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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. 

News Summary
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.
OCAD U faculty members awarded nearly $2 million in research funding

The Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) has announced the recipients of several grant competitions, including numerous OCAD University researchers, pursuing investigations in areas as varied as art and archives and end of life care. 

“The incredible range of research topics that this funding supports demonstrates just how multi-dimensional the faculty at OCAD U are and how creative research comes in many forms,” commented Dr. Ashok Mathur, Interim Vice-President, Research and Innovation and Dean of Graduate Studies. 

Awarded almost $2 million, researchers were successful in three SSHRC program streams including, the recently launched Race, Gender and Diversity Initiative as well as the Partnership Development and Insight Grants. Additionally, in May, SSHRC announced that Faculty of Design Associate Professor Sarah Tranum is among one of the three teams that received funding through the Imagining Canada’s Future Ideas Lab: Canada and the Circular Economy initiative. Learn more about the funded projects below.

Race, Gender and Diversity Initiative

Imagining Inclusion: Artists and Arts Workers on EDI in Practice 
Dr. Suzanne Morrissette 
Assistant Professor, Faculty of Arts and Science and Graduate Program Director Contemporary Art, Design and New Media and Art Criticism and Curatorial Practice 

This research project will investigate equity among creative practitioners working in Canada’s artist-run centres. Involving partnerships with non-profit arts organizations across the country, this initiative will help forge networks among racialized artists and arts workers at all stages of their careers. Project co-director Faculty of Arts and Science Assistant Professor Immony Mèn, co-applicant Dean of Graduate Studies and Interim Vice-President, Research and Innovation Dr. Ashok Mathur and collaborator Faculty of Arts and Science Assistant Professor Andrew Gayed, will collaborate with organizations including Hamilton Artists Inc., Gallery 44 Centre for Contemporary Photography, South Asian Visual Arts Centre, grunt gallery, daphne and Trinity Square Video. 

ReLearn ReAct ReCreate: Youth Arts Advocacy for Equitable Cultural Policy 
Dr. Alia Weston 
Associate Professor and Acting Dean, Faculty of Arts and Science 

This project will investigate how QTBIPOC (Queer, Trans, Black, Indigenous, People of Colour) young people can more actively contribute to the development of cultural policy that affects them. In partnership with young artists and community-based arts organizations, this project will focus on community arts learning and creative advocacy in collaboration with Toronto-based organizations SKETCH Working Arts and Mass Culture. Miriam Kramer, Executive Director, Government & Community Relations at OCAD University will be a collaborator on the project. 

Partnership Development Grants

Crossing Fonds -- Pollinating Access and Interpretation 
Dr. Sara Diamond 
President Emerita, OCAD University  

This project envisions a replicable opensource digital archive ecosystem that allows interaction between non-profit, counter and institutional archives with a particular focus on British Columbia. Facilitating the interaction between archives will enable the individual and collaborative study of archival materials. 

Research-Creation for Birth Environment Design Knowledge Mobilization 
Doreen Balabanoff 
Professor Emerita, Faculty of Design 

This research project will investigate the spatial design of birth settings and how they impact birth processes and wellbeing during and beyond labour. Midwives, nurses and diverse practitioners focused on supporting normal or less medicalized birth have repeatedly found through research that birthing women's bodies are often objectified and their emotions deemphasized in conventional birth spaces. This initiative will collect information through a co-creation approach and an exhibition showcasing the project's material outputs. 

Insight Grants

Relationships, Reciprocity, Exchange: Indigenous and BPOC relationality and accountability within Indigenous territories 
Dr. Suzanne Morrissette 
Assistant Professor, Faculty of Arts and Science and Graduate Program Director Contemporary Art, Design and New Media and Art Criticism and Curatorial Practice 

Led by Dr. Suzanne Morrissette the research team, Dr. Alia Fortune Weston and York University’s Professor Lisa Myers, will collaborate with artists and non-artists to create tools and experiences that will support the cultivation of decolonial, anticolonial and non-colonial futures for BIPOC communities within Indigenous territories in Canada. The project asks, what does it mean to live ethically within and in critical dialogue with Indigenous people and their territories? This research will take place through the creation of four major artworks, each led by a member of the research team. Additionally, the research team will support three students each year in the production of artworks and curated exhibitions for a total of fifteen student-led research-creation responses. Dr. Ayumi Goto was on the original research team for this project though had to step away due to a sudden change in personal circumstances.

