OCAD University Photography Program

News about events, our community & opportunites

Author: Morgan (page 1 of 2)

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?

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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!

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Friday #ArtCrush: Ava Margueritte

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

In this issue, Morgan and Ava talk about using the body as a tool for performance within photography, trauma and family relationships and the process of thesis.

Who or what are your main artistic inspirations?

Most of my inspirations are from film directors, Wes Anderson, Emmanuel Lubezki and Christopher Nolan.  A few photographers are Francesca Woodman, Elinor Carucci, Yoko Ono and Lisa Steele. Other non lens based artists such as Eugene Schiele, Andy Warhole, Henry Moore as well as The Arnolfini portrait by Jan Van Eyck has always stuck with me. So many artists have influenced me but what keeps me motivated to make art is seeing other people in my life make work. I am so inspired by the community surrounding me and that me excited to continue my practice.

 

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

I have always been focused on making feminist artwork and I am currently focused on self-portraiture. This year I have focused on my series A Chair for My Mother, which discusses trauma within a familial context.

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A Chair For My Mother, 2017

 

What drives you to work with that subject matter?

As I’m sure most people in photo know, I have several learning disabilities. I am dyslexic, I have CAP-D (an auditory processing disability) and ADD. My work aids me in communicating emotions that I have difficulties expressing verbally. I am mainly interested in advocating for equality and my topics are often revolved around taking a small part of society that I perceive could be better and voicing my opinion on it through my photographs. This year I focused on exploring how to reclaim myself from trauma.

 

Often I find your images similar to a film still with a specific narrative, character and mood. How do you use narrative strategies within image making to portray your intention?

Including clues into my personal life such as objects from my family as well as using images from a certain period of time in my life. I shoot in my own domestic space, using spaces that I’m comfortable to allow myself to perform private emotions. I use negative spaces to create a focus on my subject and the narrative that I want my viewer to pay attention to.

 

How does the use of natural lighting in your images connect to your conceptual basis for your series?

The most important thing for me to portray in A Chair for My Mother is the honesty that I want to portray. It is a very personal project and I expose a lot of my personal life in it. By using natural lighting I feel as if I’m giving my images the honesty that my narrative depicts.

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A Chair For My Mother, 2017
What body of work are you currently working on?

I am currently working on my series A Chair for My Mother which is about finding a way to give myself a voice in a situation where I am not being heard within familial relationships. I explore how to reclaim my body from trauma, addiction, domestic abuse as well as sexual assault.

 

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 really had to push myself, at the beginning of my thesis year I didn’t really understand what my work was about. It was driven by anger, hurt and sadness, so I continued to put myself in situations that made me uncomfortable and paid attention to the trigger signals that my brain was sending to my body. I put myself in spaces where I had endured abuse year after year and just simply let my body direct my work.

A big thing that has come from my work is pushing myself to trust my decisions. Confidence is something that due to my upbringing hasn’t come naturally to my project and me has forced me to rely solely on myself. It is a very heavy subject and unfortunately might change my relationship with my family for me in the future but I know that it is important for me to do nonetheless.

I didn’t fully understand how much my work would impact me. In my final critique I felt so many emotions, I was overwhelmed and hurt by the emotions I had channelled but after my presentation and looking around to see how many people I had impacted with my story and struggle I was astounded. My work has made me stronger and confident, I am proud of the work I have done and proud of how far I’ve come.

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A Chair For My Mother, 2017

 

Self-portraiture is a common theme among most of your work, what do you think is the value in inserting yourself into your images? 

It is especially important in my current series [A Chair for My Mother] to work with my body because it is about me and the best way to represent myself is by performing for the camera. I like to think of my body the way a painter would think of a paintbrush, I use it to compose my image. I know myself best and can use that to my advantage to frame my image. After spending so many years behind a camera it’s interesting to put myself as my subject because I know what I am looking for. What I mean by this is I know what feeling I want to express and how to obscure my body to relate to my theme. There have been a few times this year that I have taken an image and known immediately that I already love that image, however there is a ton of trial and error. Inserting myself in my images gives me the same excitement that shooting with film does, in the sense that I have less control and I have to rely on myself as the subject. Something that has really become apparent to me is my body’s natural reaction to feelings and thoughts I have. I started paying attention to my body a bit more during a shoot that I had in the fall. I was at my cottage where my dad now lives and I was in his room and I just started taking pictures of me in his space. I was sitting on a dresser with my feet on the bed and my body just collapsed, I didn’t cry, my body just gave up. It was then that I became interested in what my body language had to say versus my facial expressions.

