Research Wednesdays: Inclusive Economies, Inclusive Cities 

Wednesday, February 6, 2019 - 1:00pm to 2:00pm

Join designer Cheryl Li and software developer Alan Harnum of OCADU’s Inclusive Design Research Centre (IDRC) to learn about the IDRC’s work, with a focus on two recent projects: the Platform Cooperative Development Kit and Co-Designing Inclusive Cities.

About the IDRC:

The IDRC is a research and development centre at OCAD University where an international community of open source developers, designers, researchers, advocates and volunteers work together to ensure that emerging information technology and practices are designed inclusively.   The IDRC’s design research encompasses disability and accessibility, economics, social justice and other inclusion-related areas of design. 

Cheryl Li is a designer and user researcher who is passionate about using participatory and inclusive design practices to transform human needs into tangible digital experiences and services. Her practice includes the end-to-end design process, from exploratory user research all the way through to UX/UI design and user testing. 

Alan Harnum is a software developer and design researcher whose interests include accessible technology, multimodal content presentation and inclusive design practice for software development. 

For more info about the IDRC visit:


Research Wednesdays is a speaker series presented by the OCAD U Library. It's a forum for anyone (undergrad or graduate students, staff, or faculty) to present in a casual, supportive environment about research activities, collections and more. We apply a broad definition of research which includes a variety of activities within the domains of art, design, libraries and archives. This event is open to all members of the OCAD U community as well as the general public.

Interested in presenting about your own research experiences? Contact Daniel Payne at

Venue & Address: 
OCAD U Library's Learning Zone, 113 McCaul Street, Level 1. Also accessible from 122 St. Patrick Street
416-977-6000 ext. 217
Introducing the OCADU Inclusive  Design Research Centre (IDRC) with  designer Cheryl Li and software  developer Alan Harnum

Workshop: Surviving Art School - