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Four OCAD U exhibitions you don’t want to miss

Artwork by Scott Do, OCAD U Industrial Design student
Artwork by Scott Do, OCAD U Industrial Design student

These days, showcasing the talent of OCAD U students comes in different forms – mostly online, but from January 22 to 31, 2021, an exhibition of second-year Industrial Design students will be displayed in the windows of CAMH along Queen Street West. Materials as Communication, part of this year’s Design TO, delves into the students’ COVID-19 experience. Plus, Micro/Macro, also part of Design TO, will showcase work by third-year Industrial Design students who explore the intricacies of designing for health in a pandemic, delving into the mental and physical human needs of a socially-distanced world.

And if you haven’t yet visited two outstanding online exhibitions, Sustainable Interventions and GradEx 105, now is the time. Check out these three exhibitions and explore the work of Canada’s best emerging creatives:

Materials as Communication

January 22 to 31, 2021, as part of Design TO

CAMH (window installation)

1051 Queen St. W., Toronto


Like many Canadians, a group of second-year Industrial Design students faced adversity during the COVID-19 pandemic. In March, 2020, when OCAD U’s physical facilities closed, uncertainty hung in the air. Some students had to return home on international flights and face a lonesome two-week quarantine away from family.

Others struggled with the idea of a socially distanced Fall semester. Countless were affected by the shooting of George Floyd and joined in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. This year at DesignTO, OCAD University and CAMH present an exhibition of works inspired by these events in the form of textile designs and deep, experiential writing.

“The end of March and the month of April felt like I was living in an underground fallout shelter, hiding from nuclear winter,” says Patrick Pepin about life in lockdown. “If I get the virus, how am I supposed to take care of myself alone?” wondered Samira Nassiri. “I want[ed] to let them know I’m on my way home,” is what Jennifer An recounts about her flight from Toronto to her hometown, Vancouver. These sentiments, and many more, are detailed in the exhibition.


January 22 to 31, 2021, as part of Design TO

How is context for design established in a world that can change overnight? Third-year OCAD U Industrial Design students, in a course being taught by OCAD U associate professor Angelika Seeschaaf-Veres, explore the intricacies of designing for health in a pandemic, delving into the mental and physical human needs of a socially-distanced world.

The digital exhibition/digital project features self-directed term projects with recontextualizations of health care prompted by the challenges faced during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic and informed by the nuances of the human experience at the individual level and the collective level.

Following the exhibition's opening, participating students will host an online panel discussion on January 23 to expand upon their process leading to the exhibited solutions, followed by reflections addressing concepts of flexibility, agility, inclusivity and design within the ever-changing “new normal”.

Sustainable Interventions

Online now, this group exhibition features upcycled artworks produced by OCAD U students and alumni of all disciplines.

Curated by Usman Abdullah, the exhibition was organized by OCAD University’s Drawing & Painting Program and the Office of Diversity, Equity & Sustainability Initiatives to provide an opportunity for emerging artists and designers from diverse practices to showcase their creative possibilities using reclaimed and found materials.

The upcycled artworks reflect a diverse range of creativity in interdisciplinary 2D and 3D including collage, paintings, soft goods, furniture, and sculpture installations. 

The exhibition is also an attempt to encourage sustainable consumer behaviour and to foster a re-use culture in our everyday lives to save our environment. 

The exhibition features artworks by Athena Nemeth, Ethan Platt, Joan Nuguid, Usman Abdullah, Sedi Aledavood, Anne Wallace, Yingchao Chen, Kaile Ward, Ryan Carney, Aleena Derohanian, Ysobel Balatbat, Bianca Jones, Blair Immink, Bhavana Jalali, Kimia Ghofrani, Adam Gourlay, Maryam Zaraimajin, Jennie Lau, Deanna Hood, Shiva Kheirabadi, Dilshad Kanji, Adrian Baduria, Julia Robson-Macgregor, Dalia El Toark, Ash Randall-Colalillo. 

GradEx 105

Online for the first time, art lovers can explore the work of hundreds of Canada’s best emerging creatives at GradEx 105, including the OCAD University Medal Winners for 2020! 

GradEx 105 has three new platforms: an online exhibition, videos on OCAD U LiVE, the University’s 24/7 video channel, and outdoor public activations/projections (scheduled to take place in March; stay tuned for more information on the details).

GradEx, Toronto’s largest free art and design exhibition, is normally a five-day in-person annual event in May, with thousands of guests. While 2020 presented its challenges, this year's exhibition still aims to provide its graduates with an opportunity to showcase their talents and connect them with potential employers and buyers. 

The online platform will include an opportunity for industry members to connect with artists and designers to recruit new talent for their own galleries and firms. 

And art lovers — it’s a great opportunity for you to discover new artists and designers to add to your collection! 

GradEx 105 runs through to spring 2021.