Gerald McMaster heading to 2018 Venice Architecture Biennale

Dr. Gerald McMaster, photo by Sebastian Kriete
Wednesday, September 20, 2017

OCAD U’s Gerald McMaster, together with an Indigenous design team, is representing Canada at 2018 Venice Architecture Biennale. The Canada Council for the Arts announced that the Indigenous project UNCEDED has been selected through a national juried competition to represent Canada at the Architecture Biennale. 

Led by internationally-renowned architect Douglas Cardinal, the team includes Anishnaabe Elders and Indigenous co-curators, Dr. Gerald McMaster, Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Visual Culture and Curatorial Practice at OCAD University, and Dr. David Fortin, incoming director of the McEwen School of Architecture at Laurentian University. Joining them is a decorated group of Indigenous architects from across North America.

“Having represented Canada as curator to the 1995 Venice Biennale of Visual Arts, and to be asked to be lead curator by such a distinguished group of Indigenous architects is both an honour and privilege," says Dr. McMaster. 

UNCEDED will emphasize and celebrate the work of Indigenous architects and designers throughout Turtle Island. It is grounded in the legacy of the Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) Report.

Dr. McMaster has more than 30 years of international work and expertise in contemporary art, critical theory, museology and Indigenous aesthetics. Throughout his career, his championing of the mainstream value of Indigenous art, among other things, has led to his being chosen to represent Canada at a number of prestigious international events.

StudentDwellTO: OCAD U, U of T, York, Ryerson take on affordable housing

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

The presidents of Toronto’s four universities – OCAD University, the University of Toronto, York University and Ryerson University – have teamed up for a new initiative called StudentDwellTO to tackle one of the biggest issues facing post-secondary students in the Greater Toronto area: affordable housing.

The initiative brings together nearly 100 faculty and students from the four universities to take an in-depth look at student housing in the GTA.

This follows a previous collaboration between the four universities: a massive survey of student travel behaviour, called StudentMoveTO, which revealed that long daily commutes for students – many of whom live far away where housing is more affordable – were leading to lower campus engagement and in some cases limiting students’ class choices.

StudentMoveTO and StudentDwellTO are parts of an initiative by the presidents of the four universities aimed at improving the state of the city-region – and, in turn, the experiences for university students in the GTA.

“Student housing is directly connected to the lack of affordable housing for many communities,” says Min Sook Lee, Assistant Professor, Art and Social Change, OCAD U. “This project allows us to bring forward student advocacy on housing issues and link it with the broader movement across this city. We don’t just need research on student housing, we need to mobilize it.”

Professor Jeremy Bowes is running a housing studio at OCAD U in Environmental design, exploring case studies and prototypes of student housing for the project. 

StudentDwellTO will look at housing affordability from a range of perspectives, bringing together disciplines including architecture, art, education, engineering, environmental studies and design, geography, psychology, real estate management and urban development and planning.

The two-year initiative will have heavy research and advocacy components, and the researchers will collect data using a variety of research methods that include:

  • wide-scale focus groups and accompanying surveys to draw out narratives surrounding students’ lived experiences,
  • interactive website and community arts programming and communication tools, and
  • interactive maps to develop affordable housing strategies.

The subject matter will also be incorporated into experiential learning courses, across all four universities and various disciplines, to propose and test solutions to the student housing experience and crisis.

Along the way, researchers will collaborate with government, non-profit, private sector and community partners in the GTA.  Each university will hold public events, including affordable housing charrettes, to get a wide range of input on solutions.

Dr. Ashok Mathur named Dean of Graduate Studies

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

OCAD University is pleased to announce the appointment of Dr. Ashok Mathur as Dean of Graduate Studies, effective January 1, 2018. Dr. Mathur recently completed a term as Head of Creative Studies at the Okanagan campus of the University of British Columbia, which began January, 2014.

“We are delighted to have Dr. Mathur join OCAD U,” said Dr. Gillian Siddall, Vice President Academic & Provost. “He brings with him tremendous administrative and teaching experience, as well as a significant record of research and creative practice. He is very well positioned to contribute to advancing the priorities of the academic plan.”

