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Image caption: The 2021-22 recipients of distinguished research awards are Dr. Gerald McMaster, Dr. Alexis Morris and Professor Ilene Sova.
 

Three faculty members recognized for outstanding achievements in research

Three faculty members are being recognized for their innovative contributions to research with the presentation of awards that celebrate distinguished and early stage research activities at OCAD University.  

Dr. Gerald McMaster, Canada Research Chair (Tier I) of Indigenous Visual Culture and Curatorial Practice, is the 2021-22 recipient of the OCAD University Award for Distinguished Research, Scholarship and Creative Activity. 

This award recognizes faculty members for their outstanding portfolio of research, scholarship and creative activity, and the impact that this activity has had on the broad spectrum of art and design research and practice internationally. The award also recognizes contributions toward undergraduate and graduate research and scholarly training.  

This year, the OCAD University Award for Excellence in Early Stage Research, Scholarship and Creative Activity is being shared by Dr. Alexis Morris, assistant professor in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences and Ilene Sova, assistant professor in the Faculty of Art and Chair of the Ada Slaight Contemporary Drawing and Painting program. 

This award recognizes promising, recently appointed faculty members for their outstanding promise to be distinguished researchers, scholars, artists and designers within a university context. 
 

OCAD University Award for Distinguished Research, Scholarship and Creative Activity 

Dr. Gerald McMaster

Dr. Gerald McMaster is a curator, artist and Canada Research Chair (Tier I) of Indigenous Visual Culture and Curatorial Practice. He is also a professor in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences and director of the Wapatah: Centre for Indigenous Visual Knowledge at OCAD University.  

With more than 40 years of working internationally in contemporary art, critical theory, museology and Indigenous aesthetics, Dr. McMaster has worked at institutions that include the Art Gallery of Ontario, Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian and the Canadian Museum of Civilization.  

He was selected as the Canadian curator to the 1995 Venice Biennale and 2018 Venice Architecture Biennale. He served as the Canadian Commissioner to the 2010 Biennale of Sydney and the Artistic Director to the 18th Biennale of Sydney in 2012. His most recent book is entitled Iljuwas Bill Reid: Life & Work for Art Canada Institute (2020). Dr. McMaster is a nêhiyaw (Plains Cree) and a citizen of the Siksika Nation.  
 

OCAD University Award for Excellence in Early Stage Research, Scholarship and Creative Activity 

Dr. Alexis Morris

Dr. Alexis Morris is the Canada Research Chair (Tier II) in the Internet of Things and the director of the Adaptive Context Environments (ACE) Lab. His research transforms the way we interact with information, each other and the world by interweaving mixed reality and artificial intelligence.  

Dr. Morris is currently leading the talented ACE Lab team of OCAD U students, local researchers and collaborators in the design of mixed reality human-computer interfaces for the Internet of Things – one of the pillars of exponential change connecting our physical and informational worlds.  

An interdisciplinary computer scientist and a passionate techno-optimist, Dr. Morris hails from the Caribbean (Bahamas) and brings an eclectic international background and expertise in computer science to the OCAD University community. 
 

Ilene Sova

Professor Ilene Sova is the Ada Slaight Chair of Contemporary Drawing and Painting in the Faculty of Art at OCAD U. She identifies as mixed race, with white settler, Afro-Caribbean and Black Seminole ancestry. She is also an artist who lives with the disability of epilepsy.  
 
She passionately identifies with the tenets of intersectional feminism and has dedicated her creative career to art and activism. Sova is also the founder of the Feminist Art Collective and Blank Canvases, an in-school creative arts program for elementary school students.  

With extensive solo and group exhibitions in Canada and abroad, Professor Sova’s work has been most notably shown at the Museum of Canadian Contemporary Art, the Department of Canadian Heritage and Mutuo Centro de Arte in Barcelona.  

In her academic career, Professor Sova has trained educators on diversity and equity in the arts at the Art Gallery of Ontario and Harbourfront Centre. She also presented on decolonizing art curriculum with her colleague Nadia McLaren at Pratt University, the University of the Bahamas and the Association of Independent Colleges of Art and Design conference. In 2020, she was lauded in the national press for her development of a third-year studio cross-disciplinary course entitled COVID-19 Responsive Art. 

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The 2021-22 recipients of distinguished research awards are Dr. Gerald McMaster, Dr. Alexis Morris and Professor Ilene Sova.
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3 portraits of OCAD U faculty members from left to right, Dr. Gerald McMaster, Dr. Alexis Morris and Professor Ilene Sova.
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Still from Dreams in Vantablack, a 12-part mini-series directed by Faculty of Art & Science Instructor Ian Keteku, which will be previewed at the Toronto International Festival of Authors (TIFA) on September 22.  
 

OCAD U partners with Canada’s largest literary festival

On September 22, Canada’s largest literary festival will kick off at Toronto’s Harbourfront Centre. This year, the festival’s programming will be enriched by the voices of established and emerging writers from OCAD University’s Creative Writing program. 

Faculty and staff from OCAD U will join the thousands of authors the Toronto International Festival of Authors (TIFA) has welcomed to its stages since 1974, from more than 100 countries, including 22 Nobel Laureates and countless other award winners. The festival runs until October 2 in various indoor and outdoor spaces located at 235 Queens Quay West.

For over 40 years, TIFA has inspired and connected audiences through the art of stories, offering a breadth of bold and accessible literary experiences over the event’s 11 days, including keynote addresses, book launches, conferences, workshops, performances, special award celebrations, alongside artists’ talks, readings, interviews and discussions. 
 
“This is an exciting moment for our students as TIFA provides our emerging writers with the opportunity to showcase their talent and skills to the public while connecting with a diverse range of established authors in the Canadian and international literary community,” notes award-winning prose poet Catherine Black, who is the Chair of the Creative Writing program and an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Arts & Science at OCAD U.    

“As faculty, we are thrilled to see our students shine, bringing their words to life both on and off the page in what is a unique and dynamic festival environment,” Black continues. 

Through this year's official partnership with OCAD U TIFA will present a sneak peek screening of Dreams in Vantablack, a mini-series directed by Faculty of Arts & Science Instructor Ian Keteku that features 12 Black youth poets, including Creative Writing students. The series will be officially available to stream via CBC Gem on September 29. 

