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GradEx 106: best place to see how OCAD U grads are finding solutions to real-world problems

Graphic of GradEx 106 annual graduate exhibition

It’s official! GradEx 106 is now open!

For the second consecutive year, Toronto’s largest free art and design exhibition is online, showcasing works by hundreds of Canada’s top emerging artists and designers who are impacting Ontario’s economic success in sectors such as health care, animation, technology and industrial design.

OCAD University graduates are using their skills, talent and creativity to find solutions to real-world problems. For example, COVID-19 has led to restrictions on festivals, leaving many people missing the opportunity to attend festivals and events in-person. That led Rahul Bagdai to develop a video game concept that emulates a festival celebration in an inclusive virtual manner. Called "Norta: The Game of Nine Nights," a video game based on the Hindu festival of Navratri.

COVID-19 has also seen people shift to working from home, leading to widespread complaints about sitting in uncomfortable chairs. So, Justine Orbovic designed Blockstol, a customizable chair for the home office that is comfortable, adjustable and allows for different sitting positions, enhancing productivity.

With ongoing lockdowns, it has been difficult for people to access gyms to exercise, so Calum Ralston designed a product that offers people an alternative – a versatile piece of equipment to exercise at home. TRÄNA, an ottoman/bench, is a design collaboration between IKEA and CAP Barbell.

“When you see the works by these emerging artists, designers and digital makers, you will be amazed by the depth and breadth of their creativity and imagination,” says Ana Serrano, OCAD U President and Vice-Chancellor. “GradEx 106 is really the best place to see how our graduates are putting their skills to use in practical ways to improve the lives of people within our communities.”

GradEx 106 also offers opportunities for people to discover new artists, buy art through the marketplace, find new creatives to hire and be inspired. Plus, later this spring, there will be a series of public projections and activations in the community.

From May 3 to 20, GradEx 106 artists and designers will be featured on the University’s 24/7 video channel, OCAD U LiVE in three ways: Meet the Artist/Designer, Student Work Series and Program Showcase Series.

The RBC Centre for Emerging Artists & Designers is holding three invitation-only virtual tours for industry professionals to find out more about recent grads and their work, and how the centre can support them in building their own creative workforce or collaborate with skilled talent.

Alumni Relations is hosting three events for alumni and students on May 12, 13 and 18, featuring Alumni of Influence Award recipients who will share how they have sustained their creative practice during these unprecedented times.

Visit the events web page as part of GradEx 106 to learn about more events associated with this exhibition.

Presenting sponsors

This year, OCAD U is pleased to welcome Hullmark back as a presenting sponsor. A long-time supporter of OCAD U signature events, the company has been a GradEx presenting sponsor since 2019. More recently, in partnership with the Entertainment District BIA, outdoor poster exhibitions were installed at key partner venues to showcase work featured in GradEx 105, including a Hullmark owned-site located at 950 Queen Street West.

OCAD U is pleased to welcome BentallGreenOak this year as a new GradEx presenting sponsor.  

2021 OCAD University Medal Winners

OCAD U Medal Winners are awarded to exceptional students who have gone above and beyond expectations to complete their degrees and have demonstrated significant academic achievements. 

Undergraduate Programs

Advertising: Sydney Gittens
Criticism & Curatorial Practice: Ada Bierling
Cross-Disciplinary Art: Life Studies: Liankun Sun
Digital Futures: Brian Nguyen
Drawing & Painting: Kathryn Greenwood
Environmental Design: Hala Al Hadeethi
Graphic Design: Kyle Miron
Illustration: Sid Sharp
Industrial Design: Shabad Singh
Integrated Media: Jeremy Saya
Material Art & Design: Melody Juthamongkol
Photography: Kinzi Dempsey
Printmaking & Publications: Helen Tran
Sculpture/Installation: Kristi Chen
Visual & Critical Studies: Kathy Wang
Contemporary Art, Design & New Media Art: Victoria Milne

Graduate Programs

Criticism & Curatorial Practice: Marilyn Adlington
Design for Health: Christina Dery
Digital Futures: Arshia Sobhan Sarbandi
Inclusive Design: Josie Gray
Interdisciplinary Master’s in Art, Media & Design: Sara Mozafari-Lorestani
Strategic Foresight & Innovation: Ireena Haque