OCAD University Photography Program

News about events, our community & opportunites

OCAD Alumni Featured in CONTACT Photography Festival

Left: Sebastian Benitez, Untitled (from the series Not This Way Either), 2012; Right: Josée Pedneault, NÆVUS, 2013–in progress

Left: Sebastian Benitez, Untitled (from the series Not This Way Either), 2012; Right: Josée Pedneault, NÆVUS, 2013–in progress

Be sure to check out the upcoming exhibition SIGNALS & SENTIMENTS, a featured CONTACT Photography Festival exhibition, showing at the Critical Distance Centre for Curators (CDCC). Curated by Katelyn Gallucci, the show includes work from OCAD alumni Sebastián Benítez, Petar Boskovic, Shelby Fenlon, and Jimmy Limit.

Where: Suite 302, Artscape Youngplace, 180 Shaw Street, Toronto, ON
When: April 27–June 4, 2017
Opening Reception: Thursday, April 27th from 6–9 pm

For more information, visit the Critical Distance website.

Jennifer Long to speak on panel at Glasgow School of Art

Congratulations to Jennifer Long who speaking at a panel at the Glasgow School of Art on April 25th!


The symposium is a contribution to the appreciation of the current Franki Raffles exhibition Observing Women at Work at Reid Gallery, The Glasgow School of Art, 4 March – 27 April 2017.


A series of panels will take place at the Glasgow School of Art on April 25th, 11am-4pm, titled ‘Assessing the legacy and impact of Feminist photographer Franki Raffles.’



This symposium will draw on the Franki Raffles Research project to look in depth at Raffles’ work from 1981 until her death in 1994. There will be papers that outline the initiatives leading to the current exhibition and charting how it was planned. Raffles died suddenly and unexpectedly and without the chance for her to select and organise her work for future preservation. For twenty years, her photographic practice has been largely forgotten and unkown. This symposium will consider the legacy of her work, in Scotland and in other countries, examine how the central themes of her practice are relevant to women and photography today.

It grapples questions such as:

What are the lessons for contemporary feminist and social documentary photographic practice, archive collections and exhibition curation from this work now over 20 years old?


Jennifer Long will be speaking on a panel titled ‘WildFires: creating an ecology for women’s practice in Scotland today.’ 

Wildfires is the Womens Photography Network in Scotland, which you can read more about here.


Congratulations Jenn, and safe travels!

4th Year Epson Award


 Thanks to the generosity of Epson Canada and our supportive local representative Andrew Patrick, OCAD U’s Photography Program is pleased to announce that Epson is donating an Epson Printer (model to be confirmed) to a Photo major enrolled in Directed Photo Studio, Landmarks or Thesis during 2016/2017.


  • Open to undergraduate Photography majors who are currently enrolled in the Photo Directed Studio, Landmarks or Thesis Stream.
  • Applicants must have a practice that incorporates digital output such as digital negatives or prints.
  • Open to students with diverse career goals.

Applications must be submitted before Mon, May 8th at midnight to Jenn Long at jlong@faculty.ocadu.ca. In the subject line, note your name and Epson Award Application.  Results will be announced in the late May.

Submissions: In a single pdf, include the following:

  • Your name, email and the 4th year course you were enrolled in.
  • 5 to 10 examples of your strongest work that is created using a digital component (example: the final print may be a digital print or the work could be created using a digital negative). The selected images can be from a single series or diverse bodies of work.
  • Place only 1 image per page and under each visual, include:
    • Title, date of creation & scale
    • Medium: example: Epson Paper mounted on dibond
    • Additional details if needed: example: “This cyanotype was created using a digital negative.”
  • 250 words (maximum) explaining why you want this Epson printer and how it will be an asset to your future career goals.

If you have any questions, please contact Jenn Long at jlong@faculty.ocadu.ca
(Note: Jenn will be away from April 21-April 27.)

Barbara Astman at the National Gallery of Canada

Right side image: Barbara Coming...Barbara Going , c.1973 © Barbara Astman

Right side image: Barbara Coming…Barbara Going, c.1973 © Barbara Astman

Congratulations to Barbara Astman for her inclusion in the exhibition Photography in Canada: 1960–2000 at the National Gallery of Canada! Her work is a part of the Social Commentary/Feminism/Gender section. The show was organized by the Canadian Photography Institute.