“By having our series highlighted at TIFA it introduces lovers of literature to a batch of new, exciting and profound voices. It makes a statement that these young writers of colour need to be included within the cannon of Canadian poetry,” notes Keteku. 

Additionally, throughout the festival there will be a holographic display of student writers performing their works in an installation titled Poetic Projections. Visitors can also pick up an original piece of writing as part of a fundraiser for Pulse, Creative Writing’s annual print and digital journal that showcases the dynamic performance and text-based works that emerge from the program.  

These partnered events will offer professional development and experiential learning opportunities for current students as well as the occasion for audiences to connect with the University's community of talented creative writers. 
 
“TIFA celebrates everything good about writers and what they do for our culture. It allows Canadian literature to stand beside some of the most vital and interesting work from across the globe,” notes Juno-award winning Professor Lillian Allen, who was a driving force behind the creation of the program. 

“I am particularly excited about its bold steps to get in front of the curve to support what's bubbling up within communities in writing culture. We are in for an expanding world of possibilities as language is being pushed in all directions,” Allen continues. 

Established in 2018, Creative Writing at OCAD U is a hands-on, studio-based, undergraduate program that uniquely supports students’ development of their literary voices in the context of an art and design education. It cultivates real-world experiences for students and their work, to engage and enrich a literary ecology on and off campus as they forge a culture of transformation. 
 
With diverse cohorts that include hip-hop artists, spoken word performers, community organizers, established writers and individuals returning to postsecondary education after years away, the program emphasizes the production of spoken, written, visual and verbal texts as well as experimental language forms that exist both inside and outside established genres. 
 

More about OCAD University partnered events at TIFA 

Dreams in Vantablack: Film Screening 
September 22 
7:30 p.m. 
Fleck Dance Theatre 
Directed by Faculty of Arts & Science Instructor, Ian Keteku 
 
This short film blends live action and animation, while communicating the stories of 12 Black youth poets from across Ontario. The cast explores issues such as bullying, racism, mental health, loss and love as well as Black identity while contextualizing their various poetry practices. The screening will be followed by a panel discussion/performance featuring director Ian Keteku and poets from the cast. 
 
Poetic Projections 
Throughout the festival 
7 to 11 p.m. 
Brigantine Patio 
 
A series of poetic installations featuring writers from the Creative Writing program will be presented in collaboration with OCAD U's Eco-Poetics as well as installation artists Reanna Niceforo and Philip Sutherland. Projected spoken word performances will immerse visitors in a thought-provoking audio/visual soundscape that addresses issues such as racism, mental health, beauty and joy. Curated by Chair of the Creative Writing program Catherine Black, Professor Lillian Allen and Creative Writing Instructor Ian Keteku.  

Writers Behind Typewriters 
September 23 and 24 & October 1 and 2  
5:30 to 6:30 p.m. 
Brigantine Room 
 
Throughout the festival student writers will be producing custom poetry for festival goers, on a by-donation basis. The poets will ask a series of prompt questions and draft a short poem based on the answers. All proceeds benefit Pulse, a student-produced publication featuring literary work by the OCAD U Creative Writing program. 

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From Sept. 22 to Oct. 2, the voices of students & faculty from OCAD U’s Creative Writing program will be amplified at TIFA.
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OCAD University is proud to announce the recipients of the 2021-22 Teaching Awards
 
Annually, the University celebrates outstanding faculty, instructors and teaching assistants who employ diverse, inclusive and evidence-informed methods to provide exceptional learning experiences for their students. This year, the winners are also applauded for demonstrating remarkable leadership in action. 
 
Nominations for the annual awards are accepted from the OCAD U community including students, staff, faculty and alums. The categories include institutional and faculty level recognition, as well as the School of Continuing Studies and Teaching Assistant awards.  
 
A committee composed of members from across the University, adjudicates the awards and is struck by the Office of the Vice-President, Academic and Provost with support from the Faculty & Curriculum Development Centre (FCDC). Read about the award winners below!
 

Institutional Level Teaching Awards
 
JJ Lee
Associate Professor, Faculty of Art 

Recipient of the Price Award for Leadership in Teaching, which is presented to tenured and tenure-track faculty in honour of JH and Mamie Price

A woman smiling with glasses

Since 1999 Professor Lee has shared her passion for art with students at OCAD U. Hailing from Halifax, Nova Scotia to parents who immigrated from China and Hong Kong, Lee explores the hyphens between identities that result from colonization, immigration and its subsequent generations in the classroom and studio. 

“I believe that art can initiate social change by impacting the way people see and think. I prioritize connection, caring and compassion, to create a sense of community and inclusion even across a digital divide,” Lee notes.  

Reconstructing the intersections of Chinese and Western cultures, she combines appropriated images from diverse sources to produce reinvented and hybrid identities in her own creative practice. Lee builds positive relationships with her students by connecting with their personal lived experiences and responding to their individual needs in a culturally sensitive way. 

“I view teaching as an integral part of my art practice. I believe that art making (my own or my students’) affects how we engage with the world around us. As a woman of colour, I hope that I can be a mentor and guide for our students who also identify this way,” Lee explains. 

Lee is lauded by students for her ability to create community even in remote teaching circumstances. She is praised for her authenticity, warmth and encouragement.  

“She taught us how to participate in critique and give feedback in a respectful, positive and constructive manner, which became a cornerstone of our learning experience. Throughout it all, she met us where we were and helped us elevate our expectations of ourselves despite pandemic challenges, leaving us believing “we can do this,” a former student describes. 
 

Dr. Adam Lauder
Instructor, Faculty of Arts & Science 

Recipient of the Non-Tenured Award for Leadership in Teaching, which is presented to sessional faculty, or faculty that are Teaching-Intensive Stream, Continuing or Contractually Limited Term Appointment (CLTA) 

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Since January 2017, Dr. Lauder has been celebrated by students at OCAD U for connecting art historical teachings to real-world activities by integrating in-person art viewing opportunities into his curriculum. He is generous in his reflections on student assignments and artworks while cultivating a student-centred, inclusive learning environment. He specializes in modern and contemporary as well as media art histories in courses that include Conceptual Art Practices and Canadian Art: The Modern Era. 

“I’m interested in rewriting familiar narratives and exposing marginalized stories and protagonists. I want to engage students in processes of careful reading and critical research-creation," Dr. Lauder says of his pedagogical approach. 

