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Tag: ArtCrush (page 2 of 3)

Friday #ArtCrush: Hilary Riem

Friday #ArtCrush is a weekly blog series highlighting students in their final year at OCAD University. This Friday’s #ArtCrush is Hilary Riem, a fifth year photography student in thesis. 

In this series, Hilary and Morgan talk about the subjectivity of archiving, decontextualizing political imagery and influences of commercial practices on your conceptual art work.

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Who or what are your main photographic inspirations?

Because so much of my work is research and theory based, most of my inspiration comes from reading and researching the writings of thinkers.  Italian philosopher Giorgio Agamben is a huge inspiration for me, and his writings on gesture, particularly those from the chapter in his book Means Without End entitled Notes on Gesture has become the basis for my thesis work.  He talks about gesture’s immateriality, where nothing is being produced but rather supported, and the way in which images both support and destroy these notions by reproducing that which cannot be quantified, which i reference heavily within my work.  That being said, I have also been looking at the work of Sarah Cwynar, Walid Raad, and Josephine Pryde.

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Hilary Riem, Pointing Map, Inkjet print, 2017

 

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

For the last two years I have been focusing almost exclusively on gesture and body language, the social and communicative aspects of gesture, and how this plays out through means of mechanical reproduction like images and film.

How do you think using archival images in your art practice challenges or broadens notions of photography?

I think pulling from photographic archives can function in both ways, and challenging the subjectivity of the archive and the selective history it creates also creates a conversation around what photography looks like in a post modern condition, as well as what images mean within an image saturated society.

 

” I think especially in the political climate we exist within now its important to consider how incredibly poignant nonverbal forms of communication are.”

 

What body of work are you working on right now?

I am currently working on my thesis, which explores themes of gesture and body language, specifically pointing gestures and their political, social, and communicative functions in relation to notions of documentation, memory, and the photographic archive.   I’m really focusing on the political function of pointing, and it’s role in the development of perceptions of political identity, leadership, and nationalism.

I’m also currently collaborating with another artist on a project that explores ideas of borders, boundaries and other forms of obstructing views, and how that affects our understanding of space and the landscape.

 

In your thesis work, you reference the influence of these archival images in relation to their gesture and body language and how it claims power, leadership and insinuates nationalism. How do you attempt to decontextualize or bring attention to these images and their constructed histories? Additionally, why do you find these images and their context important to examine?

My current explorations employ conventions used in media publications, primarily halftone processes, to both decontextualize the images and reference the context in which they have been disseminated to the public.  By making reference to the actual context in which we consume these images while providing no textual information to contextualize them, the viewer is left to navigate what these gestures mean and the role they play in our understanding of national identity.  Conversations around politics generally focus on what is being said, and even within things like political debates little attention is paid to the ways in which political candidates or leaders body language and gestures are affecting the publics perception of leadership, and how that plays into the perceived competency of a political leader.  I think especially in the political climate we exist within now its important to consider how incredibly poignant nonverbal forms of communication are.

How closely has research been tied to your practice, and what do you think are the relationships between research and production for you?

Research is an integral part of my practice and always the beginning point for me when trying to work through ideas or questions I have about what I want the work to be about.  If I hit a roadblock when I begin production, or if I feel that the work isn’t saying what I want it to say, I always look back to my research or begin to research another aspect of the concept in order to answer whatever questions I may have about the work.

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Hilary Riem, Means and Ends 1, Inkjet print, 2017

 

You seem to work as a conceptual artist as well as a commercial/documentary photographer. What do you see as links between both of these streams and how do they inform your art practice?

My documentary work is often the jumping off point for my more concept based work, and a lot of times going out and observing and shooting helps me work through the unanswered questions that arise in the research phase of my conceptual work.  Conversely, I find that the concepts that I work with in my commercial work usually come from ideas I work with in my conceptual work, and become a way to produce these thoughts in a less nuanced and more aesthetic way.

You have worked with archival images in numerous projects and I am interested to know your thoughts on how the archive constructs what we see and don’t see as ‘history’ and how the archive constructs subjectivity. Do you see the ideas of the archive and archiving as a practice relate to your practice or your current body of work?

