MEET GRAD EX 2013 MEDAL WINNER, MIKE GOLDBY (INTEGRATED MEDIA)

Mike Goldby at Grad Ex 2013. Photo by Christina Gapic.
Part of Mike Goldby's project, Premier Life. Image courtesy of Tomorrow Gallery.

Mike Goldby’s medal award-winning project, Premier Life, is a multimedia exploration of personal branding strategies. Here’s how he describes it:

Premier Life is the name of my thesis exhibition shown at Tomorrow Gallery. The work examines network structures and how image-making strategies are co-opted for personal branding. The show includes nine photographs, three sculptures and a video.

What inspired you and motivated you to do this project?

I decided I wanted to attempt photography, which I’d never done before, so that was really the springboard for the whole project. It led towards editorial or fashion imagery that I was familiar with, but I was interested in utilizing that aesthetic as a way to examine social network structures since Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

What part of the process of creating this project did you learn the most from?

The whole process was informative and rewarding, but I would say reading and writing was the most important aspect of thesis for me.

What part of the process of creating this project are you the most proud of?

I was most proud to have been offered a show, especially at a space like Tomorrow.

How did you react to the news that you won a medal for your work?

I called my mom!

What’s you fondest memory from your studies at OCAD U, and what will you miss the most?

I’ll miss being surrounded by a group of faculty and students that are invested in worthwhile discussions involving art and culture.

What are you planning to do next?

Continuing my studio practice post-institution.

Find out more about Mike Goldby:

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MEET GRAD EX 2013 MEDAL WINNER, SAYEDA AKBARY (GRAPHIC DESIGN)

Sayeda Akbary at Grad Ex 2013. Photo by Christina Gapic.
Part of Sayeda Akbary's project, All That's Been Said and Done. Image by Sayeda Akbary.

Sayeda Akbary’s medal award-winning project, All That’s Been Said and Done is a participatory video installation. Here’s how she describes it:

The title of my thesis is All That’s Been Said & Done. The project is a video installation based on the different lifestyles of people in the western society (Us) and people in the third world countries (Them). The installation is a replica of a room, in an Afghani village, with two full wall projections facing each other. The space between the projections forms an extension for the audience to fully participate and share the space of a third world society and its people. As part of the project, I distributed over forty disposable cameras to children around the different villages during my visit and assigned them a task to help us see through their eyes. Throughout this approach, I used graphic design as a creative process to convey a specific message to a targeted audience through visual communication and presentation. By using various methods of combining images, sound, video, typography and page layout, my aim is to produce a balanced and focused installation that visually represents my ideas and messages.

What inspired you and motivated you to do this project?

What inspired me were the experiences I faced when I first visited Afghanistan, after a very long time, in June of 2011. I felt there was a barrier between my extended family and Us because of our social class and standards. Through my approach, I wanted to remove these barriers and help Them share our experiences while we shared theirs. I wanted Them to feel that there is nothing that marks one of us better than the other and there are no barriers that can stop us from living the lives and sharing the experiences of each other.

What part of the process of creating this project did you learn the most from?

I learned the most from re-visiting Afghanistan in December of 2012 to gather further research for this project and I would say that was by far the best decision I ever made. This was an opportunity where I got to work in person with the children of my village. I was able to share their space with them and learn from them. I shared my knowledge of the western society with them in return. We soon started to adapt each other’s behaviour and physical language. They soon felt that sharing the “western” experiences made them as good as the “westerners” and that there was nothing left to make one of us better than the other. I learned about these children’s feelings and their future dreams. 

What part of the process of creating this project are you the most proud of?

I am really proud of making the Afghanistan trip happen for this project. I was also extremely happy and satisfied with how my final installation turned out. It served the purpose really well and knowing that the audience fully experienced and understood the atmosphere of the installation was definitely a good feeling.

How did you react to the news that you won a medal for your work?

I was surprised, excited and out of words, but I think I was more happy to know that I had achieved the goal I had set for myself and that was to get my message and ideas across. It has definitely motivated me to continue making important differences in people’s lives. 

What’s your fondest memory from your studies at OCAD U, and what will you miss the most?

The past years at OCAD U have been magnificent. As a student monitor, full time staff member and a full time student, I have met so many different amazing students, coworkers and instructors who have challenged me and supported me in every step to pushing my limits. My finest moments are the time and the knowledge I have shared with the OCAD U community. 

What are you planning to do next?

I am currently working on an upcoming exhibition planned for August that will feature my work together with thesis work by my peers. My plan is to do as many exhibitions as possible throughout the next year. I will also be attending OCAD U to complete my minor in INTM. Future plans are to complete a Master’s program.