Students remark on his commitment to accessibility. Throughout the year he ensures all lectures are recorded and includes a transcript that support students in following along while viewing course material.  

“Dr. Lauder’s thorough and constructive feedback shows how much he cares about our academic success. He genuinely takes the time to share insightful comments on our projects, proposing additional theories or artists we could explore to further develop our contemporary art and art historical perspectives,” reflects a recent student. 

One of his recent undergraduate students notes, “Dr. Lauder skillfully bolsters student learning by balancing high expectations and extensive personal support. His lectures are well-organized and clearly articulated. By his own example he demonstrates how the use of elevated vocabulary and well-structured arguments can add nuance and depth to the understanding of critical art history." 
 

Faculty Level Teaching Awards

Meera Margaret Singh
Assistant Professor, Faculty of Art

Recipient of the Faculty of Art Teaching Award 
A photo of Meera Margaret Singh
Meera Margaret Singh began teaching at OCAD U in 2010 as a Sessional Instructor. Building on her formal training as a photographer, she teaches courses across faculties including International Art Collaborations (INTAC) in the Faculty of Art and Photo For Communication in the Faculty of Design. Students describe a particular fondness for her course Reconsidering Documentary Photography, which explores the ethical implications of documentary practices, consent and power dynamics. 

For Singh reciprocity, respect, wellness and care are central to learning.  

She describes her approach: “Creating a socially conscious classroom environment begins with an instructor who has an investment and a passion for diversity and equity, a well as a true passion for the subject matter that they teach. Students garner a far richer academic experience if they are confident in sharing their ideas and feel that they are active participants in an exchange of information.” 

Students celebrate Singh’s attention and responsiveness, making them feel counted and valued. Her approach in the classroom and commitment to mental health supports students’ general sense of wellbeing. “I want learners to know the power and possibilities of their unique voice and those of their peers. I aim to create a classroom of trust where students are comfortable asking questions and having open dialogue with their professor and peers,” she explains.  

“As a student with disabilities, there are various barriers faced in my pursuit of an undergraduate degree. Professor Singh has always made it a point to establish a learning environment that supports the individual needs of her students. Through her consistent communication, patience and accommodative practices, she never fails to ensure academic success for every student she meets,” notes a recent student. 
 

Bruce Hinds
Associate Professor, Faculty of Design

Recipient of the Faculty of Design Teaching Award 

A black and white photo of Bruce Hinds
For the last 20 years Professor Hinds has taught at OCAD University, contributing to the vision of several core courses. He served as Chair of the Environmental Design from 2010 to 2019, sharing his expertise and imbuing his values around sustainability into the program throughout his tenure. Today, Hinds teaches across undergraduate and graduate programs including thesis students in Environmental Design and graduate students in Design For Health.  

Hinds has built numerous partnerships with organizations and institutions to broaden engagement in his courses and provide meaningful, real-world experiences for students as they develop their unique design practices. Past partnerships include major organizations such as, Herman Miller, St. Joesph’s Health Centre, SickKids and Arizona State University. 

“Professor Hinds has been a positive influence in both my academic and professional career as an advisor, professor and friend. I truly admire his leadership and wish many more faculty members were as dedicated as he is to his students,” remarks a former student. 

Trained as an architect, Hinds has centralized sustainability in his practice for decades. After being inspired by the book Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired by Nature (1997) by Janine M. Benyus he introduced two courses on the topic at OCAD U, which continue to influence much of the Environmental Design undergraduate curriculum as well as the Design for Health graduate program. Many of the projects undertaken in the upper year courses of Environmental Design focus on issues of water, energy, food, transportation and regenerative architecture, and are united by a desire to re-establish the relationship between human needs in cities and the needs of nature. 
 

Dr. Dot Tuer
Professor, Faculty of Arts & Science

Recipient of the Faculty of Arts & Science Teaching Award 
A photo a person wearing a mask.

As a professor of visual culture for over 20 years, Dr. Tuer has advocated for and designed courses that reach beyond traditional art history to encompass global perspectives and decolonial art practices. She was central to the development of the Visual and Critical Studies undergraduate program as its Founding Chair, and has taught courses on Latin American art, modern and contemporary art theory; postcolonial theory and visual culture; art and revolution; the history of photography; and the history of new media art. Her Latin American courses were the first and until very recently the only art history courses on Latin America to be offered at a Canadian university.

Dr. Tuer describes her primary goal as an educator as, “providing students with cultural, social and historical frameworks for the making of and thinking about art and design that are decolonial, accessible and critically engaged with global and local contexts.” 

Dr. Tuer’s own writings on visual culture similarly engage with global and local contexts, ranging from the study of Canadian video, new media and performance art to Latin American photography and colonial history. Her current scholarly and creative work explores artistic practices of memorialization and visual storytelling in the Americas and incorporates her long-standing research interest in the decolonial agency of hybrid spiritual and ritual practices.

“Professor Tuer's welcoming energy and positive attitude towards teaching creates a rewarding learning environment. The passion for the topics Professor Tuer teaches encourages students, like myself, to become interested in art histories and curatorial styles beyond the Western canon that are rarely discussed in other spaces,” a recent OCAD U graduate notes. 

“Dr. Tuer’s wealth of knowledge on the art and history of Latin America apply decolonizing contexts and critical analysis of Canadian and European art by challenging grand narratives. Dr. Tuer's research in the field and life experiences are vital as a professor of art history. Dr. Tuer's storytelling abilities are unrivalled,” a student reflects. 

The author of Mining the Media Archive (2005) and numerous museum catalogue, book anthology and journal essays, Dr. Tuer also has an active curatorial practice. In 2012, she curated the major retrospective, Frida and Diego: Passion, Politics, and Painting at the Art Gallery of Ontario. 
 

Maya Mahgoub-Desai
Associate Professor, Faculty of Design
Chair, Environmental Design 

Recipient of the School of Graduate Studies Teaching Award 

A black and white photo of someone wearing a black shirt.

Professor Mahgoub-Desai is a researcher and practitioner whose research investigates themes related to human-environment behaviour, public health and public realm design, addressing equity in design education (with a focus on disability) and inclusive pedagogies. 

"I've been lucky to have Maya as my teacher, instructor and mentor. She encouraged my class to think outside the box and to view projects and ideas with an acute eye for detail, ethics, professionalism and profound honesty,” a mature student in the Design for Health graduate program notes. 

