TODAY: Barry Ace - Nigig Open Studio

Thursday, February 1, 2018 - 4:00pm to 6:00pm

Indigenous Visual Culture’s Nigig Visiting Artist Resident Barry Ace will open his studio to the public and present his new work “How can you expect me to reconcile when I know the truth?” made during the residency. His ‘work in progress’ will be exhibited this spring at Supermarket Art Fair 2018 in Stockholm, Sweden. Be among the first to see this important work!

The Nigig Visiting Artist Residency provides an opportunity for an Indigenous artist to visit OCAD University to focus on a short-term project and explore in a collaborative environment, issues impacting their work.

For Information, please contact:


About the artist

Barry Ace is a practicing visual artist and currently lives in Ottawa. He is a band member of M’Chigeeng First Nation, Manitoulin Island, Ontario. His mixed media paintings and assemblage textile works explore various aspects of cultural continuity and the confluence of the historical and contemporary.

Image: Courtesy of the artist.

The Nigig Artist In Residence Program is supported through the Ministry of Advance Education and Skills Development Targeted Initiative Fund.

Venue & Address: 
OCAD University, Room 718, 7th Floor, 205 Richmond St.
Image: Courtesy of the artist.

Meet Anishinaabe artist Katheryn Wabegijig

My name is Katheryn Wabegijig. I am a 37 year old Ojibway/Odawa multi-disciplinary artist, custom picture framer and emerging writer who grew up in the small mining town of Elliot Lake, Ontario with ancestry in Wikwemikong, Atikameksheng Anishnawbek and belonging to Garden River First Nation/Ketegaunseebee. I graduated from Cambrian College’s 4 year Fine Arts program in 2003 and in 2016 with a BFA from OCAD University majoring in Drawing and Painting and minoring in Indigenous Visual Culture where I furthered my cultural education and continued on my path towards Decolonization through cathartic personal explorations.

It is not difficult to see why OCAD University is the leading academic institution of choice for Indigenous students pursuing Art and Design post-secondary education and I would like to share with you some of my experiences here at OCAD and in the INVC program. I believe that Indigenous students in communities across Turtle Island have a great opportunity to excel as artists and designers through the various programs that are offered here and the amount of support offered to students. I also believe that it is vital to go directly to those communities, engage those wishing to further their arts education and inspire their choice to be OCAD University.

I, myself, entered OCAD University as a second year transfer student and mature student after 10 years of focusing on my custom picture framing career. I graduated from Cambrian College where I took their 4 year Fine Arts program in 2003 but always had the dream of attending OCAD. I had to make a choice between my career and furthering my education and so, I told myself, “If I get accepted into OCAD University this time, I’m going!” The professors, staff and fellow artists here made my experience at OCAD University the very best decision of my life and I wish I had had the courage to take the step earlier. It was the best decision that I have ever made for myself as an artist and as an individual. I took Drawing and Painting as my major. I felt that I absolutely needed to take the Indigenous Visual Culture program because it was vital to my learning as an Anishinaabe artist who is continually searching for my place in each of the communities that I have grown up within.

Not only did I achieve my Bachelor of Fine Arts degree with an INVC minor but I had the opportunity to witness and learn from amazing Indigenous artists and staff at INVC who profoundly changed and supported my art practice. OCAD U and INVC made it possible for me to delve into my art by working through personal and cultural issues in a safe and supportive environment. In fact, my artwork that was featured in the culminating Grad Ex show for the graduating class was purchased by the Royal Ontario Museum! So, the opportunities here at OCAD University are truly countless, with exhibition opportunities that are attended by some of the most influential people in the art industry.

Also, students will find that throughout their time here that they will continually be surrounded by those influential presences. To be able to hear Janet Rogers recite and perform her powerful pieces of writing, to share in the knowledge of respected Elders and artists like Duke Redbird, to go on a tour of the ROM led by Bonnie Devine (the founding Chair of INVC) speaking on her masterpieces or to be lucky enough to be taught by her or Ryan Rice, an amazing Curator and the Chair of INVC, is undoubtedly an honour and only to be experienced here at Canada’s oldest and largest art, design and new media university.