Find out more about Sayeda Akbary:

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MEET GRAD EX 2013 MEDAL WINNER, TARA BURSEY (CRITICISM & CURATORIAL PRACTICE)

Tara Bursey at Grad Ex 2013. Photo by Christina Gapic.
Part of Tara Bursey's project, Father Knowledge, Mother Tongue. Image by Tara Bursey.

Tara Bursey’s medal award-winning project Father Knowledge, Mother Tongue is an interdisciplinary publishing project highlighting stories of immigration, language, labour and adaptation. Here’s how she describes it:

My project, Father Knowledge, Mother Tongue, is a research and interdisciplinary publishing project. Taking inspiration from diverse approaches and disciplines such as oral history, critical pedagogy, community art practices and new working class studies, the project centres on two artist books I produced in collaboration with my parents that highlight their respective stories of inmigration and immigration, language, labour and adaptation. Compiling their convergent stories and elevating them through the production of both publications and works of art, Father Knowledge, Mother Tongue addresses the importance of integrating overlooked voices —specifically those of immigrants and working classes — into the cultural landscape.

What part of the process of creating this project did you learn the most from?

I learned to trust myself and trust the collaborative process more. Early in the project, I would ask myself: What the hell did I get myself into?  What is even going on here?  A big part of the collaborative process is learning to balance critical thinking with flexibility. I also learned to be a better listener.

What part of the process of creating this project are you the most proud of?

I’m amazed and proud that my parents and I were able to work on a multifaceted project as a family! It is thrilling to learn firsthand that anyone can become a cultural producer and bring their important lived experiences to creative projects. I’m proud there is something quietly subversive about this work, and that through the project I was able to bring art production and self-publishing a little further afield.

How did you react to the news that you won a medal for your work?

I was at work on my lunch break when I got the news — one of my thesis advisors called me to let me know. I remember having some really important work to do after lunch that I just couldn’t concentrate on because my mind was racing. I called my boyfriend and my mother.

What’s your fondest memory from your studies at OCAD U, and what will you miss the most?

The support and feedback of my thesis advisors Jennifer Rudder and Andrea Fatona. They are both so amazing and knowledgeable — an awesome pair who bring so much heart and smarts to the CRCP program. Also, the support, intelligence and feedback of my peers in CRCP thesis class helped and stimulated me —  their projects were unique, diverse and inspiring.

What are you planning to do next? 

I am currently working as an Administrative Assistant at Toronto School of Art and a Researcher for the Artscape Youngplace project. I have been working as a Contributing Curator at Gallery 1313, and am co-curating an exhibition that opens in August called Fear of Punk//Fear of Art that will be a part of the programming around Zine Dream, an annual Toronto small press art fair that is the brainchild of OCAD U alum Jesjit Gill. Finally, my partner and I have plans to relocate to Hamilton in the fall, which we’re looking forward to!

Find out more about Tara Bursey:

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MEET GRAD EX 2013 MEDAL WINNER, SHANNON LEA DOYLE (SCULPTURE/INSTALLATION)

Shannon Lea Doyle at Grad Ex 2013. Photo by Christina Gapic.
Video image still from Shannon Lea Doyle's project, Crowds and Collisions. Image by Shannon Lea Doyle.

Shannon Lea Doyle’s medal award-winning project, Crowds and Collisions is a multimedia work that explores moments of connection and distance between individuals. Here’s how she describes it:

My thesis is a series called Crowds and Collisions that includes performance, collage, and beaded sculptures. The work centres on the role mediation and memory play in the perception of events, both removed and intimately experienced. I argue for the multiplicity of truth. A sense of suspension permeates the work. I never pin down an answer, instead the work illuminates the ways in which we don’t know. Images of groups are the connective tissue of my work — I see in them as an opportunity to consider oppositions such as merger and distance, cohesion and fragmentation. My thesis aims to engage the viewer by prompting doubt.

What inspired you and motivated you to do this project?

Images from the newspaper as well as amateur video footage of “breaking news” became the roots of this series. Specifically images of protest, disaster and football motivated my thinking. 

What part of the process of creating this project did you learn the most from?

I learned continuously during the past year, but an awareness of that knowledge came after exhibiting the work. 

What part of the process of creating this project are you the most proud of?

I am proud that the process is not over for me. 

How did you react to the news that you won a medal for your work?

I was disoriented. I got lost on my way to the Faculty of Art Office to pick up information about Grad Ex.

What’s your fondest memory from your studies at OCAD U, and what will you miss the most?

