2015 Recipients

Distinguished Alumni Award

OCAD University, Alumni, Donna Cummings

Donna Cummings (AOCA, Interior Design, 1967)

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A leader in the field of interior design, Donna (Tindall) Cummings co-founded and led, as CEO, Marshall Cummings and Associates (MCA), one of the pioneering interior design firms in North America and the world. Cummings has consistently combined creative and innovative design, business strategy and mentorship throughout her accomplished career.

For Cummings, an interior design education at OCA (as it was known) in the late 1960s was the background for a career in design. After graduation, she worked in corporate design with Sloan Branton, the first stand-alone interior design firm in Canada, and then on her own. This experience prepared her for the development of MCA with Marian Marshall in 1975.

Cummings has always strived to design environments that support creative thinking. MCA was one of the first interior design companies to provide complete design and project management services; the company worked with industry leaders such as Toronto Stock Exchange, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), Irving Oil Ltd. and McDonald’s Restaurant of Canada, as well as clients at the Canary Wharf district in London, among many others. MCA approached projects in highly innovative ways, combining the business plans of the client with progressive design solutions. The company has won numerous awards, and Cummings and Marshall are both recipients of the Association of Registered Interior Designers of Ontario (ARIDO) Fellowship Award for their significant contributions to the industry.

Cummings is also a great mentor to many designers. MCA’s first employee was third-year then-OCA student Dean Matsumoto, who worked with the company for more than two decades. MCA also developed extensive training and educational programs at its offices in Toronto, Calgary, New York and London, as well as the internship program from OCA and other design schools. Additionally, Cummings served on the board for the development of the Sharp Centre for Design and supported many charitable initiatives.

After negotiating the sale of MCA in 2006 to IBI Group, Cummings has, when not golfing, again used her OCA and design experiences in her pursuits as an artist. Today, aside from her continuous mentorship in the industry, she finds passion in painting. As a painter, she has been involved in numerous design and art shows and events. Painting involves learning, researching, problem solving, and practice, all of which root back to OCAD U and her education here.

Distinguished Educator Award

OCAD University, Alumni, Allan Ryan

Dr. Allan J. Ryan (AOCA, Advertising Design, 1967)

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Dr. Allan J. Ryan is one of North America’s foremost interpreters of contemporary Aboriginal art whose achievements go well beyond conventional scholarship and teaching.

A 1967 graduate of OCA (as it was then known) in Advertising Design, Ryan taught liberal arts courses at the institution during the 1980s and is currently an associate professor at Carleton University in Ottawa, where he was appointed New Sun Chair in 2001, the first university chair in Canada devoted to Aboriginal art and culture.

Ryan is focused on promoting indigenous pedagogy and fostering understanding across cultural communities through art. He teaches both undergraduate and graduate courses in the School of Canadian Studies, and the Department of Art History in the School for Studies in Art and Culture. Since 2002, he has organized the annual New Sun Conference on Aboriginal Arts, which provides a forum for contemporary First Nations, Métis, and Inuit artists, across a broad spectrum of the creative arts.

Among Ryan’s numerous publications is The Trickster Shift: Humour and Irony in Contemporary Native Art, which won an American Book Award in 2000 for its contribution to multicultural literature. In 2005, Ryan co-curated the exhibition "About Face: Self-Portraits by Native American, First Nations and Inuit Artists" at the Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian in Santa Fe, New Mexico. It remains to this day the only full-scale exhibition of Indigenous self-portraits mounted anywhere.

In collaboration with the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, Ryan developed and wrote the Viewer’s Guide for Visual Voices: A Festival of Canadian Aboriginal Film and Video, a set of 13 NFB films made by Canadian Aboriginal filmmakers. Subsequently, he lectured on Canadian Aboriginal art and cinema in China and Brazil.

Ryan has also worked as a graphic designer, television satirist, singer-songwriter and recording artist. In academia, he says, such an eclectic mix is called “interdisciplinarity.”

Worldbuilder Award

OCAD University, alumni, Christine Germano

Christine Germano (AOCA, Photography/Sculpture, 1994)

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Christine Germano is the founder and director of the Constant Arts Society and the Artistic Director of the Portraits of Resilience project coordinated by Many Strong Voices (GRID Arendal). Germano has collaborated with Indigenous communities since 2000 but is best known for her photojournalism projects that focuses on the voices and images of young people whose futures are influenced by social and environmental issues. The project encourages youth to use photography as a means to express themselves and their community, build self-confidence, and empower themselves to be global citizens and mentors.

Germano is a 1994 graduate of OCA (as it was then known), where she spent her third year abroad as part of the university's Florence Off-Campus Studies program. Her work has been published in varies publications including two large collections for the Canadian Government. Germano is represented by the Lonsdale Gallery and has exhibited in galleries internationally, including the Canadian Consulate in Rome, the Canadian Museum of Civilization, Minzu University of China in Beijing, and the National Museum of Denmark. She is also a recipient of the John Hobday Awards in Arts Management through the Canada Council of the Arts.

In 2003, Christine created the photojournalism program Through Our Eyes®. First Nations youth developed their own images and text on what their community means to them. The project has been successfully carried out in 14 First Nations communities. In 2008, Germano adapted the Through Our Eyes® program into the international project “Portraits of Resilience”. This project illustrates in a direct and personal way the ethical dimension of climate change. The project has occurred in 12 countries (29 communities) and was launched at the National Museum of Denmark during the COP 15 in 2009 and has continued to exhibit internationally.