Public Participatory Explorations on End of Life 
Dr. Kate Sellen 
Associate Professor, Faculty of Design and Canada Research Chair in Design for Health 

Using a design research and realist approach, this project will explore how participatory installations on the subject of end of life might open dialogue on end of life choices. Arts-informed and arts-based approaches are increasingly being used in health research and many social scientists, artists, and designers have explored death and dying within their works. Participatory installations have a role to play in both uncovering and mobilizing knowledge on end of life.

News Summary
Researchers have received funding from multiple Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) streams.
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A photo of a glass ball on a nature 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. 

News Summary
Student works in the exhibition Consulting with the Ether were Inspired by objects in the Toronto Public Library’s Special Collections.
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A collection of 3D printed objects in white on a black background.
Projects showcase future of virtual learning

Nine initiatives led by OCAD University faculty and staff received $1.4 million in funding last June from eCampusOntario’s Virtual Learning Strategy (VLS) to develop the future of virtual learning for studio-based art, design and digital media education. 

Last month, project teams across the University completed their research, further advancing OCAD U’s record of bringing innovative technology to emerging artists, designers and cultural workers and imbuing students with the skills to thrive in an ever-evolving marketplace. Learn more about some of the ambitious projects below. 

Creating shared exhibition spaces in accessible online environments  

WebXR Studios for Collaboration, Exhibition and Critique provides free and open-source project templates for staging and showcasing digital artwork in an Extended Reality (XR) space. Especially useful in the extensive and physically disparate contexts of remote learning, the browser-based XR environment scan be used as a gallery and critique space for students’ studio assignments. These spaces can be easily navigated through keyboard and mice, as well as with VR headsets. 

The project, the development of which has been led by Judith Doyle, Associate Professor in the Faculty of Art and Chair of First-Year Experience, offers immersive AR/VR presentation spaces for a range of digital media. WebXR enables powerful approaches to online, hybrid and blended modes of studio art delivery. Its open-source nature makes the application even more beneficial to users.  

Research for the project was partially undertaken within the first year Faculty of Art course, Form and Time, at OCAD U. Students in the course were supported by the WebXR Project Team to create customized galleries to display photogrammetric 3D objects, video and sound. Their culminating projects can be viewed online

Ensuring Indigenous Knowledges are accessible to English Language Learners 

Arriving at Indigenous Knowledges: Decolonial Approaches for English Language Learners (ELL) is a five-part online asynchronous course and Educators’ Guide for domestic and international ELL students entering or currently enrolled in Ontario post-secondary institutions. The course supports and advances students’ knowledge of Canadian and Indigenous contexts and histories and will be available via the VLS Collection in 2022.  

Led by Phoebe Wang, Writing and Learning Consultant (ELL) in the Writing and Learning Centre at OCAD University, the online course contains approximately 50 hours of pages, presentations, recorded interviews and activities developed by Natasha Holmes as Project Manager, Michelle Majeed as Instructional Designer, Sanam Bahavar as ELL specialist and an Advisory Team consisting of subject matter experts. 

The project also contains resources for instructors and faculty to develop decolonial and anti-racist practices when teaching Canadian and Indigenous histories, contemporary issues, literatures, visual art, art history and design. Student-facing staff and services are also encouraged to integrate this course in co-curricular programming for ELL students. 

A virtual game that facilitates conversations about disabilities 

Led by Dr. Lynne Heller, Adjunct Professor at OCAD U, Dobble Debate is a game that uses play and humour to help people talk and learn about disabilities. The beta version of the digital project is currently available online and was conceived, co-designed and co-created in partnership with a variety of community members who experience D/deafness and hardness of hearing, disability, differing abilities, autism and/or neurodiversity plus (DDDAND+).  

While levity and exploration are key components of the game, human difference is not treated as a source of humour. Respect is a crucial aspect of Dobble Debate. The absurdity of situations presented in the game and the creativity of the discussion that they inspire promote laughter, connection and learning. 

Originally conceived as an analogue game by scholars and students at Concordia University, the project was brought to OCAD U by artist and educator Nina Czegledy for further collaboration. This has resulted in Dobble Debate’s latest version, which is flexible, accessible and easily integrated into existing university courses to promote collaborative dialogue and interplay as thoughtful exchange. 

The project site has been designed to assist both educators and students as they personalize gameplay to reflect their own interests and perspectives. Learning and growing, and taking pleasure in gaming, are of equal importance in the initiative. 