My fondest memories are of my wickedly smart classmates, I will miss working alongside them so often. 

What are you planning to do next? 

I am preparing work for a couple of shows this summer and working in the design stream of Soulpepper Theatre Company’s Academy. 

Find out more about Shannon Lea Doyle:

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MEET GRAD EX 2013 MEDAL WINNER, ASHLEY MACKENZIE (ILLUSTRATION)

Ashley Mackenzie at Grad Ex 2013. Photo by Christina Gapic.
Part of Ashley Mackenzie's project, Dangerous Ideas. Image by Ashley Mackenzie.

Ashley Mackenzie’s medal award-winning project, Dangerous Ideas, is a work that investigates our reaction to science and thinking. Here’s how she describes it:

My thesis was called Dangerous Ideas which explored controversial concepts proposed by various scientists and intellectuals, using visual metaphors to investigate how these ideas can make us so uncomfortable and encourage people to think about them.

What inspired you and motivated you to do this project?

I had read The Best American Non-Required Reading 2007 over the summer and there was a chapter dedicated to a series of responses to the question “What is your dangerous idea?” Apparently Edge.org does one of these every year and everything is archived online so I went through and found common themes and ideas and continued doing research to find the concepts that I thought were the most intriguing or relevant.

What part of the process of creating this project did you learn the most from?

I definitely learned the most from going through the actual ideation process. The concepts I’d chosen were very challenging since in many ways they were rather abstract and it was difficult to find a way to visualize them clearly in a unique way without relying too heavily on cliche.

What part of the process of creating this project are you the most proud of?

Those times when I finally managed to nail down the sketch matched the idea. It was certainly the part of the process that I spent the most time on and while it was the most stressful part it was also the most satisfying.

How did you react to the news that you won a medal for your work?

I was really surprised! I was there the morning just before the judging touching up my display and looking at everyone’s work I couldn’t help but be amazed. Everyone put in so much work, it was such a strong year and I was incredibly honoured to have won.

What’s your fondest memory from your studies at OCAD U, and what will you miss the most?

I really liked working on the Wallspace since I never really spent much time working in the actual school outside of class time. It was nice running into people who recognized my work and also just have people drop by to say hi. I’ve also never painted anything on that scale before so it was both exciting and terrifying but I think it went pretty well. I’ll definitely miss the critiques since it’s so hard to find such easy access to the wealth of visual knowledge and help you get from your peers and professors once you leave, and I think it’s certainly one of those things you take for granted when you’re in school.

What are you planning to do next? 

I’m hoping to start freelancing, trying to get some editorial jobs and maybe publishing. I’d like to work on some personal projects, get back to drawing and sketching since school’s kept me too busy to really indulge my sketchbooks.

Find out more about Ashley Mackenzie:

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MEET GRAD EX 2013 MEDAL WINNER, ALEX THOMPSON (PRINTMAKING)

Alex Thompson at Grad Ex 2013. Photo by Christina Gapic.
Part of Alex Thompson's project, Self-Portrait. Image by Alex Thompson.

Alex Thompson’s medal award-winning project, Self-Portrait, took architectural renderings and made them personal. Here’s how he describes it:

My body of thesis work was entitled Self-Portrait, and consisted of architectural renderings of institutions that I felt had a significant impact on my personal development. These were laser engraved onto layers of transparent acrylic, which were suspended from cable to create floating structures. The works drew heavily on my personal memory of the sites, critiquing the generic nature of Modernist structures while drawing upon their aesthetic to communicate the idea of the institution.

What inspired you and motivated you to do this project?

My work has, over the last few years, been moving into a very industrial, architectural territory, and going into my thesis year it really struck home that for the entirety of my life I had existed within educational institutions. The realization was paired with an awareness of the continuous relationship that we as a culture share with some form of institutional environment, and that really got my brain going and motivated me to pursue the idea for my thesis.

What part of the process of creating this project did you learn the most from?

The entire process was a learning curve for me. This was the first time I had focused so much time and energy into a single project for such an extended period, and it was incredibly rewarding. The technical requirements of the project required a lot of trial and error, and I had an excellent support network in the form of the printmaking technicians and my thesis advisors who were on deck to answer questions and lend opinions.

What part of the process of creating this project are you the most proud of?

Working in three dimensions with plastic and cable was new for me, and I am very proud of the final aesthetic the project took on. I had a good idea of what I wanted the piece to look like, and had done many, many tests, but wasn’t exactly sure how the final product would actually look. I got the final components back from rapid prototyping the day before installation at the gallery.

How did you react to the news that you won a medal for your work? 

