OCAD U Photography Program

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LAST WEEK TO SUBMIT FOR BEYOND BORDERS: A CONTACT EXHIBITION IN THE GREAT HALL!

A few more days to submit!
Please spread the word!
Beyond Borders is a curated exhibition of OCAD University student work from the Faculties of Art and Design. These moving and still images all defy or define boundaries, borders, margins, and edges. A lens inherently serves to create a border between artist and subject. Simultaneously, it provides a platform to describe and/or transcend and transgress physical, societal, political, personal, historical, cultural, racial, gendered constructions. While some choose to bridge borders, others may examine their defined edges. The still and moving images in this exhibition flirt with thresholds of the borders we so often struggle to define.
DEADLINE: APRIL 1, 2018
For more information and to submit:
beyondborders

International Collaboration Studio courses 2019-20

Applications to join the International Collaboration Studio courses for next year are now being accepted. Open to 300 and 400 level students in all programs, decisions will be made in time for the Fall/Winter Registration period. Please ask any questions you have and prepare your application early.

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Ryerson IMA Converge Lecture Series: Laura Letinsky

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CONVERGE LECTURE SERIES 2018/2019  

LAURA LETINSKY

IMA 307 | March 27 | 7-9pm | Free Admission
122 Bond St (School of Image Arts – Ryerson)
Driven by her interest in “control, accidents, and contrivance,” Laura Letinsky is best known for her exquisitely composed still life photographs, redolent with ambiguity. Keenly aware of the rich narrative possibilities inherent in still lifes and influenced by 17th-century Dutch still life painting, Letinsky crafts tabletop vignettes that suggest larger narratives, as she explains: “It’s this idea that the narrative has already occurred; the meal has been eaten, the cornucopia has been consumed, something has been consummated, and this is what’s left in the early morning light.” Letinsky holds a BFA from the University of Manitoba, 1986, and MFA from Yale University’s School of Art, 1991, and is now a Professor in the Department of Visual Art at the University of Chicago.
 
All lectures are open to the public, accessible to all bodies, welcoming to all faiths and backgrounds and a hundred percent free!
 
 
For questions or concerns please email convergelectures@gmail.com

Friday Art Crush: William (Matt) McCleery

Friday Art Crush is an interview series highlighting the work of Photography students in their thesis year at OCAD U. We grab a coffee and chat about what they have been exploring, and they share great advice for working on a year-long project. The series was created and led by Morgan Sears-Williams; this year, it has been taken over by Ana Luisa Bernárdez.

This week, Ana chatted with William (Matt) McCleery, a Photo major in his fourth year.

Tell me a little bit about what you’ve been exploring during your studies at OCAD, and how that eventually led you to your thesis project.

The work that I’ve been doing this year specifically is what I came to OCAD to produce, but never got the opportunity to do so. It wasn’t necessarily because of the curriculum, I just couldn’t fit what I wanted to do around assignment guidelines. I kind of lost what I wanted to really create throughout the past years, up until this one, when I really got to dive into it and refine it, and it’s been really liberating. Specifically, what I’m working on for my thesis project is a study and photo essay around the ideas behind environmental photography. When you look at the work of the most well known environmental photographers simply documents the issues without providing solutions, or showing real interactions within the environment. These are often large prints of drone photos or photos of catastrophes, which are presented in a way that makes the viewer feels small, as if they are helpless in the face of environmental issues.

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What are some differences between your work and the environmental photography that you’re trying to distance yourself from?

I think the most important aspect is bringing a sense of empowerment to the viewer, specifically through showing that people are actually doing something in the face of these issues. Whether it is me participating in the event, or me documenting the event. It is not this doomy and gloomy show of “the world is going to end, we’re the cause of it, there’s nothing to do about it”, but rather “the world might end, we are definitely the cause of it, but people are doing something so that maybe it won’t”. If you’re always presenting the negative, who’s to say that anyone is going to do anything; it makes it seem like the issue is too big for you, but it only takes one person to start.

Tell me a little bit about the evolution of your thesis since you started.

