Guests delight in exhibit How to Breathe Forever

Dark room with people in foreground and works of art, neon light
Thursday, January 17, 2019

Close to 300 people escaped the cold and enjoyed the opening night of Onsite Gallery’s latest exhibition, How to Breathe Forever. The group exhibition underlines the importance and interconnectedness of air, animals, land, plants and water. Featuring work by local, national and international artists, How to Breathe Forever invites visitors to consider an expanded personhood that attentively collaborates and exchanges with living things.

Curated by Lisa Deanne Smith, Onsite Gallery’s Curator, features the work of international artists including OCAD U alumni Rouzbeh Akhbari, Mary Anne Barkhouse and Maryanne Casasanta, alongside DaveandJenn, Li Xinmo, Qavavau Manumi, Felix Kalmenson, Naufus Ramírez-Figueroa, Ningiukulu Teevee and Flora Weistche.

The public opening reception featured remarks by Archer Pechawis. A performance artist, new media artist, filmmaker, writer, curator and educator and member of Mistawasis First Nation, Saskatchewan, Pechawis thanked Onsite Gallery, OCAD U and the exhibiting artists for their creativity and vision. President Sara Diamond congratulated Lisa Deanne Smith, who personally thanked the exhibitors in attendance: Mary Anne Barkhouse, Maryanne Casasanta, DaveandJenn, Rouzbeh Akhbari and Flora Weistche.

The exhibition is presented with the support of the Canada Council for the Arts, the Ontario Arts Council and Nexus Investments, the free exhibition runs through to April 14, 2019.

Archie Pechawis speaking at podium in gallery
Sculpture of a rabbit looking down at a prone rabbit

The Sunshine Eaters wows crowds at Onsite Gallery

Embellished textile walk art depicting Black Children
Friday, January 12, 2018

People lined up outside OCAD U’s professional gallery, Onsite, the evening of January 10 to gain entry to The Sunshine Eaters, a new exhibition curated by Lisa Deanne Smith.

Once inside, the capacity crowd took in Nick Cave’s glittering sound suits and Ebony G. Patterson’s embellished Jacquard fabric wall work. Delicate lilies made of bronze float beside two scent stations evoking places in time. Mediums on display include film, video installation, scent, sculpture, painting, drawing and textile. Shary Boyle created three new sculptures specifically for the exhibition.

Earlier in the evening, the auditorium at 100 McCaul St. was overflowing for a talk by visual artists Patterson and Cave.

In the exhibition brochure, Smith, Curator for Onsite explains The Sunshine Eaters: “highlights how contemporary artists and designers look to the land, plants, flowers and trees as a means to imagine and conjure hope in the face of crises.”

Exhibiting artists:

  • Shary Boyle
  • Nick Cave
  • Robert Holmes
  • Jim Holyoak
  • Brian Jungen
  • Jessica Karuhanga
  • Alexandra Kehayoglou
  • Nina Leo and Moez Surani
  • Tony Matelli
  • Alanis Obomsawin
  • Ebony G. Patterson
  • Winnie Truong

The free exhibition runs through to April 15, 2018, with a number of free talks and events. See the exhibition listing for more information.


199 Richmond St. W., Toronto

Gallery hours:

Wednesday – Noon to 8 p.m.
Thursday & Friday – Noon to 7 p.m.
Saturday & Sunday – Noon to 5 p.m.


Hand tufted textile that looks like trees and moss in foreground
Two sculptures of heads smelling flowers on their faces
A tall colourful, beaded and sequined costum

REMAINS: to be left after the removal, loss, destruction of all else

Suzanna Wright S+I
Monday, April 14, 2008 - 4:00am to Friday, April 18, 2008 - 4:00am

It is what remains that often goes unappreciated, but in the upcoming Transit Space exhibition REMAINS are the focus. This student run exhibition invites all other Site and Intervention students to share their site-specific works by means of photo documentation, performance, and installation.

Venue & Address: 
Transit Space 100 McCaul St., Toronto, Ontario

Proud objects: Cheryl Pope’s first Canadian exhibition + tips for collaborative art


Cheryl Pope, I WANT TO BE PROUD, 2016. Text by Debora Puricelli. Nylon and tackle twill, 3 x 5 ft. Image courtesy of the artist and Monique Meloche Gallery, Chicago.

In early 2016, renowned Chicago-based visual artist and designer Cheryl Pope collaborated with OCAD University students and local community members in her first Canadian exhibition, which formed a major part of Onsite Gallery and the university’s Pride 2016 programming (June 8 to July 4). This site-specific exhibition, Objects for Listening, included 10 colourful, varsity-style champion banners and multiple audio installations she calls “listening stations.”

