Monday, January 28, 2019 - 1:45pm to Friday, February 15, 2019 - 11:45pm


From student-run group OCAD U STUDENT PRESS:
The Yellow Staircase is an iconic interior space at OCAD U, displaying the energy and vitality of the student body. It is the structural spine of 100 McCaul, connecting all faculties and floors. Students are drawn to this arena, expressing a range of thoughts, feelings, and moods. OCAD U is a school with very little common areas for students to exchange and collaborate together; add commuter culture, high stress levels, living costs and you have cause for concern that students can feel isolated and frustrated with university culture.

Launched in 2018, the Yellow Staircase Yearbook mural project challenges these issues through the annual addition of four murals in The Yellow Staircase. Instead of condemning artistic expression and continuously painting over graffiti, we seek to turn this phenomenon into a positive and community-minded project, taking advantage of how the staircase is currently functioning in the interest of the school and the student body.

We are currently seeking proposals for murals by current OCAD University students or student collectives that creatively represent a student community or an official student group at the school. Successful proposals will receive a flat fee of $250 which includes the artist fee and money for materials. The Student Press will provide ladders, drop cloths, and will prime the mural surface with white paint.


1. Students may submit as individual artists or as groups.

2. The murals must be painted between 18 March and 19 April, 2019.

3. The murals will be painted between Levels 5 and 6 in the Yellow Staircase.

4. The average mural size is 5x4 feet, but you are welcome to suggest other dimensions. Your mural does not have to be rectangular!

5. You can use acrylic paint, or acrylic paint markers to create the mural. Spray paint can not be used.

Proposals should be emailed to with the subject line “Yellow Staircase Proposal”. Any images included should be attached to the email, or you may provide a link to a Google Drive folder. Please email us if you have any questions about submitting!

In your submission, please include the following:

1. A sketch of the mural design.

2. A photo of the yellow staircase wall space between Levels 5 and 6 that you would like to use. Please make sure some identifiable graffiti is visible so that we can locate it.

3. A one to two sentence artist biography that includes your name(s) and program(s).

4. A short artist statement that explains what student community the mural represents and how. For examples of the communities represented last year, please see the murals below.

If you have any questions about the project or the submission guidelines, please email us at


The OCAD U Student Press serves as a platform for idea sharing, research, and communication among the OCAD U community. We publish a major book every year, showcasing ground-breaking academic research and projects done by our most promising students in the fields of art and design. The Press offers a series of educational workshops, additional publications and events, offering students new opportunities to get involved.


Venue & Address: 
100 McCaul Street
YELLOW staircase murals call for submissions

June Lawrason

After graduating from Ontario College of Art, June began her career as an illustrator in fashion and charicature. With time a more realistic approach evolved, and June found work in educational illustration where she illustrated all ages and genres of people doing a variety of activities. While illustrating Laura Secord?s Brave Walk, she developed a love of historical illustration. However, she has proven to be extremely versatile in her classic approach to illustration by making beautiful pictures that tell stories in a simplified realistic style.

Yellow Staircase Project 2008 Launch

daniela pettinato 2008
Wednesday, September 10, 2008 - 3:00pm to 5:00pm

The Yellow Staircase Project, a student initiative with full administrative support, launched officially in September 2007. Join us to celebrate one year later as we launch the project for 2008. Students (individually or small groups) are welcome to submit proposals for original artwork in the staircase. Free the yellow staircase of its yellowness and replace it with colourful paintings and murals! The medium is paint but students from all disciplines are encourged to get involved.

Come out and pick up a copy of the submission guidelines and deadlines.

Venue & Address: 
Lobby 100 McCaul Street, Toronto, Ontario

Yellow Staircase Project Reception

yellow staircase
Thursday, January 17, 2008 - 9:30pm to 11:30pm

The Yellow Staircase Project, a student initiative with full administrative support, launched officially last September. To free the Yellow Staircase of its yellowness--and replace it annually with colourful paintings and murals--students were asked to submit proposals.

