When I first applied to be Online Director, I had just gotten home from my exchange which was cut short and was quarantining in my bedroom. It felt like everything changed in a blink of an eye and COVID-19 went from an international news story in China to a global pandemic affecting everything and everyone. I was so excited when I got the role of Online Director as it was something I had been dreaming of for a while, and yet I had no idea what MUSE would be like with a global pandemic shaping our undergrad experience. Everything was up in the air.
However, the one thing I knew was that I truly believed in MUSE, and particularly MUSE Online. In May I published our first article called Making Lemonade which highlighted MUSE’s resilience and pledged to make the best out of a bad situation. I think it is safe to say that we did just that.
I have always been in awe of MUSE, but this year my admiration went to new levels. MUSE has always been an incredible platform at Queen’s, and I think this year’s team really utilized the platform to incite positive change and carve out a safe space to discuss anything and everything.
Particularly, in a completely online year at Queen’s our team at MUSE Online expanded and grew in incredible ways. We became more than just an online blog and created multimedia projects, creative collaborations, championed equity and diversity, and became the biggest portfolio of MUSE with nearly 40 members!
In a year full of uncertainty and anxiety, our team at MUSE Online has risen above it all and continued to create. In fact, this year has been a year full of milestones as we have channeled all our energy into breaking boundaries and pushing limits. We have used creativity as a positive tool to catalyze innovation and progression within our community and beyond.
Reflecting on this year, I am astonished with what my team has achieved and could not be more proud. I feel so blessed to have been part of this team and worked alongside incredible writers, editors, illustrators and more. Our team is full of such special individuals whose words have moved me and creativity constantly inspires me. This team has shown that the limits for MUSE Online are boundless and as our team passes the torch on to the 2021-2022 team, I am so excited to see what MUSE Online achieves next.
But, before I say goodbye, I want to take a moment to reflect and celebrate the extraordinary things we have achieved in this unordinary year.
In May our team started out with a bang when we published our first theme week – MUSE Declassified Quarantine Survival Guide that focused on all things COVID-19. Overall, the week was filled with beautiful articles that were articulate, honest, and captured all of the emotions people were feeling in such an uncertain time.
Within this theme week was our very first zoom photoshoot that accompanied Rachel Dunn’s article Quarantine, But Make it Fashion. This shoot highlighted fun ways to stay trendy during COVID-19 and marked the first of many Online X Creative collaborations.
2020 and 2021 have been years of growth as the world is forced to make changes that are a long time coming. Problems that have been made invisible for far too long are becoming visible and action is finally being taken. The growth that occurred within our overall society has been mirrored within our MUSE team this year as we have begun to take accountability and reflect on positionality and privilege.
The seeds of change were sowed on the last day of May as our team wrote an open letter to you, our readers, discussing the recent passing of George Floyd and our upcoming pause in content. As a team we decided that it was most appropriate to take a break from publishing our regular content to reflect and listen, instead of speak ourselves. Members of our team donated to various funds and organizations which became part of an overall $34 535 donated by Queen’s clubs to Black organizations
When we resumed posting in June it was with new vigor as we published Rachael Quarcoo’s poem “To Our Boys.” Her poems words which were written in 2018 in response to an open letter from 2015 still rang true in the summer of 2020, spotlighting that these systemic problems finally being acknowledged were a long time coming.
“CECI N’EST PAS UNE CIBLE/ THIS IS NOT A TARGET” (2020) BY AICHOUCHA HAIDARA. AICHOUCHA HAIDARA IS A THIRD-YEAR STUDENT AT OCAD IN MATERIAL ART AND DESIGN (MAAD). TO SEE MORE OF AICHOUCHA’S ART PLEASE VIEW HER ART INSTAGRAM ACCOUNT – HTTPS://WWW.INSTAGRAM.COM/AICHOUCHA.ART/ OR @AICHOUCHA.ART
To continue our reflections, Lyba Nasir wrote about going beyond reactionary activism and holding ourselves accountable to ensure our activism is productive, positive, and valuable for those we are fighting for. Her article was a call to action as she stressed that, “We all have a part to play, especially those who benefit from such systems due to positions of privilege.”
