Craft Ontario recognizes members of OCAD U community

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Students, faculty and alumni were recognized at the Craft Awards on October 12, taking home five awards for their work in the fields.

From the Craft Ontario website:

“Craft Awards recipients are accomplished and dedicated practitioners in the field of craft and design. From makers that create innovative and exceptional work to curators, administrators, writers and volunteers who support the craft community, each recipient is recognized as an important contributor to contemporary craft practice. Since 1981 the program has recognized over 500 emerging and established professionals for their outstanding work and contributions.”

Congratulations to the 2017 recipients from OCAD U:

Lacy and Co. Ltd. Jewellery Supply Grant:
Alex Kinsley (Material Art & Design Instructor, Jewellery)

Helen Frances Gregor Award:
Elycia SFA (Material Art & Design 2015/Class Assistant, Textiles)

James H. McPherson Award in Woodworking:
Shay Salehi (Sculpture/Installation Student)

Craft Ontario Volunteer Committee Award:
Katrina Tompkins (IAMD student)

Mary Diamond Butts Award in Embroidery and Needlecraft:
Elizabeth (Liz) Pead (Drawing and Painting 2007)

Formerly the Ontario Crafts Council, Craft Ontario is a not-for-profit organization that promotes professional craft and advocates for craft practice by educating and empowering diverse audiences.

Collective Creation Project - Indian Giver

Wednesday, June 8, 2016 - 4:00pm to Monday, June 20, 2016 - 1:00am

MAAD Alumni Erika Iserhoff's "The Setsuné Indigenous Fashion Incubator is thrilled to announce the opening exhibition of its inaugural Collective Creation Project – Indian Giver. In partnership with Craft Ontario and Culture Storm, this exhibition of commissioned works addresses issues of cultural appropriation through fashion, textiles and wearable art with curatorial vision by Erika Iserhoff and Sage Paul, founders and directors of Setsuné.

Location: Gallery 1313 Queen St W, Toronto, ON M6K 1L8

Phone:(416) 536-6778

Exhibition dates: June 8 to June 19th

Opening Reception: June 9 from 6:30-10pm

Cultural Appropriation Panel Discussion: June 18 from 2-4pm, moderated by Denise Bolduc with a panel of artists from the exhibition

Gallery hours: Wednesday – Sunday 1pm-6pm

Venue & Address: 
Gallery 1313 Queen Street West Toronto, ON M6K 1L8

Congratulations to Katrina Tompkins

Katrina Tompkins - Cork / Corian Board - Paddle Cork, Corian
Monday, April 25, 2016 - 12:30pm

Katrina Tompkins, a graduate student in the Interdisciplinary Master’s in Art, Media and Design (IAMD) program, is the 2015 recipient of the Kingcrafts/Lady Flavelle Scholarship awarded by Craft Ontario.

For full announcement/award details, please visit the Craft Ontario website:


More about the designer:

More about IAMD:

Professor Emerita Beth Alber honoured with lifetime achievement award

Photo of two women, Beth Alber, award recipient
Monday, December 7, 2015 - 5:00am

OCAD University Professor Emerita Beth Alber is the 2015 recipient of Craft Ontario’s John and Barbara Mather Award for Lifetime Achievement. This is one of the most prestigious markers of exceptional commitment to the development of craft in Ontario.

Alber is a celebrated master maker, in both silversmithing and public art. She is also an influential instructor and mentor who began teaching at the Ontario College of Art in 1979. From 2002 to 2009, Alber served as chair of OCAD U’s Material Art & Design program. She was appointed associate dean of the Faculty of Design in 2010 and, after 33 years of service, retired from OCAD U in 2012.

A member of the Royal Academy of Art, the Society of North American Goldsmiths, Women’s Art Resource Centre and CARFAC, Alber has exhibited her work widely across Canada. Her best known project is the commission of public art for the Women’s Monument Project in Vancouver, BC. Alber served as a board member at the Ontario Crafts Council from 1986 to 1988 and 1995 to 1997, and was president of the Metal Arts Guild of Ontario from 1985 to 1987.