I had dropped in to the Faculty of Art Office to drop off a form, and Winston Tulloch informed me I had won. I was pretty shocked because I didn’t think I was going to win. It took awhile for it to sink in.

What’s your fondest memory from your studies at OCAD U, and what will you miss the most?

It’s hard to pinpoint a single memory. The studio environment is a great atmosphere, and has a really collective, collaborative feel. There are tons of great, creative, helpful people in the printmaking studios at OCAD U, and they helped make the studio a home as well as a workplace. I’m definitely going to miss that element of OCAD U.

What are you planning to do next? 

I’m currently working as a drama instructor at Theatre Ancaster, and have a number of ideas for upcoming projects simmering on the backburners. I want to try to get into an assistant position at a gallery in Toronto, and maintain my personal artistic practice. Further schooling may happen, but I need to get out into the “real world” first and get an idea what I want to do with my life.

Find out more about Alex Thompson:

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MEET GRAD EX 2013 MEDAL WINNER, TARA PAASHUIS (ENVIRONMENTAL DESIGN)

Tara Paashuis at Grad Ex 2013. Photo by Christina Gapic.
Part of Tara Paashuis's project, The Bath. Image by Tara Paashuis.

Tara Paashuis’s medal award-winning project, The Bath, is a design concept for an inclusive, socially responsible recreational centre. Here’s how she describes it:

My thesis project is called The Bath, and it centers around the adaptive re-use of a vacant 1930’s incinerator on a 5.5-acre brownfield site in the Junction. By reintroducing a variety of social bathing traditions, the design focuses on the senses and activities unmediated by digital technology. Accessible, inter-generational programming, and exchanges of “waste” or surplus (water, heat and revenue) helps to establish beneficial and sustainable relationships between buildings and within the community. 

What inspired you and motivated you to do this project?

I knew that I wanted to focus on a public bath, and I feel strongly that re-using existing buildings is far more sustainable than tearing down old ones or developing precious greenfields. The task was to locate an urban site that was underutilized, then figure out how to get Torontonians into the idea of a communal bath. The programming combines the accepted notions of recreation centres and luxury spas, and the complementary activities one might enjoy before and after, like a great meal, a walk in the garden, crafts or seasonal events. I really wanted to transform a forgotten area into an accessible, memorable place.

What part of the process of creating this project did you learn the most from?

The spatial requirements and recommendations for swimming pools, diving boards and universal design are quite complex. I researched these areas heavily. I also visited as many spas and pools as I could in Toronto, New York and Montreal. I learned to listen to the mechanical aspects of the space, and I became quite fussy about these details. Things like the water returns in the pools, the ventilation noises and the dripping of water had the capacity to either delight or disappoint.

What part of the process of creating this project are you the most proud of?

I am most proud of the fact that I just kept pushing — continued researching, refining my design, exploring the possibilities of my site, trying new ways of model making and learning new techniques for digital rendering.  

How did you react to the news that you won a medal for your work?

To be honest, I had been working so hard and hadn’t slept much and thought that I must have dreamed the phone call. I didn’t let myself believe it until I saw the email too. It was really overwhelming in a positive way!

What’s your fondest memory from your studies at OCAD U, and what will you miss the most?

Certainly the support of some really great teachers! I loved the camaraderie of the open studio, and will really miss all of our workshops. Having access to ceramics, wood, metal, plastic and rapid prototyping under one roof makes all the difference in the type of work you can explore and complete. 

What are you planning to do next?

I plan on getting my LEED credentials and furthering my education in architecture, but would like more practical experience first. I recently finished a design/build project with some classmates (portagecollective) in support of The Stop Community Food Centre’s annual Night Market. It’s great to have something actually built!

Find out more about Tara Paashuis:

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MEET GRAD EX 2013 MEDAL WINNER, COLLEEN MCCARTEN (MATERIAL ART & DESIGN)

Colleen McCarten at Grad Ex 2013. Photo by Christina Gapic.
Part of Colleen McCarten's project, Fabricate. Image by Colleen McCarten.

Colleen McCarten’s medal award-winning project, Fabricate, is a multimedia textile investigation. Here’s how she describes it:

Fabricate is a body of work that investigates the intersection of textiles and assumed value. Across a variety of mediums, this project employs a recurring technique of line and repetition to signify the basic components of textile construction. Through these decontextualized representations of textiles, this exploration asks: “does changing the material, scale, or technique alter the value of the piece?” If so, is it a sexist devaluation of a medium, or merely about the ability to understand the time and effort put into another process? 

What inspired you and motivated you to do this project?