 

There is a long history within feminist image making and using the body as a tool to express a concept. How do you use your body and performance to express your concept?

In my series I explore the male gaze, growing up with a narcissistic father, I saw how he treated women. In A Chair for My Mother I decided to try to turn myself into an object by placing myself in obscure positions within the domestic space that I grew up in. By doing this I wanted to challenge the gaze and how women are perceived. By doing this I wonder if I turn myself into an object, a literal object, will the male gaze still objectify me?

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A Chair For My Mother, 2017

 

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

Lee Henderson has mentored me since my third year at OCAD and has always pushed me to think more conceptually. He has always pushed me to try strange projects and helped me work through a lot of my own insecurities about my work.

Course wise I think I have taken every single class that allows me access to everything in the photo centre and it’s amazing there are so many different ways to go about photography. Also trying things outside of the photography program, I have taken printmaking classes which are really cool, as well as I took an animation course and I kind of wish I took more animation courses but drawing is, unfortunately, not my forte.

 

Do you have any advice for students beginning to study at OCAD?

Persevere through that first year of general arts is the main thing wanted to quit so many times and I’m very glad I didn’t. In regards to profs take everything with a grain a salt. One thing that really changed the way I worked was looking at things from my professors perspective, what were they looking for, what interested them. Not because I necessarily cared about what they wanted but it allowed me to think about different subject matters and ways of working.

 

You can see more of Ava’s work on her website and instagram

See Ava’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.

Friday #ArtCrush: Natalie Wainewright

Friday #ArtCrush is a weekly blog series highlighting students in their final year at OCAD University.  This Friday’s #ArtCrush is Natalie Wainewright, a fourth year student majoring in Photography.

In this issue, Morgan and Natalie talk about lighting in food photography, collaborating with other artists and the influence of instagram within the realm of photography.

Who or what are your main photographic inspirations?

This year I’ve been looking at a lot of commercial food photographers such as Maya Visnyei, Ditte Isager, and Eric Wolfinger. However, I’m also very influenced by artists such as Laura Letinsky and especially by being surrounded by the work of other students.

 

What is your favourite lighting set up and camera/lens combination?

I tend to shoot with one light with a medium softbox and reflectors as needed. I use a Nikon D750 and a 28-300 lens but usually shoot at 70.

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Peppers, 2017

 

How does your shooting style change on location vs. in studio? How do you see these two options as changing the mood or lighting of your shoots?

For me, shooting in studio provides a lot of flexibility as you can experiment with the light and change the set up around the fixed light, but shooting on location requires good timing and waiting for the light. I like to plan shoots and lighting in advance, so it is helpful knowing that the shoot can go on in bad weather. However, approaching summer means that there is more opportunity to experiment with natural lighting.

 

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

Although all of my shoots involve food, I like to incorporate some human aspects and more of the food-making process as well as some general still life for some variety.

 

Do you collaborate with any other artists or food stylists? How does collaborating change the way in which you approach your subject?

Collaborating with other artists and people in general is one of the best parts of being involved in photography because it always gives you multiple perspectives and pushes the work further. It is also nice being able to work through ideas with other people who have a different styles and experience.

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Cake, 2017

With the rise of instagram and with so many people taking iPhone photos of their food before they consume it, what do you think is the value of professional food photography?  How does this change your creative insight into photographing food, as we are already inundated with images of?

I think Instagram is a powerful tool for photographers and being able to see so many food photographs can provide inspiration. Professional food photography has the potential to say more about food and the issues surrounding it than the average food photograph you run into online because of the time spent with the subject. I hope to be able to bring this into my work and find it an important part of considering the impact of commercial food photographs.

 

What do you think is essential to know or show in food photography?

I think the process of preparing food and the social aspect of it is important to bring into photographs and something I am working towards. It’s interesting when food photographs offer a different perspective to the everyday.

 

How does the atmosphere of your images change by including people in your photographs who are interacting with the food you prepare?
I think including people in the images brings in the human aspect of preparing and consuming food, which is something everyone can relate to on some level. It also helps visually to create movement and give the food more context.