Mahgoub-Desai brings a range of professional design experiences to the classroom. As the Senior Urban Designer for Moriyama Teshima Architects, Mahgoub-Desai led urban campus, community and municipal plans that focused on sustainability, cultural resilience and collaborative community engagement processes. She shares with her students lessons learned from past projects, which include, serving as a subject matter expert for Waterfront Toronto, developing master plans for Qatar's Education City, Surrey City Development Corporation and the Town of Whitby; and campus plans for the University of Lethbridge, Wilfrid Laurier University and Conestoga College. 

“Associate Professor Mahgoub-Desai's mentorship has been essential to my career. Throughout my Major Research Project (MRP), she consistently inspired me to look further, to learn to unlearn, to be a better listener and to become a better designer. She challenged me to think purposefully and holistically about not only my academic work, but the influence of design overall,” reflects a recent graduate.  
 

Kalina Nedelcheva 
Teaching Assistant, Faculty of Arts & Science

Recipient of the Teaching Assistant Award, which is presented to a TA from any of the four faculties 
Photo of Kalina Nedelcheva

Kalina Nedelcheva joined the OCAD U community in September 2020 as a graduate student in the Art Criticism and Curatorial Practice. In February 2021 Nedelcheva began supporting students as a teaching assistant for the undergraduate course, Professional Practices. They have also TAed the core courses Contemporary Art & Design, as well as Global Visual & Material Culture: 1800 to Present. 

Nedelcheva is a multi-media artist, researcher, illustrator, curator and musician. In their medal-winning MFA thesis Nedelcheva explored the ways human consciousness engages in processes of meaning-making. With a passion for writing, film and experimental mapping as mediums for theoretical storytelling, they channel the potential of chaos and montage to challenge dominant ideological practices.  

Nedelcheva brings compassion to the classroom where they engage in knowledge-sharing and productive dialogue with others, facilitating critical and safe learning environments where knowledge can be expanded on and contested.  

“My teaching philosophy centres on an awareness of positionality, both my own and that of my students. While I approach education in an organized manner with optimism and humour, I also emphasize responsibility in teaching, learning and unlearning,” Nedelcheva remarks.  

Heather Gentleman
Instructor, School of Continuing Studies  

The School of Continuing Studies Teaching Award  
A photo of Heather Gentleman
Heather Gentleman is a painter whose work, which is inspired by literature, anthology and mythology, has appeared in exhibitions internationally. Her experience as a gallerist and internationally collected artist informs her classes, where she teaches drawing skills, watercolour painting, figurative painting, portraiture and drawing for seniors in the School of Continuing Studies. 

With training from OCAD University, the University of Guelph and Chelsea College of Arts and recent exhibitions in South Korean, England and France, Gentleman brings an international perspective to her art and teaching. 

“Decolonization not only underpins my approach to my art making but also my engagement with my students where I see the role of the instructor as mentor. I endeavour to create an environment where students feel heard and safe to express their individuality, are actively supported and encouraged both to explore possibilities and to realize the potential of their ideas, as artists, and as individuals,” Gentleman explains. 

“Heather was engaging, enthusiastic, adaptable, creative and dedicated. I loved her class and learned a lot. I am eager to take another class with her,” remarks a former student. 

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Annually, OCAD U recognizes educators who have made an incredible impact on their students.
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August Long Weekend Closure

OCAD University will be closed on Monday, August 1, 2022 for the August Long Weekend (Simcoe Day). The University will return to regular hours on Tuesday, August 2, 2022.

For more information about upcoming holidays and significant dates please consult OCADU 's Dates and Deadlines webpage

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OCAD University will be closed Monday, August 1, 2022 for the August Long Weekend.
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Indigenous technologies are at the centre of this summer’s Nigig Residency

The Nigig Residency, hosted by the Indigenous Visual Culture (INVC) program at OCAD University has returned in person! This summer, the initiative features a range of workshop instructors rather than spotlighting one specific artist as in years previous. 

Video and performance artist Vanessa Dion Fletcher, textile artist and OCAD U alum Justine Woods and traditional drummer Steve Teekens are offering hands on learning opportunities to the community as part of this year’s residency programming. Many of the sessions so far have been held outside amidst the gorgeous backdrop of the new Jordan Bennett mural which stretches across the south wall of 100 McCaul St. and was revealed last month. 

Fletcher is a Lenape and Potawatomi neurodiverse artist who employs porcupine quills, Wampum belts and menstrual blood in her practice to reveal the complexities of what defines a body physically and culturally. She is coordinating this year’s roster of workshops, which are available to students, non-students and faculty from July 6 to August 22. Fletcher is also the instructor of INVC 1001: Materials & Methods, which is the for-credit course that OCAD U students are taking concurrently with the Nigig Residency. 

Since the summer residency began Fletcher has led a series of beading sessions on Wednesdays and Fridays from 12 to 3 p.m. Participants have been provided with a beading kit that, with support from Fletcher, will result in a unique pair of earrings for each workshop attendee. 

Last week, 2021 OCAD U Interdisciplinary Art, Media and Design graduate Justine Woods led a moccasin fabrication workshop, which guided participants through the process of drafting a pattern. Woods is a garment designer who integrates Indigenous fashion technologies into her beaded and leather works. 

Steve Teekens will lead participants through a hands on rattle making workshop this week. Rattles are culturally and spiritually important to many Indigenous nations. In addition to rattle fabrication Teekens will offer attendees the teachings that accompany them. 

Nigig (ᓂᑭᒃ᙮) means otter in Ojibwe. Though the significance of the animal varies across Anishinaabe communities it frequently symbolizes the role of a messenger or mediator. For Delaney Chair of the INVC program Susan Blight the residency is about connecting and re-connecting through making, cultural expression, sharing and carrying Indigenous ways of knowing and being into the future. 

“The residency program offers a space to bring together students in INVC with community members who do not attend OCAD U to learn and make. We hope to create a space for collaborative learning about Indigenous technologies,” Assistant Professor Blight notes.  
 
Since 2015, the Nigig Visiting Artist Residency has supported the dynamism located in Indigenous contemporary art and design practices and is a tremendous educational opportunity for artist facilitators and students. The residency is designed to empower Indigenous students to tell their own stories and gain technical skills they can employ to mentor, create and build vibrant, successful careers. 

