Richard Sewell headshot

Richard Sewell

Professor Emeritus
Drawing, Print Media

Approach to Teaching

The first 1,000 years are more important than the last ten.

Professor Emeritus Nomination For Richard Sewell

April 2007

Richard Sewell joined the Sheridan’s faculty in 1983, and since then has been a model of creativity, collegiality, dedication, leadership and service to both the college and to the Ontario arts community. Throughout his tenure at Sheridan, Professor Sewell worked with the Art and Art History Program as professor, coordinator and all-round creative dynamo (1983-2007). Additionally, he has been an equally dynamic Associate Dean for the School of Animation Arts and Design (2000-2003), coordinator of the Crafts and Design Program (2001-2004) and one member of a three-coordinator team for Art Fundamentals (2001-2002). Professor Sewell has also taught in both the Crafts and Design and Art Fundamentals programs.

Working in Art and Art History, a collaborative program with the University of Toronto, is always an institutional balancing act: Professor Sewell was able to very clearly articulate and support the distinct contribution a Sheridan program makes to the partnership. Professor Sewell certainly has a realistic view of the various travails encountered in the day-to-day reality of teaching and administration; however, he profoundly believes that there is something very special about Sheridan’s programs in the arts and has dedicated his professional life to building our programs. At the college, Professor Sewell consistently takes on new challenges and volunteers to lead extra projects. Perhaps most important is the boundless enthusiasm Professor Sewell has displayed in fulfilling all his roles. Professor Sewell ever-so-obviously enjoys working with his students, colleagues and many, many friends at Sheridan.


Richard Sewell, artist talk, June 2006, Annie Smith Arts Centre

Initially, Professor Sewell taught printmaking in the Art and Art History Program. In order to promote health and safety, he introduced a number of non-solvent print processes and, in 1990, insured that solvent processes were separate and properly vented in our new print facility in AA wing. In his teaching, he took a very broad view of what constitutes a printed artwork, and his students produced challenging and successful work that led some of the program’s first students to further studies at the MFA level and many others to a career in teaching. Once Professor Sewell’s health prevented him from being able to work in print, he focused his considerable energy on the creation and delivery of “Horlo2K,” his innovative curricula in first- and second-year drawing. These classes present drawing as both a way to generate visual ideas (from quick sketch to a more complex image) and as a collective performance where the entire class uses body movement and dance in conjunction with an endless array of special drawing tools Professor Sewell has created — for example, variously shaped sponges on the end of long sticks to be used as brushes. Professor Sewell very successfully models creativity to incoming students.


Richard Sewell, artist talk, June 2006, Annie Smith Arts Centre

Professor Sewell’s dedication to the programs he has worked with is balanced by his engagement with the college as a whole and the teaching profession in general. Here are several examples:

As AAH Coordinator in 1996-1999, Professor Sewell was the program liaison between SAAD and project architect Duncan Harvey in the planning and construction of the Annie Smith Arts Centre.

Professor Sewell has undertaken the organization and mounting of the only two AAH alumni exhibitions, this past March at the Art Gallery of Mississauga, and in 2002 at the Living Arts Centre in Mississauga.

Between 2000 and 2004 Professor Sewell was on the Oakville Arts Council and worked with them to re-vision the Oakville Mayor’s Awards to recognize achievements of both Sheridan’s graduates the world over in the arts and theatre as well as professional artists in the Halton region. This initiative extends the reach of the Mayor’s Awards and positions Sheridan as a community–involved institution both nationally and internationally. Professor Sewell arranged to have Richie Mehta, a graduate of Sheridan’s Advanced Film and TV Program, film short bio-clips of both the award makers (Crafts and Design students) and the award recipients for broadcast purposes.

In 2003, the Art Gallery of Ontario asked Professor Sewell to create a program of movement and drawing to respond to their exhibition Edgar Degas Sculptures. Assisted by current Sheridan students, Professor Sewell organized a series of workshops with professional dancers, choreographers, and artists: Peggy Baker, Claudia Moore, Gerry Zeldin (Animation, Sheridan), Karen Bowes Sewell. The workshops took place in the AGO galleries.

Professor Sewell has also led many workshops at the Ontario Society for Education through Art conferences, promoting our programs to secondary-school teachers from across the province.

Over the past three years, Professor Sewell has held a weekly extra-curricular “Practicum” class at the Annie Smith Centre for our students who are interested in careers in teaching. The Practicum is intended to give students hands-on teaching experience, and Professor Sewell organizes one-day workshop classes led by our students who teach groups of 30-40 visiting primary- or secondary-school students, as well as smaller groups of disabled or elderly persons. Forty of our current students are involved in the Practicum, as are alumni and a number of community groups and organizations (Art Gallery of Ontario, Art Gallery of Mississauga, Blackwood Gallery, DARE ARTS, Discoverability, Laser Eagles).

For over 40 years, Professor Sewell has been an active participant in the Canadian cultural landscape as an exhibiting artist, artist collaborator (in dance, music and performance), master printer, publisher and arts administrator, as well as a broad-based educator teaching at the Ontario College of Art and Design, the Alberta College of Art and Design, the University of Saskatchewan and of course at Sheridan. In 1970, Professor Sewell co-founded and until 1983 directed Open Studio, the now venerable artist-run printmaking centre in Toronto that continues to flourish to this day. Funded by municipal, provincial and federal arts councils, Open Studio offers artists a production facility and maintains a professional gallery that exhibits the work of Canadian and international print artists. In 1995, Professor Sewell was a founding member of the now well-established Toronto artist-collective gallery The Red Head.

Throughout his teaching career Professor Sewell has maintained his artistic practice and exhibited his work at the Red Head and at public and university art galleries such as Mercer Union, The Agnes Etherington Art Centre and Artcite, to name a few. Professor Sewell’s artwork is represented in the following public collections: Canada Council Art Bank, Ottawa; Mount Sinai Hospital, Toronto; Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, Halifax; Owens Art Gallery, Mount Allison University, Sackville, NB; The Gallery/Stratford, Stratford, ON; City of Toronto Archives, Toronto; The Station Gallery, Whitby, ON; Toronto General Hospital, Toronto; Winnipeg Art Galley, Winnipeg.

In 2004, AAH alumni created the Professor Sewell Sewell Alumni Award for First-Year Excellence in honour of Professor Sewell’s influence and contributions to their education. Professor Sewell currently serves as a much-appreciated mentor to new faculty and, in addition to fulfilling his teaching responsibilities, very much already functions as a Professor Emeritus — in the sense of being the sought-after éminence grise. Professor Sewell’s over 40-year career exemplifies SAAD’s and Sheridan’s values in the very best ways imaginable.