Level Up Showcase puts Ontario's top student game designers in the spotlight

Thursday, March 19, 2015 - 4:00am

Fifth annual event is an interactive gaming playground

Over 2,000 gamers, developers and industry recruiters are expected at the fifth annual Level Up Showcase. Held at the Design Exchange, it features 80 projects from 16 different institutions across Ontario, including students from OCAD University’s Digital Futures program. The event spotlights the most talented students in design, animation and computer science programs from colleges and universities across Ontario. The games incorporate the latest technology and gaming platforms, from motion sensors to virtual reality devices and beyond.

Last year, OCAD U teams won the Artistic Achievement and People’s Choice awards.

The showcase has become the biggest event in Toronto for gamers, recruiters and media to get the inside scoop on emerging talent in game development. The evening is cohosted and organized by the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT), University of Toronto, OCAD University and Algonquin College in partnership with AMD, George Brown College, Sheridan College and Ubisoft Toronto.

Level Up was founded in 2011 by Emma Westecott, assistant professor, Game Design, at OCAD U, together with Steve Engels, senior lecturer in Computer Science at the University of Toronto.

Level Up Showcase

Thursday, April 2, 2015  

5 p.m. to 10 p.m. (Media preview: 4 p.m.)

Design Exchange, 234 Bay St., Toronto

This year’s event is sponsored by Autodesk, Microsoft, Unity, Big Blue Bubble, Uken Games, Seneca College, Niagara College and Humber College.

Level Up Showcase

Based in Toronto, Ontario, Level Up Showcase provides a one-stop shop for industry, institutions, and students to network, recruit, and learn about new techniques and technologies in the video game industry. Canada boasts the third largest video game industry in the world, with Ontario boasting the second highest number of video companies in the country (Essential Facts, 2013, The Entertainment Software Association of Canada).

For more information:


Twitter: @levelupTO

RSVP via Level Up Showcase on Facebook

First Impressions

Image of a black posted with red graphic elements
Tuesday, February 17, 2015 - 5:00am to Friday, February 27, 2015 - 5:00am

Presented by First Year Art and Design

First Impressions is an exhibition that celebrates the work of faculty and students in the First Year Art and Design programs and attempts to find linkages between faculty’s professional practice and their teaching.

First Impressions reflects the importance that First Year faculty places on students to uncover their own talents and identities. Whatever the lessons learned, in all mediums, students are asked to arm themselves with tools, ideas and interests that fuel their future careers as artists and designers.

All are welcome!

Organized by Doug Panton

Coordinator of First Year Design

Student Success

Venue & Address: 
OCAD University 100 McCaul St. Great Hall, 2nd Floor  

Lo Studio Divino

Monday, January 5, 2015 - 5:00am to Monday, January 12, 2015 - 5:00am

Celebrating 40 years of OCAD University's Florence Program, showcasing the work of the class of 2013/2014
Opening Reception: Tuesday January 6, 2015 at 6:00 p.m. in The Great Hall

Lo Studio Divino unveils the work produced by the 2013/14 graduates from OCAD University's Florence Program.

While approaches to art making drastically differ, they are joined by their beginnings- in a studio in the heart of a sacred and crumbling city. This shared experience follows a forty year trajectory of OCAD University's presence in Florence, Italy, which Lo Studio Divino aims to celebrate.

Since 1974, an annual group of OCAD U art students travel to Florence to study Italian art history and work in a communal studio set amidst a landscape of Renaissance architecture and Tuscan hillside.

It cannot be helped, Florence's impact is persistent.

Traces of her influence may be found here in the works of 2013/14 Florence Program class. Lo Studio Divino is a showcase of creative achievement; it is also a celebration of a cherished city and a special link across borders. If one looks carefully enough, the Ochre hues of Florence or the opaque Venice waters appear; and if lucky, one may hear the lasting tune of cathedral bells and street sounds.

