SAVING THE CREATIVE CITY CAMPUS
On April 12, OCAD University received the devastating news that the government of Ontario had withdrawn provincial funding for the Creative City Campus (CCC). This transformative project was slated to produce over 95,000 square feet of renovated space and a further 50,000 square feet of greatly needed new space. While this decision was a setback, the university remains committed to completing the vision of the Creative City Campus. The importance of the project to students cannot be overstated — in transforming our spaces and tools through the Creative City Campus, we are also enabling innovation to our programs, services and curriculum and providing our students with the hands-on knowledge to build the society of the future. A society that is inclusive, exploratory and brave.
The process of establishing next steps has begun in earnest. We are consulting with government and — together with our Board of Governors and Campaign Cabinet — have undertaken a comprehensive exploration of options. A course of action is being established, particularly for those components of the project that are affected by the withdrawal of funding.
Preparations for the renovations to our 100 McCaul St. studio building continue to take shape in order to preserve the opportunity for renewal. Several projects – including the renovations to the fourth floor Drawing and Painting studios supported through the generosity of Ada Slaight– are fully funded and are therefore unaffected by the news from the Province.
The government’s decision affects all of us. We are profoundly heartened by the messages of support we have received from our community members and the willingness of so many to be part of the solution. There is no better or more concrete example of OCAD University’s vision of the future than the Creative City Campus and the community that supports it. We thank you for continuing to share this vision.
Dr. Sara Diamond, O.Ont., R.C.A., C.M.
President & Vice-Chancellor, OCAD University
To help us save the Creative City Campus, please consider participating in the Alumni Narrative Project. For more details on how alumni can help, please click on the link
Or, please visit: ocadu.convio.net/alumninarrativeproject
To learn more about volunteering at OCAD U, click here
1. You are actively involved with OCAD University as Alumni Association President. What motivated you to start volunteering?
Sharing prosperity has been important to me and my family; it is how I was raised and how I raised my children. As a visual artist and grad of OCA, I was motivated by the opportunity to do what I was most proud of with the people I most admired through volunteering at OCAD University. The result has allowed me to rub shoulders with some incredibly gifted artists, to learn and grow, make new friends, and create what I believe to be a meaningful impact in the art community in Toronto.
2. The OCAD U Alumni Association was formed to engage and serve the community of artists and designers. What has the council done to promote this endeavour?
The legacy to Canada in terms of cultural and artistic contribution that this art college represents is beyond compare. We have surpassed all boundaries in art and design throughout our 143 years as an institution. The association strives to spotlight this legacy created by our alumni to the international art community.
A few years ago, I was given the opportunity to feature a series of interviews in The Fleck Contemporary Art Magazine. I featured iconic Canadian artists: John Scott, Barbara Astman, Gary Taxali and Michael Snow, just to name a few. I would like everyone to be more aware of this legacy. The association was blessed to have the support of Christine Kostoff and her family at The Yellowhouse Gallery to provide exhibition space. The accumulation of our collective creativity means each new graduate owns part of the past by association, and can add their dreams to the future of our cultural growth. I’m pretty sure that's a successful way to engage and serve our community of artists and designers. Facilitating initiatives like these and many others makes it exciting to volunteer.
3. The OCAD U Alumni Association supports two Entrance Scholarships for OCAD U students. How is this money raised and how do you hope it will help students?
The Association is a not-for-profit organization. Our primary revenue streams come from the non-instructional Open Studio Drawing sessions at 100 McCaul St. twice weekly and the sale of custom-designed degree frames at Convocation each year. The Association reinvests some of this money into purchasing art from an alumnus then donating that art for auction, the proceeds of which support the OCAD U scholarship fund. This way alumni artists get a boost and so does the school - win-win. To date we have featured work by prominent feminist painter Pat Fairhead (1935) and John Inglis (1955). Most recently Andre Kan (2014), was our choice for purchase and auction. The Association pays tribute to these well-known artists as well as supporting recent grads. We also have created the ARTWORKS exhibition to showcase graduates’ art in a juried show.
4. As the President, how do you believe the Alumni Association has changed over the years?
I would say any changes attributed to the Association are a result of the roll that technology plays with its inevitable ability to reshape our world by invisibly connecting us. Vice President Ozzie Cilliberti donated his professional expertise to create a beautiful website for the association where any alum can upload images or share some information about their work for free. As Makers and Thinkers at OCAD U, I believe we are better when we work together, with the face to face world shrinking, artists have a uniquely creative style of communicating and we can transfer our knowledge almost instinctively when we meet. We are our most valuable resource as benefactors of creative knowledge. We function best when we share and when we come together. Some things change, others don’t.
