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Celebrating Black History Month with exhibitions and initiatives

Cover: Ancestrales by Sophia Reyes.

Cover: Ancestrales by Sophia Reyes.

This year, OCAD University acknowledges the achievements and contributions of Black Canadians with exhibitions and initiatives during Black History Month.

“OCADU is committed to recognizing and celebrating African, Black and Caribbean artists and designers for Black History Month in 2023,” says Dr. Kathy Moscou, Associate Dean Academic Affairs, Faculty of Design.

“Black artists and designers have and continue to make significant contributions to the shaping and advancement of sustainable practices, inform social change, motivate innovations, and contemporary aesthetics.  OCADU is pleased to be a creative hub for African, Black, and Caribbean artists and the contributions they make to Canada and the world.”

Check out these exhibitions, initiatives and events all month long!

2023 Yonge-Dundas Square Black History Month Digital Exhibition

The OCAD U RBC Centre for Emerging Artists & Designers (CEAD) has partnered with Yonge-Dundas Square to showcase work from Pixel Heller (Life Studies, 2024), Sofia Reyes (Illustration, 2022) and Steve Williams Jnr (Graphic Design, 2024), as the artists of the Yonge-Dundas Square Black History Month Digital Exhibition.

Heller, Reyes and Williams Jnr’s work will be on exhibition on Yonge-Dundas Square’s five digital screens for the duration of Black History Month, from February 1 to 28, 2023.

Please note that exhibition will be temporarily paused from February 16 to 20 to accommodate a Yonge and Dundas event.

Learn more about the artists, and the Yonge-Dundas Square Black History Month Digital Exhibition

ALMEDA: Up to the Sky Exhibition 

Up to the Sky was on exhibition from February 1 to 10 in the Great Hall, 100 McCaul St., second floor.

This exhibition featured artwork from the perspective/experiences of the Black student body at OCAD U. With strong influence from the “Black is Beautiful” movement of the 80s; ALMEDA’s exhibition focused on the beauty of individual truths. Our truth is what we say to ourselves when our social mask is off. How does the world perceive our physical attributes such as hair, culture and how do we internalize those experiences?  

ALMEDA is a collective at OCAD U for Black students to engage and connect with each other about artistic ideas and opportunities, learn from one another and foster a sense of community.

Friday Creative Writing Program Presents a Black Celebration Student Reading

Produced by the OCAD U Creative Writing program, members of the Black student body will recite works in various literary genres on Friday, February 17, 2023 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. in the Library Learning Zone (LLZ) at 113 McCaul Street. 

The event highlights the literary works of the students and encourages the writer’s craft. The event illustrates the desire and passion for reading and writing within the student population. If you are a student and identify as Black, you are encouraged to come to the event and sign up to read.


Check out Dis/Mantle at the Spadina Museum, on from August 2022 to May 28, 2023, this month, led by portrait artist and OCAD U alum Gordon Shadrach. The art exhibit is inspired by the efforts of Black abolitionists, reimagines Spadina Museum using an Afrofuturism narrative: where freedom-seeker Louisa Pipkin is now the homeowner and the house is a safe haven for those seeking freedom through the Underground Railroad.

Dreams in Vantablack

Every day, throughout the month of February, Dreams In Vantablack will be featured on the digital screens in Yonge-Dundas Square (9 a.m., noon, 3 p.m., 6 p.m. and 9 p.m.). This animated poetry series features the work of Black youth, revealing their truths through evocative poetry with rotoscope and 2D animation styles. The series was written and directed by OCAD U Lecturer Ian Keteku who was also co-producer with Sherien Barsoum.

Coffee Chats – Roya DelSol

On February 2, RBC CEAD hosted a Coffee Chat with Roya DelSol from 3 to 4 p.m. at 115 McCaul Sreet, Level 3. Roya is a Black filmmaker, photographer & independent curator based in Toronto. Working primarily as a lens-based artist, she aims for her work in all spheres to centre and uplift the experiences of Black, queer, and marginalized peoples.

Student Art in Campus Communications

Through an initiative of the Student Communications and Campus Community team, artwork from four Black students will be showcased in campus communications, including digital screens across campus, myOCADUnews student newsletter and OCAD U social media channels. 

The emerging artists to be featured are Osatohmwen Adeniyi, Pixel Heller, A.Y. Johnson and Jamilah Lambert-Jackson. They received an honorarium to create their works.

Are you aware of other Black History Month initiatives taking place on campus? Let us know, contact