entrepreneurship in partnership with Griffin Art Projects, the Griffin x Emily Carr Residency Awards support the development of artistic practices.

“Griffin is thrilled to once again work with Shumka Centre and the Jake Kerr Faculty of Graduate Studies to facilitate this exciting early career professional development opportunity,” says Griffin Art Projects director Lisa Baldissera. “We send our warm congratulations to Aiden Kirkegaard, Faria Firoz and Andrew Ina. The beginning stages are crucial to any visual-arts graduate’s success. We have seen the many professional connections that have been made through this award to assist in navigating this important phase of artistic development. We look forward to supporting and celebrating this year’s cohort.”

Faria Firoz received the Griffin x ECU Fellowship Studio Award; Andrew Ina received the Similkameen Artist Residency Award; and Aiden Kirkegaard received the Griffin x ECU Studio Award. All three awards provide free studio space, a materials budget, promotional support and opportunities to interact with arts professionals, collectors and the public.

Faria Firoz, Biborton: Shift of Being (detail), 2023. (Photo courtesy Faria Firoz)

“The Griffin x Emily Carr Residency Awards provide a truly unique ecosystem for our graduate students as they enter the next phase of their careers,” says Justin Langlois, Associate Vice-President of Research and Dean of the Faculty of Graduate Studies. “The time, space, and resources that go along with the residency are invaluable and facilitate exciting interdisciplinary collaboration and networking opportunities by connecting graduates with established arts administrators, curators and peers who can offer guidance and exposure, new professional relationships, and growth at a pivotal moment in our graduates’ careers.”

Justin adds that such residency programs are essential for the vitality of arts communities.

“Emily Carr University is proud to partner with Griffin Art Projects and is incredibly grateful for the financial support of funding organizations that make these residencies available to our graduates, allowing them to maintain the momentum of their artistic practices in new contexts and opportunities,” he says.

Faria, a Bangladeshi-born interdisciplinary artist, pursues themes such as globalization, cultural diaspora, displacement, equity, identity and cultural hybridization.

“I hope to continue material exploration to create Bangladeshi textile pieces during my residency at Griffin Art Projects,” Faria says. “My MFA experience at Emily Carr University has been very enriching, driving me forward and instilling a strong sense of purpose. I have made significant progress in my practice. This residency will be an excellent opportunity to sustain that advancement and push it forward while also connecting me with a broader community in Vancouver.

Andrew Ina, What If You Had Stayed (installation view), 2023. Mixed-media animation, 2-channel projection. (Photo courtesy Andrew Ina)

Andrew, an artist and educator of Lebanese descent who currently lives in Texas, plans to begin his residency after the summer. He says he will likely continue advancing the research he began in the ECU MFA program.

“The residency will provide an opportunity not only to reflect on that work, but to evolve and elevate and continue developing it,” he says.

“I’m going through a lot of my family’s archival materials, VHS tapes, photography. I’m tying those to the broader themes in my work, such as diaspora and displacement and the resulting in-betweenness that comes from there.

“I think storytelling, through lived experience, can help mould and frame such conversations in a different way than we typically get, say, from media outlets or from people who don’t have more intimate ties to these places. Storytelling can really help bring about more empathy and understanding and, hopefully, some more long-term solutions for the region.

“I very much look forward to the residency; having that opportunity to focus is, I think we can all agree, incredibly valuable for any artist.”

Aiden Kirkegaard, documentation of thesis exhibition at Emily Carr University, 2024. (Photo courtesy Aiden Kirkegaard)

Aiden, a Vancouver-based painter, says she aims to continue her development of the themes she advanced during her time at Emily Carr University.

“During my time at Griffin Art Projects, I plan to continue to explore the research that has come out of my MFA,” says Aiden, whose practice explores how physical and material painting processes can elicit memory and dreaming.

“I will spend significant time expanding upon my understanding of colour, painted marks, architecture, and acrylic paint/mediums to continue pushing my work forward. Continually challenging my understanding of how paint mixes and behaves is an important part of my practice and this will also drive my time in the studio at Griffin Art Projects.

“As I look towards the future of my career as an artist in Vancouver, it is important to me that I can connect and build relationships with the art community beyond Emily Carr University. I admire Griffin Arts Projects’ dedication to being a vibrant and connected nonprofit in North Vancouver and I look forward to connecting with the Griffin community through conversations in the studio and the online artist talk.”

You can also find this article on Emily Carr News.