OCAD University Photography Program

News about events, our community & opportunites

International Collaboration Studio Applications

Applications for the International Collaboration Studio courses are now being accepted.    Download the PDF:

intac-call-for-applicants-2018-19-red

intac-call-for-applicants-2018-19_page_1



International Collaboration Studio Sept–April, 2018-19 1.0 credit

Now Accepting Applicants from all Programs
Apply in writing by e-mail to both teaching faculty:
psramek@ocadu.ca and msingh@faculty.ocadu.ca
Deadline: ASAP, July 15 and continuing until course is full

 

Work on collaborative projects with students from universities around the globe in an informal, team-based environment with 15 OCAD U students. Work towards collaborative visual projects, online presentations, book publications and international exhibitions. Current collaborations feature students in Tampere (Finland), Seoul (S. Korea), Berlin (Germany), Osaka (Japan), Ahmedabad (India), Toluca (Mexico).

This coming year, the plan is for OCADU to host the culminating show here in Toronto in May, so a major part of the second semester will be working to prepare the work and organize for the visiting groups. Travel may be an option during February Study Week, but this is not certain at this point, or in fact a requirement for the course.

 You will register for both semesters, comprising 2 courses at either the 300 OR 400 level:

International Collaboration Studio: Photo 3018
International Collaboration Studio II: Photo 3019
International Collaboration Studio III: Photo 4016
International Collaboration Studio IV: Photo 4017

Visit INTACnet.ca to see a description of our process and examples of past students’ activities. You can also check out one of our public Facebook pages: https://www.facebook.com/INTACinfo/

The Complexities of Language and Communication in a global context will provide a focus for this year’s projects.

 What is INTAC? This hybrid studio course takes place over two semesters during which time students design and undertake collaborative projects with international partners. Directions identified by the group will vary from year to year, but address the ongoing goals of engaging global issues and communicating across cultures. The coming year’s overarching theme will relate the fact that we speak many different languages, creating a complexity for communication and collaboration. Participants will respond with project proposals in whatever way they may interpret this, although we hope that global and cross-cultural issues will be fore-fronted. Projects will be developed in a range of media, but particularly those that may be shared readily through online channels. For this reason, photographic and time-based formats are a primary focus, however past students have also worked in other media – most recently audio, sculpture, writing, quilting, jewelry, drawing, painting and performance.

Along with creating relationships with students in the various schools, you will propose project concepts, join a few project groups and produce collaborative artworks within each group. You will maintain online communication and build a sense of community with the OCAD participants in group crits, fundraising activities, an exhibition event and possibly publication. Guided by Professors Peter Sramek and Meera Margaret Singh, you will take responsibility for cooperative leadership and initiative in these areas.

 How? Using class meetings, video conferencing (sometimes very early in the morning) and online blogs/communication environments (currently Slack) and popular social networking tools, students will communicate and develop projects under the guidance of the instructors at each school. Scheduling will be flexible, responsive to the needs of the activities while much of the work will be done on the students’ individual time with their project partners using various platforms: Skype, FaceBook, E-mail, Tumblr Blogs and other channels. Specific joint activities and projects will be articulated each year, based on specific partnerships and opportunities. There will be short-term objectives and deadlines over the 8 months of the course.

It is important to note that the course structure consists of a flexible meeting schedule and the class group will not meet physically every week, rather more or less every other week.

Who?

  • This course is open to students in years 3 and 4 from all programs – Art, Design, INVC, LAS, DigF
  • There are two sets of course codes and you must register for the paired Fall and Winter sections.
  • Students who have taken the 300-level courses may continue in INTAC by registering
    for the 400-level ones. Students requiring 400 level credits may register at that level.

 Apply Now!!

 Acceptance to this course is limited and will be by prior written application. Of key importance will be your commitment to exploring global perspectives. You must be self-motivated and able to work well in an environment where activity is self-initiated and online communication is at the core of the process. This is a less-structured context where you will be responsible for much of your work time on your own. You should be willing to take the lead in building new relationships, sharing ideas and communicating online. Comfort and proficiency with working in online environments is a definite plus.