5. Apart from your volunteering, you are indeed an accomplished artist. What has been a seminal experience for you?
That’s a tough question. Rewards from creating art are perpetual. I had a terrific personal experience a few years ago when a painting of mine was purchased and auctioned at The National Gallery in Ottawa and I was asked to speak at a reception. I was busy and didn’t make much of it and four hours before the reception my sons asked me why I was still in the kitchen? Suddenly my whole family rallied and next thing I knew I was whisked to Billy Bishop Airport, arrived in Ottawa on my own, gave my talk, and was home by 3 am. My family was waiting to celebrate. Over time you become accustomed to other people celebrating your art but it was pivotal for me to realize that the people I loved most, my family valued my work. That’s what the support of others can do for an artist. In reality none of us accomplish anything alone, when I needed a push, they were there for me.
6. Some of your earlier work focused on landscape being an advocate for the environment. What does your current work aim to say?
Currently I am enjoying the confidence that comes with experience. I paint instinctively to tell a story with colour, light, and movement. Often scapes of land, sea, and cities emerge like visual poems. I am still primarily inspired by nature, but I also enjoy figure painting with an expressionist style. I would say if you are looking to buy some art that can start a conversation and add some action to your walls, I have got the piece for you!
7. As an active member in the art community, where else do you volunteer?
I love my involvement with artists, so OCAD U Alumni Association is at the heart of everything. It has led me to connect with artists everywhere. I am actively involved at The Women’s Art Association of Canada, many alumni are members and they give annual scholarship support to OCAD U. I have a position on the Executive Board of the John B. Aird Gallery where alumnus and brilliant Board Chair Jowenne Herrera and I volunteer for Muskoka Arts and Craft Group, a designated Art Heritage community that is overflowing with OCAD U Grads. In addition, I enjoy being part of the Ontario Trillium Foundation grant review team which is an agency of the Ontario government that provides 600 grants throughout the province annually. And recently, I have taken the Vice President’s role for Art Ignite in the Flemingdon Park neighbourhood - a youth & seniors art initiative with founding director a fellow alum, Tasneem Dairywala. It all sounds a bit impossible, but the common thread here is each organization is filled with other OCAD U alumni who are instilling art in their communities providing me with opportunities to help out and enjoy volunteering with a diverse group of like-minded people.
8. Do you have a message you would like to send to the alumni community about volunteering?
I believe the satisfaction one receives from sharing our time and energy is returned to us immeasurably. Begin by doing whatever you can that is in arms reach. My gift of art has shaped my life so my volunteer path has been self-motivated. Why not? My daughter is founding Director of The New Mom Project, a registered charity that helps marginalized families have healthy beginnings. She is a nurse and young parent. Good fit. Our communities become more vibrant and richer when we participate. So, my message is find your fit and commit!
To learn more about volunteering at OCAD U, click here
1. You are actively involved with OCAD University through the Alumni Association council. What motivated you to start volunteering?
For some reason - I think it was an open house - I visited the campus for the first time in many years. And I was so struck by how wonderful it felt to walk down the halls of OCAD U – there was such good energy. You can just feel how excited the university students were. There were message boards full of all kinds of ideas and initiatives that were cutting-edge and super urban. I loved MBA school, but it was a completely different vibe. My MBA was really terrific at Western, but you didn’t feel that there was any off-the-wall ideas happening when you walked down the halls. OCAD was just fun. So, to me, I was just pulled in by the energy of the ideas and I remembered how great my experience was at OCAD U. I met lifelong friends there. Through my 20s, I had already gone to an art school out west for a year. I’d been to university undergrad for a year and I’d been to architecture school for a year. I’d been to all these different schools –I didn’t like any of them. Finally, I started at OCAD U and within the first week I knew I was in the right place. So, that was very exciting. And because I really liked visual communication, it just spoke to me. The teachers were good, I was exposed to exciting ideas and I worked in groups with people, which worked out really well. So, there were a lot of parts to being at OCAD U, which made it really good.
2. A strong Alumni Association makes a stronger university. In what ways has the Association contributed to OCAD U – socially, academically, and professionally?