The initiative is made possible through grant funding from the Inspirit Foundation, a Canadian non-profit organization founded in 2012 that promotes inclusion and pluralism through media and art and supports young leaders.
 
More about the Indigenous Visual Culture program at OCAD University 
INVC honours the creative traditions of First Nations, Métis and Inuit art and design practices. The program combines practice-specific and interdisciplinary studio-based learning and courses in the visual, cultural, social and political history of Indigenous peoples. 

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Hosted by the Indigenous Visual Culture program at OCAD U, this year’s programming showcases numerous artists as workshop facilitators.
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Image: Faculty of Design Dean Dr. Dori Tunstall presents Professor Emerit Avi Dunkelman with the Emerit designation at OCAD University's 2022 Convocation Ceremony. They are joined on stage with Chancellor Jaime Watt and President and Vice-Chancellor Ana Serrano. 
 

OCAD U honours faculty for their long service and dedication

OCAD University celebrated its faculty members at a virtual appreciation event on June 24 that honoured long-serving professors, retiring scholars and academic administrators who have completed their terms. 

“I want to thank you all for your incredible work, creativity, flexibility and commitment over the past year – it has continued to be a challenge with the ongoing pandemic, but as a community, you came together to ensure our students received engaging and enriching learning opportunities.,” President and Vice-Chancellor Ana Serrano expressed at the beginning of the event. 
 

Gratitude to academic administrators completing their terms 

The festivities included an acknowledgement of the academic administrators who will be finishing their terms.  
 
“These faculty members are integral to the running of the University and to student success. I appreciate their contribution and for leading our colleagues through the uncertainties of a second academic year characterized by the pandemic,” said Vice-President, Academic and Provost Dr. Caroline Langill. 
 
The following faculty members were thanked for their service:

Faculty of Art 
Jason Baerg, Acting Chair, Sculpture and Installation and Integrated Media 
Judith Doyle, Chair, First Year Experience 
Dr. Jana Macalik, Acting Associate Dean, Academic Affairs 
Wrik Mead and Veronika Szkudlarek, Co-Chairs Experimental Animation 
Dr. Dot Tuer, Interim Chair, Criticism & Curatorial Practice 

Faculty of Design 
Dr. Sugandha Gaur, Acting Chair, Advertising 
Dr. Jay Irizawa, Acting Chair, Advertising 
Dr. Kathy Moscou, Interim Associate Dean Academic Affairs

Faculty of Arts and Science 
Nick Puckett, Chair, Digital Futures 
Dr. Alia Weston, Acting Associate Dean 
Dr. Ryan Whyte, Chair, Visual and Critical Studies 

Graduate Studies 
Dr. Andrew Gayed, Graduate Program Director, Art Criticism and Curatorial Practice  
Dr. Ashok Mathur, Dean, Graduate Studies and Vice-President, Research & Innovation 
Dr. Michelle Wyndham-West, Graduate Program Director, Inclusive Design 
 

Honouring long-serving faculty 

The gathering also featured a celebration of long-serving faculty members who have recently marked a milestone achievement in their roles at the University. The following professors were honoured for their dedication to the community and continuing commitment to art and design education:  

20 years of service  
Bruce Hinds, Associate Professor, Faculty of Design 
Jean-Christian Knaff, Associate Professor, Faculty of Design  

25 years of service 
April Hickox, Associate Professor, Faculty of Art 
 
30 years of service 
June Lawrason, Associate Professor, Faculty of Design 
 
35 years of service 
Judith Doyle, Associate Professor, Faculty of Art and Chair, First Year Experience 
  

Reflecting on the vibrant careers of retiring faculty members 

The event culminated with a show of deep appreciation of seven esteemed faculty members who will be retiring this year including: 

Dr. Doreen Balabanoff, Professor Emerit, Faculty of Design 
Doreen Balabanoff is an artist, designer, educator and administrator who over her years at OCAD University served as Faculty of Design Assistant Dean, First Year Design, Associate Dean, Academic and Faculty and Acting Dean. She has taught in several Graduate Studies programs, Interdisciplinary Art, Media and Design, Inclusive Design and Design for Health. 
 
Frederick Burbach, Faculty of Design Associate Professor 
Professor Frederich Burbach has practiced design internationally for over 30 years. Known for his exacting eye for design and generous feedback for his students, Professor Burbach has taught graphic design, design history, typography and advertising at OCAD University for almost 20 years. 

Avi Dunkelman, Professor Emerit, Faculty of Design 
A graduate of OCAD University (then OCA) in 1980, Professor Dunkelman has expertise in corporate branding and visual identity. After studying design in Switzerland, he went on to found his own design firm Avi Dunkelman Design+Communications Inc. which has served clients internationally.  

Dr. Martha Ladly, Professor Emerit, Faculty of Arts and Science 
Specializing in teaching and practice-based research in design, art, media and technology, Dr. Ladly has taught in the Digital Futures graduate and undergraduate programs and the Interdisciplinary Art, Media and Design graduate program (IAMD) at OCAD U. Dr. Ladly is the former Associate Dean of Graduate Studies, former Graduate Program Director of the IAMD program and founding Chair of the Research Ethics Board. 
 
Dr. Gayle Nicoll, Professor Emerit, Faculty of Design 
A professor in the Environmental Design undergraduate program and Inclusive Design and Design for Health graduate programs at OCAD University, Dr. Nicoll is a trained architect who taught at Ryerson University and was the Chair of the Department of Architecture at the University of Texas, after leaving her post as partner at Nicoll and Robulack Architects in 1992.   
 
Dick (Edmond) Rampen, Associate Professor, Faculty of Design  
After graduating from OCAD University (then OCA) in 1980, Professor Rampen has been teaching for almost 40 years on subjects that include industrial design, plastics technology, prototyping and musical instrument design and construction.  

Michèle White, Professor Emerit, Faculty of Art Professor 
Professor White has taught for over 40 years and is well-known for her classes in the Drawing and Painting program. After graduating from OCAD University in 1978 (then OCA), Professor White has exhibited her encaustic paintings internationally, earning numerous grants and teaching awards along the way. She is celebrated for her commitment to equity and justice at OCAD U, championing the hiring of women and BIPOC faculty. 
 
Congratulations to all honorees! 