Where: National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, ON
When: April 7th – September 17th, 2017
More Info: Photography in Canada: 1960-2000

Exhibition catalogues are available for purchase here.

Career Launcher: Artscape Youngplace Due Apr 24!



Friday #ArtCrush: Zhao Yu

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

In this issue, Zhao and Morgan talk about deconstructing the landscape in photography,  the relationship buddhism has in their work, and working as a transnational artist.

Who or what are your main artistic inspirations?

Olafur Eliasson is my favourite artist, he is a Danish-Icelandic artist known for sculptures and large-scale installation art employing elemental materials such as light, water, and air temperature to enhance the viewer’s experience.

I also look into Buddhism and Neo-Confucianism thinking to embody my research.


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

I create mixed media artworks, photography, performances, and installations in the recent months. By emphasizing Neo Confucianist and Buddhist ideology, I intend to investigate the dynamics of the landscape in my works. Including the manipulation and minimization of its effects and challenges the limits of spectacle based on our assumption of what landscape means to us. Rather present a factual reality, I like to create an illusion of landscape that is fabricated to conjure the realms of our imagination.



Do you work in any other mediums and how does that inform your work?

I think I produce mixed media artworks quite a lot. I see the mediums as links between the landscape’s reality and that flux in its conceiver’s memories. I like to develop forms and performance that do not always include logical criteria but are based only on physical associations, formal elements, and the action of recognizing landscape from the body, which incite my acknowledge to the meaning of landscape with my personal connections.


You use a lot of different types of paper or fabrics when printing your photographic work. Why do you choose to engage with these fabrics and papers, and how does that tie in conceptually or aesthetically to the work you do?

In Buddhism, there is something called the “elegance of imperfection”. I guess that’s why I am just obsessed with handcraft papers and fabrics. I seek the imperfect in my photographic process, to create an eternal contradiction in every image. From the handcraft object’s  roughness and disordered details, I can feel the joy to be an “imperfect artist”. The warmness in handcraft papers and fabrics is what I find the most physically connected in the photographic process. After all, we are just imperfect creatures, I think the imperfections in art just speaks out to our nature, and the ever-changing spirituality in every art creation.



What do you think the value is in being a multi disciplinary artist and interweaving multiple mediums into your art practice?

I like to try new mediums, explores the new possibilities. I think sometimes i just got the idea that I have to try it, try to performance, try to do installation etc… even I don’t know what the outcome would be. it is one important part of my practice, experimentation and create new possibilities.


Why do you use photo installation to show some of your works? What is the value or significance in breaking the ways viewers typically see photographs?

I guess I see photography as a very edged medium, and photo -installation is my way to create new opticals and spaces. I like my viewers to actually go into that optical I created. I do not intend to photograph or create anything that is “physical”. I see the dimensions as a tool. The photographs, sculptures, and installation that in my works are just inputs of an equation, and I think the outputs are versatile that has many interpretations depending on what viewers think.



What body of work are you currently working on?

The discovery of Sunyata (emptiness) in art is a passionate approach in my current works. Buddhists believe that wisdom and enlightenment will be achieved through the realization of Sunyata. Sunyata stresses the necessity for voidness of self and existence, an objective defined as observing things or  regarding things. In this body of work, I start with deconstructing photography, to be aware of the most basic foundation of light, air, and space. I create installation work by using camera obscura, direct reflection, and projection, creating photography in visual, acoustic, and spatial ways. This project is a way to look inward and meditate. The deconstruction of photography is the process of decreasing complexity and turns the medium into emptiness. I guess it is an opportunity for change and renewal in photography, both visually and conceptually; afterward, Sunyata is born.



Through your thesis work, themes of landscape and the artist’s relationship to land are evident. What is your experience working as a transnational artist? How is using images from your home in the Yunnan Province, China, and merging those with images and video from Toronto significant to you?

When I was growing up in Yunnan, a province in China situated at the far eastern edge of the Himalayan uplift, I saw the most devoted Buddhists who walked for years on pilgrimages to the holy mountains. Among the high mountains, they sought self-discovery and redemption through Buddha’s teachings. Walking and pilgrimage in the lap of nature have become their meditation, which seeks the truth in this ever-changing universe. Whenever I have created my series of works in Toronto, I see the landscape and people of my hometown as the most precious memory and I have also been inspired by them. In Toronto, I re-discover these memories and re-construct it in my work.