I’m fascinated by the question of what constitutes an archive.  Institutional archival practices began as a completely objective way to preserve records, and historically relevant information in order to look back and be able to understand that period of time.   Of course because of the inordinate amount of time and resources it took to build and maintain these archives, information that seemed irrelevant or unimportant to the archivist slipped through the cracks, and this subjectivity is where archives became more of a constructed or idealized depiction of the history it preserves.

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Hilary Riem, Pointing Map, Inkjet print, 2017

 

Is there anyone who you would like to work with in the future?

I never think too much about working with anyone particular, and my practice tends to be very solitary and introspective.   That being said, I would love to get into doing archiving and preservation work within a specific archive, because I think that understanding the technical aspects of archival work would help me gain better insight to the functions of these archives and their role in relation to ideas of collective memory.

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

Gabi Moser’s photo theory class which I took in third year was where I began to become interested in photographic archives, and was where I really began to think critically about what photography makes visible and invisible.

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

Use the incredible amount of resources available here, and explore as many mediums and processes as you can, especially those outside of photography.  Once you graduate it will be infinitely harder to gain access to these things so take advantage of it while you can!

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To see more of Hilary’s work visit her website and instagram.

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

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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 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.

Friday #ArtCrush: Caleigh Clements

Friday #ArtCrush is a weekly blog series highlighting students in their final year at OCAD University. This Friday’s #ArtCrush is Caleigh Clements, a fourth year photography student in thesis. 

In this series, Caleigh and Morgan talk about the intersections of art and activism, works that speak to our own individual pain and trauma and bringing people together through art.

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Who or what are your main art inspirations?
I find I am often inspired to make work from things outside of looking at visual art. I was not introduced to photography as anything beyond a hobby until I was 18, but I always was creating photographs and reading/writing. I find inspiration from poetry, non-fiction books and life experience.

What subject matter do you tend to spend the most time working on?
I seem to be drawn quite often to subject matter that is personal but can be explored through a more political or historical context. Issues like gender inequality seem to be natural for me to work on as it is something I personally experience, but I find it easier to take a step back and evaluate the ways it affects society and where this comes from.   

What drives you to work with that subject matter?
I spent a lot of my childhood in some situations where I could have used an advocate. I found it very hard to speak for myself, so creating this work allows me to advocate for others while also working through issues that affect me.

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“I find it impossible to make work that isn’t in response to a much larger context of injustice. It is my natural response.”

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Having a Photography major and Art and Social Change minor, what do you see as the artists’ responsibility in reflecting the current social and political environment in which they live?
Art is a medium that is so easily accessible as a means of transmitting information and experience. Artists often are observant and draw from their experiences. I find it difficult to connect to work that overlooks the current political and social environment and I think it is absolutely essential in 2018 to make art that brings people together, distributes useful information or critiques our current situations.

Looking at the different works that you have done, how do you think your artistic practice has changed over time?
My work is becoming more and more personal. I slowly realized the importance in utilizing my unique and diverse life experience and the ways that sharing it could bring people together. I think I had underestimated the power of personal storytelling and the public’s interest in listening.

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Caleigh Clements, Blood, digital inkjet print, 2017

What do you believe the value is in having art that is accessible and distributable (such as your Health Journal) or art as performance and social justice acts (such as your Hospital Intervention)? At what point does art become activism or activism become art? 
My work has always been intended to bring people together. The aspect of community, shared experience and the distribution of information have always been important parts of my work. I’ve always struggled to find the balance between creating art that has aesthetic value and art that is useful and distributes information or experiences that I think others could benefit from. The definition of art and the definition of activism are virtually the same if you make a list. I find it impossible to make work that isn’t in response to a much larger context of injustice. It is my natural response.

What body of work are you working on right now?
I am continuing to work on my thesis and finalizing my health journal. I hope to have a book launch for a second larger version of the work in the summer.

What has been your biggest learning experience in working on this project especially as it shares your intimate experiences with your health and Canadian health care?
My biggest learning experience and what shocked me the most with working with these women is the value of shared experience. People who experience trauma and hardship are so often isolated because of the shame and fear attached to going through something. This leads to greater issues that I have learned are not worth staying silent for. Sharing information, experience and observations about what we go through can be the greatest device for reconciliation.

Where do you foresee your career path going? Is there anyone who you would like to work with in the future?
I wish to leave my future open. My only goals are to find myself in a career where I can turn research, conversation and experience into art that is useful and bring communities together along the way.