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The Celebration of Faculty Event showcased professors, deans and chairs who have made major contributions to the University.
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Image: OCAD University's 2022 Medal Winners pictured on stage at the Celebrate Excellence reception on May 11. 
 

Celebrating OCAD University’s 2022 Medal Winners

On the evening of May 11, President and Vice-Chancellor Ana Serrano announced this year’s OCAD University Medal Winners at the Celebrate Excellence reception, a beautiful outdoor event that recognized 23 top graduating students, held in Butterfield Park. 

Annually, one graduating student from each of the University’s undergraduate and graduate programs is recognized with a medal, in honour of their creativity, innovation and technical mastery in their chosen discipline.  

“Tonight is very special – not only because we’re here together in person after two years – but because we’re going to recognize a group of exceptional students who have gone above and beyond expectations in completing their OCAD U degrees – and during a very challenging time,” President Serrano expressed. 

The reception also included a blessing by Elder Dr. Duke Redbird and speeches by medal winners, Emerald Repard-Denniston from the Drawing and Painting undergraduate program and Walter Yim from the Design for Health graduate program. 

“I have so much to be thankful for," remarked Repard-Denniston. "Here at OCAD U we have received a great education thanks to our talented and supportive faculty. We are prepared to move on and to take on whatever challenges and successes come next in our lives,” she continued. 

The bustling party also marked the launch of GradEx 107, OCAD U’s annual graduate exhibition, which showcases the works of over 600 emerging artists, designers and digital media makers across the University’s campus.  

The evening included live art making by three OCAD University undergraduate students, a musical performance by violinist Dr. Draw and his band, a DJ set by OCAD U student Paper Skies and a welcome from Mitch Gillin, Vice-President, Asset Development at Hullmark, representing presenting sponsors Hullmark and BentallGreenOak. 

All this activity took place amidst a crowd of OCAD U community members, many of whom were reconnecting in person for the first time in two years. More than 6,500 visitors attended the opening night festivities.  

The work of all medal recipients are on view during GradEx, May 11 to 15.  

Meet the 2022 OCAD U Medal Winners 
Undergraduate Programs

Advertising 
Maria Naqvi’s South Asian-Canadian background allows her to bridge gaps and think critically when solving issues that address minority communities. Naqvi thrives on challenges and always tries to implement new strategies for communicating stories that go against the status quo. Naqvi believes the future of advertising relies on new perspectives, diversity and inclusion and is excited to be part of it! 

Criticism & Curatorial Practice 
Fabiyino Germain-Bajowa is a Nigerian-Canadian writer, curator and interdisciplinary artist based in Tkaronto/Toronto. Her writing engages Afro-diasporic archives of thought and memory, passed down through oral history, food and acts of care. Her art practice and research centre Afro-diasporic experience to build an understanding of the ways archives of physical and immaterial knowledge are constructed in the Black community through the lenses of care theory, Afro-futurism, and archival studies. Her practice emphasizes community building and support, and her work is often based on her lived experiences as a Black queer woman.  
 
Cross-Disciplinary Art 
Parastoo Mahmoudi is a Canadian-Iranian visual artist currently living in Toronto. She studied human anatomy and portraits by drawing and sculpting life models and experimenting with different mediums and techniques. Mahmoudi's work is in collections worldwide, including in Tehran, Dubai and Toronto. Currently, she is working on immersive installations, performances, drawings and paintings to explore the relationship between her life experiences and how she became who she is. 
 
Digital Futures 
Sam Kingston is a designer exploring the relationship between humans and code, building robots that attempt to interpret and imitate thoughtful human interaction. His specialty involves identifying the subtleties in our built environments that are often overlooked during everyday interactions. He uses various 3D printing technologies to build mechanisms that interact with and automate objects which have been designed with people, not robots, as their intended user. 

Drawing & Painting 
Emerald Repard-Denniston is a queer Chinese-Canadian contemporary artist. She is committed to anti-colonial, anti-capitalist politics and activist work. Based in Squamish, Tsleil-Waututh and Musqueam/Vancouver and Tkaronto/Toronto, her practice focuses on the diasporic-Canadian experience through drawing, painting and digital media.  

Environmental Design 
Timothy Soribello is a designer who believes that rethinking the already built environment can unlock powerful possibilities in designing solutions. Soribello's thesis criticizes post-industrial ruins as culprits to the devastation of our environment. Rethinking these ruins, he used the abandoned Hearn Generating Station to magnify his argument's credibility. 
 
Graphic Design 
Maham Momin is a graphic designer and creative from Tkaronto/Toronto, with a specialization in expressive design. She's particularly interested in editorial and publication design that is speculative, critical and experimental. 

Illustration  
Toko Hosoya creates narrative-based images and objects. Originally hailing from Japan, her practice is currently based in Toronto, Canada. 

Indigenous Visual Culture 
Bert Whitecrow is a Two Spirited, multidisciplinary artist from Seine River First Nation. Their work explores methods of storytelling, through preserving and practicing ancestral knowledge. Indigenous futurisms, the belief of the inherent queerness in nature and their relationship to place are points of exploration throughout Whitecrow’s practice. 
 
Industrial Design  
Max Fine is a Toronto-based industrial designer student who is interested in the connection between sustainable technology and human behaviour. 

Integrated Media 
Marcella Driver-Moliner is a Toronto-based bilingual new media artist who hails from the Eastern Townships of Quebec. Driver-Moliner's practice is the joy of investigating the process of creating different visual languages and aesthetics to decipher unclear emotions such as loneliness, belonging, grief, self-depreciation and isolation.

Material Art & Design  
Aleena Derohanian is an interdisciplinary artist whose work explores the intersection of alien and UFO folklore, pop culture and the sublime. Her style can be identified through her use of bright colours, organic forms and an amalgam of materials. With a background in jewellery and silversmithing, Derohanian expertly incorporates semi-precious metals and stones into her mixed media sculptures. Currently she is exploring lamp and lighting fixture design with her unique aesthetic. 

Photography 
Tizzi Tan was born in Yunnan, China. Her works are mostly lens-based, but are not confined to any specific medium. She focuses on the subtle perceptions of human activities and explores the meanings of existence under current social conditions.  

Printmaking & Publications 
Laur Flom is a multidisciplinary artist working mainly in printmaking and book arts. Based in Tkaronto/Toronto, their practice is largely conceptual, exploring themes surrounding identity, queerness and trans masculinity. 