All the pieces were developed in workshops, in which Pope led us through a variety of exercises, each one bringing us deeper into our private personal thoughts and perceptions. We answered questions. We sewed and chatted. We wrote while looking at ourselves in mirrors. And then we chatted some more.



Cheryl Pope, I AM MYSELF, 2016. Text by OCAD U workshop participant. Nylon and tackle twill, 3 x 5 ft. Image courtesy of the artist and Monique Meloche Gallery, Chicago.


Cheryl Pope, I AM NOT AFRAID, 2016. Nylon and tackle twill, 3 x 5 ft. Image courtesy of the artist and Monique Meloche Gallery, Chicago.

Queer diversity and community

Pope designed the artworks in Objects for Listening to carry individuals’ thoughts from the OCAD U community. Those individuals may or may not have very different viewpoints, but they all reveal deep reflection on diverse identities, gender expressions and sexual orientations. Today, at the 35th anniversary of the bathhouse raids and Toronto’s Pride Parade, it is impossible to find any overarching language that could define the OCAD U or queer communities.

As discussions at the intersections of gender, race, cultural background, ability, age, class, education, politics and values are expanded, the significance of community remains important. As a community, over the past 35 years many in Toronto have fought hard for diverse sexual and gender expressions and identities.

Now, as we investigate systemic oppression, community strength, support and brainstorming remain vital. Working collaboratively, in the manner Pope does, successfully navigates and supports individuals and their communities.


Cheryl Pope, I DON”T SEE ME AS YOU SEE ME, 2016. Nylon and tackle twill, 3 x 5 ft. Image courtesy of the artist and Monique Meloche Gallery, Chicago.


Cheryl Pope, I AM UNSURE OF MY PLACE, 2016. Text by Lizz Khan. Nylon and tackle twill, 3 x 5 ft. Image courtesy of the artist and Monique Meloche Gallery, Chicago.

Cheryl Pope. Image courtesy of the artist and Monique Meloche Gallery, Chicago. Photo credit: LaMont Hamilton.

Cheryl Pope. Image courtesy of the artist and Monique Meloche Gallery, Chicago. Photo credit: LaMont Hamilton.

Pope’s 7 most important elements for designing collaborative art projects

  1. “Generating content with people through conversations, workshops, text submissions and free writes is rooted in the value of discovering together, of asking, looking, listening and finding.”
  2. Creating collaboratively “respects and celebrates the individual and highlights that individuals together make a community.”
  3. Pope’s works “offer the possibility to hear both the individual and the community.”
  4. “Working in this way, I find that it is possible to avoid assumptions and, instead, hear and better represent the voice of the people I am collaborating with.”
  5. “Research through conversations and workshops draws a foundation to the work that it is for the people, by the people and with the people. I see myself as a journalist; this is extremely important, as the work is understood as a voice of many.”
  6. “Being physically present with people and listening offers me the opportunity to hear the call and reactions, the community speak, the value and weight of the voice, of the body, the temperature in the room, the cadence and the progression, the silence, the comfort and discomfort. These aspects are most important in the research, the physicality of language.”
  7. “The workshops are focused opportunities for reflecting, sharing, questioning and listening. They offer the opportunity for members of the same community to hear one another, in a safe, respected and valued space. The awareness that their voices are being listened to as part of the research seems to call forward a heightened intention to the contribution and exchange.”


Lisa Deanne Smith is the curator of Onsite Gallery, OCAD University’s experimental curatorial platform and professional gallery of art, design and digital media.

Lisa Deanne Smith
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WorldPride 2014 logo courtesy Pride Toronto.
My Dolly is Prettier than Your Dolly by Jared Prince. Image courtesy Graduate Gallery.

Generations of Queer is the feature exhibition during WorldPride at OnSite [at] OCAD U, the university’s professional gallery at 230 Richmond Street West. It features the work of Robert Flack, John Greyson, Elisha Lim and Kiley May, curated by Lisa Deanne-Smith. The exhibition also has spawned a Facebook storytelling forum, Generations of Queer The Queer Chronicles, where people are invited to share their stories of Pride.

Special events during WorldPride are:

Monday, June 23: 7 p.m.: Clocked, Don Pyle and Martin Sorrondeguy look at queer content in their punk photographs
Wednesday, June 25, 8 p.m.: DUORAMA, a performance by Paul Couillard and Ed Johnson co-presented by Fado Performance Art Centre.
The university’s Graduate Gallery at 205 Richmond Street West is mounting Bending the Horizon, an exhibition in celebration of the work, diversity and lives of the university’s LGBTQI2-S students, World Pride Toronto, and our collective future. It runs June 19 to 28, with opening night celebrations on Saturday, June 21, 7 p.m. to midnight.