As a transnational artist, of course, i experienced two very different cultures and values in art and life. I immigrated to Canada when I was fifteen, In the West, I saw the human spirit shine brilliantly in the expression of the creative will and in the pursuit of individualism. In the East, I learned that the human will and expression fall under the principles of nature. I have spent a long time to understand, and to merge these two together. I think my works are just the significant documentations of the discovery of a new identity.



To see more of Zhao’s work visit his website.

See Zhao’s work at the

102nd Graduate Exhibition at OCAD University, May 3rd-7th.

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 fourth year photography student 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 spaces. She is the Art Director for The RUDE Collective, a student representative on the Photography Curriculum Committee and has done workshops on intersectionality and allyship relating to LGBTQ folks. To see more, you can visit her website or her instagram.

Apply to ART CAMP 2017


Call for proposals: Due April 30th, 11:59pm (midnight)

Art Camp 2017 brings together 12 emerging artists from OCAD University and Ryerson University to build community and create art. This opportunity is open to artists in their 2nd year of study through to recent graduates (up to 2 years post-graduation) who are enrolled/alumni from a program within OCAD U’s Faculty of Art, Indigenous Visual Culture or Ryerson’s School of Image Arts. Participants will be selected through an application process in May 2017 that is based on artistic merit, availability and interest in collaboration.

Art Camp recognizes the profound and essential value that diversity brings to the creation, reception and circulation of creative practices and discourse. We encourage applications from members of equity-seeking communities including women, racialized and Indigenous persons, persons with disabilities, and persons of all sexual orientations and gender identities/expressions. We encourage members of equity-seeking groups to self-identify within their letter of intent in their application.

Working alongside faculty supervisors Robyn Cumming (Ryerson University), Jennifer Long & Jennie Suddick (OCAD U), the selected artists will create a group exhibition at Ryerson University’s off-site gallery Ryerson Artspace at the Gladstone Hotel in August 2017.

This year’s exhibition theme is RAISING/FALLING. Potential participants are not required to submit work on this theme but will create work during the course of the residency that engages with this theme for the resulting exhibition in August.

Participating in the residency will involve May & June access to OCAD U’s Photography Production Facilities, professional practice workshops, studio visits, talks, film screenings, brainstorming sessions, critiques and learning new artistic skills from May to August 2017. All participants will receive a budget towards the production of their exhibited work.

Note: The level of Photo studio access will vary depending on the artist’s familiarity with photography.

Residency Sessions: Participants should be available for the following sessions (evening sessions and special events may be added):

-Friday, May 12th 1-9pm: Introductions, sharing of work, welcome dinner
-All Wednesdays in May-July 9am-5pm

How to Apply
In a Google Drive/Dropbox link or single PDF document, include the following:

Applicant information:
• Name, Email address, University & Program of Study
• The year of study you will be entering in Sept 2017 / year of graduation
• Confirmation of your availability on the above dates (some
exceptions can be granted)
• Note: past participants are encouraged to apply, but
preference will be given to new applicants.
• A letter of Intent expressing your interest in this residency, what inspires your practice and how you might approach the exhibition theme. (max. 400 words)

Portfolio of work
• Include 10 images from 2 to 3 different series. If your work is time-based, please include web links for up to 3 works. NOTE: All pieces should be edited down to 3 minutes. You are encouraged to include a secondary link showcasing the entire piece.
• Images should be JPG format, approx. 8”x10”, at 72 dpi
• Include an image credit under each visual detailing the title, year, medium and scale or provide an accompanying image list.

Email the completed PDF or Dropbox link to jlong@faculty.ocadu.ca before APRIL 30th, 11:59pm (midnight). A jury will be struck to review the applications and applicants will be notified by May 5th of their acceptance.

Jennifer Long – jlong@faculty.ocadu.ca or
Robyn Cumming – robyn.cumming@ryerson.ca

Congrats TAM + KYT


Congratulations to 4th year photo duo Jessie Kitchen & Tamara Leger (TAM + KYT) for being published in the Spring issue of PhotoEd Magazine!

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