Two OCAD U alumni win 2018 Governor General's Award

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

The Canada Council for the Arts has announced that Spring Hurlbut (AOCA, 1973) and Midi Onodera (AOCA, 1983) are among this year’s winners of the $25,000 Governor General’s Awards in Visual and Media Arts.

The prestigious $25,000 awards are funded by the Canada Council for the Arts, recognizing artistic achievement in visual and media arts and fine craft.

Onodera, a Toronto media artist, has been making films and videos for over 30 years. She has more than 25 independent short films to her credit as well as a theatrical feature film and short videos. Beginning in 2006, Midi created some 500 short videos or “Vidoodles” for various projects. She has published two essays on mobile cinema for the media journal Jump Cut.

Tanya Mars, a performance artist who nominated her says:

“Midi Onodera gained critical acclaim very early in her career with two remarkable films: Ten Cents a Dance (Parallax) (1985) and The Displaced View (1989) which launched her reputation as a thoughtful, daring filmmaker at a time when there was very little diversity in Canadian art.”

Hurlbut is known for her photography, large-scale installations and sculptures which sometime feature bones, claws and eggshells. She also makes large-scale installations, at times incorporating museum artifacts. Hurlbut was included in the 2010 Canadian Biennial and has exhibited in New York, Mexico City and Stuttgart, among other cities. Her art has been collected by the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal, among other institutions.

Hurlbut was nominated by curator Jessica Bradley, who stated:

“Spring Hurlbut’s contemplative and eloquent works unsentimentally address mortality and our inevitable destiny in death. Her dedication to a subject so commonly avoided in contemporary Western culture is singular and courageous.”

The other winners are:

  • Glenn Alteen, curator, director, Vancouver (Outstanding Contribution Award)
  • Bruce Eves, visual artist, Toronto
  • Wyn Geleynse, media artist, London, Ont.
  • Spring Hurlbut, visual artist, Toronto
  • Jessica Bradley, curator (nominator)
  • Sandra Semchuk, photographer, Vancouver
  • Adrian Stimson, visual and performance artist, Siksika (Blackfoot) Nation in Alberta
  • Jack Sures, ceramic artist, Regina, Sask. (Saidye Bronfman Award for excellence in fine crafts)

The recipients will be presented their medallions by the Governor General of Canada, Julie Payette, on Wednesday March 28 at Rideau Hall in Ottawa. 


Shelley Niro Wins 2017 Governor General’s Award in Visual and Media Arts

Shelley Niro and Ryan Rice
Thursday, February 16, 2017

OCAD U congratulates Shelley Niro (AOCA 1990) on receiving a Governor General’s Award in Visual and Media Arts. Each year, the awards honour seven artists for their artistic achievements and one person for their outstanding contribution to contemporary visual and/or media arts.

A member of the Turtle Clan of the Kanien’kehaka (Mohawk) Nation, from the Six Nations of the Grand River territory, near Brantford, Ontario, she has demonstrated her dedication to producing art that contributes to Indigenous identity in Canada.

Niro creates complex visual experiences in a variety of media, including beadwork, painting, photography and film. Her work has been exhibited widely, both nationally and internationally, and she has received considerable attention for her films.

Known for challenging conventional, colonial representations of Aboriginality with directness and humour, Niro crafts and retells Indigenous narratives by drawing on lived experienced, as well as themes of identity, self-determination and liberation.

Her short film, The Shirt, was presented at the 2003 Venice Biennale and the 2004 Sundance Film Festival. In 2009, her first feature film, Kissed by Lightning, premiered at Toronto’s imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival and won the Santa Fe Film Festival’s 2009 Milagro Award for Best Indigenous Film. Niro’s work can be found in the collections of galleries and museums across Canada.

A graduate of OCAD University, Niro also studied at the Banff School of Fine Arts and received her MFA from the University of Western Ontario. To view some of Niro’s work, please visit her website.



Shaman Dream in Colour – Exhibition by Robert Houle

Saturday, April 23, 2016 - 4:00am to Saturday, May 14, 2016 - 4:00am

You are invited to meet painter, curator and writer Robert Houle, 2015 winner of the Governor General’s Award in Visual and Media Arts.

Houle is a member of the Saulteaux First Nation and taught at OCAD U for more than 15 years. His recent works include an installation in the AGO’s Walker Court entitled Seven Grandfathers.

Artist Reception: Saturday, April 23, 2 to 4 p.m.
Opening remarks by John Kearsey, Vice-President (External),
University of Manitoba

Exhibition runs April 23 to May 14, 2016

The exhibition's 24-page colour catalogue features an introduction by OCAD U associate professor David McIntosh.

Venue & Address: 
Kinsman Robinson Galleries 108 Cumberland St., Toronto
Circular painting by artist Robert Houle

OCAD University grads honoured with Governor General's Academic Medals

Dermot Patrick O'Brien receiving his Silver Medal from President Diamond
Doaa Khattab addressing her fellow graduates at convocation
Thursday, June 18, 2015 - 9:15pm

OCAD University’s recent convocation ceremonies included the presentation of Governor General’s Academic Medals to two Class of 2015 students. The awards are given annually to the undergraduate and graduate students who achieved the highest academic standing.

