Feature

BEHIND THE SCENES AT GRADEX 2014

Dr. Sara Diamond celebrates with the 2014 medal winners. Photo by Christine Crosbie.
Dr. Sara Diamond celebrates with the 2014 medal winners. Photo by Christine Crosbie.

The OCAD U community celebrated its 99th GradEx last weekend, the annual exhibition of work by graduating students. GradEx, which completely transforms the main campus at 100 McCaul St. every year into one of the biggest public galleries in the city, ran May 1 to 4. So what does it take to put on an exhibition featuring 600 emerging artists for an audience of 25,000 viewers with events held over three and a half days?

Jeff Zoeller, Manager, Outreach Events at OCAD U, and GradEx event planner in chief, starts working on it in October, after Nuit Blanche. Zoeller, who’s also worked as an event planner for Pride Week Toronto and the Juno Awards, coordinates the efforts of a central committee, 11 working groups, 50 monitors and the participation of faculty and staff from across the university including staff from the Development & Alumni Relations Office, Security and Facilities Management.

Of course each year’s student cohort does a great deal of work preparing for the event as well. In addition to creating their projects and own project displays, they move furniture into storage and often paint walls to help transform classrooms and halls into exhibition space. For many of the students this is their first major exhibition, and an opportunity to meet curators, dealers, studio heads, potential employers and other members of Toronto’s art and design community.

Every year there’s an overall unifying creative vision for GradEx. Zoeller works with a previous year’s medal winner to come up with a design concept and colour palette that inspires every detail, from the catering to the décor in the Medal Winners Lounge. This year’s creative design is by Ashley Mackenzie (Illustration, 2013), who designed the image of a student’s head in an illuminated lightbulb that you’ll see everywhere on the official GradEx posters. 

 




Dr. Sara Diamond celebrates with the 2014 medal winners. Photo by Christine Crosbie.

The OCAD U community celebrated its 99th GradEx last weekend, the annual exhibition of work by graduating students. GradEx, which completely transforms the main campus at 100 McCaul St. every year into one of the biggest public galleries in the city, ran May 1 to 4. So what does it take to put on an exhibition featuring 600 emerging artists for an audience of 25,000 viewers with events held over three and a half days?

Jeff Zoeller, Manager, Outreach Events at OCAD U, and GradEx event planner in chief, starts working on it in October, after Nuit Blanche. Zoeller, who’s also worked as an event planner for Pride Week Toronto and the Juno Awards, coordinates the efforts of a central committee, 11 working groups, 50 monitors and the participation of faculty and staff from across the university including staff from the Development & Alumni Relations Office, Security and Facilities Management.

Of course each year’s student cohort does a great deal of work preparing for the event as well. In addition to creating their projects and own project displays, they move furniture into storage and often paint walls to help transform classrooms and halls into exhibition space. For many of the students this is their first major exhibition, and an opportunity to meet curators, dealers, studio heads, potential employers and other members of Toronto’s art and design community.

Every year there’s an overall unifying creative vision for GradEx. Zoeller works with a previous year’s medal winner to come up with a design concept and colour palette that inspires every detail, from the catering to the décor in the Medal Winners Lounge. This year’s creative design is by Ashley Mackenzie (Illustration, 2013), who designed the image of a student’s head in an illuminated lightbulb that you’ll see everywhere on the official GradEx posters. 

 

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