Supported by OCAD Student Union and Office of the Vice-Provost, Students & International.

Expanded Context: Black Canadian Curators at the 56th Venice Biennale

Expanded Context: Black Canadian Curators at the 56th International Art Exhibition, the Venice Biennale 2015 was a forum which brought together black Canadian curators and critics at the 56th Venice Biennale in order to build transnational networks and promote black Canadian visual art. The forum sought to ameliorate the invisibility of the works of black Canadian artists, curators, and critics within the international sphere.

The goals of Expanded Context: Black Canadian Curators at the 56th International Art Exhibition, the Venice Biennale 2015 were as follows:

  • To foster greater awareness, understanding and opportunities for partnerships and collaborations between culturally diverse curators and the visual arts establishment, negotiating progression pathways for the new generation of leaders in visual arts.
  • To promote Canadian black artists and develop an engaging dialogue between Canadian art and the international stage
  • To allow Black curators a space for critical reflection, research, dialogue, experimentation, and exchange
  • To provide access to ideas, artists, and artworks that can be developed for curatorial research
  • To develop partnerships for future exhibition opportunities

Expanded Context: Black Canadians Curators at the 56th International Art Exhibition, the Venice Biennale 2015 was a unique professional development opportunity for Black Canadian curators and critics. It was a two-day gathering (held May 7th and May 8th, 2015) which addressed the politics and practice of curatorship in a globalized world.

The program of engagement included networking meetings and interviews with artists, curators, gallerists and collectors, as well as the opportunity to visit Biennale exhibitions and collateral events. The participation of Black curators and critics at the 56th Venice Biennale served to correct the visible absence of Black Canadian curators at key international arts events. The Expanded Context project provided an international platform for connecting Black Canadian curators, and created a global forum for these professionals to share projects and initiatives.

Participants included: Julie Crooks, Pamela Edmonds, Andrea Fatona, Sally Frater, Dominique Fontaine, Gaetane Verna, Camille Turner, Rinaldo Walcott.

Participants were selected from the group of curators and academics who attended the State of Blackness : From Production to Presentation conference. Keynote speakers included curators Bisi Silva and David Bailey

This project has been the subject of an article, “Questioning Citizenship at the Venice Biennale: Responses and Interventions” in C Magazine, Issue 128, and a podcast, "New Point of View at the Venice Art Biennale" by Fresh Arts International, Fresh Talk Series.

Other Resources:
The State of Blackness Website
 The State of Blackness on Youtube

  • We acknowledge the support of the Canada Council for the Arts, which last year invested $153 million to bring the arts to Canadians throughout the country.
  • Nous remercions le Conseil des arts du Canada de son soutien. L’an dernier, le Conseil a investi 153 millions de dollars pour mettre de l’art dans la vie des Canadiennes et des Canadiens de tout le pays.


The State of Blackness Logo - text and a gradient in stacked rectangles from black to gray
Canada Council for the Arts logo
Ontario Arts Council Logo
Wednesday, December 6, 2017 - 10:45am
Lab Member: 
Andrea Fatona

Workshop: Surviving Art School - Toolkit for Artists & Designers of Colour

collage image of artwork attributed to Raju Rage
Thursday, September 14, 2017 - 3:30pm

Surviving Art School: An Artist of Colour Toolkit
with artist + activist Raju Rage

Thursday, 14 September 2017, 3:30–5 PM
Lambert Lounge (MCA 187), 100 McCaul St
OCAD University

Co-presented with the Office of Diversity, Equity & Sustainability Initiatives and OCAD Student Union
Hot Lunch will be served starting at 2:30pm ($3 suggested for meal)

Using the 'Surviving the Art School' publication, produced by Collective Creativity (of which Rage is a member) and published by Nottingham Contemporary (UK), as a starting point, the talk and workshop will ask what this visually entails. During this workshop participants can expect to learn and share strategies for decolonising education. Participants are encouraged to bring with them a 'problem' of the institution to collectively strategise and create a surviving the art school toolkit. This workshop is open to students from all disciplines. 