 The Application Process
Deadline for Approval is mid-July, but students will be approved as applications are received until the positions are filled. If accepted, you will be given instructions on completing the online registration process using the appropriate codes.

 Please provide: Name, Student Number, Program/Major, Year Level, Number of Accumulated Credits (at least 10), Overall Average and an E-mail address you will respond to over the summer.

 Write a 500 word Statement of Intent including why you are interested in, and an excellent candidate for:

  • international collaboration
  • team-based project development
  • socially-engaged art practices
  • online learning and communication environments
  • photographic, time-based and/or online formats

Describe the primary media you are thinking of working in and how you would see collaborating with a group that is in different parts of the world. Describe any previous international experiences: living, travel, programs, languages, etc. Discuss how this course experience will fit your educational goals.

Include 5–10 captioned images of recent works in your application document (PDF, Word or Pages), which you feel illustrate your approach to artmaking.

Email your application to psramek@ocadu.ca and msingh@faculty.ocadu.ca

 Note: It is highly recommended that, unless you have already received approval for this course, you first register for a full load of courses during the registration period. All applicants will not be selected for this program. Once registered you can drop 2 studio courses. This 1.0 credit will be equivalent to 1.0 Studio Option credit in Photography or as an elective in your major program. It can be approved as a Program Studio Option for those not in Photography with special permission of your Chair.

 

International Collaboration Studio Application Requirements List

Name:
Student Number:
Program/Major:
Year Level:
Number of Accumulated Credits (at least 10):
Overall Average:
E-mail address you will respond to over the summer:

 Do you require 400 level credit for INTAC to fulfill Program Requirements for graduation?   Yes ____   No ____

  • These credits can fulfill program studio credits and 4th year Photo majors in particular need to check if they need 400 level credit and then be registered in the right course codes).

Write a 500 word Statement of Intent
Add 5-10 captioned images

 Please provide this in 1 document – PDF, Word or Pages – 8 Mb or less.

 Send directly to both teaching faculty

psramek@ocadu.ca and msingh@faculty.ocadu.ca

Deadline: ASAP and continuing until course is full

 

If you are approved, you will work with the Faculty of Art Office to complete registration:

  • You need to ‘choose/plan’ the appropriate two courses in the Registration System –
  • Then, the Program Assistant must give you permission in the System –
  • Then you must complete the Registration.
    Guidance will be given.

 

Start by downloading the PDF:

intac-call-for-applicants-2018-19-red

Friday #ArtCrush: Jamila Noritz Reyes

Friday #ArtCrush is a weekly blog series highlighting students in their final year at OCAD University. This Friday’s #ArtCrush is Jamila, a fourth year photography student in thesis. 

In this series, Jamila and Morgan talk about involving your family in projects and de-constructing histories and narratives.

What body of work are you working on right now?

 

Currently I am working on D U E N D E, my thesis project I spent all year on which explores my perception of a collective story, a family collective memory. Growing up as the eldest of three daughters and coming from a household where realizing my fathers alcoholism was an influence to our domestic behavioural patterns, I took a lot of curiosity into the causes and affects of our social and emotional interactive dynamics in the home. With this investigation/exploration of who we are: out came a flood of repressed memories and stories which all have another untold side to them. I have found so much healing in all the process work that has forced me to confront and work with this history of our family disease.

 

What subject matter do you tend to spend the most time working on?

 

This curiosity began when I started to photograph my middle sister Inti in my first year of high school. As an unusual adolescent who found comfort in her chosen isolation, her room, and her quite spaces, Inti’s presence in front of my camera has always been quit unveiling and intimate. She has allowed me to witness her in states of mind I believe she attempts to keep hidden and to herself.