Well socially, the Alumni Association helps connect active students with those who have graduated. It also helps alumni to keep in touch with each other. Academically, we are involved in scholarships, which is wonderful. And professionally, the events have been important. In fact, the Alumni Association brought in one of the best speakers I’ve heard in many years, for the 2019 Alumni Reunion. His name was Roger Ball. He is an industrial designer, who got his start at OCAD U. Right now he is the “Eric Yim Endowed Professor of Asian Ergonomics” at PolyU Design in Hong Kong. In addition, he teaches industrial design at Georgia Tech outside of Atlanta. Mr. Ball is an industry leader in the design of ergonomically superior helmets and body wear. I thought that sounded pretty cool. After the event, I Googled him and found his Wikipedia page. It was long. Bringing in that caliber of speaker is an inspiration for students and alumni. Students listen to someone like that and start to have big dreams.
3. Apart from your volunteering commitments, you run a successful business. How do you balance both?
When I owned my business, I did quite a lot of volunteering. I worked primarily with women in the food industry who were starting businesses, helping them with marketing and operations. After I sold my business in September 2018, I went to OCAD U for an event and I just thought, “Oh my God, I love this place and want to be a part of it.”
OCAD U prepared me for my MBA and it also prepared me to start a business. Getting an undergrad degree in a creative program is great preparation for somebody who is going out into the workforce.
4. You graduated from OCAD University with a degree in Communications and Design. How has your degree helped/influenced your career path?
There were wonderful teachers in the Communications and Design program. That degree opened doors. The training I got helped me get a job as the Editorial Art Director at Outside Magazine in Chicago. It wasn’t until I was in the U.S. that I realized how really good Canadian art directors were. At that time, American magazines were poaching Canadian art directors like crazy.
For me, visual communication has always been so interesting. It’s quite different from written or spoken communication. Going to OCAD U prepared me to design, which I did for many years, but it also prepared me to effectively hire and motivate creative professionals, such as package designers and photographers.
There are so many times when you need to visually communicate with people: in marketing, in advertising, in sales, even in your PowerPoint presentations, in all parts of business. For example, packaging, when I owned a business, was key. It was the face of my product. My degree from OCAD U really helped me communicate directly to my audience, through my packaging.
5. With the advent of Social Media, educational institutions are changing the way they interact with their alumni community. Do you think this will motivate more alumni to participate in alumni social and networking activities?
Well, I would hope so and I think it’s a huge opportunity for OCAD U to reach out over social media. OCAD U is all about creativity and cutting-edge ideas and there’s so much on social media that celebrates creativity and new ideas. It’s also an opportunity for people who have graduated, to keep in touch with those cutting-edge ideas and to be energized by staying in touch with OCAD U. Also social media obviously makes it easy to stay in touch.
6. Alumni encompass a huge talent pool where they can guide and mentor students in their respective fields of study. Any message you would like to send to people who are inclined to start volunteering?
It’s a lot of fun and it doesn’t take that much time. And as I said before, it’s a way to keep in touch with your creative side, because when people go out and work, they are not always going to be exposed to the kinds of ideas you see at OCAD U. Also it’s a nudge that will encourage you to keep in touch with your classmates. On the alumni committee, you could meet someone who is a jewelry designer with an amazing business model or someone from another area of the school that you’re not necessarily exposed to.
If you are interested in volunteering at OCAD U, click here
Or, please visit: ocadu.convio.net/alumnivolunteer
UPCOMING ALUMNI EVENTS
10 to 17 November
Onsite Gallery Opening - CodeX: Playable and Disruptive Futurist eArt
Ted Talk Social
Alumni of Influence 2019/2020
29 April to 3 May
Alumni Reunion Reception for classes that graduated in year ending in ‘0 and ‘5
If you are interested in volunteering at the Reunion, please click here
Onsite Gallery Opening - Fable for Tomorrow: A Retrospective by Wendy Coburn
Summer Alumni Networking Breakfast
For more information on upcoming OCAD University events, please visit the OCAD University Events Calendar
Nominate an alumna(us) who is making a remarkable contribution in their discipline and community.
Nominations for 2019/2020 Awards are now open
Awards will be given to Distinguished and Trailblazing alumni who represent each of our faculties: Art, Design, Liberal Arts & Sciences and Graduate Studies.
Download a printable Nomination Form
Online Nomination Form: https://forms.gle/NwxicfKZYiGbSqEL6
ARTWORKS 2019 SUBMISSION
ARTWORKS, the annual alumni exhibition, will run from November 10 to 17, 2019 in the Great Hall at OCAD University, 100 McCaul Street. The public opening will take place on November 9 from 5:30-8:00 pm. Alumni artwork submissions open until October 5, 2019.
Call for Submission
Click here for ARTWORKS 2019 Entry Form
Keep in touch!
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