The INVC Student Centre creates many community building events and activities including Buffalo Stew lunches held every Wednesday, Bead and Read which brings together readings from amazing authors while learning new beading techniques. The Mighty Pen, a writing group held for Indigenous students and students of colour began in my final year at OCAD U. I had the privilege of being involved with the very first group. What stemmed from that was a reconnection to my love for writing that led to my first published piece this year. My mentor from that group was and still is an amazing support. These groups, staff and spaces offer a welcoming gathering place to share experience, grow as artists and make friends that will last well beyond your OCAD University experience! Organized trips that I was able to attend were The McMichael Gallery and the Petroglyphs in Peterborough, which had an incredible impact on my art practice. That list is ever expanding, connecting students in this amazing program to culturally significant and life-altering experiences in Toronto and surrounding areas.

The way that I was able to delve into my art by working through personal and cultural issues in a safe and supportive environment allowed me to come to many realizations and revelations that carry with me in my professional career as an artist and as Collections Manager at Canadian Arctic Producers.

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Stories from the Vault: 7th Annual Indigenous Visual Culture Symposium

Sunday, September 17, 2017 - 2:00pm

Stories from the Vault: 7th Annual Indigenous Visual Culture Symposium
Sunday, September 17
2 to 5:30 p.m.

Light refreshments available

Panelists: Barry Ace, David General, Rick Hill, Tom Hill, Barry Pottle, Ryan Rice
Moderated by: Linda Grussani
Welcome by: Elder Garry Sault, Mississaugas of New Credit

In conjunction with the exhibition, raise a flag: work from the Indigenous Art Collection (2000-2015), Indigenous Visual Culture at OCAD University and Onsite Gallery co-present the symposium, Stories From The Vault. The symposium will include a panel of former managers and curators of the Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada’s National Indigenous Art Collection who will speak of their experience in developing the collection, identify and speak of their favorite works and share unique stories to shed light on the national collection’s 50 year history.

Image: views of the Indigenous Art Centre's vault.

raise a flag is produced with the support of the Collection of Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada, courtesy of the Indigenous Art Centre/Collection des Affaires autochtones et du Nord Canada, courtoisie du Centre d'art autochtone; Our Children's Medicine program and HigherMe; the Canada Council for the Arts; the City of Toronto through the Toronto Arts Council; the Indigenous Visual Culture Program at OCAD University; and, the Delaney Family Foundation.

Venue & Address: 
Onsite Gallery, 199 Richmond St. W. (Ground Floor)
416-977-6000 x456
Views of the Indigenous Art Centre's vault

INVC's Nigig Artist In Residence Open Studio / Closing Reception

Neebinnnaukzhik Southall showcases her work.
Thursday, March 16, 2017 - 5:00pm to 7:00pm

You Are Invited
Nigig Visiting Artist Residency Open Studio
Neebinnnaukzhik Southall

Neebin will share the project she has developed during the NIGIG Artist Residency. The project focuses on the creation of Anishinaabe stock art and icons, which promotes visual sovereignty by exploring Anishinaabe visuals and material culture such as petroglyphs, floral beadwork, and Birch bark pictographs.

Neebinnaukzhik Southall, a member of the Chippewas of Rama First Nation, is a graphic designer, photographer, artist, and writer. 

Open Studio / Closing Reception
Thursday March 16
113 McCaul (OCAD U Annex)
Room 1401, 4th Floor

For more information contact:

Venue & Address: 
113 McCaul (OCAD U Annex)

Bonnie Devine

Bonnie Devine is an Associate Professor at OCAD University and the Founding Chair of OCAD U's Indigenous Visual Culture Program. She is an installation artist, curator, writer, and educator, and a member of the Serpent River First Nation of Northern Ontario (Anishinaabe/Ojibwa). Professor Devine has taught studio and liberal arts courses at York University, Queen's University, and the Centre for Indigenous Theatre. She has been a full-time instructor at OCAD University in the Faculty of Art, the Faculty of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and the School of Interdisciplinary Studies since 2008.

Colonization Road

Peek inside Kaia'tanoron Bush's sketchbook

Photo of Kaia'tanoron
Photo of sketchbook page
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Getting a peek inside an artist’s sketchbook is a pretty cool experience. Sketchbooks show an artist’s creative process and what they’re thinking about.

We were lucky that third year Indigenous Visual Culture student Kaia’tanoron Bush showed us a few pages of her book. “It’s a pretty unique program here”, says Kaiatanoron about INVC. “What really excited me was the opportunity to learn from someone from my community.”


