The Collective
Key Contributor Bios

Robert Bentley – Lead Artist, Demonstration Artist

Robert Bentley is a Visual Artist working out of Toronto who explores different identities as a way to open up creative pathways and avoid being hemmed in by any style or technique. Believing that nobody has a singular identity, it makes more sense to him to explore the world with different sets of eyes so that different voices can speak of their experiences.

The face we present to a lover is going to be different than what a colleague, stranger, acquaintance, or close friend will see. This doesn’t mean these are masks or that any one of these is more real than the others, they are different variations of a modulating individual. Robert takes this further and has created four other individuals so far (with their own back stories and biographies) along with their own way of viewing the world and expressing it. Their collected work can be seen on their website http://www.bentleyartist.com

This fracturing of the individual has allowed greater freedom when presented with a visual problem. The style will not force the square problem into a round hole, but the problem itself under consideration will bring forth the characteristics and feelings of whatever Artist bubbling underneath wishes to address it.

Robert has studied the human figure since childhood before eventually travelling to England in 1995 where he began exploring the galleries and museums there. In 2002 he was accepted into Chelsea College of Art and Design where he studied briefly before returning to Canada.

He has exhibited work in Canada, Greece, and London England in solo and group shows.

Ren Datura – Model, Performer

Ren fell in love with the world of burlesque and cabaret soon after she moved to Toronto in 2012. She began to perform burlesque professionally as Datura Katsura in 2015 before rebranding as Ren Datura in early 2019.

Ren Datura has been featured in showcases in San Francisco (Hubba Hubba Revue, 2016), Boston (Great Burlesque Exposition, 2017), Montreal (Bagel Burlesque Expo, 2018), and the U.K., as well as throughout Ontario. She has also appeared in music videos for Dilly Dally (Desire – 2015) and That Handsome Devil (Emergency – 2017).
In recent years, she has discovered her passion for teaching and has been running both creative performance intensives and flexibility workshops since 2016.

Ren Datura recently unified her performance, production, and teaching endeavours as Human Geometry Studios. Toi, La Maladie marked its inaugural production.

Ren has been a model for The Collective for the past 6 years. We have selected a still from her dance performance L’OISEAU to represent her work in our support materials.

Francis Foster – Web design, Demonstration Artist, Model Stand-in

What does it mean today to create outside of capitalism? Francis Fauteux tries to imagine a perpendicular universe where commodification and mercantilism are not a drag on the pure joy of art making. After dabbling in diary comics, erotica and children’s literature, Francis has recently hit his stride handing out zines to foster cultural consumption and production as a social practice. He hopes, through his example, to exhort all strata of talent to turn their discrete experience into cultural offerings.

Selected bibliography, all available as free downloads, or thrifty printouts upon request: Seven Years of Midnight Madness (2017) – A love letter to the Midnight Madness program of the Toronto International Film Festival, featuring over seventy write-ups and illustrations. Toronto International Film Festival 2018 (2019) – Thirty idiosyncratic critiques and illustrations produced in the lineups and downtown cafés of TIFF 2018. Someone Brought Cookies (2019) – An etiquette guide for appreciating baked goods gifted within a social gathering. How to be Drawn (2020) – An advice pamphlet for prospective life models.

A PDF of Francis’ 2020 pamphlet has been included in the support materials for this application. Francis and his wife and collaborator Vicky have created a work of inclusivity and intersectionality. With their permission, we present this piece as a representation of the guiding principles of The Collective.

Nicole Little – Programmer, Event Coordinator, Educational Programmer

I am Nicole Little, an Armenian mixed media artist, based in Toronto, Canada.
Rather than curating one signature style, I have followed both my impulses and my ADHD hyper focus to develop a variety of artistic modes.

My work tends to focus on revealing the value of discarded objects and people. Professionally, I work as a creative lead and media specialist, creating content, media kits, video commercials and print advertisements.

I especially enjoy organizing free arts events and learning opportunities within marginalized communities. I believe that everyone can learn to express themselves through the arts, and that arts education is fundamentally important to ensuring the mental health of individuals and communities. Art should not be a luxury. It is a right.

Ally Rom Colthoff – Marketing Team, Lead Artist, Demonstration Artist

I’m a Toronto-based comic artist, illustrator, and 3d modeler in the animation industry. With a background in both fine art and illustration, I’ve created bodies of work in multiple fields; in particular landscape and figure painting, graphic novels, and animation.

