OCAD University Photography Program

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Category: Faculty (page 1 of 10)

Faculty Spotlight: Meera Margaret Singh

When I first had Meera as an instructor at OCAD U, she was teaching a “Reconsidering Documentary Photography” course in my third year. I was looking for direction within my own artistic practice, which is rooted in documentary practices, and I needed a course that would – for lack of a better phrase – kick my butt. This course quite literally changed my view of documentary practices, ethics, aesthetics and foundations. As anyone who has had Meera as an instructor would know, she will push you into spaces you couldn’t conceive of. She won’t let you off the hook, and in the end you will end up with work that you didn’t know you could create.

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In this series of Faculty Spotlights, we chat with Meera Margaret Singh about her practice and her approach to being an artist, an educator and how those two collide.

 

How would you describe your art practice?

My lens-based art practice (photography and video) has always revolved around a negotiation and exploration of intimacy and displacement. This has predominantly been examined through individuals and their landcape, be that physical or psychological. I often construct and examine various relationships between body and environment, while further exploring the suspended space that exists between the real and the fabricated, the historical and the contemporary.

As a mixed-race Canadian of South-Asian descent, I am negotiating identity as shifting and malleable through both my daily life and my artistic practice. I have created numerous works that attempt to reconcile ideas of ‘home’ in both space and body by exploring ideas of displacement; often as physical or gestural manifestations that serve as metaphors for cultural displacement.

Of key importance to me while presenting my work is creating an intimate, minimalist and accessible space; one that is not as didactic as it is an invitation for diverse viewers to question what is happening in each work and to allow the space for them to insert their own experience.

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What is your favourite course or theme/topic to teach?

I really love teaching studio/seminar courses that allow for discussion about photography and representation, power dynamics at play in the relationships between subject/photographer, the complexities of the gaze, and feminism/intersectionality and its relationship to the lens. Courses like “Reconsidering Documentary Photography”, “Contemporary Issues”, “Current Practice” are wonderful for allowing for these discussions. I’ve been teaching INTAC (International Art Collaboration) with Peter Sramek for 4 years now and I adore teaching this class, as it takes a specific student to be interested in collaborative work and cross-cultural experience. It’s a very special space for learning. I am also teaching Colour Photography this semester which is so rewarding, as I get to share and witness the magic of the colour darkroom with students who are using it for the first time. 

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How does teaching arts affect how you approach your own art practice?

Being in a teaching environment where people are dedicated to sharing their diverse perspectives and experiences as expressed through their art definitely inspires both my teaching and my art practice.  The classroom is a unique space where everyone makes themselves vulnerable in some capacity: professors and students alike. I always feel it’s a very privileged space to occupy: one where a group of individuals can discuss intention and output, particularly when most other disciplines focus solely on output. This dialogue and expression of intention is really profound for me. While actively listening to students describe their intentions, I am constantly checking in with myself about my own.

My work is also deeply connected to my interest in human experience and various levels of intimacy. I work closely with people/communities in my practice. This isn’t dissimilar to the classroom: creating safe and generative spaces for art to connect diverse individuals or communities.

 

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What do you think is valuable about having a fine arts focused education?

I came to Fine Art in a very unplanned way after completing a degree in Anthropology. I actually aspired to be an archaeologist. When I was introduced to photography, I never imagined the need for more schooling. While I did learn a lot of technique independently, I quickly realized that I needed a community around me to grow: for critique, community, support and critical dialogue. Once I made the decision to return to school, my professors really encouraged the need for using art (and, specifically, photography) as a means of transforming and communicating one’s experience and ideas. I can’t speak for everyone (because a formal fine arts education is not for everyone), but I can say that a fine arts education improved my problem solving skills, assisted me in editing my words and ideas to clarify meaning, granted me permission to dig deeper and further inside of myself. It introduced me to mentors I am forever grateful for. It provided me with a stronger sense of community and a space to figure out where I fit in in terms of theoretical/critical/historical/contemporary photographic frameworks. It also granted me the structure I truly rely upon to create my work.

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Meera Margaret Singh is a visual artist based in Toronto, Canada. She holds a BA in Anthropology, a BFA in Photography from the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg in Canada and an MFA from Concordia University, Montreal in Canada. Singh has been the recipient of numerous residencies and awards, most notably several Canada Council for the Arts production/creation grants, an Ontario Arts Council mid-career grant, and a Toronto Arts Council visual arts grant. She has been a selected artist at the Banff Centre for the Arts; artist-in-residence at The Art Gallery of Ontario; artist-in-residence at 1Shanti Rd in Bangalore, India; artist-in-residence at JACA Residency, Brazil; selected artist in an international residency with German photographer Thomas Struth at the Atlantic Centre for the Arts, Florida; scholarship winner and participant in the Magnum Workshop with photographer Alessandra Sanguinetti; visiting artist/instructor at the National Institute of Design in Ahmedabad, India; McCain Artist-in-Residence at the OCAD University, Toronto. She has exhibited widely in group and solo exhibitions throughout Canada and internationally. She is currently an Assistant Professor at OCAD University.

