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The art of motherhood

Rachael Grad is a mom of three who left practicing law in 2008 to pursue her art practice. In June she attended OCAD University’s convocation ceremony, graduating with distinction with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Drawing and Painting and earning a Governor General’s Gold Medal for Academic Excellence.  

This summer Grad has curated an online exhibition titled Pandemic Parenting that spotlights the exciting intersection of art and motherhood.  

“Motherhood is mayhem. When I became a parent, carving out time and space to create (not just people but artwork) became essential,” notes Grad. 

The upcoming exhibition features several OCAD University community members who, in addition to being faculty, are artists and parents. The works in the exhibition reflect their experiences raising children, teaching and maintaining a studio practice amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Art Amy Swartz as well as Associate Professors in the Faculty of Art JJ Lee and Natalie Waldburger are featured in the show. Each week, beginning on August 8, the works of an individual artist will be foregrounded. 

The show was curated during Grad’s remote residency with the Museum of Motherhood (MoM) and includes weekly blog posts interviewing the featured artists to explore their work and parent experiences. MoM is an exhibition and education centre devoted to the art, science and “herstory” of m/others inclusive of all reproductive identities located in St. Petersburg, Florida. 

At different times the women in the exhibition have involved their children in art making while also carving out, an autonomous practice as well. They have also engaged in collaboration with other parent artists. By capturing aspects of their own worlds, while quarantining at home with children and partners, these mothers have been able to express themselves during difficult circumstances. 

Grad captures parenting moments in her own creative practice including in the project, Motherhood Hit Me Like A Train. The ongoing series features works on paper that use trains as tools for painting.  
Grad describes the works in this series noting, “Toys have overtaken my home and my artwork, and they are always in mind and in my way. For my abstract watercolour on paper artworks, I reverse the ubiquitous toy train and turn it into a paintbrush.” 

Her other series, Mommy Mayhem combines digital collages and abstract expressionist paintings. 

“My current art practice is driven by a need to document my three kids and their perpetually changing debris (meaning their messes of toys, books, clothing and crafts). Daily household and art routines, rituals, and schedules reflect my attempt to reign in the chaos of parenting," Grad explains.  

Grad continues to find inspiration in the works of contemporary parent artists including Mary Kelly’s Post-Partum Document (1973-79), Monica Bock’s Maternal Exposure (or, don’t forget the lunches) (1999-2000) and Paul Campbell’s Koosh and Remote Control series. This fall Grad will start a Master’s in Fine Arts program at York University 

News Summary
Alum Rachael Grad curates an exhibition that showcases the creative perils and pleasures of pandemic parenting.
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A colourful abstract painting.

Image: Photo from Canadian Art Magazine by Christopher Dew.

OCAD U mourns the passing of Cathy Daley

Notable Canadian artist, beloved mentor and OCAD University Professor Emerita Cathy Daley passed away on March 2.   

In a message sent to the community on March 7, Stephen Foster, Dean of the Faculty of Art, extended his sincere condolences to Daley’s family and friends, and to all those in the community who had the pleasure of learning from her.  

“During her time at OCAD U, Cathy Daley was a tireless contributor to the Drawing and Painting program. In 1989, she created one of the earliest versions of our course, Issues of Representation. She was a sought-after instructor for her expertise in figuration, expression and experimentation,” wrote Dean Foster.  

A virtual gathering will be held on Wednesday, March 16 at 3 p.m. The community is invited to send thoughts, stories and photos to Melissa LaVallee, executive assistant to the Dean of the Faculty of Art, which will be shared at the memorial. Look for an invitation to the event with a Team's link in your OCAD U email. 

Over her 40-year career, Daley developed a unique body of work that was whimsical, dark, vivacious and empowering. She possessed an enduring preoccupation with the female form, which she mixed with considerations of popular culture and high fashion. She was best known for her monochrome drawings of semi-abstract female figures in motion, clothed in billowing black dresses, tutus and high heels.  