 

Photographing her was my outlet at trying to connect with her engulfed state and in trying to understand my younger sister. She finds a lot of difficulty in expressing her emotions, so for years without realizing until only recently, all I did was alternate from photographing my younger sister and my family. I found myself circling around this notion of family, trying to reveal the things that I thought we tried so hard to keep concealed. I didn’t even know what that was at the time, I was always looking for a quality, an essence that just didn’t speak to me in a way I knew it could. So looking back now I believe it started with recognizing an act and becoming dedicated in learning how to interpret, relate, and bond with my younger sister through other interactive means.

 

screen-shot-2018-04-04-at-2-47-04-pm-1

Who or what are your main photographic inspirations?

 

My photographic inspiration started off with artists such as Larry Sultan, Julie Renee Jones, Nancy Friedland and Patrick Martinez. But for D U E N D E many of my inspirations have been feeding off from specialists, doctors and writers such as Dr. Gabor Maté, Barbara Coloroso, and Janet G. Woititz. The discussions these specialists talk about are of trauma, addiction, memory, absence, anger, acceptance, recovery, seeking truth, adult child relationships, development/child development, and internal power constructures.

 

 

In working through my thesis project I have found my most direct sources embedded in 20 years worth of journal entries. My fathers private journal has become something very eye opening, a starting point to a discovery, a rebirth of self. The narratives you read in my work D U E N D E are pieced together and re-constructed through de-constructions of his own narratives.

 

Working so closely with family narratives and histories, how do you find, or did you find it change, shift or mould your relationship to your family and close ones?

 

My family and I have open conversations about this topic, it is not something we tippy toe around.  I have kept my family in constant involvement with this project; in fact they have been there to help me in every aspect of putting an embodiment to this journey of mine and of ours.

 

In all its process it has allowed me to connect the dots, fill gaps in the memories we share as a family. This has invited me to take an honest look at my family by using my past as a rear view mirror like a reminder that our memories and who we are is always changing and never the same as we keep moving forward. This has also aided me in figuring out or regulating my emotions in the relationships I have to date with people close to me in my life today.

 screen-shot-2018-04-04-at-2-48-35-pm-1

In your thesis you combine photography and text, and handwritten text as well. What is your process of deciding how to incorporate text into/ on to your images?

 

Since the text is taken out of my father’s journal, the process takes a lot of time and energy to go through and read his passages, which are filled with introspective thoughts on disappointment, self-doubt, anger, and shame. There are sections that tend to speak to me more on a very conscious metaphysical level; where I see so much of myself and my own struggles in who he was and who he is. Like being confronted with a version of me who is not me but I can relate, I understand. It is in that sense of awareness that I find the words to tell my story of events in relation to whom I associate them with.

 


What is your process from when you get an idea, to shooting (or making), and presenting the work to peers? 

 

Once I find the entries or the stories to de-construct I begin a lengthily process of assimilation and profound recollection. I sometimes look back at some personal writings and notes I’ve taken to assist or jog a memory and the story telling begins. Its like putting together a thousand piece puzzle without a preview of what it will look like at the end. It is very time consuming and I can have an idea of what the story will read but it is what it is and I can come up with a lot of other telling’s of the same stories but its about “accept[ing] the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference” (The Serenity Prayer).

screen-shot-2018-04-04-at-2-50-01-pm

Is research part of your process (research can also be personal/lived experience)?

 

90% of it is research and formulating a sense of direction and 10% is actually making it happen. My creation process tends to be spontaneous in that its not forced, it can’t be forced. Sometimes it takes allowing myself to feel threatened by my own work to really get a stripped idea of what I’m looking at putting together.

 

Research for me involves, reading, watching videos, questioning myself every minute and usually ends with my father giving me his “biggest critic/tough love/ get out of your little comfortable box” kind of inspiration talk to get me to shift from thinking and overthinking to just experimenting and take ACTION.

 

How do you think the critique process of thesis has aided or changed your practice?

