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Brenda Clark

Graduate Brenda Clark and her former instructor Frank Newfeld receive Order of Canada

October 28, 2015

Coming full circle

It was an incredible honour for Brenda Clark to become a Member of the Order of Canada, but the experience was especially sweet as she shared the distinction with her former instructor at Sheridan. Both Clark and former Sheridan professor Frank Newfeld accepted the Order of Canada insignia at an investiture ceremony at Rideau Hall in Ottawa this fall. 

Clark is best known as the illustrator behind the beloved Franklin the Turtle books which have sold more than 60 million copies worldwide since 1986, delighting children around the globe. Clark’s work promoting literacy was acknowledged at the ceremony, as well. She has donated most of her original illustrations to the Toronto Public Library.

Clark, who lives in Port Hope, Ontario, was also recognized for mentoring students, most notably at Sheridan where she funds scholarships to the Faculty of Animation, Arts & Design.

“It is an enormous pleasure for me to be able to offer the bursaries and scholarships that talented and hard-working Sheridan students have earned over the years,” said Clark, who graduated in 1977 from Sheridan’s Illustration program graduate.

“Frank was my Book Illustration instructor at Sheridan and that course definitely helped to influence my career choice," said Clark, who had a chance to catch up with Newfeld during the gala dinner following the ceremony. "It was an incredible coincidence that we were being appointed Members on the same day,” said Clark.

One of the founding fathers of graphic design in Canada, Newfeld set the tone and style for the visual branding of Canadian literature in its early days. The book and catalogue designer illustrated the classic Alligator Pie and created the original logo of the Royal Ontario Museum, among countless other projects. Receiving the Order of Canada was “a validation of what I had accomplished with the help of others in my profession in my chosen country,” said Newfeld, who was born in Czechoslovakia.

The Oakville, Ontario resident influenced generations of students as a Sheridan instructor, starting in the late 1970s.

“The importance of being able to pass on knowledge to younger people who would be working in the field of art became a larger part of my life and when I was offered a chance to teach part time at Sheridan I jumped at it”

As the years passed, Newfeld took on larger roles at Sheridan and eventually became the Head of the Illustration department. Before retiring in 1993, Newfeld had illustrated more than 650 books and received over 170 honours.

Reflecting on his teaching career at the College, Newfeld expressed gratitude for what he calls “Sheridan’s encouragement of just about all my unorthodox ways of approach.”

He continues to impact Sheridan’s curriculum, said Lorraine Tuson, a long-time Illustration Professor at the College and one of Newfeld’s former students. “His focus on the challenge of ideas and the art of illustration remain central themes in Sheridan’s Bachelor of Illustration program today.”

Read Lorraine Tuson’s reflections on her experiences both as a student and colleague of Frank Newfeld's 

Pictured below are Brenda Clark and Frank Newfeld with His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor General of Canada.

Brenda Clark and Frank Newfeld