 

People often talk about the tricks of shooting food, how to use different materials or other options than food itself. What are your tricks for photographing food that look fresh and new?

Personally, I just work with fresh food and use edible materials to add to the food to keep waste to a minimum.

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Mussels, 2017

 

What are other subjects or places that you like to shoot and how does this tie into your general artistic vision?

I love to work with people and shoot the landscape with film. Shooting portraits definitely influences how I work with people in food photography and hopefully I can tie in shooting with film and some on location shoots in the future.

 

Where do you see your career path going and who would you most like to work with/for?

I’m hoping to work as an assistant for a commercial food photographer after school and eventually start my own business to work with publications.

 

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Sweet Potato, 2017

 

What is your advice for artists who are looking to make their art practice into a business?

My advice would be to be open to collaborations and change in work and to always be looking for people to look up to.

 

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

Every course I’ve taken and prof I’ve had has influenced my work, but I’ve become especially interested in working in book format over the past couple years.

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To see more of Natalie’s work you can visit her website or instagram.

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See Natalie’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.

Friday #ArtCrush: Jason Collette

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

This Friday’s #ArtCrush is Jason Collette, a fifth year student majoring in Photography.

In this issue, Morgan and Jason talk about collaboration with artists, tips for designing an arts-based business, and merging editorial and fashion photography.

Who or what are your artistic inspirations?

The main reason for my interest in photography was to learn more of all the discourses involved with what it means to exist. I will not say that what I am creating is meant to be political although I can say that I often think about what it means to be human. Some of my main influences are Robert Frank, the school of Düsseldorf, Bauhaus, Lee Miller, Stephen Shore, or Jeff Wall. I wish I could create a list of photographers and artists to know if you go into art school because it could fill this entire interview.

 

What is your favourite lighting set up and camera/lens combination?

If I could control the sun that would be my lighting setup, but when I have to go inside because of the weather I try to setup too use a three-point lighting system. I use the speedotrons, softboxes, and sometimes a grid diffuser.

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Jason Collette, Untitled, 2017

 

Can you walk us through how you set up the studio during one of your shoots?

First off, I grab myself a speaker to play music. Next, I get a coffee and sit down for a while and get mentally prepared.  It’s really necessary for me to organize my plan for shoot. I often use fabrics as backdrops – we have backdrop stands in the photo cage that are really versatile for staging. With lighting I really consider balance, the background, and key light. I cannot say that I shoot the same way every time though. I recently have been experimenting with flash on the front of my camera for a more ‘snap-shot’ aesthetic during my shoots.

 

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

I like to think about art and its associations with advertising. My work is most often speaking on behalf industrialization, cross-contextually, and globalization in some way. It can be confusing to a viewer of my work because the subject matter is not direct, or in a series, but that is the point of what I make. I want the viewer to think about their place within the world while looking at my work.

 

Do you prefer shooting on location or within a studio setting? How does this change the way you approach your subject(s)?

I always want the model or subject to interact with its surroundings. I think a lot about the space in the framing and the shapes within the picture as a whole. Whether I am inside, or out, this is something that is in my mind while shooting.

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Jason Collette, Untitled, 2017

 

Do you ever collaborate with other artists to make-work together? What do you see as the value in collaboration? 

I believe that collaboration is one of the most valuable things to any artist, whether it is photography, music, writing or any art form, it is really important to share ideas with others and get an understanding of what people in your community are thinking as well. For me, even if you do not agree with the values of others around you, it is important to see their point of you. I believe that these ideas will help any artist find their own voice within the world.

 

You have said that you work between editorial and fashion photography. What drew you to work within that framework and how do you see the similarities or differences between the two?

I guess a main point is that fashion photography is about the garments and editorial is more about the story that the images tell. For me, this line can be blurry. What brought me into this type of photography was my interest in people, in collaboration, and in the history of clothing. There are a lot of valuable movements in the world today because of how designers have addressed their work.

 

How do you think your art practice, or the way in which you approach art has changed over your time at OCAD?

I started out with a keen interest in street photography. I would rebel against anything too experimental or hands on. I believed that I could make great work like the American street photographers by simply pointing and shooting my rangefinder. I see now how much more goes into those images than I initially believed. There is much more to the process of photography than I would have understood when I started at OCAD University. Although I can still be very resistant in my image making, today, I am much more open to try new things.