Curated by Sara England, Keight Maclean and Sophie Paas-Lang

Featuring work by: Meaghan Barry, Jessica-Anna Crupi, Sara England, Gabby Frank, Abbey Gagnon, Amy He, Tuesday Heenan, Maxwell Hyett, Nadia Kuzmicz, Keight Maclean, Liam M. Marshall, Erin Milks, Allison Morris, Sophie Paas-Lang, Samantha Robbie-Higgins, Erin Shadoff, Liana Tarantini, Leila Tisdall, Scott Thatcher, Nick Vo, Alexandra Votsis

Venue & Address: 
100 McCaul St. The Great Hall, 2nd Floor
416-977-6000 x 330
Illustrations of Michaelangelo's David, a cup of coffee, a domed cathedral and a man in a scarf

Brilliant (Colour Show)

Monday, January 26, 2015 - 5:00pm to Sunday, February 8, 2015 - 5:00pm

Faculty of Design, Brilliant (Colour Show)

Venue & Address: 
OCAD University Transit Space, 2nd Floor 100 McCaul Street

Drawing at First Sight

Green and white poster
Monday, November 3, 2014 - 5:00am to Sunday, November 16, 2014 - 5:00am


Student Exhibition

First Year Art & Design at OCADU welcomes you to highlights of a wide range of drawings produced by students developing both their technical and conceptual skills over the two-dimensional plane.


Venue & Address: 
Transit Space, 2nd Floor 100 McCaul St. Toronto, Ontario  

ICICIC Exhibition

Monday, March 17, 2014 - 4:00am to Thursday, March 20, 2014 - 4:00am

Reception: Wednesday, March 19, 5 to 7 p.m.

First Year Drawing & Painting

Showcasing work from direct entry First Year Drawing & Painting students

Venue & Address: 
Great Hall 100 McCaul St. Toronto, Ontario
ICICIC poster with event info and vertical slices of several student paintings arranged horizontally

Art Spin

Thursday, June 26, 2014 - 4:00am to Sunday, June 29, 2014 - 4:00am

Opening night reception from 7pm-1am on Thursday June 26th.

Exhibition and bike tour

This year our annual exhibition is taking place earlier than usual in the historic building that once housed Canadian Rogers Eastern Limited.

This exhibition and bike tour, including work by OCAD U's Interdisciplinary Masters in Art, Media & Design (IAMD) alumni Heather Nicol, Marian Wihak and Karen Justl, is located in the vibrant Junction neighbourhood. It is the largest warehouse space Art Spin has worked with to date. This group exhibition includes works in various mediums including site-specific installation, sculpture, video, photography, and painting and is curated by Layne Hinton and Rui Pimenta of Art Spin.

Artists include:

Karen Abel • Adam David Brown • Mitchell F. Chan • Joe Fleming • David Hanes • Lisa Neighbour • Heather Nicol • Kristie MacDonald • Laura Moore • Clint Neufeld • Anne O’Callaghan • Ed Pien • Lyla Rye • Alex R. M. Thompson • Jim Verburg • Michael Vickers • Marian Wihak

Exhibition runs June 26th - June 29th
Hours are 12pm-7pm Friday and Saturday, 12pm-6pm on Sunday

Special guest curated project by Kristin Weckworth, featuring work by Noel Middleton and Carly Waito.

Venue & Address: 
Warehouse Space 108 Vine Ave. (just West of Keele and North of Dundas). Toronto, Ontario


Soho Lobby Gallery
Nadia Galati. Photo by Frances Beatty.
Mistee Clarke's work on view at the SOHO LOBBY GALLERY. Photo by Carolyn Douse.

The first group exhibition at the SOHO LOBBY GALLERY, a new community creative hub, is OCAD University’s own Onyx Society, a student-run organization providing community and support for African and Afro-diasporic students. T-Dot Pioneers 3.0: The Future Must Be Replenished radically envisions how the historical archive might reside within the very aesthetic innovations that make hip hop culture always fresh.

Nadia Galati. Photo by Frances Beatty.
Nadia Galati, SOHO LOBBY GALLERY’s Director of Exhibitions (and an OCAD U alum) describes the gallery’s community arts focus and how it emerged from her work: 

Community hubs are often spaces in which arts and cultural activity materialize. They are places in which artists, creative thinkers and cultural workers are in trust. They are places in which curiosity cultivates; individuals come together; world views are confronted or affirmed; innovation and preservation is cherished; creativity and imagination are fuelled; critical thinking, and humanity develops; and society is inspired to be inclusive. These places can also help build a community’s identity and promote stewardship among populaces and stakeholders.