Interview by Morgan Sears-Williams

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 photography basics, intersectionality and allyship relating to LGBTQ folks. To see more, you can visit her website or her instagram.

April Hickox // Index: Works from the Permanent Collection

April Hickox, Echo, 2010-2012, chromogenic prints, 35.5cm x 28cm

April Hickox, Echo, 2010-2012, chromogenic prints, 35.5cm x 28cm

April Hickox // Index: Works from the Permanent Collection
June 22, to September 17, 2017
Opening June 22nd at 6:30 
Kitchener-Waterloo Art Gallery

Over the course of over 35 years, April Hickox has mined the distinctions between personal and public sites through film, video, photography and installation. Her work is rooted in the narrative histories that individuals accumulate throughout their lives and the ability of inanimate objects to shape memory.Index will feature a selection of works by April Hickox donated to the Permanent Collection in 2012. Representing three distinct photographic series – Vantage Point, Portholes Glance, and Echo – these works convey Hickox’s interest in the aperture as both a mechanical and symbolic device. Also included in the exhibition is a new body or work from Provenance Unknown, Cancelled Paintings 2017. This work begins to question issues of value, providence, authorship.

Making its KWAG premiere, the Echo series serves as a poignant counterpoint to present-day selfie culture.  Here, Hickox creates a taxonomy of hand-mirrors, a traditionally-female heirloom which is representative of what is often thought to be a simpler time in history – a point in which self-reflection and personal actions existed largely between individuals, rather that the post-privacy milieu in which we  currently live. The mirror, for Hickox, reflects an image of how we want ourselves to be seen; it does not reflect the truth of our emotional lives, or who we think we are. Hickox’s mirrors lack a reflective surface, the result of a digital scanning process that renders each mirror as a sea of black, with a scarred and aged surface, and ultimately incapable of reciprocating our interest.

April Hickox is a lens-based artist, teacher and independent curator who lives on the Toronto Islands. Her work was been exhibited internationally and can be found in numerous Canadian collections. Hickox is currently associate professor of photography at the OCAD University in Toronto.

https://www.lensculture.com/search/projects?q=april+hickox

https://vimeo.com/aprilhickox

Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/aprilhickox

Simon Glass Installation at FENTSTER

Simon Glass, "Aleph," detail of Jeremiah: ha'aretz, 2016 “Aleph,” detail of Jeremiah: ha’aretz, 2016 © Simon Glass

Congratulations to Simon Glass on his installation, Jeremiah: ha’aretzat FENTSTER! This new work is from his series exploring the land through the lens of Biblical prophet, Jeremiah. Please join him for the opening reception where he will give an artist talk.

Where: FENTSTER @ Makom, 402 College Street, Toronto, ON M5T 1S8
When: May 25th – August 29th, 2017
Opening Reception: Wednesday, June 7th, 7 pm-9 pm, Artist Talk 7:30 pm

For more information, see the gallery website.

Meera Margaret Singh at Surrey Art Gallery

Lalbagh, 2015, video still (detail) © Meera Margaret Singh

Lalbagh, 2015, video still (detail) © Meera Margaret Singh

“Explore the boundary between theatre and real life in this three-channel video of India’s Lalbagh.”

Must-see video work from Meera Margaret Singh is on view now at Surrey Art Gallery. The exhibit is presented as part of the explorASIAN festival.

Where: Surrey Art Gallery, 13750 – 88 Avenue, Surrey, BC
When: Apr 22, 2017 – Feb 18, 2018

For more information, visit the City of Surrey website.

Miles Collyer Featured CONTACT Exhibition at Open Studio

Mike Brick, 2015 © Miles Collyer

Mike Brick, 2015 © Miles Collyer

Join Miles Collyer at his featured CONTACT exhibition, ‘The Inhabitants of Space’, on view soon at Open Studio. He will be showing work alongside Derek Coulombe, Erika DeFreitas, and Alexis Dirks.

When: May 13–June 10
Where: Open Studio, 401 Richmond Street West, Suite 104, Toronto, ON
Opening Reception: Friday, May 12, 6:30pm–8:30pm

For more information, visit the CONTACT website.

Meera Margaret Singh at Zalucky Contemporary

Bound, 2012 © Meera Margaret Singh

Bound, 2012 © Meera Margaret Singh

Kick off CONTACT Photography festival with Meera Margaret Singh at her featured exhibition, “Jardim”. Work on display at Zalucky Contemporary will be from her 2012 residency in Brazil. Don’t miss the artist talk for this!

Where: Zalucky Contemporary, 3044 Dundas Street West, Toronto, ON
When: May 6–June 3, 2017
Opening Reception: Saturday, May 6, 4pm–6pm
Artist Talk:  Saturday, May 27, 3 pm

For more information, visit the CONTACT website.

Phoenix, 2012 © Meera Margaret Singh

Phoenix, 2012 © Meera Margaret Singh

Gateway, 2012 © Meera Margaret Singh

Gateway, 2012 © Meera Margaret Singh

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!

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.

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