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Criticism & Curatorial Practice (MFA)

Criticism & Curatorial Practice (MFA)

Offering graduate students an exceptional opportunity to explore and experiment with contemporary art, media and design through engagement with history, theory and criticism within curatorial practice.

There is Bread & Salt Between Us - MFA Exhibition Curated by Valentyna Onisko, MFA 2017



Hannah Hubicki

Karina Iskandarsjah
Karina Iskandarsjah is a visual artist and independent curator from Singapore and Indonesia. She holds a BFA from LASALLE College of Arts, Singapore and is currently pursuing her MFA in Criticism and Curatorial Practice at OCAD University. Her works explore the notion of collective memory within specific geographic areas through psychogeography while also delving into the erasure of non-dominant histories. Because of her own complicated history of migration, Karina’s artistic practice reveals a strong interest in the experience of displaced individuals, such as immigrants and refugees, as well as ideas of inclusion/exclusion in relation to citizenship. Her current curatorial research centres around the process of decolonizing art education through cross-cultural collaborations and online platforms.

Veronika Ivanova
Veronika Ivanova is a writer, emerging curator, and amateur art critic. She comes to OCADU from Portland, OR. For her undergraduate honors thesis, Ivanova investigated the ethical implications of transgressive abject art within the gallery setting (more specifically, the way disturbing emotional affect is frequently downplayed by art critics).
Coming from a philosophy discipline, Ivanova has written about the possibility of a contemporary sublime; about failure as a subject of investigation in recent art; the Artist's joke (humor as both subversive and liberating in art); “post-object-based” work; Beauty; and contemporary art engaged with the everyday. 

Most recently, Ivanova has been documenting artists’ responses to being curated and their reflections on the potential of acting curatorially. In her writing, Ivanova has been critical of the rise of the curator as the more influential force in the contemporary art world, instead striving to underline the role of artists in questioning and shaping the phenomenon of the exhibition. 

Julia Laweh-Bratkowski
As a gallery docent and an exhibition producer, Julia L. Bratkowski has been involved with art all her life. Areas of her specific interest include contemporary art as it intersects with religion, morality, and social issues.

Today Julia is a graduate student of Criticism and Curatorial Practices at OCAD University, as well as an emerging independent curator. She focuses her research on the development of effective exhibition-making practices that will lead to: 

1. Higher understanding between religious and secular contemporary art appreciators;
2. Encouragement of religious contemporary art commissioning, and the increase in the exposure of works of contemporary art produced by non-secular artists;
3. Satisfaction of a high popular demand for contemporary art productions that focus on the matters of spiritual growth within the context of an organized religion.

Prior to entering the graduate school at OCAD University, Julia obtained a Masters degree in Political Science from the University of Toronto. Julia is a graduate of the Goldsmith’s University ‘Curating the Contemporary’ course at the British School at Rome. Since 2011, Julia has been actively involved in Canadian art scene, through first working at a Toronto-based art gallery ‘HoM’, and later  by helping to facilitate and execute exhibition programs for a number of large-scale Canadian art events, including Luminato Festival.

In 2016, Julia has become a Teaching Assistant at OCAD University’s Department of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Diane Mikhael

Lida Shanehchivan
Graduated from York University Master of Design, Lida is a graphic artist, researcher and art director who has picked up a variety of practical, and hands-on experience in the world of visual communication.

Over the last decade, she has had multidisciplinary approach to design from advertising and conceptual design to creative strategy and research development. She has worked with institutions such as Learning Technologies at Ryerson University, BMO and CIBC.

Her interests lie in such areas as disintegrating the boundaries of the traditional design domain, applying user-centered approaches, and design thinking toward complex human problems such as gender issues and political censorship.

Lida has been working with Dr. Shahrzad Mojab in OISI University of Toronto on Women Political Prisoners project since 2010. She is working on visual representation of the political prisoners’ narratives and poems.

Currently, she studies Master of Criticism & Curatorial Practice (MFA) at OCAD University.