My work at OCAD U has taken me throughout Ontario and these experiences have illustrated the vast discrepancies in community access to the arts, raising important questions. Do all communities have equal access to art? Do all communities, based on their circumstantial experiences – historical discrimination, financial problems, personal challenges or other circumstances beyond their control – have the ability to access art and design? Do all communities feel embraced by the art community? Do all communities experience art communities as inclusive? Through my experiences I have spent time thinking about these questions and the presence of underrepresented groups in the arts overall.

Since graduating from OCAD U in 2010, I have maintained a community arts practice focused on increasing the access marginalized groups have to art, design and creative pursuit. Through community agencies such as Pathways to Education, the Pape Adolescent Resource Centre (PARC), Children’s Aid Society of Toronto and many others, I conduct mixed media workshops. These workshops offer youth an opportunity to explore their own creativity and the arts for their personal growth, social development and community involvement. Many of the workshops are co-created and facilitated by youth leaders.

I believe that communities should have the power to make their own decisions. My aim is to facilitate an environment where communities can create their own solutions on their own terms. My practice is about collaboration with youth and creative peers. Developing creative experiences that provide marginalized artists with a positive, safe space – to discover new artmaking possibilities, build confidence and try new materials – ultimately inspires youth to become more engaged and imaginative community members.

In the fall of 2012, I was approached by the SoHo Metropolitan Condominiums to reactivate their storefront gallery space. The SoHo heard about my community arts practice and was interested in inviting the creative minds I work with into their space with me as the Director of Exhibitions. Exhibiting and showcasing the boundless, young, creative thinkers I work with is a positive step towards an inclusive, Toronto art community. Toronto can only be a creative hub when everyone has space and place to develop their imaginations and live a life with art.

In support of carving out space for marginalized artists and aspiring to a new and different level of greatness, I was able to negotiate a zero percent commission for the SoHo Metropolitan Condominiums. Artists who exhibit work at the SOHO LOBBY GALLERY incur no costs. Any profits made through sale of work remain 100 percent with the artist(s).
Mistee Clarke's work on view at the SOHO LOBBY GALLERY. Photo by Carolyn Douse.
I’m thrilled to showcase OCAD U’s Onyx Society, and T-Dot Pioneers 3.0 as our inaugural exhibition. Moving away from just documenting the historical through archival material, the Onyx Society, in partnership with Nia Centre for the Arts and Northside Hip Hop, explored the following questions: where does hip hop’s future lie? How does hip hop archive its history? And what role does the visual artist play in replenishing (not preserving) hip hop’s aesthetic freshness? Thinking through these questions helped the Onyx Society arrive at the notion of replenishment, which is the idea that hip hop culture continues to rejuvenate its creativity through the critical and aesthetic engagement of youth.

T-Dot Pioneers 3.0: The Future Must Be Replenished opens Thursday March 7th from 7 to 9 p.m.

Contributed by Nadia Galati, SOHO LOBBY GALLERY’s Director of Exhibitions.

36 Blue Jays Way
Toronto, Ontario
M5V 3T3
Daily hours 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Wheelchair accessible

Need more info? Contact:
Nadia Galati, Director of Exhibitions



Andrew Zealley. Photo by Nick Sweetman.
Mandala II by Andrew Zealley
Lone Son by Andrew Zealley

Walk into the Graduate Gallery at OCAD University this week and you will likely be instantly calmed by Andrew Zealley’s exhibition, Disco Hospital: Safe and Sound. Along with the series of mandala images, there are videos depicting nature and letting go of the physical body. There’s also a treatment table equipped with sage, a singing bowl and chakra tuning forks to help balance energy. The tuning forks appear again throughout the exhibition, in images (wrapped safely in condoms) and in the sound design for his video series, “The Wheel.”

As Zealley’s Interdisciplinary Master’s in Art, Media & Design thesis project, Disco Hospital: Safe and Sound is the culmination of his two years of study at OCAD U, together with influences and personal perceptions over three decades of Zealley’s work in sound as a sound designer/artist, and in the HIV/AIDS community.

Andrew Zealley. Photo by Nick Sweetman.Zealley’s work is an investigation of sound and non-western healing practices depicting the crossroads of art, clinical practice, sound, listening, bodies, neo-shamanism and queer things. “I’m always going out into the woods to clear out the urban energy,” Zealley says. “My work looks at natural, animal and sexual energy as it relates to well-being.”

