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Exhibition foregrounds Indigenous research methods

A collection of 3D printed objects in white on a black background.

Image: 生井 (living wells) (2022) by Tiffany Hon, 3D printed objects on view until July 30, 2022 at the TD Gallery at the Toronto Reference Library, as part of the exhibition Consulting with the Ether

Exhibition foregrounds Indigenous research methods

On Saturday, May 7 the exhibition, Consulting with the Ether opened at the Toronto Reference Library at 789 Yonge St. featuring works by OCAD University students enrolled in the fourth year Indigenous Visual Culture course, INVC 4904: Materials & Methods: Creation. 

Beadwork, rubbings, drawing, painting, installation and 3D printed vessels by undergraduate and graduate students April Anderson-Jaciw, Angelo Cavagnaro, Dehmin Cleland, Tiffany Hon, Alexis Nanibush Pamajewong, Laure Pinard, Roberta Pringle, Grace Point and Katie Pretti are on view, for free, at the TD Gallery at the library until July 30, 2022.  

“I am unbelievably proud of the students in INVC 4904. They have taken up this work, which is challenging and requires a lot of unlearning, with such generosity and brilliance and in such an ethical way,” notes Assistant Professor and Delaney Chair of the Indigenous Visual Culture program Susan Blight, who teaches the course.  

“I truly hope our OCAD U community makes the time to see the exhibition that they worked so hard on,” she continues. 

In the course that the exhibition is part of, students develop creative works with mentorship from faculty, their cohort and guest artists. Expanding on the practical, theoretical and technical skills gained in the Indigenous Visual Culture program at OCAD University, students are encouraged to work towards a physical articulation of their work in progress and contextualize it within a broader sphere of Indigenous creative practices. 

"This class encouraged me to reflect on myself and my identity as an Indigenous artist as I experimented with the creative process. I was able to receive a lot of feedback that helped inform my work and that I will definitely reinvest in my practice," notes Grace Point, who has three works in the exhibition.

"Professor Blight has helped develop my critical and creative thinking. I’m so lucky and appreciative of all of my amazing and strong Indigenous women professors who are helping to shape the artist I am becoming," she continues.

INVC 4904: Materials & Methods: Creation builds on INVC 4903: Materials & Methods: Research, which was offered in the fall and tasked students with searching through the Toronto Public Library's Special Collections to choose material to engage with. These materials ranged from rare books to maps to archival photographs. Employing Indigenous and decolonial research methods, the students worked towards presentations where they defined their own research methodology as well as what they learned from, not necessarily about, the material.  

The artworks in Consulting with the Ether have been created by students enrolled in the winter term, taking their research and making visual art in response to what they learned. The show contains both the objects the students created as well as the materials from the Special Collections that inspired them.  

Industrial Design student Tifanny Hon has three works in the exhibition including the digital projection descent, the paper work 刺 (thorn) and the 3D printed objects 生井 (living wells).  

Hon, whose parents immigrated from Hong Kong in the 1980s explains, “This collection of work draws on themes of negotiating body, identity, connection and the desire for control.”  

They continue, “I came into this course because of my complicated relationship with living on this land. I am grateful that through working with Professor Blight and my peers, I’ve been offered a place to learn how to live with good relations to people, places and things. This course was a chance for me to connect with my heritage and embrace diaspora.” 

In addition to Industrial Design, the students whose works are included in Consulting with the Ether are enrolled in undergraduate programs including Drawing and Painting, Indigenous Visual Culture, Industrial Design, and graduate programs including Contemporary Art, Design and New Media Art History. 

The exhibition is presented with support from Nicole Dawkins, Gallery and Exhibits Curator at Toronto Public Library and Glen Lowry, Executive Director and Advisor to the Provost at OCAD University.