A presentation of Collective Creativity: a Queer, Trans* Intersex People of Colour artist collective in London UK which aims to create radical, grass roots space for QTIPOC to interrogate the politics of art, in relation to queer identity, institutional racism, and anti-colonialism. CC is dedicated to creating space for conversations that challenge institutional racism and white supremacy within a cultural framework. We are concerned with how we decolonise our art educations, unlearn the histories that replicate the colonial gaze, re-formatting our own art educations and a re-positioning of this canon by re-centring artists and cultural producers of colour.

Raju Rage is an interdisciplinary artist who is proactive about using art, education and activism to forge creative survival. Based in London and working beyond, they primarily use their non-conforming body as a vehicle of embodied knowledge; to bridge the gap between dis/connected bodies, theory and practice, text and the body and aesthetics and the political substance. They work in performance, sculpture, soundscapes and moving image, focusing on techniques of resistance and utilising everyday objects and everyday life experiences in communicating narratives around gender, race and culture. They investigate history, memory and trauma, with an emphasis on colonial legacy, its continuation and impact on the body and contemporary diasporan identity. They are an organiser and member of Collective Creativity arts collective. 

For any accessibility accommodation requests to fully participate in this event, please contact Shamina Chherawala at or 416.977.6000 ext.3840 in advance.

Venue & Address: 
Thursday, September 14 at 3:30 PM - 5 PM Lambert Lounge, 100 McCaul Street
416.977.6000 ext.3840
Workshop is free! OCAD Student Union will be serving Hot Lunch from 2:30pm onwards (suggested $3)

Reflections on the State of Blackness

Tuesday, February 28, 2017 - 6:30pm to 9:00pm

Join us for Dr. Andrea Fatona’s discussion of her ongoing interdisciplinary project: “The State of Blackness: From Production to Presentation”. The project interrogates issues of pedagogy and diversity in the context of both tertiary art education and gallery settings. It highlights the dearth of cultural production and in turn, presentation activities by black artists who because of racial difference have historically been at the margins of “traditional” visions of the Canadian nation and its art production.

Andrea Fatona is an associate professor in the Criticism and Curatorial program. She was the former curator of contemporary art at the Ottawa Art Gallery, and has worked as the programme director at Video In, Vancouver, Co-Director of Artspeak Gallery, Vancouver, and Artistic Director of Artspace Gallery, Peterborough. Fatona is concerned with the pedagogical possibilities of art works produced by 'other' Canadians in articulating broader perspectives of Canadian identities.

Venue & Address: 
100 McCaul Street, Room 190
Reflections on the State of Blackness Poster


Lillian Allen moved from Spanish Town, Jamaica to North America in the late '60s. She studied in New York City and in Toronto and later emerged as a major influential figure on Canada's cultural landscape. An internationally acclaimed poet, she is recognized as a key originator and a leading exponent of dub poetry. As well, she is a writer of plays and short fiction. She writes for both adults and young people. She frequently travels across Canada and the United States and has toured Europe, the Caribbean and England, lecturing and performing.

President Diamond's statement on U.S. Executive Order

Monday, January 30, 2017

OCAD University supports Universities Canada’s statement regarding the executive order issued in the United States banning entry of citizens from seven countries to the U.S. for 90 days. The new order is negatively affecting Canadian campuses and communities. Together with Universities Canada, OCAD U supports the call from the American Association of Universities for this ban to “end as quickly as possible.”

With students, faculty and staff originating from more than 50 countries, OCAD University is committed to nurturing diverse and inclusive perspectives, collaboration, and an international network of students, alumni, faculty and staff.

We stand together with Canada’s university communities and will continue to welcome students, faculty and staff from around the world. Students attending or applying to OCAD University on study permits or who hold permanent residency from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Yemen, Sudan, Somalia and Syria will not be affected and continue to be welcome in Canada and at OCAD University.

Diversity, inclusion and openness are values that we uphold, respect and promote on our campus, and in our community. Faculty members with questions or concerns are invited to contact their respective faculty offices for further information.