 

Because of the very personal subject matter of my thesis I believe the critique process has allowed me to build the confidence I needed to speak about this topic comfortably enough in comparison to the beginning in September. It has helped me separate myself from the work enough to view it as my viewers would which allows me to figure out better ways to involve my viewers in a very personal body of work.

 

How can I condense or narrow in on a certain detail to convey a larger story? At the very beginning my work began as something very dense, very broad and it was too overwhelming to grasp my viewers interest in the way I had wanted.

 

One of the main issues I dealt with in my work was where to position myself within it. I got really wrapped up in telling someone else’s story, my fathers story rather than my own. It was during the critiques that I was asked to take my position in the work into consideration and i found a hard time accepting that my voice or my side of the story mattered. It took a lot of self-search and putting myself through intense mental states to manifest those memories back into a conscious awareness.

 screen-shot-2018-04-04-at-3-11-59-pm

Is there anyone who you would like to work with in the future?

 

I haven’t been able to predict how my work could or will evolve up to this point. I guess at this moment I would say Dr. Gabor Maté, as much as he is not a visual artist or creator of any sorts, he is an addiction expert and a specialist in behaviour. I have been very moved by his theories and concepts of development. My inspiration has been coming more from intellect/knowledge rather than from a fine art or design basis.

 

Are their any specific OCAD U Faculty who have influenced your work? A specific discipline or course?

 

I would have to thank Kate Schneider, Lee Henderson and Simon Glass who have been my main influencers in getting me to think about aspects of my work in constructive ways. This is vital because it has allowed me to look at my own work and my concepts with a different lens other than my own. Their insights and questions really get me to see the pros in the difficulties that I find in my own work and they point out the strengths in my own flaws I tend to over look.

 

There have been few faculty that I have been able to share my work with who I believe really listen and take my initial vision into consideration when giving their constructive feedback. These are the few I feel really recognized the amount of potential I had in my work when I couldn’t even see it for myself. They have been there when I needed a push of encouragement, someone to just share my frustrations or difficulties about my work with, and to give me some helpful tips and pointers to just get me started when I didn’t know where to begin.

 

What is one piece of advice you would give to someone starting out in photography?

 

A piece of advice I would give is be comfortable with your process, as chaotic, confusing and consuming it may be, the self doubt means your thinking about your work and that’s progress. Be open to transformation; explore YOURSELF on a creative level. Don’t think too much, just do it

 

Friday #ArtCrush is a weekly blog series highlighting students in their final year at OCAD University.

Interview by Morgan Sears-Williams

About the writer: Morgan is a photo alumni and runs the Friday #ArtCrush series on the OCAD U Photography Blog. She loves speaking to other artists about social justice, how to break barriers within artist communities and nurturing the arts in alternative non-institutional spaces. She is the Art Co-ordinator for The RUDE Collective, and has done workshops on intersectionality and allyship relating to LGBTQ folks. To see more, you can visit her website or her instagram.

Epson Award Announced

Thanks to the generosity of Epson Canada and our supportive local representative Andrew Patrick, OCAD U’s Photography Program is pleased to announce that
2 Epson P800, 17” wide printers have been awarded to:

Kresen Thewani, Photography Thesis
Kevin Yue, Photography Directed Studio

This award was arranged and coordinated by Barbara Astman in the Photography Program and juried along with Peter Sramek. Selection was made from fourteen applicants from the Thesis and Directed Studio courses.

kevin-yue-covered-figure

Kevin Yue

kresen-thawani-table

Kresen Thewani

epson-award-2017-18-announcement

Queering Family Photography Roundtable – April 26

Roundtable Discussion at Hart House, University of Toronto, 5-7 pm April 26.

This event accompanies the exhibition Queering Family Photography at the Stephen Bulger Gallery which opens April 28 along with Sunil Gupta’s show Friends and Lovers – Coming out in Montreal in the 70s.