Additional Virtual Learning Strategy projects

Digital Capacity Building 
A multi-faceted initiative that will expand hybrid and online learning across all programs and transform OCAD U curriculum to enable greater access, interdisciplinarity and learner-directed movement through programs.  
Project lead: Susan Ferguson, Director, Teaching and Learning 

Entrepreneurship for Creatives Micro-credential Program
A digital certification that offers artists, designers and creatives the competencies and capabilities they need to bring their products and designs to market.  
Project lead: Emily Krause, Managing Director, OCAD U CO 

Intellectual Property Law for Creative Entrepreneurs Certificate 
Stackable courses bringing the knowledge and application of intellectual property law to creative professionals.  
Project Lead: Evan Tapper, Director, Continuing Studies 

Learning to be Human Together 
A toolkit of extensible resources to support humanizing learning.  
Project lead: Dr. Jutta Treviranus, Director, Inclusive Design Research Centre; Professor, Faculty of Design 

Hand Made: VR Tools for Creation 
A partnership to develop Masterpiece Studios as a tool to reduce the barriers to creating in virtual reality while also co-designing the tool itself.  
Project lead: Dr. Emma Westecott, Associate Professor, Faculty of Arts and Science 

Social Media, Democracy and International Human Rights Mobilization 
A new online Continuing Studies course designed to help students design pro-creative, pro-democratic responses to the repressions of authoritarian regimes. Project lead: Evan Tapper, Director, Continuing Studies 

News Summary
Nine faculty and staff-led projects that received funding from eCampusOntario’s Virtual Learning Strategy (VLS) have been completed.
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A woman stands at the front of a classroom wearing a white t-shirt, pointing at a wall with sticky notes. Four people sit at a white table with laptops looking at her.

Image: Slava Redov, Place near Kola Bay, Murmansk, Russia.
Rosa, Felixstowe Sea Front Gardens (in particular the little water feature), Felixstowe.

Port-to-Port, a project commissioned by Pier Projects focused in Felixstowe, UK, presented a series of public art events inspired by walking in real-time and online. Multidisciplinary artist, Alisa Oleva invited Felixstowe residents to describe local places that resonated with them. From this, a map of personal landmarks was created. Inspired by the internationalism and dynamism of Felixstowe, as port, each of these writings collected locally was sent to someone living in a different port town. This person was invited to respond. There were 25 exchanges across all corners of the globe. Postcards and audio readings of these writings became symbolic of these locations ‘meeting’. The exhibited photographs of the paired towns are overlaid in postcard form creating a visual hybrid of these places. Whilst the contributors are unlikely to meet face-to-face, they feel the presence of another person’s life elsewhere.

Links to the postcards, recordings, and commissioned text by Gudrun Filipska can be found here.

113Research as research-creation exhibition/project space, speaks out to the OCAD U community, posing questions that foreground making practices, collaboration, pedagogy, and the challenges of institutional growth and change. We welcome evocative and provocative projects that generate a frisson within the institution and its constituent communities.

Sponsored by Faculty of Art & Office of Research & Innovation, OCAD U.

Advisory Committee 2022: Ana Serrano, Ashok Mathur, Stephen Foster, Lillian Allen, Natalie Waldburger, Adrienne Reynolds, Travis Freeman, Shazia Hussain, Vicky Talwar, Siheng Wang, Ella Taylor.

Project Working Team 2022: 

  • Pam Patterson: Project Director
  • Vicky Talwar & Siheng Wang: Research, Graduate Studies
  • Ella Taylor: Curatorial, Faculty of Art

113Research is located at OCAD University on the 5th floor, 113 McCaul Street.

News Summary
113Research reopens with Port-to-Port by Alisa Oleva on March 9, 2022
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Port-to-port: Black and white collaged landscape imagery.

Join ruangrupa and GUDSKUL for a conversation on sharing, solidarities, collectivity, and the lumbung as method towards sustainability.

4 November 2021
Vancouver 6PM EDT
Toronto 9PM EDT

5 November 2021
Jakarta 8AM WIB

Information and registration available on Eventbrite:
Zoom link:

In this conversation, members from ruangrupa and GUDSKUL: contemporary art collective and ecosystem studies  will expand on the concept of lumbung, an Indonesian term for a communal rice barn which they have developed throughout many years and have manifested in various iterations in their collective practices. For them, the lumbung serves as a method for creative and artistic practice. 

Members of ruangrupa seated around a table.ruangrupa is a Jakarta-based collective established in 2000 and are curators of the upcoming documenta fifteen in Kassel, Germany. As a non-profit organization that strives to support the idea of art within urban and cultural context, ruangrupa involves artists and other disciplines such as social sciences, politics, techology, media, etc., to give critical observation and views towards Indonesian urban contemporary issues. ruangrupa also produce collaborative works in the form of art projects such as exhibitions, festivals, art labs, workshops, research projects, as well as books, magazines and online-journal publications.