This is from a series of paintings that were never finished. Kaia’tanoron took a series of photos of dead birds on the street and painted them. “I like the fragility,” she says. “And, it’s something people don’t want to look at but it’s there.”


This process work, featuring rhinestones and nail polish, was for a performance class. The performance was called “Pick Me” looking at the poses people take when picking scabs. The performance was about dealing with self-harm and collage as an alternative.


Kaia’tanoron calls this series of sketches Angry Hands. “I have anxiety and I have to draw to get out the negative energy,” she says. Plus, practicing drawing hands requires focus and can take extra practice to master.“Hands are very expressive. They can look angry or gentle,” says Kaia’tanoron. “They mean a lot.”

This is a poster design to raise awareness about missing and murdered Indigenous women.


“When I was born my uncle called me an apple – red on the outside and white on the inside,” says Kaia’tanoron. Part of her time here at OCAD U’s Indigenous Visual Culture program has been about digesting her status as mixed-race. “This page is a meditation on being an apple,” she says.




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Admissions Segment: 

Culture Shifts – a New Documentary Screening Series at OCAD U

photo of a pass with text
Monday, September 26, 2016 - 10:00pm


FREE SCREENING of The Pass System

September 26th, 2016 • 6 PM

From the Northwest Resistance of 1885 and for over 60 years, the Canadian Government denied many Indigenous peoples of the prairies the basic freedom to leave their reserves, all the while knowing there was no basis in law for the policy. This investigative documentary features Cree, Saulteaux, Dene, Ojibwe and Blackfoot Elders and their stories of living under and resisting the system, revealing a little-known picture of life under segregation. In Canada.

Panel discussion to follow:
Alex Williams, Director
Ryan Rice, Delaney Chair of Indigenous Visual Culture
Dr. Sherry Farrell Racette, Associate Professor, University of Manitoba

DIRECTOR Alex Williams
NARRATION Tantoo Cardinal 
EDITOR Igal Hecht 
MUSIC Cris Derksen 

The Pass System was made with assistance from the Canada Council for the Arts, the Ontario Arts Council the Toronto Arts Council, many artist-run media arts centres across the country, as well as community supporters, and was produced in association with Tamarack Productions.

CUTURE SHIFTS  focuses on documentary media that address critical issues for Indigenous and diasporic communities. 
Indigenous Visual Culture at OCAD University
OCAD U Faculty of Art
OCAD U Department of Integrated Media
OCAD U's Art & Social Change

Venue & Address: 
Auditorium (Room 190), OCAD University 100 McCaul Street
photo of a pass with text

Indigenous creative culture: Gerald McMaster on Indigenous art past and present, worlds seen and beyond sight

Gerald McMaster

Since the dawn of history, art has enabled people the world over to understand themselves, their environments and their relations with others. That “ethical” dimension of art as it is brought into being by Indigenous artists is at the heart of Dr. Gerald McMaster’s current research and exhibition.

McMaster is a Plains Cree and a member of the Siksika First Nation. Since February 2016, he’s also been OCAD University’s Canada Research Chair (CRC) in Indigenous Visual Culture and Curatorial Practice (the first researcher at an art and design university to be awarded a prestigious Tier-1 CRC appointment). To this position, McMaster brings decades of experience as a writer, artist and curator who has worked at the Canadian Museum of Civilization, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian and the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO).

Indigenous creative culture

While his official CRC title references “visual culture,” McMaster’s research in fact challenges Western society’s longstanding privileging of sight over other senses, perhaps especially in the study of art.

“The term Indigenous creative culture suits my interests far better,” says McMaster. “When we replace ‘visual’ with ‘creative,’ we open up to a much broader spectrum of perception and expression. I have been struck, for instance, by the limitations of sight when trying to understand how past Indigenous artists took into consideration not just their material surroundings but also the unseen world. And, among contemporary Indigenous artists, I’m detecting a powerful movement to explore a wider range of sensorial experiences.”



Making contact



Vision, nevertheless, is an important metaphor in several of McMaster’s CRC research projects, notably one focusing on the reverse gaze. “For most of colonial and post-colonial history, it’s been a scholarly one-way street,” McMaster notes. “We’ve primarily concerned ourselves with how Europeans and their descendants saw and represented Indigenous peoples. But what happens when we turn the gaze around? How did Indigenous peoples see and depict newcomers?”

