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Celebrating Black History Month during tumultuous times

Poster design by Whak & Mo
Poster design by Whak & Mo.

This year’s Black History Month may come at a turbulent time, but OCAD U is primed to offer a month-long program of events to acknowledge the achievements and contributions of Black Canadians.

“With the events following the murder of George Floyd and the disproportionate effects of COVID-19 on Black communities, it felt especially important this year that we, as a community, focus on Black wellness, joy, and emancipation,” says Dr. Dori Tunstall, Dean, Faculty of Design, OCAD University. “The New Vanguard, the program organized by OCAD U’s Black Caucus and led by the Blxck Student Association, is our recognition and celebration of Black lived experiences.”

The OCAD U Blxck Student Association has chosen the theme, The New Vanguard, to showcase new developments in the Black creative community. OCAD U has a legacy of Black student-run initiatives that have impacted the Black creative community, and this year is no exception. With the goal of creating and maintaining the progressive Blxck/Afro-Canadian art and design spaces in our communities, this year’s program includes a wide array of events: artist spotlights, musical programs, wellness sessions, film screenings and discussions.

Student organized events include the panel discussion, The Role of Black Joy in Imagining Black Futures with Black creatives Theo Gibson, Sharine Taylor, Isabel Okoro, Kern Carter, and Rob Elsworthy on February 18 from 5 to 6:30 p.m. on OCAD U Live.

As part of OCAD U’s Black Art Sessions, the RBC Centre for Emerging Artists & Designers (CEAD) will feature a session with writer and curator Ebony L. Haynes on February 10 at 12 p.m. The event is open to Black art students at OCAD U. Haynes graduated from OCAD University with an MFA in Criticism and Curatorial Practice in 2011 and is currently director of the Manhattan Zwirner Gallery, expected to open this spring with an all-Black staff.

As part of her In Respectful Conversation with Dean Dori series, powered by Instagram and its parent company Facebook, Dean Dori will host Forest Young, Global Chief Creative Officer for Wolff Olins on February 10 from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. streamed on Instagram Live at @ocadu_design.

Additional events include a Black Lives Matter Reading Group event with Dr. Camille Isaacs on February 12 at 12 p.m. The discussion is based on Toronto journalist, author and activist Desmond Cole’s 2020 bestselling book, The Skin We’re In: A Year of Black Resistance and Power.

All events are listed on the Black OCAD U website, a site dedicated to creatively teach, promote, and engage Black communities within and outside of OCAD University.