After a heavy June, we took time to celebrate with our very first MUSE Pride Week. As COVID-19 restrictions prevented in person Pride celebrations, we decided to take our celebrations online. The Pride week aimed to create a safe space for LGBTQIA2+ community members to share their personal narratives, and perspectives, in order to shed light on prevalent queer topics and issues. Spearheaded by our amazing Megan Fanjoy, the week was monumental as we received submissions internally and externally from the overall Queen’s community.
Image source: HTTPS://WWW.INSTAGRAM.COM/SOULFULXFIGURES/?IGSHID=IWXGP1821ETX
In a creative collaboration, the Creative Team used an innovative shoot to showcase the colours of the Pride flag including Daniel Quasar’s progressive flag to represent the BIPOC and trans community.
Finally, our videography team led by Ashley Cowie and Erica Giustiniani made a beautiful MUSE Pride Week video with old Pride footage that signed off reminding us that “Pride is more than just a moment. Pride is a movement,” as it looked forward to our new annual Pride Week event.
On July 1, Canada Day, we reflected on our history in collaboration with the Queen’s Student Diversity Project. The QSDP founder Nicole Osayande and the Co-President Fatoumata Tounkara wrote an incredible article that asked readers to not just celebrate Canada but reflect on our nation and how it can become more equitable and just.
In July Olivia Anstess wrote about how Schitt’s Creek defies its genre and Megan Tesch chatted with MUSE photographer Adam Gordon about film photography.
Fiona Meeson shared a beautiful account of how relearning to ride a bike paralleled her road to recovery, and Megan Tesch told us to put our money where our mouth is and support BIPOC businesses such as :
Nicole Grant conversed about gardening through a pandemic and Rachel Dunn explained how the life and legacy of her grandfather Jack Cronin impacts her family today.
Photo by: Nicolette Shwarzman
After a contentious new sexual violence policy in response to the student voices on sexual violence survey, Queen’s released an amended policy and rationale in July 21. Our Editor in Chief Anna McAlpine wrote an informative, nuanced article spotlighting the problems with Queen’s policy and looking towards the future at the work that needs to be done. As a campus ranked fourth in the province for sexual violence on campus and second for sexual harassment, Anna emphasized that “Creating a progressive and transformative sexual violence policy, which empowers survivors is possible; but it will take a lot more work to get there.”
Hareer Al-Qaragolie discussed the difference between cultural appropriation and appreciation by focusing on the abuse of cultural patterns within the fashion industry, while Katherine Lidtke spotlighted reading as a positive tool for personal growth.
Fiona Meeson deconstructed the instagram fantasy to highlight the problems with social media and Rachel Wiseman analyzed diversity and societal ideas of beauty within the Disney princess franchise.
August was a month we asked hard questions and continued to counter the status quo.
As we started our first entirely virtual semester of undergrad we had a Frosh Week theme week to introduce first weeks to MUSE and everything Queen’s University. After an online survey we wrote Queen’s Hacks to condense an ultimate guide to Queen’s undergrad that provided tips, tricks, and things us fourth years wish we knew in first year.
Megan Fanjoy gave us a little tour of hidden gems in Kingston such as Tie One On Creativity Bar, Musiikki Cafe and Whiskey Bar, McMahon’s House of Flowers Inc., Sally’s Roti Shop, Delightfully Different Tea Room, Tara Natural Foods, and the Screening Room.
Photos: Megan Fanjoy
Cassidy McMackon discussed the pros and cons of thrifting and showcased the MUSE exec’s favourite thrifted items and the memories they hold.
Image: Sophia Yang
Hareer Al-Qaragolie remembered Sara Hegazy an Egyptian feminist, communist, and LGBTQ+ activist, and Amira Ghobrial called attention to the turmoil in Yemen while providing resources to help.