My thesis project has changed over the course of the year a lot of times. All the iterations fall under the same theme of environmental photography, but the exact issues that I have been photographing have been changing. My final for last semester, I ended up documenting a river off of Lake Ontario that goes through Hamilton; it specifically goes right past the Hamilton steel factories, and right next to the shore line is a bird reserve, oddly enough, next to this big source of pollution. While in Hamilton, I documented several bird houses that were built by the community, and also the factories in the background, showing the juxtaposition. I wanted to continue with that focus, and I my plan was to record my visits as I helped clean up the space, but the inclement weather didn’t really allow me to do that, unfortunately. So I decided to explore something else, which is what brought me to Polar Bear Provincial Park.

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Environmental issues are very broad and have numerous avenues from which they can be approached. Are you focusing on something specific in the areas that you are visiting?

Currently, I’m focusing specifically on logging. In my research I found that Canada’s #1 export is actually lumber, but the way Canada logs is better than most countries because it is selective logging, instead clear cutting. This allows for more growth in the woods and helps prevent forest fires, which can be catastrophic in a large scale. Within what I’m doing, I’m going to areas that have been logged, and areas that there’s a large population of people that interact with the environment and I document that. A lot of my work has been shot in Polar Bear Provincial Park, an old logging mill on the northern end of Georgian Bay, Jasper National Park, and also Algonquin, which besides of being one of Canada’s most visited parks, it is also one of the most logged. Because of the season, I haven’t been able to photograph the other end of the spectrum, which is tree planting, so that would be the final addition to the series. That way, I would able to present a problem, an interaction, and a solution, which is what I think is lacking a lot of the time in environmental photography. I think there is a lot of good that comes with the bad, it’s not just always negativity, there’s a lot more that should be done and shown, but there are a lot of steps that are taking place.

Right. I also think that one of the main issues with some of those environmental photographers is that, more often than not, their works are produced, bought, and hung in spaces that don’t provide any type of change, and that actually participate in the damages made to the environment. What are your strategies for considering this while producing your work?

This is exactly why I am doing this the way I am, in a practical sense. In the exhibition Anthropocene at the AGO, there was an image of a battery acid field, and I was looking at this and questioning what the environmental ramification of this was compared to that of chemical waste from film development. For my thesis, I am looking for ways to reduce my carbon footprint, all the cameras I shoot with are 100% mechanical, so no battery needed to shoot. Of course that does limit me to shooting in film, but in my research I found that the actual damage caused by battery acid is so much more harmful that any type of photographic chemical waste, as long as you’re using a silver recovery unit to take the silver out of the liquids. I still am producing waste, it is almost impossible not to, but my impact is greatly reduced simply because I’m not using batteries. Even rechargeable batteries will eventually die and end up in landfill.

What has been the biggest challenge that you have faced so far in the making of this project?

The biggest issue that I keep getting is the fact that working with photography and the environment, I feel like I am always far away from the “subject”, I’m not up close and personal; it’s been bouncing back and forth between a fine art thesis and a journalistic thesis. I think there is a line in shooting style, but I don’t think there is one in what the work is. My biggest issue is trying to find that mix between the two.

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How do you envision this project in its final form? Do you think you’re going to continue working on it after graduation?

I’m still working on scale for what I want to produce, but I imagine it will be a large number of rather smaller photographs hung on the wall. Still working out space and location. At this point and mostly focusing on producing work. And environmental issues will definitely always be an underlying theme in my work. I want to apply to grad school for my journalism degree in Ryerson, Carlton or Concordia.

What is a piece for advice that you would’ve liked to know before you started your thesis year?

Being prepared for it to change is a big one. I thought I had it hammered down in third year, but I’m not doing that at all anymore. It’s not a bad thing if it changes, and it’s also not a bad thing if you have two bodies of work between the two semesters. Doing research early, getting the work done, and having fun producing it. If you’re not having fun, reevaluate and adjust it if you have time. Breaking apart your ideas and taking the key factors that you want to talk about is important.

Who are some profs that positively impacted your work at OCAD?

Simon Glass, Kate Schneider, and Meera Margaret Singh.