Sculpture/Installation 
Evgenia Mikhaylova is an interdisciplinary artist working in installation, video, sound, drawing and performance. Her work examines the complexities of perception, communication systems, language and epistemology through interdisciplinary research-based practice that investigates parallels between the ways we experience the world through our senses and the ways we interpret the knowledge we acquire. 

Visual & Critical Studies 
Nadia Spaziani is a Toronto-based researcher and writer. Her area of study is Ancient Greek material culture, specializing in building on existing theories of the period with contemporary ideas of psychoanalysis and feminist theories. Spaziani’s practice is based in the mythology of the Greeks and how the characters shaped societal values. 
 

Graduate Programs  

Contemporary Art, Design & New Media Art 
Maya Burns is an emerging writer and researcher based in Toronto. Her work explores the critical and pedagogical potential of quotation and appropriation in contemporary art.  

Criticism & Curatorial Practice 
Kalina Nedelcheva is a multimedia artist-researcher, emerging curator and musician, based in Tkaronto/Toronto. She explores the ways in which human consciousness engages in the process of meaning-making and has an interest in writing and film as mediums for theoretical storytelling. 

Design for Health 
Walter Yim has been a practicing dentist in Toronto for more than 30 years. His most recent design work explores how we might innovate healthcare through the lens of compassion, by exploring patient-centred methodologies. 

Digital Futures 
Candide Uyanze is a multimedia, multidisciplinary and multi-hyphenate doer of things based in Tkaronto/Toronto and Anishinābe Akì territory. Her practice explores diasporic storytelling, immersive web experiences, open-source tools, accessible media production, African languages and speech recognition.  

Inclusive Design 
Josephine Guan is a Chinese-Canadian artist that has worked as an illustrator, graphic designer and arts instructor. Her thesis research focuses on using arts-based methods like drawing and writing with brain injury survivors. Throughout all of her work, she’s most interested in facilitating conversations and using multiple ways of communicating. 

Interdisciplinary Master's in Art, Media & Design 
Juka Almeida 

Strategic Foresight & Innovation 
Carly Benson explores new frontiers in disaster risk reduction through human-centered design and foresight 

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This year, OCAD U celebrated its top graduates with a lively in-person reception in Butterfield Park.
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Congratulations to our graduands!

When more than 700 OCAD University graduands cross the stage to accept their degree on June 17, it will be a cause for celebration says President and Vice-Chancellor Ana Serrano. 

“Our community is so excited to gather together in person to celebrate the tremendous achievements of our graduating students,” says Serrano. “These emerging artists, designers and digital media makers are poised to use their creativity, skills and knowledge to make transformative change in our communities – here and around the world.” 

Convocation returns as an in-person event at Roy Thomson Hall on Friday, June 17 with two ceremonies. The morning ceremony at 10:30 a.m. will confer degrees to graduands in the Faculty of Design while the afternoon ceremony at 3:30 p.m. will celebrate the graduands in the Faculty of Arts and Science, Faculty of Arts and School of Graduate Studies. 

“Convocation is the highlight of the academic year and represents a significant milestone in the lives of our graduates,” says Serrano. “It will be a delight to share the energy and space with our graduates as they embark on this new chapter in their professional lives.”  

Students who graduated in Fall 2021, Winter 2022 or are graduating in Spring 2022 will participate in this year’s Convocation, which will also be livestreamed. 
 

Convocation to feature installation of President and Chancellor 

The morning ceremony will feature two installation ceremonies, one for Serrano, and one for incoming Chancellor Jaime Watt. Serrano is the University’s first BIPOC President and Vice-Chancellor and joined the University on July 1, 2020 at the height of the pandemic. 

Watt, who becomes the University’s fifth Chancellor, served as Chair of the University’s Board of Governors for the past four years. Well-known for his service and leadership at OCAD U, Watt has made outstanding contributions to advancing human rights and equality issues, and for supporting the arts and culture sector. As Chancellor, Watt will preside over Convocation and confer degrees. 

“It is a tremendous honour to be selected to serve as OCAD University’s Chancellor, especially as we work to meet the challenges left to us by the pandemic,” says Watt. “I am excited about the opportunity to contribute to the University in this new and meaningful way.”  
 

Honorary doctorate recipients 

Convocation will also include the presentation of five honorary degrees to exceptional individuals who have made significant contributions to the fields of arts, design, culture, education and to the ideals of OCAD U. The recipients were nominated by the OCAD U community and will be announced in June 2022. 
 

Health and safety protocols (updated May 24, 2022)

Wearing masks

  • Guests and graduands are required to wear masks when inside Roy Thomson Hall unless they are eating and drinking.
  • Graduands may remove their masks while crossing the stage during the ceremony (in support of photographs without masks).
  • All guests and graduands are encouraged to wear masks outdoors if physical distancing is not possible.

Additional measures

  • The OCAD University stage party will refrain from hand-shaking and remain physically distanced.
  • Guests and graduands should not attend the ceremony if they are feeling ill.
  • For graduands and guests unable to attend Convocation in person, or who may be immunocompromised, OCAD U is livestreaming the ceremony. Visit the Convocation Information Page on June 13, 2022 for more information.
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OCAD U is excited to announce that Convocation will be held in person on June 17 at Roy Thomson Hall.
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A Liberal Studies Talk with Naomi Kritzer, Cadie Desbiens-Desmeules and Dr. Sara Diamond

Cats Rule the Internet explores emerging dimensions of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning relevant to art and design thinking and practices. “Cats” is one of the most searched for terms on the Internet, and YouTube videos starring felines account for more than 26 billion views. The “LOLcat” meme holds its place as classic click bait. The panel takes a cat’s eye leap onto speculative imagining about non-human intelligence and the ways that social media and underlying machine learning technologies use and then structure our human agency.

Cats Rule the Internet is moderated by Dr. Sara Diamond, Faculty of Arts & Science, and features speculative fiction writer Naomi Kritzer and new media artist and designer Cadie Desbiens-Desmeules, who will present their work and engage in dialogue with Dr. Diamond and the audience.