Alexa Margorian hilariously recounted her journey to take the LSAT while reminding us that fear of the future is normal. Jenna Ryan wrote an ode to autumn, a time of change and Helena Wasylyk championed nature walks as a hobby good for the soul.
In October, Rachel Dunn told us to stop sleeping on K-pop and Stephanie Crimi opened up about how music has been a powerful weapon she has used to cope with anxiety. Megan Tesch invited us to byoy (bring your own yarn), and Amira Ghobrial reviewed popular subscription boxes.
Photo: Megan Tesch, Art: Sadie Levine
October 15 2020 marked the beginning of the beloved series: Jack’s Music Corner that featured new music every month curated by our very own Jack Selby.
Jackie Marson toured Kingston and shared some of her favourite places in the city we call home, and Jenna Ryan emphasized that if you are wondering why your English class reading list is full of male writers, look to anonymous as it is probably a woman.
Photos: Jackie Marson
To start of November, Alexa Margorian reflected on her Armenian heritage, the Armenian genocide, and emphasized the September invasion of Artsakh. As a member of the Armenian diaspora she wondered what to do when there were people that want to destroy you and your people, and implored readers to research the recent events and bring attention to injustice.
Image: Alexa Margorian
At the end of November we had our first music interview by Stephanie Crimi that chatted with Benny Fulton from the local Kingston band The Tales that features both Queen’s students and alumni.
To celebrate the end of classes, MUSE launched its first ever first ever digital issue, MUSE XXI. The creation of this virtual issue was both demanding and eye-opening. While we faced many challenges, our teams ability to adapt to current circumstances and express boundless creativity was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Our writers were creative, diligent and delicately spoken, covering topics ranging from racism, sustainability, beauty standards and more. This issue showed us, and the rest of the world, that creativity truly knows no bounds, and that together we can achieve our wildest dreams.
We started the month off with some nostalgia as Nicole Grant shared with us her mom’s photos and sweaters from the 80s and delved into the past.
Photos: Nicole Grant
Through an interview of the MUSE directors and heads team we got to know the minds behind MUSE who created the first digital issue.
Later in December Katherine Lidtke discussed mental health and illness in a poignant article that started important conversations and connected with readers who might need it.
Rachel Wiseman discussed why she loves dressing like a man from the 1500s and made a case for breaking down gender norms in fashion with an incredible shoot by Ben Evans-Duran and Lisbet Maclean.
Model: Stephanie Fung – @thesillybilly, Photographer: Lisbet MacLean – @lisbetmaclean, Creative Director: Ben Evans-Duran – @ben.e.d , Make Up Artist: Mariangela Casarella – @mariangela.casarella
Haley Marando talked about toxic masculinity and advocated for positive masculinity, while Amira Ghobrial pondered where she is even from discussing her vibrant background and debating whaat “home” means to her. Amy Newnham discussed why hating fitting rooms is more common than one might think and Jenna Ryan ended 2020’s articles by asking us “Any Mummers ‘Lowed in?” and teaching us some Newfoundland and Labrador Christmas traditions.
As we started out 2021 Stephanie Crimi with some help from the creative team gave us a 2020 fashion year in review discussing the impact COVID-19 has had on fashion production, trends, and events.
Photo Credit: Maya Ginzburg, Creative AssistantPhoto Credit: Chanel Romeo, Creative AssistantPhoto Credit: Ben Evans-Durán, Creative DirectorPhoto Credit: Chanel Romeo, Creative Assistant
Also in January, MUSE had our first set of interviews on Blackfishing a collaboration with Queen’s CARED. For the series, CARED sat down with Black-identified students to hear their thoughts and opinions on this issue. (watch on IGTV @musexqueens)
Our MUSE Online team also hosted a joint virtual workshop with Queens Collage Collectives to collage and discuss how to navigate privilege and positionality and the importance of acknowledging both in the world of art and the wider world.