McMaster was first drawn to this question by the discovery on Baffin Island, in the early 1970s, of a small wooden sculpture of a Nordic traveller made by an Inuit carver ca. 1250. More recently, his interest was galvanized through involvement with the AGO’s acquisition of a rare Haida sculpture from the 1860s of a European sea captain. Since then, McMaster has broadened his scope to understand and document further examples of the reverse gaze across North America and beyond.






“I’m fascinated by phenomenology,” McMaster reveals, “and by the lens it offers for understanding the interconnections among people, land, religion, other animals, art.”

On this topic, McMaster recommends David Abram’s The Spell of the Sensuous: Perception and Language in a More-than-Human World (1996).

Could there be two more different regions than the Arctic and Amazonia? Separated by vast distances and subject to utterly different climate conditions, have the original peoples of those two zones anything in common?

As McMaster and his collaborator — Dr. Iris Edenheiser of the Reiss-Engelhorn Museen in Mannheim, Germany — endeavour to tackle these and other questions, one of the issues that fascinates them is the history of European representation of both the Arctic and Amazonia as “fantastical, mysterious” places. In addition, McMaster and Edenheiser are seeking to document the material technology Indigenous peoples used to survive in those challenging environments.

And that topic brings up a major thrust of their Arctic–Amazonia research project: “How are Indigenous artists in those regions representing one of humanity’s fiercest, most widespread threats: global climate change?”

Cape Dorset and Papunya

Image of African inspired mask projecting from third eye
Geronimo Inutiq, ULU (woman’s knife), digital print on linen, 32” x 32”, edition of 7

“The contemporary rise of ‘indigeneity’,” McMaster explains, “concerns the maintenance and expression of an Indigenous sensibility in a globalized world.” McMaster’s third CRC project — examining Indigenous artists communities at Cape Dorset (on Baffin Island) and Papunya (in Australia’s Northern Territory) — cracks open that subject by exploring the history, present and future of those “isolated” (a “southern projection”) places.

Working with Steven Gilchrist, an Indigenous scholar from Australia, McMaster hopes to illuminate the cultural, social and political forces at play in both communities. How, in Papunya and Cape Dorset, did artists who had never been trained in conventional art schools produce works that have gained such international acclaim? And how are changing economic circumstances — regionally and in the international art market — affecting Indigenous artists and their communities?



Indian Acts



Image of African inspired mask projecting from third eye
Sonny Assu, #photobomb, acrylic on panel, 40” x 84”

Many threads of McMaster’s Indigenous creative culture research are woven into Indian Acts: Truths in the Age of Reconciliation, an exhibition he has curated at Toronto’s Katzman Contemporary gallery. Indian Acts draws together the works of three young Indigenous artists: Sonny Assu, Nicholas Galanin and Geronimo Inutiq (madeskimo).

For McMaster, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s reports “made it clear that Canadian society remained surprisingly oblivious when it came to the nihilistic authority enshrined in the Indian Act.” Through the artists and works he selected for presentation at the Katzman, McMaster explores “a legacy that continues to reverberate among Indigenous peoples, both individually and collectively.”



With thanks to Marianne Katzmann and Dario Del Degan for generously sharing the Indian Acts exhibition images used in this article.



The art that appears at the top of this feature is Nicholas Galanin's S'igeika'awu: Ghost #002.

Morgan Holmes
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Admissions Segment: 

Closing Reception for the Indigenous Visual Culture’s Nigig Visiting Artist Residency

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Thursday, November 19, 2015 - 11:00pm to Friday, November 20, 2015 - 1:00am

You Are Invited to the Closing Reception for the
Indigenous Visual Culture’s Nigig Visiting Artist Residency

When: Thursday, November 19, 2015
Time: 6pm – 8 pm
Where: OCADU Student Gallery, 52 McCaul Street.

The OCAD U Student Gallery is hosting a closing reception for the Indigenous Visual Culture’s Nigig Visiting Artist Michael Belmore. Please join us in celebrating the inaugural residency and see the work Michael produced over the last 3 weeks.

The Nigig Visiting Artist Residency is a new INVC program that provides an opportunity for an Indgenous artist to visit OCAD University for a 3 week period to focus on a short-term project and explore in a collaborative environment, issues impacting their work.

INVC’s Nigig Visiting Artist Residency is generously supported by the Delaney Family Foundation.

RSVP on the Facebook Page:

Venue & Address: 
OCAD U Student Gallery, 52 McCaul Street