Daley received her Bachelor of Fine Arts from Ontario College of Art (OCA) in 1975 and began teaching at the University in 1988. She never missed a day in her studio and continued to make art even after falling ill. 

“Her artworks were simple, clean, smudged but unique, and a favourite among interior designers who placed her pieces in high-end homes across Toronto, and beyond,” wrote Nadja Sayej in an article about Daley published in Forbes on March 6.

Working predominantly with black pastel and charcoal on translucent vellum, Daley explored how women are represented through images and language in Western culture. She was also interested in the female body’s relationship to private and public space. 

“I was a student in one of Cathy's very first drawing classes in the late 1980s. Her class was impactful. She introduced me to many artists working in drawing that I did not hear about in my other classes. She opened my eyes to new ways of working,” remembers Adrienne Reynolds, a graduate of OCA, a practicing visual artist and an English for Art and Design Specialist in the Writing and Learning Centre at OCAD U. 

In the early 1990s, Daley gained attention with two related bodies of work for which she became known, a series of life-sized reclining nudes, executed in rich, solid black silhouettes and a group of small, melancholic paintings depicting women dressing and undressing in muted interiors. 

“[Her] drawings reflect a contemporary, post-feminist ambivalence toward fashion, critiquing the garment industry’s wrapped-and-bound feminine ideal and the notion of woman as spectacle. But irony in Daley’s cultural criticism is the source of much of the drawing’s wit. While recognizing the limitations imposed by old ideals, she also acknowledges their grace and appeal and expresses a certain nostalgia and yearning,” art critic Roni Feinstein wrote of her work in Art in America.

About Cathy Daley 

Cathy Daley was born in Toronto in 1955. In the 1970s she studied at the OCA as well as at Arts’ Sake Inc., an independent art school founded by eight OCA faculty members in 1977.  

Throughout her career she experimented with a range of media and techniques including abstraction, animation, sculpture, ceramics, collage, installation and digital painting. Apart from her work as a visual artist, in the 1990s she also designed sets and props for Toronto-based theatre productions. 

She taught at OCAD University until 2020, when she became Professor Emerita in the Faculty of Art. As an artist and educator she was an inspiration to generations of emerging artists. She was also involved in developing a number of new courses at OCAD U that incorporated feminist perspectives. 

"I took a course on collage with Cathy Daley that deeply impacted my artistic practice. She taught me about the importance of honouring the process as well as experimental approaches to drawing and painting. I am going to miss our talks and her words of encouragement. Cathy's legacy lives on through all of the lives she touched. There is goodness and magic in the world, her artwork taught me that,” reflects Carly McAskill, who graduated from OCAD U’s Drawing and Painting program in 2011 and is currently pursuing a PhD at Concordia University. 

Since 1980, Cathy Daley's works have been exhibited in galleries across the country including Oakville Galleries, the Art Gallery of Ontario, the Kelowna Art Gallery and Southern Alberta Gallery as well as internationally at the Museum Dhondt Dhaenens in Belgium and Galerie Den Haag in the Netherlands. 

Most notably, her works are in the collections of The National Gallery of Canada and The Art Gallery of Ontario as well as many other public institutions and private collections. 

In honour of her recent passing, Newzones Gallery of Contemporary Art in Calgary, Ontario has mounted an exhibition of her works. Newzones has been exhibiting Daley’s work for over thirty years.  

News Summary
On Wednesday, March 16, the University will hold a virtual memorial gathering at 3 p.m. to celebrate Cathy Daley's life and contributions.
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A photo of Cathy Daley standing in front of one of her drawings.

OCAD University’s RBC Centre for Emerging Artists & Designers is excited to announce a call for artists in partnership with Slate Asset Management. Slate Asset Management is seeking proposals for a rotating public art exhibit that will animate the lobby of 2 St. Clair West in the Yonge St. + St. Clair Avenue West community. Slate welcomes artists, working in all mediums to submit proposals. Slate is seeking medium to large-scale pieces to be displayed on two walls in the lobby. Slate’s rotating art program will occur two times a year. 