 

Beyond Borders – CONTACT Photo Show – Call for Submissions

Beyond Borders is a curated exhibition of OCAD University student work from the Faculties of Art and Design. These moving and still images all defy or define boundaries, borders, margins, and edges. A lens inherently serves to create a border between artist and subject. Simultaneously, it provides a platform to describe and/or transcend and transgress physical, societal, political, personal, historical, cultural, racial, gendered constructions. While some choose to bridge borders, others may examine their defined edges. The still and moving images in this exhibition flirt with thresholds of the borders we so often struggle to define.
DEADLINE: APRIL 1, 2018
For more information and to submit:
beyondborders

Meera Margaret Singh
www.meeramargaretsingh.com

Friday Art Crush: Bidemi Oloyede

Friday Art Crush is an interview series highlighting the work of Photography students in their thesis year at OCAD U. We grab a coffee and chat about what they have been exploring, and they share great advice for working on a year-long project. The series was created and led by Morgan Sears-Williams; this year, it has been taken over by Ana Luisa Bernárdez.

This week, Ana chatted with Bidemi Oloyede, a Photo major in his fourth year.

What have you been exploring in your studies at OCAD?

I have explored a lot of things since my first year: sculpture, 3D, design, illustration, animation. I’ve tried pretty much everything, but since majoring in Photography, I’ve found more interest in the documentary aspect of it. I started to experimenting with film, and made the decision of working with it primarily because I appreciate the process of the medium. I have explored different forms of documentary, but I focused mostly on street photography and works reminiscent of old school reportage: candid, not staged, in-the-moment, all shot on traditional black and white film. I process and print everything in the darkroom most of the time. 

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Joanna

Has the focus on documentary photography continued in terms of your thesis project?

Recently, I have been doing a lot of research on the problem of race and racism, which for a long time I distanced myself from, because I didn’t want my work to be political. This led me into being very interested in the history of photography, and how it has played a huge role when it comes to representation, more specifically in the representation of black bodies. Historically, photography has been used as sort of a weapon against my race, and other minorities. My research focuses on the black race and how representation through photography has evolved, changed and impacted the black race in our society over the years. I’m exploring some of these methods, such as making tintypes, one of the first ways of making images from the eighteen fifties. Daguerreotypes (which are similar to Tintypes) were used at a point in time to photograph a lot of enslaved people in the area around Columbia, and aimed to diminish black bodies. The use of these images was to make blacks look inferior to any other race, so part of my thesis is using that method now to photograph contemporary black people, and giving them the power to represent themselves in the way that they want to be represented. I am using the medium to create a counter narrative around the associations with slavery that are usually made when one encounters forms of imagery like a tintype, of a black person.

I have seen you do solely street photography for a long time. I’m interested in this turn that your work took and how you got there.

I like challenges and, as opposed to doing something that I am very familiar with and have been exploring for a while, I decided I was going to go the opposite direction and explore something different. I still see it as documentary of some sort, but I was used to just taking the photographs on the street, without consent or anything, and then I took this complete U turn: having to ask and work with people to create these photographs that represent them, rather than just portraying a moment I saw or felt a connection to on the street. I wanted to get out of my box.

Sounds very interesting, how was your progress throughout last semester and how do you see the project evolving from there?

Last semester was the research aspect of the project. I was doing a lot of research on portraiture, because it is very new to me – investigated its power, and how it has impacted society in terms of representation of both power figures and regular folks. I looked a lot of the greats who worked primarily in portraiture: what they did, how they representedother people through their lens, and using that to inform myself of the basic workings of portraiture behind the lens. I am constantly figuring out my own methods of  working with the subject to come to represent them how they want to be. I started photographing people with a large format camera, and I also started to play around with making the actual tintypes (it’s definitely a never-ending learning process). Going forward, I’m looking at other forms of representation outside of the studio setting, and this semester I’m doing a lot of environmental portraits: photographing people within the context of their homes, and seeing how their space could inform their personalities, who they are, and how they want to be seen. I’m also trying to push the tintypes forward, because the project for me is not about mimicking history, but simply referencing it. I’m not going to dress people in victorian clothes or something, but rather represent them in a contemporary context – if they have hoodie on from school and an iPhone in their hands, I’ll include that in the tintype. Fashion plays a very big role in that as well.  That is one of the ways of defeating the associations of tintypes with historical narratives and slavery.