 

roundtable_eflyer

Friday #ArtCrush: Cassandra Keenan

Friday #ArtCrush is a weekly blog series highlighting students in their final year at OCAD University. This Friday’s #ArtCrush is Cassandra Keenan, a fourth year photography student in thesis. 

In this series, Cassie and Morgan talk about working with family relationships, documenting physical objects and exploring the truths/untruths of family histories.

Who or what are your main inspirations?

My main inspirations are honestly the people around me, I love talking to my fellow classmates and professors about everything, it helps me stay connected to not only the people I surround myself with, but also my art. The inspiration for my art also comes very naturally to me, and I find during moments of connection with others is when I come up with some of my best work, and most of the time it is during the most random moments, that’s what I love about art and inspiration, there is no time line.

What subject matter do you tend to spend the most time working on?

I mostly work with very personal subject matters, pretty much anything that is effecting me at the moment, or what I feel strongly about. Nothing is truly off topic for me as an artist, so far I have worked on many projects with a subject matter which relates to myself personally, this includes my mental issues, such as my severe panic attacks and anxiety, continuing all the way to helping me mourn the death of my grandparents.

I try not to limit myself or my art, especially that of my photography. This is because my art has always been an emotional outlet, and I have always felt like it is the only way I could truly communicate what I’m feeling or going through at that moment, my art is my form of stress relief.  Of course it is bound to change in the future, but that’s the fun of being an artist, you are never truly tied down

cassandra-keenan-_b-b-y-a_-digital-inkjet-print-2018

Cassandra Keenan, B.B.Y.A, Digital Inkjet Print, 2018

What body of work are you working on right now?

At the moment, I am mainly focused on finishing my Thesis and Grad Ex work called “Film”, it revolves around nine 8mm film reels which were all recorded by my grandfather, starting in the early 60s. The film captured moments of my grandparents young adult life, to their wedding and honeymoon, all the way until my mother and uncle were young children.

During my initial research at the beginning of the year I was mainly focusing on the documentation of my family history, especially that of my mothers side, but as I interview my family and looked at the many documents, I quickly came to realize that alot of the stories that I was told growing up was not told accurately, mostly because I was too young to know the truth.

My thesis then took a major turn, and instead of searching for the truth pertaining to the documentation of my family’s history, I wanted to look at the untold truths and document those moments. This is when I found the films again and got them digitalized, this was the first time in about twenty years that I saw them again, and they quickly became the main focus of my thesis.  I began to solely look at the nine films as the manifestation of all the untold truths that were told over my life time through the use of the editing that was done to each of them, I wanted to explore and identify each edit and untold truth within each of the individual films, which now stood in place for my family’s documented history and from there the series “Film” was formed, the series contains four parts, “Life”, “The Truth & The Edit”, “Glitch” and “Proof”, all of these names resembling different aspects related to film and archiving.

What draws you to the act of documenting these film rolls involved in your body of work, and how do you believe this adds to the significance of your work?

The Truth & The Edit” is the part of the series “Film” where I document the film reels. The work consists of fourteen photographs, each documenting the physical elements of the untold truths and manipulations that had been woven into my family’s history, these became very significant to my work, because they resemble the physical manifestation of my concept.

The first eight photographs are documenting the four film containers and their respective reels, the photographs depicting the four containers, “B.B.Y.A”, “Shower”, “Honeymoon”, and “Unknown #1”, each resemble the truth which are contained within them, and the labels on the front reflect on the moments captured within, they are the ‘real’ and the ‘truth’.  The next four photographs document the four reels that were once contained in the pervious containers, “B.B.Y.A Reel”, “Shower Reel”, “Honeymoon Reel”, and “Unknown Reel #1”. These four photographs represent the manipulation and the untold truths that were being told within my family’s history, and the editing that had been done to each reel can be clearly seen within some of the photographs, these edit points show that someone had physically edited and removed a piece of information from the recorded history.

