One week after image arts students were shaken by the news of the death of one of their own, they’re coming together to pay tribute to their friend and classmate.
On Wednesday night, the Ryerson Communication and Design Society (RCDS) is hosting a memorial art exhibit for Nadia Marzouca, a third-year film student who died on campus last week.
Called Dear Nadia, the exhibit contains more than 100 submissions that celebrate Marzouca’s life in photos, film and even paint — all contributed by her classmates, many showing Marzouca behind the scenes on film sets as well as in front of the camera.
It’s not surprising there’s so much material for the memorial when, as Marzouca’s classmates put it, she seemed to be “everywhere.” At a vigil in her memory last week — where attendees shared Oreos, one of Marzouca’s favourite foods — friends and classmates remembered the 19-year-old student as full of big ideas and creativity despite her petite stature, and recalled how she would jump at every possible opportunity to be involved in film.
“If you speak to film students, they’ll tell you,” RCDS president Casey Yuen said. “She wanted to do the lighting, she wanted to direct, act, produce — everything.
“I remember her for being passionate about a lot of things. If you had a passion for something, she would be so down for that. As long as you cared about something, she would care too.”
Marzouca had previously been a student leader on the Image Arts Course Union and the RCDS, and this year she founded a new student group to create opportunities for film students, the Ryerson Film Collective.
With students in the close-knit image arts programs still reeling from the loss, RCDS vice-president of events, Tavia Bakowski, said she hopes this week’s memorial art show can be a platform for healing.
“I think that it’s really important, especially being in a creative program, that you have the right means to express yourself and the right means to absorb what is happening,” she said. “And I believe that an art exhibit is the most appropriate and loved art form of Nadia.”
In addition to the vigil and the art exhibit, the RCDS also started a fundraising campaign for Marzouca’s family to contribute to funeral expenses. As of Tuesday, donations totalled nearly $8,000.
Ryerson’s vice-provost students Heather Lane Vetere helped co-ordinate the university’s response to the news last week. She said setting up counselling support for students right away was crucial. Two drop-in sessions were held last Wednesday, where students could speak to counsellors or just be together for support.
“It’s about being around people who understand what you’re feeling and can support you,” Lane Vetere said. “The important piece was that you can go somewhere for students to hug and cry and be together.”
Another counselling drop-in took place this week, and Lane Vetere said Ryerson’s counselling centre has been taking steps to make extra time for students who needed to talk.
Lane Vetere said it’s important for supports to be ongoing, such as ensuring students get extra time to hand in assignments if they need it.
“My message to students is: you tell us what you need, and we’ll be here.”
At the same time, the students are coming together to honour their friend and support each other while they grieve.
An easel with Marzouca’s photograph now stands in the lobby of the School of Image Arts, along with a book for people to sign or write down memories.
When flowers began to pile up around the small memorial, someone unwrapped the bouquets and carefully arranged each one in a vase.
The Dear Nadia exhibit will be on display Wednesday starting at 6:30 p.m. at the Sears Atrium in the George Vari Engineering and Computing Centre.
Those seeking additional support can contact the Ryerson counselling centre at 416-979-5195 or Good2Talk, the post-secondary student helpline, at 1-855-925-5454.