 

Where do you see your career path going and whom would you most like to work with?

I am going to continue my pursuit in creating art, and working in fashion. I wouldn’t mind working with Wes Anderson or Martin Scorsese, that would be great. I am currently working with a company called Bypseudonym and am very excited to help them develop their body of work.
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Jason Collette, Untitled, 2017

 

How did you get involved photographing for Bypseudonym, and what was your process designing their unique collection of fashion photography for their website and brand?

I reached out to the owner of the company, Summer Ellis, and we shot an editorial with her talented team. For their collection of images, we try to create a more candid look for each image and are interested in neutral tonality that accompanies the styling. It is important for us to also consider the gaze and posing of the models in each image.

 

Are their any specific OCAD U Faculty who have influenced your work? A specific discipline or course?
I want to give a BIG thanks to the entire OCADU photo faculty.  We have a very diverse and interesting group of talented photographers. My biggest influences have been Gabby Moser, one of the most talented photo historian I have met, and to John Jones, and Kotama Boubane.

 

What are your goals to take your business to the next level? What is your advice for other artists also looking to make their work into a business?

It is important for me to create valuable relationships within the art and fashion community. My best advice would be to practice, practice, practice, because there is always something new to learn in photography and to meet as many people and be as involved in the school and city as you can while at OCAD University. Don’t be afraid to reach out to people.

 

To see more of Jason’s work you can visit his instagram

 

See Jason’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.

Friday #ArtCrush: Sebastian Perez Vicentini

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

This Friday’s #ArtCrush is Sebastian Perez Vicentini, a fourth year student majoring in Photography.

In this issue, Morgan and Sebastian talk about the politics of responsibility in representing other peoples’ stories, working within multiple mediums and complicating ideas to create new possibilities in art.

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Who or what are your main artistic inspirations?

I tend to become obsessed with some artists work at different points in my life. I used to do a lot of self-portraiture and could stop looking at the work of Blanca Haddad, and the early work of Adam Neat, I liked it so much that I just wanted to do exactly what they were doing. Eventually I stopped looking and began doing my own thing, developing my own style and obsessions until my work overpowered their influence. So, I like to understand my influences in depth rather than saturate myself with images or ideas or anything.

 

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

In the past few years I have spent most time working on themes of violence, protests, and how our bodies are political. I have touched on these issues in many different ways, and trying to reinvent the ideas, contradict them and see what happens.

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Can’t be called dead, 2015

 

What drives you to work with that subject matter?

I guess I am trying to understand the part I play within these issues. I think sometimes is an act of denunciation, or self-criticism. Definitely I am always looking to detonate emotions and ideas in others and myself.

 

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

I try to work with any mediums that help me communicate and complicate an idea. I enjoy working with sculpture, printmaking, and drawing; using hands and making tangible things that I can later develop through photography or something. So, mixing disciplines opens up my field of view and keeps me interested and at play. But I still find photography to be the ultimate mediator, it’s like the Avatar because it can embody all the other disciplines, and contrary to what most people say I find the beauty and social value of photography in its reproducibility and dissemination.

 

What body of work are you currently working on?

I am currently creating a body of work for thesis that focuses on the student protest of 2014 in Venezuela. In this work, I am making sculptures and photographic explorations of some of the students that where killed during these protests to speak of issues of institutionalized violence, memory, fear, and social division.

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Praying card in honour of Bassil, 2017.

 

The work you are doing for your thesis explores the artist’s responsibilities while sharing other people’s stories, especially when they are related to social and political violence. How do you navigate this emotional attachment you can find with the individuals you are highlighting, specifically when their lives are or could be similar to yours (age, gender, nationality wise)? Have you had any significant reflections while doing this work?

I think we all have responsibility to speak about these issues, not only as artists but also as human beings. Because although my artwork is specific to Venezuela and its complexities these type of issues are happening all over the world at different levels; violent repression in the United States, Mexico, you name it. I think that is were the emotional attachment comes to play, there is social discontent, and people receiving political bullets in a lot of places (and not far away from Toronto), and yes we are all participants of the violence. But when you think one of these students could be you, then this issue doesn’t feel alien and un-relatable. The thing is that back home it is normalized.

 

What do you see as the artists’ responsibility in reflecting the current social and political environment in which they live?