The last six photographs document the small six film reels, “Made in Canada”, “Shar”, “1 Florida”, “2 Florida”, “Unknown Reel #2” and “QUE”. These six photographs also depict the untold truths and lies within my family history, some of the reels can be seen missing large sections of the film, which obviously mean they have been heavily edited, while others have lost their labels, leaving the contents of the physical reel unknown to the holder.

I was drawn to documenting the film reels and their containers, because as my thesis moved forward I could no longer see them as the absolute truth of my family’s recorded history, I began to only see them as their edits and nothing else, and it came to a point where I felt I had to document them as their own absolute truth, that being documenting the real and the edit. 

cassandra-keenan-_b-b-y-a-reel_-digital-inkjet-print-2018

Cassandra Keenan, B.B.Y.A Reel, Digital Inkjet Print, 2018

As your thesis explores familial relationships, how do you navigate working with a topic that is so personal? How has your relationship with your work evolved over the course of the year?

I actually found it really easy to navigate such a personal topic this time around, I was lucky enough to have a support system behind me to not only support the path I decided to go on, but also aid me when it had gotten difficult. But the idea of my thesis actually originated from a series that I worked on the pervious year, this series also focused on family history, but that time it focused on my fathers parents, who had passed a couple years ago. That series, “Waves of Memory”, was very hard on me emotionally, it fully drained me because even after a couple years I was still mourning the lost of my grandparents, and the series had opened old wounds, and as time went on it helped me navigate these emotions, and lead me to where I am now, where I can be more focused and understanding of the information laid out in front of me.

You often talk about family history in the context of the ‘truths’ and histories that are passed on generationally, but including the lies and untold truths that these stories hold. How have you decided to play with these ideas in your work to extend or mould the truth/untruths with you approach and contextualize your work?

I came to use the edits and untold truths to tell my family’s history because of the fact throughout my life these truths where only told to please a child’s ears and wonder, but now as an adult I seek to understand the truth of my own history.

With finding the film reels again, I began to question the documentation of my history, especially when my grandfather watched them, and mentioned how heavily edited they were, when I questioned him, he said that every film had to be reviewed by his parents (my great grandparents), and anything they didn’t agree with, must be removed and destroyed without question, so with alot of the reels you can see that they are missing large portions of their film. This made me very curious about the edits and made me want to explore them even more.

Is there anyone who you would like to work with in the future?

I don’t know if there is anyone I would like to work with in the future specifically. I am always open to working with anyone, especially those who I connect really well with, and can have a great back and forth creative conversation with, I do always work my ideas out with people who are around me, but I haven’t actually collaborated with anyone yet. I’m hoping in the future to open that door and work on some amazing work, just haven’t found that person yet.

15-billanddadonalawnmower-copy

Cassandra Keenan, #15, Digital Inkjet Print, 2017

How do you feel the thesis critique process has helped you with your critical thinking skills within your art practice?

The thesis critique process has definitely helped grow my critical thinking skills when it comes to my own work, even when we are critiquing another persons work I am still able to grow as an individual artist.

I am surrounded by so many wonderful artists, with their own amazing histories and point of views, It’s never just one point of view looking at my work. Having those many differences giving their opinions is very valuable to me as an artists, it helps me grow and look outside of my comfort bubble, and I owe it to them for helping me grow.

Even the bad or harsh critiques I take to heart, I know its not against me personally, my fellow classmates want me to grow and do better, I take every critique as an opportunity to grow. 

Are there any specific OCADU Faculty who have influenced your work? A specific discipline or course?

Simon Glass and Nicholas Pye are two OCADU Faculty which come to mind right away, I had the privilege of having both of them as professors for my main photography courses. I honestly believe I wouldn’t be as strong as an artists as I am right now if it wasn’t for both of them. They both pushed me, well beyond what I thought was possible of my own art, I say this in the best way possible, they both saw that I could grow and create more meaningful art, and the art that I created for them, were the first time I was truly making art for myself.