The Constant Arts Society has coordinated many First Nation projects including a traditional west coast canoe, two house posts and a collaborative dugout canoe with carvers from Fiji and Canada’s west coast. Recently, Haida weavers and a carver traveled to Suva, Fiji to collaborate in making a 14-foot mahogany totem pole and a 20-foot weaved canoe sail.

From January through March of 2015, Germano also toured across British Columbia and Alberta to perform in the play Maladjusted with Theatre for Living (Headlines Theatre), a theatre that collaborates with First Nations and multicultural communities to address diverse issues in the service of social change, conflict resolution and community healing and empowerment.

Trailblazer Award

OCAD University, alumni, Gracia Lam

Gracia Lam (BDes, Illustration, 2009)

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Gracia Lam is an award-winning illustrator who lives and works in Toronto. Lam graduated from the OCAD U Illustration program in 2009 with honours and an already-growing client list. Her unmistakable aesthetic has caught the eye of countless publications and illustration enthusiasts. With a long list of notable clients such as The New York Times, The New Yorker, RealSimple, J. Crew and Random House, Lam has covered immeasurable ground since her graduation and is still powering forward.

Lam has won international awards conferred by such luminaries as Communication Arts, 3x3 Magazine, American Illustration, Society of Illustrators, Art Director’s Club Young Guns and more. She has also been published in Behind Illustrations 2, a book that showcases the work of 40 illustrators from around the world with distinct styles and techniques.

Despite being in great demand and working on multiple weekly assignments, Lam still makes time to give back to OCAD U; she has been invited into core illustration classes to offer mentorship in the areas of client relations, business details, contracts, and process. She is known among students for her warmth and approachability.

Lam is also no stranger to pro-bono illustration. She has donated work to the Toronto Public Library Writer’s Ball in 2014, The Penfield Children’s Center and the South Asian Visual Arts Centre; between 2009 and 2012, she also donated editorial pieces to Shameless, a progressive magazine for teen girls.

Lam is currently working on a personal project: an illustrated book called Audrelane Park, which features a series of illustrations that synthesizes children's playground games with the games that adults play – narrated through the lens of a romantic relationship between two women. The story will be published in the summer of 2015.

Legacy Award

OCAD U, alumni, Doris McCarthy

Doris McCarthy (AOCA, Drawing & Painting, 1930)

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Doris McCarthy (1910-2010) is recognized today as one of the leading landscape painters in Canada. Her career, which yielded more than eight decades of prolific work, exploration and collaboration, helped shape Canadian art.

In 1926, McCarthy earned a scholarship to OCA (as it was then known), where she was mentored by several premier Canadian artists of the early 20th century, including Group of Seven members Arthur Lismer and J.E.H. MacDonald. She began exhibiting soon after graduation. Her extraordinary success as an artist who pursued her creative passion and gained great acclaim for her work is all the more exceptional given the pioneering role she played for female landscape artists. She made great headway on behalf of emerging female artists.

McCarthy was also an educator, teaching at Central Technical School in Toronto for 40 years. At the same time, she travelled the world, painting landscapes in a multitude of countries. This she continued to do even after her retirement from teaching, setting new standards for landscape painting throughout her lifetime.

Her achievements were abundant. McCarthy was president of the Ontario Society of Artists and the Canadian Society of Painters in Watercolour and was a member of the Royal Canadian Academy of Artists. Among numerous recognitions, McCarthy was a member of both the Order of Ontario and the Order of Canada. Her work has been shown in countless exhibitions and institutions, including The Gallery at Jasper Park Lodge in Alberta, Wynick/Tuck Gallery, The McMichael Canadian Art Collection in Ontario, the Art Gallery of Ontario and the National Gallery of Canada.

McCarthy travelled five continents to paint and explore, but it was Canada that figured most splendidly and most often in her work and affections. The work itself is striking, sublime, and deservedly lauded in Canadian art history. But it is also her approach—the constant pursuit of adventure, art, and learning — that remains an exemplar for artists today. Her work and her life were inspirational, and that legacy makes her an artist to celebrate.

2015 Awards Reception

Photos from the evening reception held at OCAD U in the Great Hall on May 2, 2015 now available at 2015 Awards Reception Gallery

2015 selection committee

Maggie Broda (AOCA, 1972), President, OCAD U Alumni Association (chair)

Rosemary Donegan, Associate Professor, Faculty of Liberal Arts and Science

Deanne Fisher, Associate Vice-President, Students

Rose Anne McCants, Executive Director, Development & Alumni Relations

Lenore Richards, Director, Strategic Foresight and Innovation, School of Graduate Studies

Stuart Werle (AOCA, 1971), Associate Professor, Faculty of Design  

From OCA to OCAD U: Our history

OCAD University was originally established in Toronto in 1876 by the Ontario Society of Artists, as the Ontario School of Art. From 1890 to 1910, it was known as the Central Ontario School of Art and Industrial Design. In 1912, it was incorporated as the Ontario College of Art (OCA), becoming the first school in Canada dedicated exclusively to the education of professional artists in fine and commercial art. In 1996, the name changed to the Ontario College of Art and Design (OCAD), marking the growth of design programs. In 2010, to reflect the institution’s new status as a university, which had been granted in 2002, the school became officially known as OCAD University (OCAD U).  Read more.