It is important to reflect on the day-to-day, and the mundane to understand our position in the social environment, the personal is political. Everything we do is political without being directly about politics; our sexual life, the way we eat, how we move through the public space, and the way we relate to institutions. These interactions transcend into bigger social implications and it is our responsibility to reflect on them.

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The critique boat, 2016

 

Your work touches on social, economic and political issues in Venezuela. How do you navigate being Venezuelan and working around social issues in Venezuela, but working in Canada?

Well I work around issues that preoccupy me on the daily. Sometimes I feel it is not effective to talk about Venezuelan issues in the context of Toronto. But I think that tackling these issues symbolically can detonate emotions and creates reflections about what happens here too.

 

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

I just think it opens up the possibilities. If I work in one medium for too long I develop tunnel vision and become stuck. Especially as students discovering ideas and techniques there is no reason not to use all the OCAD toys.

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Saint Students (work in progress), 2017

 

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

So many teachers have influenced me throughout my time at OCAD. I have learned the most from teachers like Katherine Kiloh, Jonathan Groeneweg, Simon Glass, and Paul Dempsey. Also, I remember in first year I had a class with Peter Bowyer; on the first day he took us dumpster diving to find materials for the class. I kept up with it, and I can proudly say that half of my living room and art materials come from the dumpster.

 

Do you have any advice for students beginning to study at OCAD?

Play as much as you can, and use all the facilities that OCAD has. Don’t just go about doing assignment after assignment; I think it is important to start creating themes early on, doing whatever you want and making the assignments fit to your personal practice.

 

To see more of Sebastian’s work, check out their website

 

See Sebastian’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.

Friday #ArtCrush: Sheana Canthan

Friday #ArtCrush is a weekly blog series highlighting students in their final year at OCAD University.  This Friday’s #ArtCrush is Sheana Canthan, a fourth year student majoring in Photography.

In this issue, Morgan and Sheana talk about how lighting changes the mood of her fashion shoots, collaborating with other artists and turning your art practice into a business.

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Who or what are you main photographic inspirations?

My main photographic inspirations would be Annie Leibovitz, Nick Knight, Mario Sorrenti, Tim Walker, and Peter Lindbergh to name a few but, most of my inspiration comes from other art mediums and my surroundings as well.

 

What is your favourite lighting set up and camera/lens combination?

My favourite lighting setup would be rembrandt lighting. This lighting pattern gets its name from the painter, Rembrandt van Rijn who often utilized this light in his work.

brendan

Untitled #1, 2016

Can you walk us through how you set up the studio during one of your shoots?

For my shoots I usually set up the studio depending on whom or what I’m shooting and the concept/mood of the shoot. If the look is more grungy, I’d use a more harsh lighting setup, but if its something more eerie and whimsical, I’d use a softer lighting setup.

 

How does your shooting style change on location vs. in studio? How do you see these two options as changing the mood or lighting of your shoots?

When I shoot outdoors, I love scouting for different locations and having the subjects interact with their surroundings vs. in studio unless I have a set stylist working with me, sometimes I might be limited on props and create a story around what resources I have. Depending on whether I shoot on location, or in studio, I always preplan the lighting setup that best conveys the mood for the story I have in mind.

 

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

The subject matter I tend to shoot the most are people and fashion.

delaney-1

Untitled #2, 2016

Do you collaborate with other artists on your shoots? What do you see as valuable about collaborations between artists?

I do collaborations with all types of artists whether it is a stylist, illustrator, a sculpture and installation artist or painter. I love mixing other mediums of art with my work. I think its important to collaborate, because it allows you to expand your horizons and network with other artists, which is important in this industry.

 

When scouting or looking for models, who or what do you look for?

I usually have a theme or concept in mind that I want to execute and I search for models or people based on that. I also work with modelling agencies as well.

 

What makes you finalize the last couple images that you publish, after you have done a full shoot?

Usually images that strike to me or flow with each other and best convey the story or concept I had in mind for the shoot.

michael

Untitled #3, 2016

 

Where do you see your career path going and who would you most like to work with/for?

I would eventually like to shoot commercial or advertising work and be signed to an agency.

 

What is your advice for artists who are looking to make their art practice into a business?