Now that the commissioned student works are complete, it's time to celebrate with the artists!

Refreshments will be served.



Venue & Address: 
Room 187, Level 1 100 McCaul Street, Toronto, Ontario

Recent OCAD U grads paint new mural linking two Toronto districts

Mural by Emily May Rose and Heidi Berton
Mural at University Triangle by Emily May Rose and Heidi Berton
Mural by Emily May Rose and Heidi Berton
Tuesday, July 7, 2015 - 4:00am

The Toronto Entertainment District Business Improvement Area (TOED BIA) and the Toronto Financial District BIA unveiled a multi-colored mural as a shared contribution to the aesthetic improvements to the retaining wall at the University triangle (University Avenue, Front Street and York Street). The mural spans over 470 square feet from the Front Street West base of the triangle.

With a commitment to maintain this triangle, the BIAs were faced with the challenge of combating a constantly tagged wall. The solution was to partner with OCAD University to commission two artists. Mural preparations commenced on June 15th under the skillful execution of Toronto based artists Heidi Berton and Emily May Rose.  Both are graduates of OCAD U’s Illustration program. The two muralists were selected through a juried process and are part of an ongoing collaboration between OCAD U and TOED BIA.  Dr. Sara Diamond, President, OCAD University, comments further by saying “We are excited to be working with the BIAs on this project together - this is a wonderful example of how the business community can work together to improve the public realm.”

Together, Emily May Rose and Heidi Berton have created mural art with humour and vibrant colours to brighten busy commuter mornings. The mural’s colour palette is bright and whimsical, strengthening a sense of the area’s hustle and bustle, as it is depicted throughout the mural’s design. For artist, Emily May Rose “Our concept was to take the idea of the train station being the hub of activity in the Front and University area by creating a motif of city transportation imagery, centred around a train track running throughout. Because the tracks have been a constant in the lives of Torontonians and commuters for many years, we wanted to show the evolution of how people continue to get around while the train tracks remain a staple.”

Councillor McConnell of Ward 28, states that “…We are pleased to see the ongoing beautification of a key entry point to two of Toronto’s most popular destinations: The Entertainment District and the Financial District. The City of Toronto is very thankful to have our BIAs working together in maintaining and beautifying this important parkette.”

Councillor Cressy of Ward 20, commented further by saying “…such a joint project as this is a prime example of bringing public art to this vibrant and busy area of Toronto while providing a fantastic opportunity for OCAD artists to showcase their talent.”

For Video footage click

About OCAD University
OCAD University is Canada’s university of the imagination. Founded in 1876, the University is dedicated to art and design education, practice and research and to knowledge and invention across a wide range of disciplines.

About Toronto Financial District BIA
The Toronto Financial District BIA represents Toronto's premier business centre, an area that includes Union Station, the PATH underground walkway and Canada' s five major banks and most prominent firms. With a mandate to promote economic development in the area, initiatives include improving public spaces, showcasing the daily activity of our thriving businesses at and @MyTOFD, and identifying collaborative opportunities that ensure the Financial District and PATH are well-maintained, integrated, connected and accessible.

About the Toronto Entertainment District Business Improvement Area  Established in 2008, TOED's mandate is to promote, improve and preserve a dynamic area of Toronto. Benefitting from economic, environmental and social factors driving downtown growth, the Entertainment District is in the midst of a renaissance, firmly establishing itself as a thriving and vibrant district for living, creating, working and entertainment. From Air Canada Centre to the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, the Entertainment District includes many of Toronto's most iconic buildings. In the heart of the District is the CN Tower, Steam Whistle Brewing, Ripley's Aquarium of Canada, Metro Toronto Convention Centre, MetroCentre, Rogers Centre, Roy Thomson Hall, Princess of Wales Theatre, Royal Alexandra Theatre and TIFF Bell Lightbox (

"Synesthesia" Mural Launch

Image of a wall mural with orange shapes
Friday, October 24, 2014 - 8:00pm to 9:00pm

"Synesthesia" is an interactive public artwork recently installed at the Davenport Road underpass.