Since 1981, the John and Barbara Mather Award has been presented to individuals who are “truly outstanding in their fields and have displayed exceptional commitment to the further development of craft in Ontario and throughout Canada.”

OCAD University remembers Honorary Fellow Jean Johnson, CM

Photos of Jean Johnson
Tuesday, June 3, 2014 - 3:45pm

The OCAD University community is saddened by the passing of Canadian craft advocate and OCAD U Honorary Fellow Jean Johnson, CM, who passed away on May 27 at the age of 90. Her professional and volunteer career spanned 65 years.

Johnson’s interest in the arts was rooted in her childhood. She graduated from the art program at Northern Secondary School at the age of 18, and had her first “art job” re-drawing the American comic-book superhero Captain Marvel for Canadian audiences. She lived in Venezuela from 1951 to 1961; during her time there, in addition to learning Spanish, she painted the landscape and drew botanical images.

Johnson returned to Toronto in 1961 and became curator at Merton Gallery. While there, she represented and supported the careers of several notable Canadian craftspeople; among them OCAD U alumni Kai Chan (AOCA, Interior Design,1970), David H. Kaye (AOCA, Textiles, 1972), Viktor Tinkl (AOCA, Fine Arts, 1959) and Joanna Staniszkis. When she left Merton Gallery in 1971, she was hired by the OCAD University (then known as the Ontario College of Art) to manage a retail shop, and prepare studies and reports for fundraising campaigns.

In 1979, she began what she later called “the crowning achievement” of her career, running Harbourfront’s Craft Studio. Johnson saw rich potential in the Craft Studio’s artist-in-residence program and was the driving force behind its development into a prime destination for young Canadian craftspeople. She introduced a resource library and a volunteer advisory committee to the site, as well as encouraging international exchanges and inviting leading figures to lecture and give master classes.

In 1991, Johnson became Craft Projects Manager at Harbourfront Centre. She presented a conference, Exploring Contemporary Craft History, Theory and Critical Writing, bringing curators, critics and craftspeople together and produced a book by the same name with Coach House Books. She ended her career at Harbourfront as Manager of Special Craft Initiatives. In that role, she produced the Crafting New Traditions: Canadian Innovators and Influences symposium and publication, which celebrates Canadian craft pioneers.

Johnson also contributed to the arts as a volunteer. In 1975, as a member of the Steering Committee for International Women’s Year, Johnson helped facilitate Women and the Arts, an exhibition at the Art Gallery of Harbourfront. She volunteered for the Association of Registered Interior Designers of Ontario (ARIDO) from 1975-1979, coordinating the production and installation of commissions in hospitals and city halls. She was deeply involved with the Canadian Society for the Decorative Arts since its creation 30 years ago. Later in her career, she served as President of the William Morris Society of Canada.

Johnson was a passionate supporter of Craft Ontario, loyally attending our exhibition openings and fundraising events, serving on numerous committees and as a board member from 1982 to 1983. She was a well-respected and sought after juror and board member. “I rarely say no to an experience, a job, or project, and have never worried too much about salary, the cafeteria or other amenities,” said Johnson in a 2008 interview about her career. “My participation is based on the potential to make something exciting, new and important happen.” 

Recognized with many awards and honours, Johnson received was inducted as a Member of the Order of Canada in 1993, and received an honorary doctorate from NSCAD University in 1999. In 2000, she was named as an OCAD University Honorary Fellow.

Donations in Johnson’s memory can be made to Craft Ontario via the online donation platform, over the phone by calling 416-925-4222 x227 or via cheque made out to Craft Ontario, noting "In Memory of Jean Johnson" in the memo line.  Please mail cheques to Craft Ontario, 990 Queen St. W., Toronto, ON, M6J 1H1.

Edited and republished with permission from Craft Ontario. Information taken from the article "The Undeniable Grande Dame of Craft" written by Melanie Egan for the Spring/Summer 2008 edition of Studio Magazine.