Making an imprint: Briercrest to begin new program with Muskoka Woods

Posted: January 3, 2013

Briercrest is gaining a new perspective on the arts.

This fall, approximately 25 students will have the opportunity to form the inaugural class of Imprint, a one-year program allowing students to obtain their first year of college while exploring the relationship between their faith and the creative arts at the beautiful Muskoka Woods Resort on Lake Rosseau, Ont..

Professor Cal Macfarlane noted the uniqueness of such a program.

“We haven’t found any other programs that are trying to do this in all of North America.” Macfarlane said. “There are programs like this on a post-bachelor level that help students think about the integration of faith and art. We’re trying to do something at the undergraduate level to help students think more carefully about how their discipleship relates to their art.”

While full-credit college courses will be taught by Briercrest professors as modular classes throughout the year, one of the draws of the program lies in its community focus and exceptional co-curricular activities.

“We’ll be doing a lot of trips,” Macfarlane shared. “We’ve got one planned for the beginning of the year doing a kayak trip around Georgian Bay and the Islands, to paint, draw and photograph in the area where the Group of Seven did much of their work. In the second term we’ll be doing a gallery tour: Toronto, Ottawa and New York as well as a separate art-as-mission exploration in downtown Toronto.”

With the latter trip, students will have the opportunity to explore how their art and faith interact with the world while volunteering in a ministry that works with the homeless. Following the school year students will have the option of purchasing a two week, for-credit tour of European art galleries, rounding out the cultural experiences.

Opportunities such as this have future student Vanessa Neufeld eager.

“I am most excited about the travel and the art,” she said. “I would never have connected the words field trip with Toronto and New York. [Imprint] combines my passion in the arts to my faith, and my other first year college education, as well as my passion to travel.”

Another benefit for students is the ability to create their own portfolios while practicing artistic mediums including pottery, film and recording, as well as the more traditional mediums of drawing, painting and photography.

“We are offering students professionally guided experiences,” Macfarlane explained. “Although we won’t be giving academic credit for the co-curricular component, we will be helping them to produce a professionally guided portfolio.”

The small class size will ensure students receive the guidance and support for optimal personal and academic growth. Macfarlane added that the intimate community setting enhances the experience.

“When you live together, learn together and practice both spiritual discipline and your art and your vocation together, there is this wonderful crossover, this rich experience, that appeals to me a great deal and all in a beautiful setting,” he said.

Neufeld has also considered these benefits when considering her post-secondary choices.

“I feel like I would make long lasting friendships, learn to connect my passion with my faith, and learn a lot more with all the hands on experience,” she said. It would also be a big growing experience for me and give me a chance to live on my own.”

More information on the Imprint program and application process is available at