DEADLINE: April 25, 2021 at 11:59 PM

PROGRAMMING: Slate will select one artist to exhibit their works on temporary loan in the lobby of 2 St. Clair West from June 2021 – December 2021 (6-month period). 

A minimum of 2 proposed pieces are expected, and the option exists for the presentation of multiple small pieces. The submission of existing finished works is encouraged. 

FEE: The selected artist will receive a $3,000 rental fee for the 6-month display of their works. A brief artist bio will be displayed alongside the works. 

OCAD U RBC CEAD and Slate Asset Management are committed to promoting access to this opportunity for equity-seeking groups that are under-represented as creative entrepreneurs. We encourage applications from individuals of equity-seeking communities including racialized and Indigenous persons, persons with disabilities, women and persons of all sexual orientations and gender identities/ expressions. Applicants are invited to voluntarily self-identify with any of these communities in their application. 


  • Proposed pieces must fill both walls appropriately 
  • Pieces can be exhibited with option for sale at the end of the term 
  • When appropriate, pieces must be framed (i.e. works on paper etc) 
  • Large scale pieces are encouraged 
  • The artist is responsible for any ancillary costs, including installation and de-installation. 


Applicants can visit the location to see the space, if they wish; Monday - Friday, 8am - 6pm. Selected artworks will be on display to tenants of the building and visiting members of the public. 


  • April 25, 2021 – Proposals Due 
  • The week of May 10, 2021 – Artist is selected 
  • Early June 2021 – Pieces installation 
  • December 2021 – Exhibit ends 


Selected work will be shown at 2 St. Clair West, Toronto (St. Clair West Avenue at Yonge St.) 


Applicants who need assistance with their submissions are invited to connect with the RBC CEAD for Advising support from Zviko Mhakayakora at


Open to OCAD U Drawing & Painting students graduating in 2021 


  • Current creative CV including full contact information (name, phone and email). Include prior relevant education, work experience, exhibition history and awards. 
  • Statement of Interest. Include an artist bio (100-word max) and short written proposal (250 words max) 
  • Proposal. Include renderings/sketches of the pieces which you are proposing for display. If the pieces are already produced, dimensions and high-resolution photos of the work are required. Images of the available display spaces can be found here: 

All uploaded files must be named as follows to be considered: LastName_First Name_[item]_SlateAssetManagement, for example, Doe_Dakota_Resume_SlateAssetManagement.

View full application details on our Career Launcher website. 

Paintings in photo by Avleen Kaur. 


Slate Asset Management is seeking proposals for a rotating public art exhibit that will animate the lobby of 2 St. Clair West in the Yonge St. + St. Clair Avenue West community. This opportunity is open to Drawing & Painting students graduating in 2021.

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Slate Asset Management, Call for Artists
Event Display
Hide when event is over

To reduce the volume of hazardous waste produced at OCAD U as well as reduce the cost of its safe disposal, Drawing & Painting are shifting from paper towel brush cleaning to cloth rag brush cleaning.

Over 2018-19, a study was undertaken by students and staff to find ways to cut down on OCAD U’s hazardous waste. Soiled paper towels made up around half of the University’s hazardous waste! Shifting to cloth rag brush cleaning in Drawing & Painting is meant to encourage reuse of scrap material that might otherwise go to landfill.

To aid in this transition, we will be placing storage containers in each studio to hold upcycled cloth material for students to use as painting rags.

This Drawing and Painting initiative is in collaboration with Safety & Security, Facilities & Studio Services, and the Office of Diversity, Equity & Sustainability Initiatives.

Diversity, Equity & Sustainability (ODESI) Faculty of Art
Rags covered in paint


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