Before joining UBC, Dr. Mathur served as a Tier 2 Canada Research Chair in Cultural and Artistic Inquiry, and Director of the Centre for Innovation in Culture and the Arts in Canada (CiCAC) at Thompson Rivers University. Prior to that, Dr. Mathur served as Head of Critical and Cultural Studies at the Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design (2001-05).

Dr. Mathur has produced five books and numerous projects, both creative and critical, that focus on and feature the intersections of artistic engagement. His most recent book is a long poem entitled The First Black White Man, which, supported by a Canada Council writing grant, was incorporated into a ‘living arts’ space revolving around one of Kamloops’s early Black immigrants and his role in developing the city. Dr. Mathur is a long-time advocate of critical race theory as it pertains to the postsecondary institution, and works continuously to address radical forms of equity and Indigenous knowledge.

"I am thrilled to join the diverse and progressive environment of OCAD U, and keen to work with students, faculty, and administration to continue to develop excellent graduate level programming in the years to come," said Dr. Mathur.

Dr. Mathur holds a Ph.D. in Postcolonial Literature from the University of Calgary. As Dean, reporting to the Vice-President Academic & Provost, Dr. Mathur will be responsible for the educational and research leadership, development and supervision of Graduate Studies and its alignment with the academic plan and integration into the larger strategic plan of the university.

ROMEO off-line for service update - May 25

Wednesday, May 24, 2017 - 5:00pm to Thursday, May 25, 2017 - 5:00pm

Dr. Coffey wins 2015/16 award for Early Stage Research, Scholarship, & Creative Activity

HCoffey feature photo
Friday, May 5, 2017

Heather Coffey, PhD joined OCAD University in 2013 and received a tenure-track appointment in Medieval and Renaissance Art History in 2015. Prof. Coffey’s research centres on the history of the links between the Islamic World and Europe to provide a context and an understanding for cultural exchange today. Prof. Coffey is admired for her courageousness as a scholar for venturing into the fraught terrain of the history of Islamic/Christian exchanges in the contemporary context of growing fundamentalism across religious traditions. She demonstrates, through her work and writing, the significance of focused research for understanding and reflecting upon the cross‐cultural and global realities in which we live.

Prof. Coffey’s historical scholarship, and the way in which it informs her teaching and her mentoring of students, is of the utmost relevance to OCAD and to the research profile of the university. For example, her article in preparation, “To Inspire and Delight: Demi’s Illustrated Mi’rajnama for Children,” provides a brilliant interpretation of contemporary representations of the Islamic World. The article links the compositions in a popular children’s book to complex and shifting regimes of representation that range from present-day Iran to fourteenth-century century Persia. In other projects, Prof. Coffey has set herself the task of envisioning how representations of Islamic culture in Western texts engender cross‐cultural dialogue and exchange both historically and currently. Her intellectual passion and far‐reaching breadth of inquiry is as evident to her students as it is to her peers in her field, for whom her work is of the utmost merit.

Prof. Coffey has received prestigious awards to undertake her doctoral research from multiple agencies and institutions, such as the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada and the Max‐Plank‐Gesellschaft, and has published impressive articles in significant books on Islamic and Christian art and cross‐cultural perspectives. Most recently, she was a co-applicant for a SSRHC Connections Grant in support of the interdisciplinary conference Global Reformations: Transforming Early Modern Religions, Societies, and Cultures, at the invitation of Dr. Nicholas Terpstra at the University of Toronto’s Centre for Reformation and Renaissance Studies in September 2017.

Government funds boost OCAD University commitment to research and innovation

VP of Manufacturing, Development and Operations of IBM Canada Patrick Horgan, MP Adam Vaughan, OCAD U Board Chair Dr. John Sempl
Tuesday, January 24, 2017
Above, Left to Right: VP of Manufacturing, Development and Operations of IBM Canada Patrick Horgan, MP Adam Vaughan, OCAD U Board Chair Dr. John Semple, OCAD U President Sara Diamond, MPP Han Dong, OCAD U Board Vice-Chair Sharifa Khan and The Daniels Corporation President Mitchell Cohen.