Students from the affected countries who are intending to study in the US in the near future and/or undertake a research placement or internship should check in with the International Student Services & Mobility Exchange Office at 416-977-6000, Ext. 3842 or

I would also like to express our deepest condolences to the families and friends of the victims of the terrorist attack on Muslims at the Centre Culturel Islamique de Quebec in Quebec City. This unspeakable violence is an affront to our values and our respect for all religions.

We understand these events may have an impact on many students. Students who feel they need support are encouraged to contact our Health & Wellness Centre which is open for walk-in services Monday to Friday 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., or contact the Centre at 416-977-6000 Ext. 260, or

This statement, and the endorsement of Universities Canada’s statement, were unanimously passed by OCAD U Senate.



Whose Art Counts?

Whose Art Counts? event poster
Thursday, January 26, 2017 - 7:00pm to 10:00pm

Whose Art Counts
Moderated by Emily Norry

Whose Art Counts is a night of presentation and discussion to consider who is and is not included in art and art history. Our speakers will take varied approaches to the subject consider what art is left out of our mainstream culture and what problems do these artists face. Together we will question the cultural canon and broaden ideas of whose art has value.

This event is fully wheelchair accessible.


  1. Pamila Matharu - Worlding the Art World
  2. Ojo Agi - African Art and the Politics of Authenticity
  3. Ryan Rice - Whose Art Matters
  4. Rei Misiri- Re-Rooting Urban Arts culture: Why We Must Give Exposure to Hip Hop's True Reputable Face

Artist Bios:

Pamila Matharu
Pamila Matharu is a Toronto-based interdisciplinary artist, educator, and cultural producer. Her practice engages a close reading of the ‘other’ experience; examining issues of identity and representation through socially-engaged art, critical / feminist pedagogy and the minutiae of the everyday. Installation artworks are the result of combined strategies through collage, analogue + new media, printed matter and social practice. She received her BA in Visual Arts and her Bachelor of Education in Fine Arts Education, from York University (Toronto), has exhibited and screened her work, locally, nationally and internationally.

Ojo Agi
Ojo Agi is a Nigerian-Canadian self-taught artist living and working in the GTA. Ojo studied Health Sciences and Women's Studies at the University of Ottawa and is currently taking Continuing Studies courses with OCADU. She studied anti-racist feminisms throughout her undergraduate degree and has a deep interest in applying a social critical lens to contemporary art. For more of her work visit

Ryan Rice
Ryan Rice, a Mohawk of Kahnawake, Quebec received a Master of Arts degree in Curatorial Studies from the Center for Curatorial Studies, Bard College, graduated from Concordia University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts and received an Associate of Fine Arts from the Institute of American Indian Arts. He has worked for the past 18 years within the museum/art gallery milieu at various centers including the Iroquois Indian Museum, Indian Art Centre, Carleton University Art Gallery and the Walter Phillips Art Gallery. Rice was also a co-founder and former director of the Aboriginal Curatorial Collective. His exhibitions include ANTHEM: Perspectives on Home and Native Land, Oh So Iroquois, Scout’s Honour, LORE, Hochelaga Revisited, ALTERNATION, Soul Sister: Re-imagining Kateri Tekakwitha and Counting Coup. In August 2014, Rice was appointed the Delaney Chair in Indigenous Visual Culture at OCAD University.

Rei Misiri
Rei Misiri is a Toronto-based multidisciplinary artist and designer migrated from Tirana, Albania. Since 2006, he has been consistently involved in community related urban art projects. As an urban arts youth educator and performer, Rei has had the privilege to spread the discipline of urban arts and dance across Ontario. Moreover, he has extensively worked along leading Canadian urban arts organizations such as Unity Charity, Toronto Crime Stoppers, and The Patch project. Since 2010, he has hosted and curated over 15 integrated urban arts events - providing youth opportunities to preform and compete along some of the world’s highest ranking urban dancers, artists, and DJ’s. Upon graduating from OCAD University with a major in fine arts and a minor in graphic design, Rei plans to pursue a masters in visual arts to further merge urban arts into academia and other professional fields.

This event is funded by the OCAD U $1,500 Big Ideas Fund. The fund is sponsored by the Office of Diversity, Equity & Sustainability Initiatives and made possible with generous support from OPSEU Local 576 Unit 1. 