Textiles have always been a large part of my life — from working in a fabric store throughout high school, studying fashion design at college, and then finishing my undergrad in Material Art and Design at OCAD U. I have always found it interesting how important textiles are in our daily lives, yet they are so often unnoticed or under appreciated.

What part of the process of creating this project did you learn the most from?

Material exploration is usually a recurring theme in all of my work, and is typically the part of creating that I learn the most from.

What part of the process of creating this project are you the most proud of?

I was proud of my ability to have enough obsessive compulsive tendencies to be able to finish the Drawing/Weaving piece. Repetition is a large theme in my body of work and I am glad to have had the patience to follow through with the repetitive actions involved in creating each piece.

How did you react to the news that you won a medal for your work?

I received the phone call while I was walking in the rain, and I felt really honoured! There were a lot of strong artists in the graduating class this year and I was happy to be among them.

What’s your fondest memory from your studies at OCAD U, and what will you miss the most?

The 16 hour days in the studio with fellow class mates always lead to the goofy/loopy/sleep deprived nights filled with new creative energy and random spouts of laughter. I will miss those nights along with having access to all of the different studios that OCAD U offers.

What are you planning to do next?

I am currently working at the Design Exchange for the summer, and I will be showing some work at the Guild Shop in the fall as well as participating in Hard Twist at the Gladstone in January. 

Find out more about Colleen McCarten:

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OCAD U Industrial Design students wow judges at the Rocket Show

Sarah Eldershaw's project on display at GradEx. Photo by Christina Gapic.

Imagine if you could easily make your own shoes from a bespoke mail-order kit. That’s what Sarah Eldershaw (Industrial Design, 2014) is making possible with her start-up company Shoe String Assemblies, which she began as her thesis project earlier this year. Her project won six prizes at the 2014 Rocket Showhosted by the Association of Chartered Industrial Designers of Ontario (ACIDO) and held at the Design Exchange May 10 and 11.

Eldershaw wore a pair of her “moxfords” (i.e. a cross between oxfords and moccasins) throughout the event, which impressed the judges — and  a reporter from The Globe and Mail.  She plans to sell her customizable shoe kits online (likely through Etsy) and laser cut them to her customers’ unique design specifications. The kits are designed to make it relaxing and enjoyable to craft one’s own shoes. Creator-wearers stitch them together with the included needle and thread (and detailed instructions) and can even custom embroider them.

Eldershaw was one of six OCAD U students who picked up awards at the Rocket Show this year. Together, OCAD U students won more than half the prizes and awards, against competitors from Carleton University and Humber College. Other projects included consumer products, transportation concepts, healthcare innovations, furniture and sporting goods. 

OCAD U students who won or tied for prizes and awards this year include:
•    Sarah Eldershaw (six categories) 
•    Dayna Griffiths 
•    Magdalene Kan 
•    Jackie Kemp (two categories)
•    Valeria Stroukova (three categories)
•    Maximillian Wessman 

The Rocket show was founded in 2001 as an opportunity for ACIDO’s members to meet graduating designers in Ontario and celebrate their completion of undergraduate studies in Industrial Design.

Find out more

Association of Chartered Industrial Designers of Ontario (ACIDO

Complete list of winners 

2014 MEDAL WINNER MIKE BADOUR, DRAWING & PAINTING

Mike Badour at GradEx 2014. Photo by Christina Gapic.
Juggler by Mike Badour.

Mike Badour’s medal award-winning paintings explore the self as a metaphor of post-production, examining how difficult it is to make finite conclusions about subjective choices. Here’s how he describes his work:

The final body of work is titled Content Control. I created a modular language that was implemented into symbolic diagrams of informational systems. These are illustrated systems of interactions between humans and content in the age of information.

What inspired you and motivated you to do this project?

My curiosity is my motivation.

What part of the process of creating this project did you learn the most from?

I have come to the conclusion that I have a lot to learn.

What aspect of this project are you the most proud of?

I am glad I have formulated some difficult questions that can act as a good starting point for rationalizing why I would want to bring objects into being.

How did you react to the news that you won a medal for your work?

I was at working at A/V HelpDesk and I received a phone call announcing that I won the medal. I was very pleased and shared the moment with my co-workers over a beer after work.

What’s your fondest memory from your studies at OCAD U, and what will you miss the most?

I have very fond memories of establishing a great network of new friends that include peers and faculty and times spent working at A/V Helpdesk. I will miss the fabrication studios, a handful of books in the library and picking the brains of a couple of my favourite professors.

What are you planning to do next?

My plans are currently in motion. Painting most days in my studio and organizing group exhibitions locally and internationally with Carrier Arts Organization.

 

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