 GUDSKUL: contemporary art collective and ecosystem studies (or GUDSKUL, in short, pronounced similarly like "good school" in English). It is a public learning space established to practice an expanded understanding of collective values, such as equality, sharing, solidarity, friendship, and togetherness.


  • Trained as an architect (B. Arch from Universitas Indonesia and M. Arch from Cranbrook Academy of Art), farid rakun wears different hats, dependent on who is asking. A visiting lecturer in the Architecture Department of Universitas Indonesia, he is also a part of the artists' collective ruangrupa, with whom he co-curated TRANSaction: Sonsbeek 2016 in Arnhem, NL, and is currently taking the helmet as Artistic Direction for documenta fifteen (Kassel, 2022).
  • Marcellina "Cella" Dwi Kencana Putri is the manager of GUDSKUL. She studied International Relations and has a post-graduate degree in Cultural Anthropology. Previously, she was a producer in Studio Batu, a Yogyakarta-based collective, and served as co-curator for OK. Pangan, Media Art Festival (2017), where she found her main interest in food-related. She has never been able to resist having a dessert after a meal and finds cooking as a therapeutic way to keep her sanity intact. 
  • Henry Heng Lu is a curator, writer, and artist. He is a co-founder of Call Again, a mobile initiative/collective committed to creating space for contemporary diasporic artistic practices. Presently, he is Executive Director/Curator of Centre A: Vancouver International Centre for Contemporary Asian Art (moderator).
  • Melissa Karmen Lee is the Director of Education and Public Programs at the Vancouver Art Gallery. She is a social practice curator that has collaborated on a variety of different art practices in Hong Kong and Vancouver (moderator).

This event is supported by the Secretariat on Responsible conduct of Research (Government of Canada), the Research Offices at OCAD University and Emily Carr University of Art + Design, and Centre A: Vancouver International Centre for Contemporary Asian Art.

Venue & Address

Join ruangrupa and GUDSKUL for a conversation on sharing, solidarities, collectivity, and the lumbung as methods towards sustainability.

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Image: Core-team member of Black Lives Matter - Toronto and Assistant Professor at the School of the Arts at McMaster University, Syrus Marcus Ware (left) and Governor General's Literary Award winner and Emily Carr University of Art + Design community member, Cecily Nicholson (right). 

Conducting Creative Research

OCAD University has teamed up with Emily Carr University of Art + Design (ECU) to present Conducting Creative Research, a speaker series that runs throughout October and November.  

Launching with its first session , Reciprocity and Responsibility: Research via Mentorship and Partnership on October 15, from 1 to 3 p.m., the series welcomes scholars, artists and creative professionals from across Canada to discuss best practices in creative research. Visit the Eventbrite page for more information and to access the virtual link for the event.  

Of the collaboratively presented series, organizer Chris Crisol, Manager, Research Policy and Research Ethics at OCAD U said, “OCAD U and ECU have active and robust research communities, with fundamental knowledge about art and design research, cultivated from their academic and professional practices. We can offer valuable insights on what it means to conduct art and design research responsibly, ethically and with integrity.” 

Reciprocity & Responsibility: Research via Mentorships and Partnership features poet, arts administrator, independent curator and activist Cecily Nicholson and Vanier scholar, visual artist, activist, curator and educator Syrus Marcus Ware in conversation. 

Their discussion will be propelled by the questions:  

  • What local interventions are leading collaborative and relevant knowledge production 
  • What research advances decolonial, abolitionist and disability justice futures? 
  • How do institutions generate liberatory practices? 

“Existing research policy is ill-equipped to address many of the complexities, nuances and unique characteristics of art and design research, including a variety of voices is an important component of creating a research environment that is responsive to different types of research and that adequately protects and respects those impacted by it,” says Crisol.  

This series is supported by Dr. Ashok Mathur, Interim Vice-President, Research and Innovation and Dean of Graduate Studies in collaboration with Steven Lam, Associate Vice-President of Research and Dean of the Jake Kerr Faculty of Graduate Studies at Emily Carr University of Art + Design.  
On October 27, Ken Lum will be featured in a keynote artist lecture that is part of the series titled Public Art. Visit the Eventbrite page for more information.  

More about this week’s presenters 

Cecily Nicholson is the author of Triage, From the Poplars, winner of the Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize and Wayside Sang, which won the Governor General's Literary Award for Poetry. She is a community member of the Research Ethics Board for Emily Carr University of Art + Design, volunteers with people impacted by carcerality and works in gallery education. Cecily was the 2021 Writer-in-Residence for the University of Windsor. 