OCAD University has been awarded $4.5 million from the Ministry of Innovation, Science and Economic Development’s Post-Secondary Institutions Strategic Investment Fund (SIF). The Fund is a Government of Canada program that is providing up to $2 billion to accelerate strategic construction, repair and maintenance at universities and colleges across Canada.

The funds will be used by the university to further expand and develop its growth in digital research and innovation, with $2 million to support the research, innovation and environmental sustainability of the Centre for Experiential Learning and $2.5 million allocated for Campus for the Connected World (Phase 1) on Toronto’s Waterfront.

The Centre for Experiential Learning, part of the Creative City Campus, will expand OCAD U’s research and innovation space and nurture the existing campus culture of creativity, collaboration and innovation. The building and its operations will be a model of social and environmental sustainability, incorporating healthy, innovative building materials. The Centre will be located in the Rosalie Sharp Pavilion, at the southeast corner of McCaul and Dundas streets. In 2016, OCAD U received a $27-million investment from the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities for the Creative City Campus project. In addition, the Centre for Experiential Learning has received a total of $4 M from benefactors Rosalie and Isadore Sharp.

OCAD University’s Campus for the Connected World on Toronto’s Waterfront is a new facility for research and innovation that will house initiatives specific to innovation training, design thinking, Big Data design and accelerator capacity that support commercialization initiatives and bring design skills to emergent companies.

The two-phase revenue-generating project is located at Jarvis and Queens Quay in City of the Arts, a multi-use complex developed by the Daniels Corporation. The new facility will play a dynamic role in building Waterfront Toronto’s environmental, cultural and economic capacities.

“As we continue to renew and expand our campus, we look forward to amplifying OCAD University’s digitally focused learning and research, as well as its connections to industry and community partners, says Dr. Sara Diamond, President and Vice-Chancellor, OCAD University. “OCAD University is proud to provide experiential learning that will ensure our grads are members of a highly skilled workforce that supports talent innovation and entrepreneurship, crucial to STEAM + D disciplines.

We are grateful to the Government of Canada and the Government of Ontario for their support and recognition.”

“Supporting OCAD University’s expansion is not only good for Canada; it’s good for Toronto,” says Adam Vaughan, Member of Parliament for Spadina—Fort York. “OCAD University is at the forefront of delivering new ideas and new leaders for a new economy. Innovation drives Toronto as much as it defines OCAD University, and the federal government is proud to play a role.”

“OCAD U has been a vital part of our community for many years and it has embraced magnificently the imagination and innovation of our young artists and designers. The Creative City Campus will strengthen the foundation of OCAD U, enabling it to further grow and thrive in the 21st century,” says Han Dong, Member of Provincial Parliament for Trinity—Spadina.

OCAD U’s continuous evolution is based on the belief that creativity serves a vital function in society, and that imaginations have the unique power to develop real-world solutions to improve and transform lives. These latest developments will ensure students and faculty continue to have the ability to leverage the power of art, design and digital innovation to change the world for the better.


Interior Designers and the Future of Humankind

Mediabank Place by HASSELL
Wednesday, January 25, 2017 - 6:00pm

Interior Designers and the Future of Humankind

*Open to the public

Dr. Agustin Chevez

Senior Researcher at HASSELL and Adjunct Research Fellow at the Centre For Design Innovation, Swinburne University in Australia.


“Advancing machine intelligence is the most important problem facing the world today”.
Robert Schiller


Fears of a jobless society are not new. Automation has already replaced the human body in various industries. As cognitive computing evolves to replace the human mind, Interior Designers hold the responsibility of designing environments that nurture the last competitive advantages of humans over machines; and with that, they hold the future of humankind.

Venue & Address: 
100 McCaul St, Main Auditorium Room 190
agustin chevez


This session will be devoted to exploring the face in modern and contemporary art practice as a sort of hinge between the sensual and the affective. 