The silver medal went to Drawing & Painting student Dermot Patrick O’Brien, who maintained a thriving career in the advertising industry while studying. In the words of Natalie Waldburger, the Ada Slaight Chair of Contemporary Painting and Print Media, “the insights, experience and self-reflection that Dermot brings to his work and his writing are a model for artistic practice.”

Doaa Khattab – a graduate of the Inclusive Design master’s program – received the Governor General’s Gold Medal. For her research project she designed an inclusive and innovative wayfinding system in grocery stores for visually impaired shoppers. “The Inclusive Design program urged us to think differently,” Doaa says, “so that we would understand users’ needs in order to proceed with the holistic thinking, ideating and creating process.”

Robert Houle wins Governor General’s Award in Visual and Media Arts

Image of rtist Robert Houle
Tuesday, March 24, 2015 - 4:00am

Painter, curator, writer and former OCAD U faculty member Robert Houle is one of eight winners of the prestigious Governor General’s Award in Visual and Media Arts, announced Tuesday.  

Houle is among three Torontonians to take home the $25,000 prize, alongside multimedia artist Micah Lexier and jeweller Paul McClure.

A faculty member for more than 15 years, Houle is a member of the Saulteaux First Nation. His recent works include an installation in the AGO’s Walker Court entitled Seven Grandfathers.

The awards are sponsored by the Canada Council for the Arts. A reception will be held April 8th at Rideau Hall in Ottawa hosted by Governor General David Johnson.

Read more about the 2015 winners of the awards at the Canada Council for the Arts website.

Alumnus Terry Ryan honoured with the Governor General's Award in Visual and Media Arts

Photo: Martin Lipman, Canada Council for the Arts.
Wednesday, March 10, 2010 - 5:00am

(Toronto — March 10, 2010) The Ontario College of Art & Design (OCAD) is proud to announce that alumnus and Honorary Fellow Terry Ryan has been awarded the Governor General’s Award in Visual and Media Arts for Outstanding Contribution. Canada’s foremost distinction recognizing career achievement in the arts, the award honours Ryan for his role in the development of Kinngait Studios, the renowned printmaking centre in Cape Dorset, Nunavut. Kinngait Studios celebrated its 50th anniversary this past October.

“For 45 years, Terry Ryan worked to provide Cape Dorset artists with the tools — and the inspiration —to help define the North and its people. As manager of West Baffin Eskimo Co-operative (now Kinngait Studios), he was a jack of all trades: arts advisor, justice of the peace, coroner and occasional powder monkey, blasting overburden to expose stone for sculpture. He initially distributed pencils and paper, engaged master printmakers, initiated visiting artists programs and fine craft projects, and developed a domestic and international marketing network.

Ryan brought to his work his own sensibility as an artist, his practical know-how, an innovative spirit and a great love and respect for the North and its people.” — Canada Council for the Arts

The other winners of the Governor General’s Awards for Visual & Media Arts are: Haida sculptor Robert Davidson, filmmaker André Forcier, painter Rita Letendre, video artist Tom Sherman, photographer Gabor Szilasi and painter Claude Tousignant. Glass sculptor Ione Thorkelsson won the Saidye Bronfman Award for excellence in fine crafts. For their biographies, images and video interviews, visit the Canada Council website.

“I salute these artists who, through their unique vision and immense talent, open our eyes wide to all those things, in us and around us, that we look at without really seeing,” said her Excellency the Right Honourable Michaëlle Jean, Governor General of Canada.

The Governor General of Canada will present the 2010 Awards at a ceremony at Rideau Hall on Wednesday, March 31 at 6 p.m. In addition to a $25,000 prize, the winners will each receive a work created by Tony Urquhart, winner of a 2009 Governor General’s Award in Visual and Media Arts.

The Governor General’s Award in Visual and Media arts has also been awarded to OCAD alumni Michael Snow (2000), David Rokeby (2002) and Garry Neill Kennedy (2004), professors John Scott (2000) and Ian Carr-Harris (2007), and retired faculty member Nobuo Kubota (2009). Alumnus Kevin Lockau was awarded the Saidye Bronfman Award in 2009.

An article profiling Terry Ryan’s contributions appears in the Winter 2010 edition of Sketch magazine, the biannual magazine of the Ontario College of Art & Design.

About the Ontario College of Art & Design (OCAD)
The Ontario College of Art & Design ( is Canada’s “university of the imagination.” OCAD is dedicated to art and design education, practice and research and to knowledge and invention across a wide range of disciplines. The university is building on its traditional, studio-based strengths, adding new approaches to learning that champion cross-disciplinarity, collaboration and the integration of emerging technologies. In the Age of Imagination, OCAD community members will be uniquely qualified to act as catalysts for the next advances in culture, technology and quality of life for all Canadians.

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For more information and images please contact:

Sarah Mulholland, Media & Communications Officer, OCAD
416.977.6000 Ext. 327 (mobile Ext. 1327)