SITE-SPECIFIC: Who are you? Tell us about yourself. What are the big questions your explore through your art-making?
DANIELLE NICOLE SMITH: I’m a Drawing and Painting undergrad student in my last year at OCAD U; last year, I completed Directed Studio and took part in Grad Ex. Before transferring programs, I did two years of Graphic Design.
My work tends to focus on topics deeply personal to me, topics such as mental health and disability, queer identity and sexuality, and rape culture. I aim to create work that speaks to my own experiences, but also may resonate with others. I use a variety of mixed media and my work tends to straddle the divisions between art, design, and craft.
My politics play a massive role in how I approach and work within my own art practice, as well as how I approach the greater art and design community. Critical reflection and engagement are key parts of this; understanding how my own privileges situate me within the greater communities I am a part of, and how I can navigate those spaces in a way that is safe and helpful to myself and others. Research is another huge part of my work, situating my lived experiences within a historical context and understanding of my topics- although this happens more behind the scenes.
HOW DO YOU PROTECT YOURSELF AT NIGHT with bat, 2012, image courtesy Danielle Nicole Smith
[image description: painting with bright pink background and black text reading “how do you protect yourself at night”, white hand holding a bedazzled, glittered baseball bat in foreground]
S: What is the SITE-SPECIFIC Guest Blog Series and why is it being launched?
S: SITE-SPECIFIC is a way to advance the dialogue around equity we’re having within the OCAD U community- curating it online, bringing together the perspectives of various community members via the Guest Blog Series, continuing the conversation through comments and interaction with the content presented. OCAD U, and the wider community, needs to be having an ongoing, serious discussion around art and design, education, social justice and equity, and we start that by assessing where our knowledge and understanding is at and making it accessible to everybody. Participation, generation, collaboration, critical thinking, reflection and action are all goals of the Guest Blog Series and SITE-SPECIFIC as a whole.
My job as a Student Monitor with the Diversity and Equity Initiatives Office is to help coordinate and oversee SITE-SPECIFIC- determine the monthly themes, reach out to potential Guest Bloggers, manage the online presence, and always critically examine our content in relation to our goals. My hope for this space is that it becomes both a valuable resource to the community- in that it brings knowledge to the table- but also, that it becomes a safe space to assess what we don’t know or understand yet, and how we might go about approaching potential solutions. I would love for it to become a place of engaging dialogue and thought-provoking ideas. As a student, I know this is a thing we could benefit from, and my hope is to leave at the end of this year knowing I’ve helped build a start to making space to have the conversations we deserve and owe to ourselves.