Syrus Marcus Ware is a Vanier scholar, visual artist, activist, curator and educator. Syrus uses painting, installation and performance to explore social justice frameworks and black activist culture. He is part of the Performance Disability Art Collective and a core-team member of Black Lives Matter – Toronto. Syrus is the co-editor of Until We Are Free: Reflections on Black Lives Matter in Canada (URP, 2020). He earned his PhD at York University in the Faculty of Environmental Studies and is Assistant Professor at the School of the Arts at McMaster University. 

News Summary
Conducting Creative Research features scholars, artists and creative practitioners from across Canada to discuss best practices in creative research.
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Portrait of Syrus Marcus Ware and Cecily Nicholson

The Office of Research & Innovation is excited to launch the ninth iteration of the "This is Research" campaign to raise awareness about research at OCAD University. This volume features work by JJ Lee, Natalie Waldburger, Amy Swartz, Kathy Moscou, Michael Lee Poy, Angela Bains, and Kestin Cornwall. 

To view a PDF of each poster, please visit their location in the Open Research Repository: 

OCAD University faculty are engaged in inclusive, interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary research that audaciously and responsibly pursues the questions of our time. 

THIS IS RESEARCH features posters and media showcasing the many forms of research at the University. You can see the first set of these on the many screens across campus and our website. 

In concert with provincial efforts being coordinated through the Council of Ontario Universities, “THIS IS RESEARCH” will help to raise the profile of research performed across faculties by the creative professionals, scholars, and strategic thinkers that make up our research community. 

Please join us in celebrating research at OCADU! 

If you would like your research to be profiled through “THIS IS RESEARCH” please contact our office at

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An image of two research posters side by side

The Office of Research & Innovation is excited to announce the launch of the second iteration of the "THIS IS RESEARCH" campaign.

OCAD University faculty are engaged in inclusive, interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary research that audaciously and responsibly pursues the questions of our time.

THIS IS RESEARCH features posters and media showcasing the many forms of research at the University. You can see the first set of these on the many screens across campus and our website.

In concert with provincial efforts being coordinated through the Council of Ontario Universities, “THIS IS RESEARCH” will help to raise the profile of research performed across faculties by the creative professionals, scholars, and strategic thinkers that make up our research community.

If you would like your research to be profiled through “THIS IS RESEARCH” please contact our office at

See the first announcement here:

Sesesiw (Yellow Legs) poster
The Entangled Gaze... poster
ThisIsResearch - LIWYFTTG.pdf

OCAD U’s Professor Martha Ladly and colleague Katrina Keefer of Trent University are using visual analytics to help reconstruct the lives of individuals who were victims of the mid-Atlantic slave trade. 

Their project, Decoding Origins: Creating a Visual Language of Marks, is based on the rich history of applying permanent body marks, such as scarification and tattoos, to represent individual’s membership in African kin groups and local societies. The Project seeks to trace origins of enslaved peoples of Africa, and to address the obliteration of identities for enslaved individuals, which is one of the lasting legacies of the trans-Atlantic slave trade. The researchers received funding from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC).

Working in archives in the UK, the US and Sierra Leone, the team is engaged in data gathering, digitization, interpretation, and visualization, using both historical and contemporary data and imagery, cross referenced with records from the 1880s Registers of Liberated Africans.

The researchers are working with these endangered records collected from the archives of Freetown, Sierra Leone, along with open source data, using research analysis tools employed in the Digital Humanities. Ladly’s team is adapting technologies such as Optical Character Recognition, Machine Learning, and eventually, Artificial Neural Networks to build an interlinking relational database, which will assist in analysis, visualization, and reconstruction of events in the lives of African individuals who were enslaved.

This work may assist scholars, and eventually members of the public, to identify enslaved individuals who were transported to the Americas and the Caribbean, and potentially to trace their origins back to homelands in Africa, in an attempt to uncover identities lost in the mid-Atlantic slave trade.

Project collaborators and researchers are a multi-disciplinary, multi-ethnic team of designers, technologists and artists, including graduate research assistants Kartikay Chadha, Georgina Yeboah and Maria Yala (OCAD University) and historians Eric Lehman and Michael McGill (Trent University), working with scholars of the Mid-Atlantic Slave Trade, including collaborators  Paul Lovejoy (York University, Tubman Institute), Dean Rehberger (Michigan State University), Mohammed Salau (University of Mississippi), and Abubakar Babajo Sani (Umaru Musa Yar'adua University, Katsina).

The project is featured on CBC News.

Photos submitted by Katrina Keefer

Drawings of faces detailing markings
Three people seated in front of a screen


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