Through crowdfunding, I have self-published a five-volume fantasy graphic novel series called Chirault, and have already begun work on a new story. My work has also been published in a number of anthologies, including multiple titles from Toronto-based award-winning publisher TO Comix, and the SpiderForest Collective. I’m very passionate about storytelling and narrative, and the power of comics in particular to communicate ideas in unique ways.

Beginning in summer 2011, I started making paintings of the scenery in and around Big Bald Lake, in the Kawarthas (Ontario, Canada), as seen from a kayak or from sitting on the rocks. This is a practice I have continued to this day; through the paintings, I aim to highlight the natural beauty of these spaces, which are both accessible and remote, and change so rapidly with the seasons or human activity.

Gila Rayberg – Lead Artist, Online Teaching (contingency plan)

Gila Rayberg has received numerous awards for her expressive and whimsical portraits.  In the summer of 2018, Gila was one of 9 mosaic artists from 7 countries, invited to create a mosaic work for a proposed Museum of Contemporary Mosaics Art to be housed in a renovated ex-convent in Ploaghe Sardinia Italy.  Gila travels extensively around the US & internationally giving workshops, specializing in portraits and the up-cycling of dishes.  Her work has been published in a number of art books.

Gila arrived at the visual arts after a successful career as a freelance musician and educator. Allowing her strong sense of intuition and love of experimentation to guide her, Gila has developed a unique voice in the realm of mosaic portraiture.

After earning her masters  degree in music from Arizona State University (1989), Gila moved to San Francisco and quickly became involved with a community of improvisational musicians, composers and artists.

Pursuing her love of travel, Gila found herself performing & teaching instrumental music at a newly established University in Borneo, East Malaysia. From there, she traveled extensively throughout South East Asia, Hong Kong, China, India, Israel & Egypt, collecting art, textiles, and musical instruments, representative of local cultures.  With each excursion Gila became increasingly fascinated by the indigenous art which surrounded her.

Gila has joined The Collective during the COVID-19 pandemic. She will be visiting Toronto in August of 2020. If restrictions are still in place at that time, Gila will be contributing remotely, training another member of The Collective to lead her event.

Adele Steinberg – Educational Programmer, Demonstration Artist

I have always been drawn toward lively colours and dramatic flourishes of expression. My inspiration is derived from landscape, flowers, and their variety of vivid colours and myriad of textures. While on my sabbatical year from teaching I was fortunate to join an art class with an excellent teacher and I have never looked back. It is now 20 years later, and I have studied with many brilliant artists. To me painting is a passion and a never-ending discovery of new skills and individuality of expression. I love to experiment with other mediums such as paper, pouring, water colours, and chalk pastels and oil sticks. I have always returned to abstract expressionism as it allows me the most self expression.

My long-term membership with the Willowdale Group of Artists has had a great influence on my practice. I am also a member of the North York Visual Artists where I show my work. I have been involved with The Collective since the COVID-19 restrictions limited my ability to interact with the arts communities. This has given me an opportunity to continue to connect with artists socially and professionally.

In my practice, I have participated in over 20 art shows including several solo shows with the North York Visual artists and have sold many paintings in both art shows and privately.
I have written three books, including two illustrated children’s stories.

I have also worked as an elementary teacher for many years, specializing in arts education.

Due to the educational nature of our programming, we have decided to include the resumes of our three lead Educational Programmers. Please note that all lesson plans and public activities will be reviewed by our Special Education Planning Specialist, Anthony Johnson. All lesson plans will have scaffolding, accommodations, and alternative methods of creation to meet the needs of learners of diverse abilities.

Bryce Hallett – Educational Programmer, Lead Artist

Bryce Hallett has been an independent animator since 1999. He is a graduate of the Graphic Communications Progam at Canadore College in North Bay, Ontario and the Classical Animation Program at Sheridan College in Oakville, Ontario. He has studied film and television production at Humber College, and acting, writing, and improv at various institutions such as the Second City Toronto, Theatresports Toronto, The Gateway Theatre Guild North Bay, the University of Toronto and the Poor Alex Theatre. He has won an Empixx award, two Pixie awards and an award from the Savannah International Animation Festival for his animations in various commercials and PSA’s.

