Bill Shannon. Photo courtesy Bill Shannon.

“My greatest accomplishment as an artist is to stay true to the process and listen closely to what it is whispering into my soul.”

Bill Shannon says his aesthetic works exist beneath a hovering, massive and terribly bloody notion of “freedom.” Although he believes his work is obscure and often misunderstood, he’s performed, presented and choreographed around the world, both as a solo artist and for Cirque du Soleil, earning numerous awards and honours, including a Foundation for Contemporary Art Award and a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship. In the process he’s stolen hearts and sparked imaginations with the passion and egoless humility that fuels everything he does.

“I see no pinnacle of greatness in my own accomplishments that might outshine the importance and value to me of my creative process,” he says. “The unique intersection of my time on this Earth, the space I inhabited during that time and the peculiar and specific human condition I was destined to by birth are far and away the greatest determinants of what I have been able to achieve as an artist and as a human.”

Shannon, who is at OCAD U for a President’s Speaker Series talk on Wednesday, September 18 and a performance at the Festival of the Body on September 19, is a natural storyteller working in the medium of body language — together with a massive and bold dose of experimentation. “On a micro-scale I have learned that in all contrasting and conflicting energies balance is possible in the most unexpected of ways,” he says of his work. In addition to dance and choreography, he also uses drawings, sculpture, video, writing, performance, acting, clowning, skating and speaking to express his ideas.

Shannon, who says he “feels like a duck billed platypus laying an egg” about being asked to speak at OCAD U, shaped and grew his work in the Hip-Hop and House dance movements in New York and internationally. He says the most important thing students studying in creative fields should know is that if a goal is a dream with a deadline, abandon the goal.

“Follow the dream and possibly arrive at a greater unknown that no goal or deadline could have ever been set for in the first place,” he says. “Failure happens. Failure may possibly have as many chicken-soup-for-the-soul sayings as love does. duckduckgo/copy/paste here:  _____________________________. Repeat.”

Learn more:

Attend the lecture 

See Shannon perform at the Festival of the Body

Visit Shannon's website and blog



Alexandra Louise Beriault with Dori J. Segal. Photo by Paul Savaria.
Adam Chapman (Drawing & Painting, 2013) with Dori J. Segal, President and CEO, First Capital Realty. Photo by Paul Savaria.

Reconstructing (S)P(L)ace, the second annual Hazelton Lanes Art Festival, featuring new work by 27 fourth-year OCAD U students and recent graduates, took over a boutique shop this year to display art in a unique way. Presented by OCAD U and First Capital Realty, and hosted by Hazelton Lanes, the festival runs until May 18 and features a schedule of talks, performances, tours and music in the space in addition to the showcase of jury selected works.

Pam Patterson, an art instructor at OCAD U and Vlad Spicanovic, the Dean of Faculty of Art, transformed a former retail space in Hazelton Lanes into a pop-up gallery featuring artworks in a variety of media, including painting, sculpture, installations and video. Mirrored changerooms are repurposed into 360 degree displays to view works from every angle. Elsewhere, a traditional-looking portrait of two lounging nude figures in a forest turns out to be an ironic commentary on modern life: the figures each grasp a mobile device and are looking intently at these, not each other. 

Some of the work was shown previously at the university’s 99th Annual Graduate Exhibition and at the 2014 Alumni Exhibition at the Gladstone Hotel. All the works explore notions of renovation, adaptation and location to match the major redevelopment underway at Hazelton Lanes. 

The festival opened with a reception on May 7, and continues with a panel on public art and the future of the city moderated by Spicanovic, a hands-on gesture lab workshop led by Kyle Duffield, a terrarium design workshop with LIFE and grOCAD artists, narrative and poetry workshops with OCAD U professor and dub poet Lillian Allen and artist talks by Fatimah Tuggar and Derek Liddington.

Find out more

Hazelton Lanes Arts Festival 

Background on the festival

Morton Feldman's String Quartet No. 2

Morton Feldman's String Quartet No. 2
Saturday, October 12, 2013 - 10:00pm

Doors 5pm / Concert 6pm / At the Music Gallery and OCAD U Student Gallery (52 McCaul St., across the parking lot from the MG)

Part of the X Avant New Music Festival / Six new hours: a slow-motion rave

In the fall of 1983, a young up-and-coming group called the Kronos Quartet premiered a new work by Morton Feldman in Toronto, a last-minute replacement for another group whose members were tragically killed in a car accident. Commissioned by New Music Concerts and broadcast live-to-air on the CBC’s Two New Hours, this “two-hour” quartet quickly became three, then four, pre-empting the national news and finishing just minutes before the network’s 1AM blackout.

We celebrate this notorious premiere’s 30th anniversary with the first Canadian performance of Morton Feldman’s String Quartet No. 2 in its entirety: a six-hour feat of endurance and transcendence performed by NYC’s FLUX Quartet.

FLUX, whom many will remember from their Canadian debut at the Music Gallery in 2010, are one of only two ensembles who have recorded the enormously taxing FSQ2 (the other is the Ives Ensemble, whose version clocks in at a zippy 4:45). FLUX’s virtuosity, rigour and risk taking has led to breathtaking performances of the world’s most dangerous repertoire (not to mention several guest spots on 30 Rock).

We invite fellow students of history, boundary smashers, intrepid sonic explorers, seekers of the new, reminiscing nostalgists and renegade new music enthusiasts to experience FLUX + FSQ2 with us. This is more than just a remount. We are going all out to present this effing masterpiece in a manner which befits: an event that encompasses two venues (the Music Gallery and OCAD U Student Gallery), a chillout room, video games, food vendors on site and a live broadcast on CIUT 89.5FM. It’s a slow-motion rave.





Tickets $30 Regular / $20 Member / $25 Advance at Soundscapes

Venue & Address: 
Music Gallery (197 John Street) and the OCAD U Student Gallery (52 McCaul St., across the parking lot from the MG). Toronto, Ontario