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Caleigh Clements, Hair Growth, digital inkjet print, 2017

Are their any specific OCAD U Faculty who have influenced your work? A specific discipline or course?
Min Sook Lee is the biggest influence on the way my work was shaped. She was the first faculty that showed me art I could recognize as useful and important to my experiences as a political and social being. Her “Art and Social Change” courses pushed me to ask more questions, do more research and go into the world and talk to people.

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

My one piece of advice it to take anything that drives you, whether it is something that makes you angry, sad or embarrassed and investigate that feeling, find its power and make art about it.

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To see more of Caleighs work visit her website.

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 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.

Friday #ArtCrush: Naaz Niazi

Friday #ArtCrush is a weekly blog series highlighting students in their final year at OCAD University. This Friday’s #ArtCrush is Naaz Niazi, a fifth year photography student in thesis. 

In this series, Naaz and Morgan talk about collage as a form of image making, working as an Iranian within the Canadian context and exploring multiple identities through photography.

 

 

Who or what are your artistic inspirations?

My inspiration come from anything that makes me pause and think further about art. For example, references to  the everlasting masterpieces of architecture sites in Iran, Persian Miniature paintings, Persian textile and Persian geometric pattern have been an inspiration for me to create an art with new meaning.

I’ve recently discovered a selection of amazing art through Instagram pages such as art_psycho , love.watts, artbasel and collage_expo introduce contemporary artists and instantly update me in the world of art.

 

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

I’ve always been drawn to subject matters such as visual narrative and constructed scenery, paradoxes of culture,  magic realism and surrealism in photography. My approach to photography is explored through self-representation and performance while exploring the space between the real and unreal.

 

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Transposed 1, Digital Collage, 2017

 

What drives you to work with that subject matter?

As an Iranian-Canadian artist the ambition to share a true expressive work in themes of cultural identity was always an element of interest. My aim was to combine the traditional identity versus the modern identity and the notions of the self as an Iranian in society. I am also interested that through juxtaposition, I can offer a relationship between objects, subjects, locations and their new environment while provoking the viewer’s imagination and bringing memory to a constructed reality.

 

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

I’ve been drawn to create a painterly aesthetic to my photography and lithography has given me the ability to create a  texture similar to a painting. I have also worked within matte medium transfer on vellum which creates a delicate see through piece that works well with light and installation. These mediums take photography out of its 2- dimensionality and create a closer relationship between the artist and their work.

 

In Transposed (your thesis work), you have been dealing with themes as a transnational artist and straddling different identities living in Canada and being Iranian. What is your experience working as a transnational artist and how do you bring this into your work?

As an Iranian artist I dealt with duality of culture, identity, memory and nostalgia, Iwas hoping to produce a work that shares a true expression of this experience while using assemblage, juxtaposition, and manipulation to create a visual narrative that provides an open-end format to the viewer and brings a sense of experience to the audience.

 

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Transposed 2, Digital Collage, 2017

 

Working within collaging, how do you decide what different materials and images to bring into making a single image?

In my imagery I mostly use pictures I shot previously  . I believe that each image had a purpose when it was  shot , so i’m constantly looking through new and old images while developing a concept .I also look for symbolism and iconic images within the Persian culture.

 

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

I am so glad that throughout my years at ocad vie experienced a  combination of mediums  . I was always interested to explore art through different mediums and am glad that I  took such multi-disciplinary  courses in painting , printmaking , digital art and video .

 

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Transposed 3, Digital Collage, 2017

 

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

I am going to continue making my art and am hoping to collaborate with more local artists and be a part of the artist community in Toronto .

 

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

I’m so thrilled to be working with so many amazing people through my journey at OCAD . Nicholas Pye have been supporting my ideas and art for the past three years .I  was lucky enough to be mentored by  April Hichox and Nick Pye in my thesis year.

Throughout my liberal courses Mark Dickinson and Gabby Moser affected me  expanding my knowledge in a critical way and their passion in teaching and learning .

 

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Untitled, Digital Collage, 2017

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To see more of Naaz’s work visit her instagram.

See Naaz’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: 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: 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: 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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)

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

and instagram: @sheanacanthan

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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.

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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.
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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.
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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.

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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

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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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