We also held our first Indigenous Awareness week led by Olivia Anstess and Hareer Al-Qaragolie in January that worked to highlight and centre Indigenous issues, artists, writers, and contributors. Through the weeks initiative we aimed to continue our own process of unlearning and learning while encouraging readers to do the same. There were so many incredible contributions from the outer community such as a powerful poem by Renee Corbiere, an article about how to Indigenize your bookshelf, an interview of Rachel and her business Heartberry beads, a discussion of how to care for your community by Renee Corbiere, a conversation about the health care for Indigenous communities, and an interview with QNSA’s Northern Food Director Reily Morrison about food insecurity in remote Indigenous communities.
Later in January Jack Selby looked back at the start of Jack’s Music Corner and discussed some of his favourites from 2020, while Amy Newnham captured twelve historic months on film discussing the craziness of 2020 that had pockets of happiness.
Alexa Margorian started a monthly TV column which provided witty commentary, good recommendations, and helped us be conscious with our consumption and use it to further our learning.
Collage with Copper Branch Images
Finally, we ended off the month looking at cluttered walls and changing selves and examining how walls can be like scrapbooks with Megan Tesch.
Photo: Megan Tesch
Then Jenna Ryan brought us back to the 1960s to discuss fashion trends and share some amazing black and white photos of her family.
Photo: Jenna Ryan
After we time travelled to the 1980s for Helena Wasylyk’s first article in a series exploring the music alumni associate with their time at Queen’s University. A survey was sent out earlier that year to alumni to fill out some of their favourite songs and memories associated with the music. Then within each decade Helena interviewed a number of alumni and thus each series had a youtube video and article that chronicled what Queen’s gaels were listening to in that decade.
Video: Alyssa Giovannangeli -Image: Maya Kotsovolos
Photos: Helena Wasylyk
In our second collaboration with the sponsorship team, Katherine Lidtke paired up with the creative and sponsorship team to create a lookbook for Balzac’s winter menu. Each new winter drink was paired with the perfect winter fit to curate the ideal winter aesthetic.
By mid February it was finally time for our love, sex, sexual health, and relationships theme week. This week had both internal and external contributors and discussed every type of love – plutonic, romantic, self-love, pet-love, you name it, we discussed it!
We also had submissions that really pushed boundaries and opened up needed conversations such as Anna McAlpine’s discussion about the labelling of unwanted sexual experiences, Allie MacGregor’s continuation of her conversation regarding periods and reproductive health for menstruating individuals, and Caitlin Parkes’s conversation about masturbation and self pleasure. These topics are all extremely relevant to undergraduate students and yet they can be uncomfortable, stigmatized and shoved to the side so we were proud of writers for centring topics that need to be discussed.
Art by: Sadie Levine @sadiesartthings
We also had our first live IGTV by Megan Fanjoy in collaboration with the Sexual Health Resource Centre (SHRC) that talked about sex, kinks, and everything in-between. (check it out the video on instagram @musexqueens or read it on our website)
Last but not least our Valentines Day week would not be complete without our crowdsource article highlighting the worst of bad hook ups at Queen’s. To end it off Philippe Haddad wrote a touching article in honour of his grandmother Pamela Nahas and shared how cooking has brought him close to those he loves.
To end off the month, we showcased our Online team and discussed each of our muses.
At the end of February, Black History Month, we released our first zine – Celebrating Black: A Black History Month Zine. A “zine” is a DIY, grassroots, homemade and non-commercial creative publication usually devoted to a specialized and frequently non-conventional subject matter. Historically, zines have been famous as platforms used to subvert hegemonic institutions, ideals, and norms, such as patriarchal ideologies, white supremacy and more. This resistance and protest is usually through the sharing of lived experiences in various creative ways. Our zine was created in collaboration by CARED, MUSE, and QBAS for Black History Month
PDF OF CELEBRATING BLACK ZINE:
The first day of March we published MUSE the App: The New Way and introduced our extended tech team led by Brendan Nugara. We announced that their team had been working on a new MUSE app for both IOS and android. It officially launched March 17th and you should go download it now!!!!!