SKILLS AND QUALIFICATIONS
  • Freelance animator, illustrator, and director with 20 years professional experience creating animation & motion graphics for clients in Canada, U.S.A. and Germany
  • Experienced in teaching animation and storyboard courses/workshops at OCAD U, Seneca College, Sheridan College, the Toronto Animated Image Society (TAIS), Max the Mutt College of Animation, Gilda’s Club, Northern Lights Secondary School in Moosonee, the Ontario Science Center and Teletoon.
  • Illustrated the book “Animation Unleashed: 100 Principles Every Animator, Comic book writer, Filmmaker, Video artist and Game Developer Should Know” written by Ellen Besen published by Michael Wiese Productions in 2008, Currently working on revised 2nd Edition.
  • Proficient with Mac OSX, Photoshop, After Effects, Toon Boom Harmony, & DragonFrame Stopmotion. Also some experience with Adobe Illustrator, Adobe InDesign, Final Cut Pro, Adobe Premiere and TVpaint animation software.
  • Some experience in photography, videography and sound recording/editing.
  • Skilled improviser/performer with training from Second City Toronto, National Institute of Broadcasting and Theatresports Ontario
  • Bilingual, English and French
EDUCATION
    • 1996-1999 Classical Animation Diploma, Sheridan College, Oakville, ON.
    • 1995-1996 Film & Television Production, Humber College, Etobicoke, ON.
    • 1993-1995 Graphic Design Diploma, Canadore College, North Bay, ON.
TEACHING EXPERIENCE 2018-Present OCAD University, Toronto, ON.
    • Taught courses in Animation Fundamentals &Experimental Animation, Digital Animation & Compositing (After Effects), motion graphics & Stop-motion. 
2020-Present Max the Mutt College of Animation Art and Design, Toronto, ON.
    • Teaching online courses in traditional animation level 1 and 2 and an intro to stop motion course.
2003-Present Toronto Animated Image Society (TAIS) Toronto, ON.
    • Instructor and consultant. Taught animation workshops for adults, children & emerging artists using various animation styles/ techniques / mediums. (2d classical animation, stop motion, pixilation, cut out, 2d hand drawn effects, etc)
2019 Sheridan College, Oakville, ON.
    • Sessional instructor, “2d Animation Fundamentals for game designers”.
2015 Seneca College, Toronto, ON.
  • Sessional instructor, “Storyboarding for Animation” for 1st year animation students.

Anthony Johnson – Educational Programmer, Special Education Planning Specialist

Anthony has been a member of The Collective since 2014. He is interested in abstract and realistic figures in pen, ink and watercolor. Often he uses non-traditional drawing implements, like credit cards, to create form and dimension. Other artistic projects include tangling and photography.

EXPERIENCE

BOLD Moderator 2011 – present

  • Planned and moderated monthly drawing evenings 
  • Scheduled and liaised with the models and artists 

Elementary Teacher, TDSB 2006 – present

  • Taught visual arts for grade 7 and 8 students
  • Taught ISP class (students with special needs)

Deputy Group Leader 2004 – 2017

Federation of North-American Explorers (FNE), Toronto, ON 

  • Prepared promotional material including a 100 page pilgrimage book and 2006 group calendar
  • Designed the explorer web portal, http://www.fourarrows.ca/explorers and managed the main website (not the current one)

EDUCATION

Special Education, Part 1  2008

Music – Vocal, Primary and Junior, Part 1 & 2 2016

OISE & The Royal Conservatory, Toronto, ON.

Bachelor of Education, Junior/Intermediate 2006

OISE/University of Toronto , Toronto, ON

Honours B.A. Degree, Psychology & Japanese 1998

McMaster University, Hamilton, ON

Eva Wills – Educational Programmer, Online Teaching Support

Eva has been a member of The Collective since 2017. 

EXPERIENCE

Full Library and E.S.L, TDSB 1998 – present

  • Maintain the library (circulation of books plus 40 IBM and Mac computers)
  • Teach Media/Information Technology, grade 8
  • Assess reading levels using a variety of diagnostic assessments and develop reading strategies for special education students in Reading Clinic
  • Encourage and support all students in becoming life-long learners

Professional Development and Leadership Experience

    • Developed a school library advocacy plan
    • Reading Strategies Workshops
    • ASA (Academic Services Associate) representative, instructing colleagues in computer use for IEP’s, report cards, and integration of technology with curriculum
    • Hosts University of Toronto Teacher Candidates
    • Second Steps training, promoting the social-emotional development, safety, and well-being of children
    • Media Literacy Workshops

Education

  • B.A. (Honours) University of Toronto
  • B. Ed. University of Toronto