As part of the exhibition, Zealley conducted a series of healing sessions during new and full moon phases from September 2012 to April of this year. The sessions began with a simple initiation ritual, followed by Reiki (therapeutic touch) and sonic work with the chakra tuning forks to help people let go of the temporal experience. He has also conducted healing sessions in the gallery as part of the exhibition itself.

Mandala II by Andrew ZealleyZealley has a background in music and sound design for film, and began focusing on installation and sound art in the 1990s. By 2003 he was fully dedicated to it. His work is also influenced by the HIV crisis of the late 1980s. He began working in the community and with artists, learning about different healing practices. In 2001 he tested positive himself, and began to see his overall themes of healing in a much different context. “Part of my work is about coming to terms with my own truth about that,” he says. 

Zealley’s thesis advisors are David Cecchetto, Assistant Professor, New Media History and Criticism, and Archie Graham, an Associate Professor whose areas of expertise include health and wellness ethics. The external advisor chosen for his defence is Evergon, a well-known Canadian artist and instructor at Concordia University. Zealley will be at the gallery during regular gallery hours for the duration of the exhibition to answer questions.

Learn more

See it: On view at the Graduate Gallery, 205 Richmond Street West (until March 31)

Andrew Zealley in conversation

Andrew Zealley's website


Jessica Knox, You Lucky Dog, interactive installation, image by DFI
Che Yan (Shino), Assimilation, Dissimilation, interactive installation, image by Christina Gapic.
Elizabeth Eva Coleman, [Bare Witness], multimedia ebook, image by Christina Gapic.
Cathy Fang, Loopboration, collaborative graphics game, image by Cathy Fang
Anne Stevens, textDIAL, text messaging prototype, image by Christina Gapic.

Upcycled rotary dial phones that send text messages, a cabinet of mementos that trigger digital videos and an interactive installation designed for Union Station that brings people of different cultures together by asking, “what has changed in you, living in Toronto?” These were just a few of the imaginative works in Xtension, the inaugural Digital Futures Graduate Exhibition on view at OCAD U’s Open Gallery this past week. 

The final projects from the Digital Futures Initiative’s inaugural class included a wide range of interactive experiences — everything from digital games to sound installations to multimedia ebooks. One project, You Lucky Dog, by Jessica Knox even measured dogs’ brainwaves using EEG headsets so viewers could type in questions and see a video of a typical dog’s thought response.

The theme of how analogues of our past extend into new ways of imagining our future also had a definite global scope. “It’s amazing to see how diverse the projects are,” said Fayssal Itani, who grew up in Beiruit, and whose projectBlogtivist turns players into activists contributing to helping topple a dictatorship through online activities. “We’re all from different backgrounds, places and areas of expertise, all coming together.”

Interactivity added to the excitement of the show, particularly during the packed opening reception. “Hosting an exhibition that’s so hands on is interesting because people aren’t used to interacting with works in a gallery space,” said Knox. “Hopefully as this becomes more common, people will play more.”

Knox was one of the four student co-organizers of the show, along with Heather Phenix, Ryan Rizzo and Lloyd Gray, under the guidance of Martha Ladly, Associate Dean of Graduate Studies. 

Three of the graduate students who exhibited received DFI Awards of Merit for their work: Anne Stevens, Marc de Pape and Elizabeth Eva Coleman. Stevens presented two pieces, stereoPHONEic, a portable music player that positions stereo speakers behind each ear, and textDIAL, the text-messaging rotary dial phones. Marc de Pape’s The Chime: Scoring the City, poetically translates external impulses from the everyday city and translates them into sounds. Elizabeth Eva Coleman’s [Bare] Witness is a multi-sensoral ebook incorporating animation, video, sound and text-based storytelling to convey complex, personal narratives of trauma and recovery.

"The true magic of advanced technology has been brought to life by this year's digital futures graduates," said Tom Barker, Chair of the Digital Futures Initiative. "There is something here for everybody: whether you want your dog to give you advice, you want to learn how to meditate, hear music created by cities or play the latest computer games. Experience tomorrow. Today."

The Digital Futures Initiative is a unique, practice-based, interdisciplinary undergraduate and graduate program for future innovators, leaders and creators of digital media and new technologies. It builds on OCAD U’s historic strength in digital research, design innovation, foresight and artistic practice.

The focus of the program is to develop “X-shaped innovators” for the creative digital industries. Each point of the X is an expertise: in art, design, science and enterprise.