This is something that I’m still learning so much about and its really trial and error and what works best for YOUR art practice. Something I wish I had started much earlier was collaborating, attending more networking events and building an online presence. The more people you meet, the more your work gets out there. Its really word of mouth in this industry, aside from have an online presence on social media platforms such as Instagram, Facebook and Youtube depending on what your art practice is.

nya-2

Untitled #4, 2016

 

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

BETTY!!! Most of the work I produced in my first three years at OCAD was surrounding gender, sexuality and nudity. Betty really pushed me as a fine artist to think about my art practice and why I make art.

 

What is one piece of advice you would give to someone looking to collaborate with other artists?

REACH OUT TO THEM!!! The worst answer you will get is a no, and if so, there are a million other artists out there. (80% of the time it’s a YES)

~

To see more of Sheana’s work you can visit her website

and instagram: @sheanacanthan

~

See Sheana’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.

Friday #ArtCrush: Nyaomi

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

In this issue, Morgan and Nyaomi talk about how to connect to people through art, the intersections of research and art, and using textiles and embroidery in image making.

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Who or what inspires your art making?
Life, Love and people. In general I love connecting with people and art allows me to do that. Through this, my understanding of life has shifted and I’m thankful for that.
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What subject matter do you tend to spend the most time working on? 
Since I spend a lot of time analyzing life, my subject matter tends to be about my experiences and those close to me. So it starts off really personal and I try to make it so more people can relate, not just me alone. I usually start at a place of hurt. My belief is there’s a lack of self love and this is the root of a lot of the issues we have relating to ourselves and others. To have more loving interactions and relationships, we have to unlearn negative ideologies that have been normalized.
~
artcrush3

NS Wallpaper, 2015. Originally a scan from handwriting.

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What drives you to work on this subject matter?
Purpose. I believe that ultimately my purpose is to help others and art is my gift and vessel to do so. Art gives us a platform to inspire and stir up conversation, so I ask myself what conversations I’m trying to spark when creating. My aim is to bring awareness to what’s been repressed and present alternative perceptions.
 ~
You work a lot with portraiture, what do you believe makes an effective and compelling portrait?
Body language. 55% of our communication is body language.
 ~
Looking at the different works that you have done, how do you think your artistic practice has changed over time?
In past shows, all my work was photo based until 2015. More recently I’ve been creating textiles/patterns and working with fabric and embroidery.
In terms of subject matter I used to focus more on the black experience. For example Appreciation which is about black men and Preference Is Not Privilege I which is about skin and hair. This year I’ve been looking into alternative perspectives on depression, something that effects all races.
~
artcrush1

Preference Is Not Privilege I, 2013. Digital Photography. 73×38

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You have mentioned before that research is a part of your process and how you work, how do you think research intersects with the art work you produce? 

Yes, Research is huge for me – it’s what grounds my work. However my research is not books and essays alone. I learn from fellow artists’ (singers/songwriters, screenwriters, all visual artists), conversations, and my experiences, etc. I am a student of life so I’m taking what I’m learning and expressing it visually. I start off with a topic, research it to understand it better, then share my understanding though art to have more conversations and shared learning.

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Do you see your research and art separate or as intersecting elements?

Intersecting. Especially this year. I’ve learned so much about depression and myself while creating which  has informed the work. So the art making became a part of my research, it is a beautiful exchange. As a result the meaning of the work has shifted. And I am okay with that.

~

artcrush2

Rosa Seca, 2015. Embroidery. 10″ hoop.

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Where do you see your career path going and who would you most like to work with?
I see myself becoming a full time artist connecting with like minded people to learn, grow, create and share.
 ~
How do you think your personal life has affected the kind of art work you want to make?
It is the biggest influence. All my work stems from a personal place.
 ~
unnamed-3
Appreciation, 2013, Digital Photography, 73″ x 38″ 
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Are their any specific OCAD U Faculty who have influenced your work? A specific discipline or course?

Betty Julian!!! She reminded me to think critically about what I was doing. For clarification, she didn’t teach me to be hard on myself (that’s all me) but I knew not to come to her critiques with insincere work and contrived explanations. My art practice became stronger after Betty’s Current Practice class, so I always tried to be in her classes.

~
What is one piece of advice you would give to someone looking to collaborate with other artists?

Be open minded. We can learn a lot from each other when we let go of our egos. But know yourself. What is it you want to communicate with your art? Don’t be easily swayed by what others are saying and doing. Remember your truth.

~

To view more of Nyaomi’s work visit her website or check her out on instagram

~

See Nyaomi’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.

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