What is one piece of advice you would give to someone starting out in photography?

The one piece of advice I would give to someone starting out in photography is don’t be afraid, don’t be afraid to be yourself, to experiment, to try something new or scary, and don’t be afraid to grow. It is when you are afraid that you truly stop growing.

Friday #ArtCrush is a weekly blog series highlighting students in their final year at OCAD University.

Interview by Morgan Sears-Williams

About the writer: Morgan is a photo alumni and runs the Friday #ArtCrush series on the OCAD U Photography Blog. She loves speaking to other artists about social justice, how to break barriers within artist communities and nurturing the arts in alternative non-institutional spaces. She is the Art Co-ordinator for The RUDE Collective, and has done workshops on intersectionality and allyship relating to LGBTQ folks. To see more, you can visit her website or her instagram.

August Photo Workshop Opportunity

August Photo Workshop in Newfoundland

A collaboration between the Photo programs of OCADU, Memorial University and NSCAD

Looking for a few interested students to participate in this pilot programme which involves spending 10 days at the Bonne Bay Marine Station in Gros Morne National Park from August 20-29th along with students from the other universities. This residency, coordinated by Marc Losier at Memorial University, will be followed by a fall exhibition at OCADU.

Let me know if this might be of interest.  Peterbonne_bay_april13_06_024-1   psramek@ocadu.cagros-morne-national-park-map high-view-gros-morne-newfoundland

grosmorneposter

Friday #ArtCrush: Abigail Holt

Friday #ArtCrush is a weekly blog series highlighting students in their final year at OCAD University. This Friday’s #ArtCrush is Abigail, a photography student in thesis. 

In this series, Abigail and Morgan talk about using symbolism and allegories in photography, examining your cultural identities and using text and images simultaneously.

Who or what are your main photographic inspirations?

A lot of my photographic inspirations aren’t even photographic, but artists I’m inspired by right now are María Magdalena Campos-Pons, Adriana Varejão, and Anna Bella Geiger. But I mostly get inspiration from reading—translating ideas, theory, literature, poetry, into a visual language and expressing it in my own way. The process of image making is almost like writing for me (and writing like image-making). I like reading Caribbean authors / theorists and Spanish poetry. Also a sense of sensuality, like that found in the natural world or in music.

What subject matter do you tend to spend the most time working on?

Immigration, family, language, sensuality, girlhood, fruits, spirituality, soccer, history (memory), the Caribbean, land, maps, creolization, colonialism.

It’s common that you use text and images together. What is your process of deciding how to incorporate text into/ on to your images?


Usually the text and images follow a common theme, or maybe a common feeling towards subtly communicating an idea. So one example is that I made a book that was like pieces of a movie, with images, captions, and “poems” written in script format. I guess the way I mix text and image together has to do with affect, I kind of work more intuitively.

ig-abigail-holt-grass-stains-digital-inkjet-print-2016

What body of work are you working on right now?

I’m working on my thesis right now and a few side projects have been born from that. I’ve been playing with abstracting video stills of Carnival focusing on notions of double performance, masking, rhythm and Caribbean codes inspired by Antonio Benítez-Rojo’s theories in The Repeating Island and music (calypso, cumbia, samba, mapale, lavways), it’s fun sometimes I dance when I make them.

You use a lot of symbolism and metaphors in your work, for instance the works with fruits cut open, or flower petals creased or held together. What is this process of using symbols that have a meaning to you culturally or personally and how does that translate to audiences?


I use symbols, allegories, and metaphors because I like implying rather than telling, creating a feeling to express meaning. I guess it’s in the way of seeing or looking that you’re able to create these indicators or signifiers. Cultural symbolism can sometimes go unseen, it can be frustrating but especially in my thesis I’ve learned to embrace and play with that to express certain ideas, like about what is seen and unseen, what is considered center and what is considered periphery—and why.

