OCAD U Photography Program

News about events, our community & opportunites

Category: General Posts (page 1 of 36)

November-December Residency Opportunity

Prefix and the Centre for Emerging Artists & Designers at OCADU are launching a 6-week Self-Directed Residency this Fall. The residency will take place at Prefix ICA between November 12th and December 21st, 2018. Below is a link to the opportunity description and submission requirements:

Avid Blogger Needed

I am looking for a student keen on adding items to this blog and keeping it active and informative. Over the past few years, Morgan has produced the Friday Art Crush, interviewing students about their work. Someone could follow in her footsteps.

As well, there are many events and opportunities which come along and can be posted here for everyone.

Let me know if you are interested.  Peter   psramek@ocadu.ca

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.

 

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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.

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Kevin Yue

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Kresen Thewani

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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.

 

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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

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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.

~

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.

Friday #ArtCrush: Syd Patterson

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

In this series Syd and Morgan discuss work ethic, portraits and vulnerability, and photographing your community.

Who or what are your main photographic inspirations?

Whatever I’m curious about, anything genuine that interests me I suppose… Photography seems to have given me a means to explore different aspects of life around me; everything that I’m into practicing creatively all seems to be related in one way or another.

 

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

People mostly. Generally I do portraits or document some kind of interaction with the body, sometimes I try to convey the intimacy of our connection to place and display the subtleties of body’s relationship to space and time.

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You work a lot with 35mm, what do you think are the values of working with 35mm analog vs digital?

It’s really just a preference I think but in the cases when I shoot 35mm I find that you have to be more precautious about what you shoot, or at least be more certain when you take a picture because you’re more aware of how many shots it limits you to.

 

What body of work are you working on right now?

A collection of zines I hope to have ready for GradEx alongside a series of select prints. Lately my work has been revolving around aspects of community and physical collaborative efforts like building something or being proud of where you’re from.

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Your portraits are vulnerable and convey the obvious trust these folks have with you. How do you develop this kind of trust with people you are photographing to make them comfortable?

I’m not much of a talker and I really appreciate being able to listen, visually photographs can say a lot of different things. I’ve come to learn that I’m happiest with the photographs I take that are the most genuine, whatever that means. I like to think that authenticity is something you can translate without words so I search for that in my subject matter and wait until I can seize an opportunity to capture a moment worthwhile.

 

What drew you to photographing skateboarders and skateboard culture?

The energy for sure. It takes a lot out of you but it also gives you a lot back. It’s very meticulous but also very gratifying.

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How do you think your art practice has evolved or changed over your years at OCAD?

Going to school taught me that I need to have a work ethic at what you want to be good at, so I suppose that I learned to keep practicing.

 

Does research have an influence in how you produce your work and your art process?

Lots of “field research”.

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How do you think the critique process in Directed Studio has helped the way you view your work and process?

Contextually it helped me understand where I want to go with photography, I view it as a labour of love more than anything else and critique allows you to hone in on your talents.

 

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

Don’t be afraid to fuck up, get back up when you fall down and keep trying until you get something right…then repeat that process again and again.

 

 

Check out Syd’s Instagram and his website, and view his work

at OCAD’s Graduate Exhibition from May 3rd – May 6th

~

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.

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