For more information about Lida’s work you can visit:

Christian Siroyt

Jesse Wardell

Jesse Wardell is a visual artist working primarily in print, sculpture, and installation, having receiving her BFA honours from Queen’s University. In both Ontario and Newfoundland, she has been involved with a variety of student and professionally run galleries in various positions, and is highly involved in programming, installation, and fundraising, largely running and organizing events aimed at sustaining artist and student-run groups and spaces.
Wardell has exhibited at a variety of art spaces, including the Tett Centre for Creativity and Learning, the Union Gallery, and Modern Fuel Artist-Run Centre, in addition to taking part in residencies at Gravity Press Experimental Print Shop and St. Michael’s Print Shop.

Despite the overwhelming dominance of women within university-level visual arts programs, these numbers remain poorly reflected in the historical and professional realms. To Wardell, a female emerging artist and curator, she finds this pattern troubling and often discouraging to those like her attempting to make their mark within the visual arts field. And, in an ever evolving field, this push beyond the confines of gender seems ever more important. She hopes to examine traditional gendering of the arts and how this gendering is increasingly being explored and challenged by those it disproportionately affects.

Elizaveta Zhurkovskaya
Elizaveta Zhurkovskaya is an emerging, but enthusiastic and adventurous curator currently practicing curation and exhibition design at Jessica Gorlicky Designs in Toronto.

Having an honours Bachelor of Arts (Art History and Human Geography majors) from U of T and hands-on experience in several local art institutions has helped Elizaveta to create and showcase well thought-out exhibits to facilitate wider public engagement.

Being influenced by John Dewey's idea of the need to move from an emphasis on the material work of art to the development of experience, Elizaveta focuses on art as storytelling as one potential solution to alienating art culture and as a tool to connect people, artists, and experiences.

The face of Canada is changing: the traditional art audience is aging and not being replaced, while the new public is increasingly diverse and does not necessarily participate in the existing arts offered today. Elizaveta’s goal is to refresh contemporary art into an exciting experience that will delight and move a bigger art world.

First Year

Panya Clark Espinal

PANYA CLARK ESPINAL is a multi-media installation artist who investigates the mechanisms of cultural representation and their silent influence over our perceptions of the world. Through site-specific installations, exhibitions and public commissions, she brings renewed intimacy to the act of looking while raising questions about issues of authenticity, appropriation, reproduction, collection, and display.


Clark Espinal lives and works in Toronto, Canada. She graduated from the Ontario College of Art in 1988, receiving the Governor General’s Award for her work in Experimental Art and Sculpture Installation. Solo exhibitions include the Art Gallery of Ontario, the Canadian Embassy (Tokyo), the McMichael Canadian Art Collection, the National Gallery of Canada, Oakville Galleries, and the Southern Alberta Art Gallery. She has also exhibited in England, Italy, and Spain. As an active producer of public art commissions, she has created pieces for the Toronto Transit Commission, the City of Mississauga, Covenant House, and various community institutions in and around Toronto. Her work is included in private and public collections, including the National Gallery of Canada.


Erica Cristobal

Erica Cristobal is a researcher interested in exploring the role of the audience and
the relationships and experiences developed within space. She graduated from
Ryerson University with a BFA in New Media and currently works as a Teaching
Assistant at the Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery and OCAD University's
Department of Liberal Arts and Sciences and School of Interdisciplinary Studies. For
her undergraduate thesis, Cristobal analyzed the participatory initiatives in
contemporary art studying the exchange between art institution, artwork, and
viewer. Her research continues to involve critiquing exhibition spaces, and the dialogue
around contemporary art and its various forms of audience engagement. Cristobal
hopes to develop a curatorial and critical practice that gives volume to her research
interests and passions at OCAD U.

Elizabeth Handley-Derry

Keiko Hart

Liz Ikiriko

Liz Ikiriko has been immersed in the media arts community in Toronto as a photo director/editor in print publishing, and as an independent curator. She is biracial Nigerian Canadian, born and raised in Regina, Saskatchewan.

She is currently the art director of the online arts media journal - The Ethnic Aisle. Liz recently curated Light Grows The Tree - a portrait series of over 50 Black visual artists in Toronto; exhibited at BAND gallery.

As an OCADU graduate student in the Criticism and Curatorial Practice program, her research is centred on migration, homelands and geographic histories for African and Diasporic artists.



2017-18 Criticism and Curatorial Practice Graduate Program Committee

Andrea Fatona (On Leave)
Johanna Householder
Jana Macalik
Gerald McMaster
Amish Morrell
Gabrielle Moser
Dot Tuer (Chair, Acting Graduate Program Director)