The mural’s composition was developed in response to sound recordings of trains passing over the site. By calling a phone number posted at the mural location, you can listen to the recorded audio while imagining relationships of colour, shape and movement within the artwork.

Check out the sounds by calling 416-222-4897

Time: 4:00 p.m. - Visit and experience the interactive mural

         4:30 p.m. - Ribbon Cutting + short remarks from City Councillor Ward 20, StreetARToronto and Paul Aloisi

         5:00 p.m. - Reception @ Pour House 182 Dupont St.

A project by OCAD U Instructor Paul Aloisi In collaboration with StreetARToronto

Venue & Address: 
Davenport Road and Dupont Street 


Matta, the eldest elder in town. Nunavik. Image courtesy Cape Dorset Mural Project
Judy Baca with one of her murals. Image courtesy Judy Baca.
Patrick Thompson and Gootileak Echo paint a mural in Iqaluit. Image courtesy Cape Dorset Mural Project

World renowned Los Angeles artist, educator, activist and community arts pioneer Judy Baca brings her vision for public art to OCAD U for a March 14 lecture presented by the Faculty of Arts, while OCAD U alumni Alexa Hatanaka and Patrick Thompson campaign to facilitate mural painting in Cape Dorset, Nunavut. All three artists are engaged in large-scale, collaborative multi-artist projects centred around recording memories and telling the stories of communities.

Judy Baca’s political landscapes

“I hope to use public space to create public voice, and consciousness about the presence of people who are often the majority of the population but who may not be represented in any visual way.” Judy Baca

Judy Baca with one of her murals. Image courtesy Judy Baca. Baca is a Chicana muralist who teaches at the University of California. In 1974 she founded the first City of Los Angeles Mural Program, a community arts organization that evolved into the Social and Public Art Resource Centre (SPARC). As artistic director of SPARC, Baca’s focus is on giving voice to historically disenfranchised groups and preserving their stories.

One of her most cherished projects, for which she served as director, is The Great Wall of Los Angeles, a multicultural history “tattooed” along a flood control channel in the San Fernando Valley. It’s one of the longest murals in the world. She is also inspired by the land, believing there’s an intelligence to living and growing things and to the earth that nurtured them. “I have always known the value of art as a tool for transformation both personal and political” she said. “What I have had to learn through being attentive to my own curiosities and artistic focus, is that I choose often to use land as my method of recording memories and stories in my paintings and drawings.”

Baca’s talk at OCAD U is a co-presentation by Latin American Canadian Art Projects, Community Arts Practice (CAP) at York University and OCAD U’s Faculty of Art.

Alumni help spark imaginations in the north

Patrick Thompson and Gootileak Echo paint a mural in Iqaluit. Image courtesy Cape Dorset Mural Project OCAD U alumni Alexa Hatanaka (Printmaking) and Patrick Thompson (Drawing & Painting) are getting ready to fly to Cape Dorset, Nunavut where they were invited to paint a large outdoor mural on the hamlet’s co-op building, collaborate with local artists and facilitate youth workshops. The artists have been collaborating together on murals and youth workshops in fly-in Canadian arctic communities for four years (though Thompson has been involved in such projects for ten years).

Hatanaka and Thompson will be working on the project in Cape Dorset from April 16 until the end of June, helping to collaborate on a colourful mural for a busy, northern centre that’s cold and dark for many months of the year. One of their youth workshops will delve into contemporary mural art practices and techniques while another will culminate in the painting of wildlife-proof garbage bins throughout the community.

Their project is partially funded with support from the Ontario Arts Council and First Air, with accommodation by the Kinngait Lithography studio apartment, but the couple is also seeking Indigogo funding for materials, cargo shipment and artist honourariums.

Join the conversation:

Share your favourite mural on OCAD U’s Facebook page

Learn more:

Attend Judy Baca’s lecture

Judy Baca

Cape Dorset Mural Project