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Description automatically generatedNaomi Kritzer  naomikrtizer.com   ;  @naomikritzer

Many science fiction writers and novelists have imagined agents and robots with human-like emotion. In Naomi Kritzer’s Cat Pictures Please (Clarkesworld Magazine – Science Fiction and Fantasy), an intelligent agent struggles to analyze humans by their cat pictures and tries to improve their behaviours, raising questions about General Artificial Intelligence and machine compassion and human compulsion. In this and other stories, Kritzer, an accomplished speculative fiction, fantasy and science fiction writer and winner of the Hugo Award, contemplates the ethics and flaws of a caring agency in the context of contemporary challenges with data, privacy, behavioral analytics, human consciousness and machine learning. Kritzer’s most recent published book is the young adult novel Chaos on CatNet.  

Cadie Desbiens-Desmeules desbiens-desmeules.com 

Cadie Desbiens-Desmeules is a Canadian media artist and designer working between generative art, live performance and interactive design in Europe, Canada and virtual space. Data labeling is the fuel that powers machine learning. Desbiens-Desmeules points out our role in supplying free labour for platforms like Amazon’s Mechanical Turk or Google’s Captcha Challenge in her I’m Not a Robot  project. She generates images that are impossible to identify, even for humans, feeding thousands of images of cats to an AI model specialized in identifying cars. Desbiens-Desmeules discusses her work with AI systems, and the use of AI to both subvert and critique AI.

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Registration: bit.ly/LSSregister2022
& Live on OCAD U LiVE: www.ocadu.ca/live
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Liberal Studies Talk with Naomi Kritzer, Cadie Desbiens-Desmeules and Dr. Sara Diamond

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Held every year on March 21, World Poetry Day celebrates one of humanity’s most treasured forms of cultural and creative expression.  The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) first adopted the dedicated day in 1999 with the aim of supporting linguistic diversity.

In honour of World Poetry Day, some of OCAD U’s top creative writers have shared the poems that continue to inspire their own writing.  

The cover of the book alphabet.Associate Professor Catherine Black is the Chair of OCAD U’s Creative Writing program, which she helped to develop. Her writing practice includes prose poetry and other hybrid forms such as lyric essays and experimental fiction. Professor Black’s work interrogates the construction of memory, the intersections of imagination and reality, motherhood and artistic practice, and the dissociative aspects of grief, trauma and addiction. In 2019, her book of prose, Bewilderness was published by Guernica Editions. 

Recommendation 
alphabet (1981) by Inger Christensen  

A lament, a warning, an ode to the planet, alphabet is a long, sectioned poem underpinned by the Fibonacci sequence, also known as the Golden Ratio. The text emerges slowly as an elegy, a veiled forewarning of nuclear threat and climate catastrophe, but it unfurls as a nearly ecstatic chronicling of the beauty of the natural world. The scope of this poem is astonishing. It flits from macro to micro in a single stanza or a single line and speaks so directly to this moment in time.

The cover of Bless the Daughter

Lecturer in the Faculty of Arts & Science Ian Keteku is a poet, musician and journalist. Born in Calgary and raised by parents from Ghana, Keteku’s work follows the lineage of ancient African storytellers by paying homage to the past by revisiting lessons from previous generations. Keteku is a devout practitioner of Afrofuturism, a philosophy that projects the Black experience into a celestial, technological future. 

Recommendation 
Bless the Daughter Raised by a Voice in Her Head: Poems (2022) by Warsan Shire 

Warsan Shire is a celebrated Somali-British poet who is known for her collaboration with singer-songwriter Beyoncé on the album, Lemonade and the musical film Black Is King. Shire’s latest book of poetry Bless the Daughter Raised by a Voice in Her Head foregrounds themes of migration, womanhood, trauma and resilience. The poetry collection is inspired by the writer’s life as well as popular culture and news headlines.  
Cover of the book Black Markets

Interim Vice-President, Research & Innovation and Dean of Graduate Studies, Dr. Ashok Mathur is a South Asian (Indo-Canadian) cultural organizer, writer and visual artist. Dr. Mathur is the author of a volume of poetic prose titled, Loveruage; a dance in three parts (1994), a long poem titled The First White Black Man (2017) as well as three novels. A long-time advocate of critical race theory as it pertains to the postsecondary institution, he works continuously to address radical forms of equity and Indigenous knowledge in his creative and professional practices. 

Recommendation 
Black Markets, White Boyfriends, and Other Acts of Elision (1991) by Ian Iqbal Rashid  
The Heat Yesterday (1995) by Ian Iqbal Rashid  

Ian Iqbal Rashid is an eclectic writer who works in poetry as well as television. His poetry books, Black Markets, White Boyfriends, and Other Acts of Elision and The Heat Yesterday, are both wonderful examples of lives lived in the contexts of racialization and sexual identity, mediated by realities of class and urban living. Most recently, he has been critically acclaimed for his role on the writing team for the HBO serial Sort Of, demonstrating his versatility and range of writing. Rashid began his career in Toronto as an arts journalist, critic, curator and events programmer, particularly focused on South Asian diasporic, Muslim and LGBTQ2S+ cultural work.  

Rashid will be featured in an event this spring presented by SiteLines, a partnership between the Faculty of Art and the Office of Research & Innovation at OCAD University and the Canada Council for the Arts. The initiative promotes and supports the creative work of BIPOC artists and writers.

The cover of How She Read

Phoebe Wang is a Writing and Learning Consultant for English Language Learners for OCAD University’s Writing & Learning Centre. She is also a first-generation Chinese-Canadian writer who is currently the Writer in Residence at the University of New Brunswick. Her debut collection of poetry, Admission Requirements (2017) was shortlisted for the Gerald Lampert Memorial Award, the Pat Lowther Memorial Award and nominated for the Trillium Book Award. Her most recent poetry collection Waking Occupations will be released later this month by Penguin Random House Canada.  

Recommendation 
How She Read: Poems (2019) by Chantal Gibson 

Chantal Gibson’s debut book of poetry, How She Read is a collection of textured and innovative writing that Wang recommends to any reader who feels limited or outraged by the violence rendered upon racialized bodies. Drawing from grade-school vocabulary spellers, literature, history, art and popular culture, this publications shows the insidious longevity of imperialist ideas and the ways in which they are embedded in everyday things including storybooks, coloured pencils, paintings and postage stamps. Gibson, who is based in Vancouver, is also a practicing visual artist. Her poetry brings in acts of mark-making and redaction. How She Read shows how acts of critique and resistance can be so creatively abundant. 

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OCAD U’s creative writers recommend their top poetry picks.
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