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Kelvin

Have you included yourself in this counter-narrative project through self-portraiture?

The self-portraits were very brief explorations, they’re not necessarily part of the thesis. The only way of starting to learn about portraiture was to start out with myself as the subject. The only “proper” photograph I have of myself is a tintype, and it’s an interesting feeling. One idea that I’m trying to to tackle with the tintypes is that of permanence – tintypes can outlast the subject themselves and most of the generations to come if preserved properly. Having this permanent rendition of oneself is something I feel we should all be striving for. A big part of the project is reinforcing current histories that are being made, as opposed to having something more malleable or easily erased. I’m striving for a more permanent record or archive of black people living in this time, and how they come to represent themselves in ways that they want to be represented. I think it is important.

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Self-portrait

How do you approach your shoots in a way that is collaborative and that allows your subjects to choose how they’ll be represented?

I’m a very structured person, as you know, but I try to leave that part out of it. I’m trying not to let myself and my internal dialogue influence how the representation is going to be. Usually when you photograph someone, especially they don’t know you, the first thing they say is “Okay, tell me what to do”. I try to avoid that. If I reach out to someone via social media and if they’re down to shoot together, I tell them to wear anything they want to, to just come and present themselves how they would want to be photographed. It’s different for everyone, some people come very casual, others in suits … however they want to be seen is what I work off of. If the shoot is in the studio, I try to start with regular conversations and getting everyone relaxed, trying not to make it a daunting thing where they would feel like they have to act. I do test shots, they enjoy seeing themselves on the plates, and we work off that to get photographs in which they feel most comfortable.

If you have one, what’s your vision for the project’s final form?

For now, the final form should come off to the viewers as this document of contemporary black representation. For the tintypes, I want to present perhaps a grid of all sorts of people: different skin tones, hair types, body types, genders, ages, sexual orientations – I want everyone. I want to have as much inclusivity as possible, because back in the day you wouldn’t see that. This is also a project that I would be continuing beyond thesis.

Sounds like you have been working very hard this year. What have been some difficulties in your process and what has helped in overcoming them?

Most of the difficulties, for me, have been working with people and their time. It’s hard to arrange times; sometimes things happen in life and people can’t show up to shoots… everyone has a job, a lot of people have kids. I’d suggest booking more people to shoot in a day, just in case of a flop. Also, trying to gain the trust of people to let me into their homes to photograph them. The other difficulty is the tintypes themselves: so many things could go wrong, and sometimes you don’t know what the cause of the problem is, but I’ve been learning a lot through my research. Then, there are the permits for doing tintypes in an institution, there are a lot of protocols to follow because of the risks involved with the process of making tintypes.

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Blake

What would be a piece of advise that you would’ve liked to know before you started thesis?

I felt thesis already suited my mode of working: I do a lot of research and experimentation, and I take a lot of risks. Those are some things people don’t usually consider outside of class. It helped knowing that I wanted to make a project for myself and my community, as opposed as doing something only for school or to impress professors, because this way you are able to push yourself, instead of waiting on a professor to prompt you to do so. I know where I want to push the project to and ,based on that, I move on and keep pushing it in that direction.

What are some profs that you recommend because they have had a positive impact in your studies?

Peter Sramek. Peter is the best, he has seen so much and been everywhere, and knows a lot about anything photography. I’d definitely recommend him for any class, but especially speaking to him outside of class can be beneficial in terms of feedback and sources to sort after. He is also good at actually listening to what you have to say and responds in accordance to that. Simon Glass as well gives amazing criticisms; depending on your topic, it might not be what you’re looking for or sorting after, but it is certainly constructive and very informative.

Louie Palu – Guest Lecture Feb 28 1:30 415

Please join us in Directed Studio for a visit from Louie Palu, OCAD Photo grad and Photojournalist – artist. Louie is a celebrated war correspondent and now working in the Arctic.

All are welcome.   louiepalu.com

Alumni Exhibiton: From The Ground Up

Recent alumni Aaron Jones is showing his amazing work as part of a group show! Go check it out before it closes on February 14th:

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