OCAD University

OCAD University announces its 2011 medal winning students

(Toronto — May 4, 2011) Thirteen OCAD University (OCAD U) graduates have been honoured with the University’s top accolade this week. Their art and design works address a wide variety of themes and issues, ranging from scientific exploration, discovery, alchemy and improving personal safety among women stricken by natural disaster, to non-linear forms of storytelling, ceremony and coming of age, along with new applications for passive building technologies.

“As medal recipients, these students are ambassadors for their respective programs and for the creative and intellectual power of the learning and research experience here,” said OCAD U President, Dr. Sara Diamond. “I invite the public to join us at OCAD University — this is our opportunity to give back to the community by opening our doors and sharing the tremendous talent, spirit of invention, innovation and imagination that has found a home at OCAD University. Come celebrate our medal winners and their cohort!”

This year’s medal winners will showcase their thesis works alongside more than 550 of their peers as part of The Show Off, the 96th annual Graduate Exhibition, which opens to the public on Thursday, May 5 at 6:30 p.m.

The 2011 medal winners are:

Faculty of Art:
Eileen Akitt (Integrated Media)
Georgia Dickie (Sculpture/Installation)
Aanchal Malhotra (Printmaking)
Rajni Perera (Drawing & Painting)
Anna Soper (Photography)
Farah Yusuf (Curatorial Practice)
Nathan Storring (Criticism)

Faculty of Design:
Thomas Briggs (Graphic Design)
Christopher Fischer (Environmental Design)
Bryan Howarth (Advertising)
Sean Lewis (Illustration)
Sungwook Park (Industrial Design)
Joanna Schleimer (Material Art & Design)

The Show Off, the 96th annual Graduate Exhibition, runs Thursday, May 5, to Sunday, May 8. Everyone is invited for Opening Night, Thursday, May 5, 6:30 to 10 p.m. For details, visit www.ocad.ca/gradex.

The 12 winners will receive their medals at OCAD University’s Spring Convocation Ceremony on Thursday, June 2, at Roy Thomson Hall.

Background Information: 2011 OCAD University Medal Winners

Faculty of Art:

Eileen Akitt (Integrated Media)
In her work, Eileen Akitt uses three independently operated kaleidoscope projectors to create a triptych that conversely suggests a traditional storytelling model, featuring a beginning, a middle, and an end, while at the same time suspending this kind of linear development. “All 26 letters of the English alphabet are split between the three kaleidoscopes,” explains Akitt. “In any moment, individual characters might be identifiable, while at other times they may be less distinguishable. The work shifts and evolves, continually in flux; linear progression is an impossibility.” The result is a momentary kind of depiction, implacable within the finite structures of narrative.

Georgia Dickie (Sculpture/Installation)
Georgia Dickie likens her studio methodology to Harper’s magazine’s “Findings” column, where long lists of unlikely, carefully ordered results from scientific experiments are strung together. Her sculptural works are curious assemblages of material, both fabricated and found, that when brought together become wholly new, almost alien objects. Paired with Dickie’s own written “findings” they become bizarre, intriguing artifacts as if from a parallel universe.

Aanchal Malhotra (Printmaking)
Combining digital photography with analog printmaking processes, such as intaglio printing, Aanchal Malhotra explores and recreates the complexities of the Parallax phenomenon in perceivable vision — a shift in perspective to create a new line of sight. “The occurrence of a Parallax gap, which constitutes a space between two or more perspectives that cannot be compromised to either one of them, fashions images as storytelling mechanisms that allow a viewer to blur the boundaries of various moments and create one clear depiction of an image,” says Malhotra. “The ephemeral fascinates, yet distorts the capability of objects to be rendered as absolute and definite, but in doing so, opens far and wide the possibility of discovery and perception.” Her resulting works capture a fleeting moment, a snapshot sketch of a window reflection, marking the transition through time.

Rajni Perera (Drawing & Painting)
Rajni Perera explores issues of hybridity, sacrilege, irreverence, the indexical sciences, ethnography, sexuality, popular culture, deities, monsters and dream worlds. Across all of these themes, Perera deconstructs the ethnic female body image, painting them as object-women. “These saccharine women conceal violent stories and ideologies; a complex dichotomy that is not explored, discussed or represented in print media, online or screen culture, particularly in Western imagery,” states Perera. “It is much the same for the ethnic female body image — the semiology is reduced, simplified and pared down to suit a blander ideological palette. I seek to open and reveal the dynamism of these icons, both scripturally existent as well as self-invented, and to create a subversive aesthetic to deal with these issues.”

Anna Soper (Photography)
In her series Terra Nova, Anna Soper explores landscape through richly imagined cosmic maps, tattered and ruined by apparent age and use. Titled after the ship used by explorer Robert Falcon Scott during his ill-fated 1910 to 1913 expedition to the South Pole, Terra Nova is a meditation on loss, displacement and failure. The project is also strongly influenced by 19th century photographic exploration images by photographer William Henry Fox Talbot and playwright August Strindberg. With references to the medieval science of alchemy, Terra Nova has a distinctly arcane sensibility; a characteristic enhanced by its obscure subject matter.