Venue & Address: 
OCAD University The Lambert Lounge - rm. 187, 100 McCaul Street
416.977.6000 ext.3840
Free public event
Whose Art Counts? event poster

Empathy: Underground Walk – Inclusive Design Institute – The PATH

The Path Logo
Friday, May 6, 2016 - 6:00pm to 7:30pm

It is important to talk about diversity and inclusion, but our actions need to support our words. We value diversity in Toronto and see it as an asset. Inclusion, however, remains a challenge and many of our diverse population experience barriers each day. The way to address this challenge is extending our empathy. At the Inclusive Design Institute, we work on understanding the impact of design in everyday life. We believe that design for all of us begins with design for each of us. In this walk, we are going to mull over the largest underground shopping complex in the world and consider how it does and does not meet diverse needs. 

Venue & Address: 
Meet at 205 Richmond St W. - OCAD University
416 977 6000 ext 4672

Student leaders celebrated for giving back to the community

Student leaders with Sara Diamond and Amanda Hotrum
Thursday, April 21, 2016 - 4:00am

The Diversity & Equity Excellence Awards were handed out at a reception in March to acknowledge OCAD University’s exceptional student leaders and their tremendous contributions to advancing equity at the institution. This year, with generous support from Office of the Vice-President, Academic; Office of the President; and Office of Diversity, Equity & Sustainability Initiatives, the selection committee chose to give out three awards rather than one.

The recipients were:

  • Rouzbeh Akhabari
  • Zviko Mhakayakora
  • ​Amanda Robertson-Hebert

The contributions of this year’s winners ranged from advancing equity in OCAD U’s governance and policy through community initiatives in art and design creation and in the learning environment.

At the same event, the Peer Mentor Awards were given to students who made outstanding contributions to the Student Mentor Program, demonstrating enthusiasm and positivity while providing helpful advice and support to their student mentees.

This year’s recipients were:

  • Ahmed Bokhari
  • ​Jacqueline Lee

Tracy Cai and Madison Leeson were recognized by Andre De Freitas, Manager, Financial Aid & Awards, for their excellence in Financial Literacy. They collaborated to produce CreativeFunds, a series of videos that teach students how to manage and budget their finances.

Brent Everett James, Campus Life Coordinator, recognized the students behind two student initiatives on campus: 

  • Sofy Mesa and Oliver Roberts coordinated a winter clothing drive and soup kitchen community members in need.
  • Tooba Syed took on an active role with Textbooks for Change, coordinating the collection of donated textbooks on campus, repurposed to create social impact and improve the educational landscape for students around the world.

The awards celebration was made possible by the First Generation Program; Financial Aid & Awards; Alumni Relations; and the Office of the President. Contributions to Diversity, Equity & Excellence Awards were made by the Student Union; the Office of the Associate Vice-President, Students; the Office of the Vice-President, Academic; the Office of Diversity, Equity & Sustainability Initiatives; and the Office of the President.

Call for Nominations: DEEAS

Recognized students from 2014/2015 Awards Dinner
Thursday, January 28, 2016 - 2:00pm to Friday, February 26, 2016 - 10:00pm

The Diversity & Equity Excellence Award for Students (DEEAS) is sponsored by OCAD Student Union and the Office of the Associate Vice-President, Students. It includes a $1,000.00 prize and congratulatory letter from Dr. Sara Diamond, President/Vice-Chancellor. Nominations will be accepted from all members of the OCAD U community, describing the nominee’s exceptional contribution to OCAD University and to equity and diversity through advocacy and leadership, promoting human rights, social justice, inclusion, and impactful engagement.

NOMINATION FORMS can be found online, or pick up printed copies at Campus Life (51 McCaul Street); Diversity, Equity & Sustainability Initiatives (Level 2, 115 McCaul Street); or OCAD Student Union (Level 5, 205 Richmond St. West). Submission deadline: Friday, February 26, 2016.

Venue & Address: 
OCAD U Campus Life, 51 McCaul Street
416 977 6000, Ext. 275