The great gaggle of Waterloo

Waterloo grad Rachel Jung crosses the stage this spring at convocation and leaves behind a gaggle of geese artwork  By Angelica Marie Sanchez University Relations Convocation is a time of immense pride for our graduands as they celebrate their accomplishments with family and friends. Rachel Jung (BA ’23) will cross the stage this spring and receiving their Bachelor of Arts degree in Fine Arts and Arts and Business.

Jung has had several pieces of artwork featured across the Waterloo campus. The Department of Fine Arts proudly presents Epoch - the 49th Annual Senior Undergraduate Exhibition that was held during the winter 2023 term. Epoch features an exhibit of Jung’s fourth-year artwork on display at the University of Waterloo Art Gallery located in East Campus Hall. 

"It’s really amazing that some of my designs get to be a part of such a special place," Jung says. As a multidisciplinary artist, Jung has also found purpose in creating art outside of class, where they worked as a digital designer for the Glow Centre and the Student Success Office.  

Jung plans on taking a break after convocation as they transition into this next part of their life. Feeling confident that they can count on the skills and competence that they have developed as a Waterloo student to help them navigate the next chapter of their career. 

"I definitely feel that the university grind can pull us into this sense of having to be on top of our things and working all the time," Jung says when asked to share advice for other students trying to navigate university life. 

"To me, taking a break and spending time for myself, whether that be therapy or sleeping or even making a meal, has been really crucial," Jung says. "Just maintaining a sense of balance over these next five years that you will be here is important." 

Creating a sense of community outside of campus 

For many recent graduating students, the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on their academic studies and mental health was a challenging experience for all. Jung’s second and third year as a Waterloo student was in the comfort of their home. Despite finding it an isolating and challenging experience, Jung found ways to stay creative and feel connected to campus through creating the art installation, The Great Gaggle. 

"It was kind of a moment for me to reflect on what was important to me and I how felt about the University during my time away from campus," Jung says. 

During the height of the pandemic, when every student was studying remotely from home, the University called for submissions of art installations that will be used in the new Student Life Centre (SLC) and Physical Activities Complex (PAC) building expansion. 

Whether it’s student clubs and societies or being part of a Varsity team - students want to feel connected with their peers. For Jung, finding a sense of community has been an important part of their Waterloo journey. Despite not being on campus for a whole year, Jung was still able to convey that sense of community and belonging through their The Great Gaggle submission.  

"I was thinking a lot about the importance of community and belonging and how crucial it is to feel connected to those around us," Jung says about designing The Great Gaggle. "I also wanted to highlight how vibrant our student community was because as a queer, trans and racialized student, finding and making space for students like me, gave me a sense of purpose." 

The great gaggle of Waterloo 

The Great Gaggle is an original art installation by Jung featuring the Canadian geese in an array of colors and designs. Since 2021, Jung’s designs have been featured at the Glow Centre, at the Toronto Pride Parade and is the official art installation inside the Black and Gold room in the SLC building.  

"I think that despite how personal the experience was drawing The Great Gaggle, it was really cool how students would come up to me saying how much the piece resonates with them," Jung says. "Being able to create something and leave my own fingerprint on campus that many other people can relate to is really special and I am happy that it will be here longer than I will be on campus." 

Now, The Great Gaggle has become a campus-wide art installation. A rainbow-coloured version of the geese is being displayed on campus lawns throughout the month of June to mark Pride month. Waterloo students, staff, faculty members and all incoming visitors will have a chance to see Jung’s designs in-person, take photos and celebrate.