The face is the cradle of all the major sense organs: sight, sound, taste and smell and to a lesser extent touch. Through these organs, subjects sense their environment becoming attuned to subtle changes that occur constantly in it. Responding to these stimuli one might squint or grow wide-eyed; wrinkle the nose or purse the lips; one’s cheeks might blush or we might crane the neck to hear a faint sound. The face is also the cradle of identity—facial recognition technology has been around in the form of identity cards for nearly a century and beyond that it is quite simply through the face that others most commonly recognize us. The face can nonetheless give away very personal information; it is where affective and emotional states are registered and made visible sometimes even before they are named and known. Therefore, in the face reading and decoding, intuiting and apprehending are distinctly corporeal. One might use the sense organs of the face to take stock of their environment (which includes the facial expressions of those around them), or use these same parts to take stock of the self. This session will be devoted to exploring the face in modern and contemporary art practice as a sort of hinge between the sensual and the affective. How do sensual and affective registers relate to one another? At what point does a sensed experience become a shared experience and what role does the face play? How can re-thinking the face, lead to new conceptualizations of identity and the social commons? The face is a nexus of the personal and the public—involving performance and dissimulation as much as truth and transparency.  Is the facial ‘expression’ an embodied instance of promised connection and meaning or the risk of disconnect?

Thursday, February 5, 2015 - 9:15pm
Lab Member: 
Dr. Barbara Rauch
Kathleen Morris


EXTEND is a research study that examined Marblemedia's internal structure and recommended strategic action to develop original game IP. The team has studied design processes and team structure within the company and facilitated the development of original IP through a series of workshops. The emphasis here has been to build on existing in-house skills to create new market opportunities for the company. 

With the help of OCADU’s expertise in game design thinking and independent game development this study looked at the internal environment at Marblemedia, both structural and behavioral. This facilitated the creation of a detailed blueprint for changes to strengthen Marblemedia’s position as a creative industries market leader. The team has developed a series of findings, recommendations and tools to help Marblemedia put systems in place to support this evolution. These have been delivered via a final report and a series of workshops.

Research Approaches and Methods

This Fed Dev funded research afforded an opportunity to "live with" the project over a period of time. Accordingly the project was phased in line with de Bono's (1982) framework of Preparation, Incubation, Illumination, and Verification. Each phase of the project was linked to these phases of creative thought. Broadly the phases were planned to gather intelligence on internal processes, external possibilities and business pragmatics. Knowledge gathered from the first two phases fed into subsequent stages of the project informing workshop design and final report recommendations. 

The workshop developed two concepts collaboratively that remain ready for future development. The final stage presented the synthesized opportunities with specific recommendations to the management team. Each of these project phases demanded different approaches that ranged from formal research processes of interview and subsequent analysis to action-research techniques in which participants actively engage with specific creativity exercises. 

More traditional business techniques were then used to synthesize knowledge generated in the earlier stages of the project into a series of recommendations.

This project adopted a multiple method approach, leveraging techniques from business ethnography, creative elicitation and design research. We used both primary and secondary sources to conduct our research. Our primary research included interviews, evaluations and workshops. Our secondary research included academic sources including books & journals, industry reports, creative methods books & websites. 

The project drew on several research paradigms, including:

  1. Ethnographic methods, used to understand the interaction between management, creative and work-for-hire cultures at Marblemedia.
  2. Participatory action research, used to involve stakeholders (specifically, the employees of Marblemedia) in the broader effort to develop the company’s creative culture.
  3. Design research, used to evaluate and refine the models for creative participation and design that may inform the development of Marblemedia’s creative culture.

Resources available on request.

Image of post it notes scattered on a table.
Image of post it notes scattered on a table.
Thursday, July 26, 2012 - 7:15pm


The anthill is a collaborative environment that explores technologies and their applications to research and entertainment. Projects range from theoretical aesthetics to technological art, with a focus on investigating new hybrid modalities of computation, space, and performance.