Farah Yusuf (Curatorial Practice)
For her thesis work, Farah Yusuf curated the exhibition Babel on Rosetta Stone, which featured works by Rob Bairos, Michelle Gay, Simon Glass, Nahed Mansour, Sam Pelletier, Norman White and Alize Zorlutuna. Babel on Rosetta Stone explored the borderlands between media using translation as a vehicle to expose the constructedness and incommensurability of meaning across systems of codes, whether literal, symbolic, performative, cultural, or executable. By reframing the problem of translation technologically, the exhibition highlighted the role of communication technologies in the emergence of a ‘global village.’ The artworks presented looked critically at communication systems and interrogated their media — speech, writing, or code — as they are deployed to reflect broader issues of individuality, diversity and universality.

Nathan Storring (Criticism)
As an artist, writer and curator, Nathan Storring is interested in highlighting the processes of history to “rescue images from the past that resonate in the present, setting them apart from the drone of everyday life.” His photography and video works examine the forces that baptize a new building into the cityscape. For his thesis essay, Storring explored the remnants of the Market Square Shopping Centre in Kitchener, Ontario, part of a utopian project in the 1970s to revitalize the downtown. “By making this historical event relevant to its contemporary audience, rather than documenting the downfall of this mall simply ‘how it happened,’ I intended to rescue this event both from the past and from the ever-growing profusion of uncritical information.”

Faculty of Design:

Thomas Briggs (Graphic Design)
Creating a story through visual language is a universal constant of design. However, this story is often left unexplored to its full narrative potential, says Thomas Briggs. He expands on the boundaries of graphic design, using cinematography, motion, sound and time to tell a complete story in the film No Masters. No Gods. Briggs asks: “Can design inform the film process in the creation of a project such as a narrative movie? How will design influence the visual, auditory and time-based elements of a story being told?”

Christopher Fischer (Environmental Design)
Christopher Fischer’s work explores passive energy systems in the built environment. His thesis project is a renovation concept for two buildings that formerly served as waterfront repair stations for cargo vessels, transforming the buildings into greenhouses for food production. The design features an aquaponic growing system with a lower story for tilapia fish farming and an upper story for strawberry cultivation. Using principles of infill design, thermal dynamic ventilation systems and a gravity-fed water filtration system, Fischer’s design aims to create an energy output that is greater than the energy used, establishing a constant energy surplus.

Bryan Howarth (Advertising)
Bryan Howarth tackles a lack of innovation in the realm of automotive advertising, where he identified an opportunity to create a campaign that showcases total ownership experience. His campaign develops an ongoing narrative that not only entices the consumer before the purchase, but also continues to engage the consumer after the sale through a variety of seamlessly integrated media. His concept for the Jeep brand also aims to widen the brand’s perception: Jeep vehicles not only excel off-road, but also offer on-road prowess.

Sean Lewis (Illustration)
Sean Lewis has created a series of works exploring the turning points in the lives of various infamous outlaws, such as Unabomber Ted Kaczynski, mobster John Torrio and Columbian drug lord Pablo Escobar. Each image dissects the reasons behind why these people abandon the rules of society, and carve their unlawful paths through life.

Sungwook Park (Industrial Design)
Already an award-winning product designer, Sungwook Park’s thesis project addresses the dangers of rape and gender-based violence faced by women and girls in Haiti — a problem dramatically worsened by the January 2010 earthquake that decimated the country. The sex-for-food problem, and attacks on women as they attempt to access male-controlled relief supply distribution centres, has been widely reported in the media. To address this, Sung wook has designed Ami, a small personal security device that can communicate information about where and when to get food and supplies directly from relief organizations. “In helping the women of Haiti protect themselves, Ami will build connections between relief organizations and women directly, help women build community and support among each other, and restore a sense of hope while aiding in Haiti’s recovery.

Joanna Schleimer (Material Art & Design)
Cloth has the ability to communicate feeling, memory and emotion. Joanna Schleimer’s Lessons on Leaving is a series of handwoven and embroidered pieces made to reference the domestic textiles once collected in a young woman’s trousseau. Schleimer’s imagery references tangible objects, including heirlooms and intangible experiences such as anecdotes, lessons and advice associated with a young woman’s coming of age. Her work draws attention to the current lack of ceremony when one leaves their childhood home. Through the process of hand-making and reflection, Schleimer’s work seeks to create a new ceremony that honours a young woman’s coming of age by re-contextualizing a traditional female practice.

About OCAD University (OCAD U)
OCAD University (www.ocad.ca) is Canada’s “University of the Imagination.” The University, founded in 1876, is dedicated to art and design education, practice and research and to knowledge and invention across a wide range of disciplines. OCAD University is building on its traditional, studio-based strengths, adding new approaches to learning that champion cross-disciplinary practice, collaboration and the integration of emerging technologies. In the Age of Imagination, OCAD University community members will be uniquely qualified to act as catalysts for the next advances in culture, technology and quality of life for all Canadians.

- 30 -

Download this release as a PDF file.

For more information contact:

Sarah Mulholland, Media & Communications Officer
416-977-6000 Ext. 327 (mobile Ext. 1327)

© OCAD University