This is the first year we have had this big of a tech team and it was so fun to have new people from different programs proving that creativity can come in all different forms whether that be fashion, art, or making an app!!!!
On March 9th the day after International Women’s Day we hosted a Women in the Creative Industries Panel about female resistance, resilience, and empowerment with a focus on women in the creative industry. By examining how these women are using their creative platforms to highlight important women’s issues and tell stories often untold, we facilitated an overall discussion on how creativity can be used as a tool to incite change.
The panel included powerful women such as:
- Bri Foster a clothing and designer, artist, stylist, and educator based in Montreal, Canada.
- Kenzie the Director of Operations at 437.
- Alia Youssef a Vancouver-based portrait and documentary photographer interested in complicating representations of marginalized groups, in particular Canadian Muslim communities, and highlighting their underrepresented stories and histories.
- Lhawang is an aspiring designer and stylist based in Toronto, Canada.
Art by: Grier Drummond @grier_art
The panel was an incredible success with over 75 people in attendance and tickets by donation raised around $280 for the Kingston Interval House! Additionally, to celebrate we had three giveaways to highlight small Queen’s based businesses created by female Queen’s students. Businesses that participated were: @2ndsjewellery, @forgetmenotoutfitters, @juliashandmadeshop, @kingstoncandleco, @radian.xx, @heartberry.beads, @wine_dark, @shopneophyte, and @stargirlandco. Check their instagrams out to see their amazing products!
Later in March our newly hired online contributors began to write and we produced articles such as Where Have I Heard this Before? by Nate Nethercott that talked about sampled tracks and Inside Interviews: Women in Creative Industries by Sadie McFadden that followed local creatives Julia Finnegan, Sharon Heldt, Jesscia Clement, Christabel Pinto, and Cydney London Speers.
Joanna Petropoulos talked about embodying the dream of her family that immigrated to family, the pressures that come with that, and the realities of pursuing her own dreams while fulfilling her families. Later Makaila Atsonglo discussed her journey as a Black woman to love and care for her hair and the greater issues that hair can represent and Lyba Nasir discussed the large scale protests happening in India.
At the end of the month Emily Hargrave wrote about taking back her power and broke down the concept of a healthy lifestyle.
In our last month of being a team Rachel Wiseman came full circle to write Bittersweet Baking, and Helena Wasylyk released her 1990s music project instalment.
Photo: Dave Mason
Photo: Alison Chu
Video: Alyssa Giovannangeli
We launched our print ISSUE XXII and got to mail it to our readers or distribute social distanced in Kingston!
Nate Nethercott made us a playlist and interviewed Osaren Shandar for an upcoming video!!! (Get hyped)
In another part of Helena Wasylyk’s series she looked at the 2000’s and interviewed Brendan Kennedy about his time at Queen’s.
Jack Selby wrote his last Jack’s Music Corner about the regionality of hip-hop and Alexa Margorian made me laugh one last time with her article Yardwork.
Photo: Sarah Van Drunen
Ashanthi Francis investigated if you can really love the music but not the artist, and Helena Wasylyk completed her music series ending in the 1960s.
On the last day on our team, Julia Sun published an article MUSE X Class of 2021 based off of the instagram account We’re Not Really Strangers to show that as graduates we all have a lot of the same hopes, dreams, and fears.
Finally, Amy Newnham wrapped it up with an ode to all the girls who don’t know what they want to do with their life – relatable, am I right?
I wrote this article thinking it would be a quick wrap up, and look at what it turned into! If you made it this far, you’re a real one and I appreciate you taking the time to reminisce with me. As you can see, these writers and creators that I worked with are incredible and they made me laugh, cry, hope, wish, dream and everything in between. I owe an amazing year to the MUSE team and I will forever treasure the part I got to play in what I think was a radical, inspiring, year of growth.
To my amazing Online team, heads team, and the entire MUSE executive – I love you, I am so proud of us.
And to the team of 2021-2022 this is only just the beginning….
For the very last time…
Elana Yamanouchi – Online Director 2020-2021