In your thesis work, your images have a dream like quality to them. As if we are looking in on your internal thoughts and trying to decode the symbols of aesthetics or collages. Can you speak to this process of manipulation in your images?

‘Dreamlike’ is interesting because there’s a tradition of magic-realism and fabulism in the Caribbean. I’ve tried to create allegory-landscapes that act as embodiments of Internality masquerading as Externality but instead of being about me, it’s about Caribbeanness. The processes of visual manipulation are inspired by the cultural manipulation found in creolization, such as: plurality, fluidity, openness, secrecy, ambiguity, multiplicity, multivocality, multi-layering, transition, transformation, mimicry, doubling, carnivalization, diffraction, recomposition—it’s a long list. Basically it started with wandering through Trinidad, experimenting with a piece of glass / prism in front of my lens.

ig-abigail-holt-santiago-digital-inkjet-print-2018

While you use a lot of text in your work, there are also multiple projects that use old images and reconsider them in another light by collaging, composition or adding/subtracting from the image itself. How does this reconsider the original quality and purpose of the images?
The old images I use are of my family, so the compositions I make from them I call altars (or I add gold and call them saints). I always mention the images of my family as feeling filled with light or “breathing light like votive candles”. So when I make these new compositions I guess it’s about revealing something I see within the images, and of course the objects I use in the collages also add meaning (so like in one series alongside images of my family I used fruits / herbs from West Indian grocery stores that have healing properties).

How do you think your practice has grown over the course of your time at OCADU?
It’s kind of just grown naturally with me but also has become more informed as I’ve learned more in studio and lecture classes. I’ve gotten better and expressing and articulating my ideas visually. I’ve developed my own style because of those things.

Is there anyone who you would like to work with in the future?

Yeah! I would like to work with other emerging artists or people who have ideas of doing things differently. Of course it would also be nice to work with other Caribbean artists.

ig-abigail-holt-papaya-scanned-composition-2017

Are there any specific OCAD U Faculty who have influenced your work? A specific discipline or course?

Dot Tuer is so intelligent, she teaches art and history very critically and insightfully, things she’s said in lecture have stayed with me, she has so much knowledge and wild stories. Simon Glass and Nick Pye have always been encouraging and challenging, they always have lots of insightful ideas and feedback. The photo techs at the cage are great too, they’re so smart and friendly!!

What is one piece of advice you would give to someone starting out in photography?
For me when I was starting to pursue my interest in photography (pre-university) people made it seem really stale and clinical (like the inside of a Henry’s), as if there are certain guidelines and rules that you need to follow—or equipment you need to buy if you want to take a “good” photograph. That doesn’t really encourage creativity, or like, basic enjoyment—it represses it. So I think you should find your influences and interests, follow anything you’re curious about, question conventions, experiment, be open, play around, do your own research, take note of the things that leave impressions on you and think about why. Develop your own “language”, musicality, poetics, and way of seeing.

You can see Abigail’s work on their instagram, and at OCADU’s GradEx from May 3-6, 2018!

Friday #ArtCrush is a weekly blog series highlighting students in their final year at OCAD University.

Interview by Morgan Sears-Williams

About the writer: Morgan is a photo alumni and runs the Friday #ArtCrush series on the OCAD U Photography Blog. She loves speaking to other artists about social justice, how to break barriers within artist communities and nurturing the arts in alternative non-institutional spaces. She is the Art Co-ordinator for The RUDE Collective, and has done workshops on intersectionality and allyship relating to LGBTQ folks. To see more, you can visit her website or her instagram.

Summer Residency Opportunity in New York

Future of  Images: The Lens and Screen Arts
residency-pdf-summer2018residency-pdf-summer2018ii_jera0piu0_1622541c5431b7f7

« Older posts

Use of this service is governed by the IT Acceptable Use and Web Technologies policies.
Privacy Notice: It is possible for your name, e-mail address, and/or student/staff/faculty UserID to be publicly revealed if you choose to use OCAD University Blogs.