OCADSU, the OCAD University Student Union, is joining forces Ryerson University’s Pride office and George Brown Students’ Association on a post-secondary float in the World Pride parade on Sunday, June 29. OCAD U community members interested in participating in the parade are invited to meet at Rosedale Valley Road at 12 noon and look for registration spot: 33G. Call or Text the Equity & Campaigns Organizer at 416-899-2256 if you get lost. Free T-shirts and bandanas will be provided for participants.

OCADU students and community members are also invited to the events listed on this page, which OCAD U departments and the Student Union also helped to support.

Find out more

Check out the complete Pride schedule


No Dull Affairs: Karen Lofgren, Vanessa Maltese and Jillian McDonald

Image: Karen Lofgren, Stabilizer #1, 2012
Wednesday, June 19, 2013 - 4:00am to Saturday, October 12, 2013 - 4:00am

Presented by Onsite [at] OCAD U gallery

Curated by Lisa Deanne Smith

Opening Reception: Wednesday, June 19, 6 to 9 p.m.


Saturday, June 22, 1 p.m.
Artists panel with Karen Lofgren, Vanessa Maltese and Jillian McDonald

Wednesday, June 26, 6:30 p.m.
Insite Curator’s Tour with Lisa Deanne Smith

Wednesday, July 10, 6:30 p.m.
Insite Exhibition Tour with Lucas Soi, Director/Curator at Soi Fischer

Wednesday, September 25, 6:30 p.m.
Insite Exhibition Tour with Vladimir Spicanovic, Dean, OCAD University’s Faculty of Art

Balls out confidence is needed to make art work an aesthetic event. In saying “balls out,” Curator Lisa Deanne Smith isn’t referring to a macho practice, but to the origin of “balls out” which refers to running a steam engine train at maximum speed via a governor or a speed limiter — when going full out without crashing, the balls rise to the top. It is this kind of confidence and balance found in the work of artists Karen Lofgren, Vanessa Maltese and Jillian McDonald in No Dull Affairs. The relationships they create with their materials, site and audience are bold.

All of the work in No Dull Affairs references historical predecessors, seduces with craftsmanship and ultimately includes the viewer in its completion, creating a moment difficult to pin down with language without making it disappear — a balls out balancing act.

Karen Lofgren is a Toronto-born Los Angeles-based artist who received her MFA from CalArts and an AOCAD from OCAD University. Solo exhibitions include Machine Project, Pitzer Art Galleries, Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions, royale projects : contempoarary art and Armory Center for the Arts. Group exhibitions include Los Angeles County Museum of Art, High Desert Test Sites and Human Resources for Pacific Standard Time. Her work has been featured in Artforum critic’s picks, LA Weekly, and the LA Times, as well as books, catalogues, and album covers. Awards include Canada Council for the Arts and Durfee Foundation grants.

Vanessa Maltese lives and works in Toronto and holds a BFA from OCAD University. The National Winner in the 2012 RBC Canadian Painting Competition, she has presented two solo exhibitions at Toronto's Erin Stump Projects. Maltese will soon be exhibiting in a group show at Wil Aballe Art Projects in Vancouver.

Jillian McDonald is a Canadian artist living in New York. Her work was featured in a 2013 radio documentary by Paul Kennedy on CBC's Ideas, titled Valley of the Deer; has been reviewed in publications including The New York Times, Art Papers, The Globe and Mail, The Toronto Star, and Border Crossings; and appears in several books including Better Off Dead edited by Sarah Juliet Lauro. In 2012 she represented Canada at the Glenfiddich international residency in Dufftown, Scotland.

Lisa Deanne Smith is engaged in a cultural practice that moves between multiple mediums — art, events, curation, writing and arts administration — exploring issues of voice, experience and power. Recent curatorial projects at Onsite [at] OCAD University include Ads for People: Selling Ethics in the Digital Age and I Wonder by Marian Bantjes.

Presented with support from Glenfiddich Single Malt Scotch Whiskey.

Thanks to Andy Fairgrieve at Glenfiddich Artist-in-Residence and Beth-Anne Thomas at William Grant & Sons Distillers Ltd; Rick Royale at royale projects : contemporary art; Erin Stump at Erin Stump Projects; the Onsite Advisory Board chaired by Michael Haddad; Lucas Soi at Soi Fischer; Vladimir Spicanovic at OCAD U; Erin Smithies; Rouzbeh Akhbari and especially the artists: Karen Lofgren, Vanessa Maltese and Jillian McDonald.

Gallery Hours:
Tuesday to Friday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Saturday, noon to 6 p.m.

Admission to the gallery and all related events is free.

Image: Karen Lofgren, Stabilizer #1, 2012


416-977-6000 x265



Venue & Address: 
Onsite [at] OCAD U 230 Richmond Street West Toronto, Ontario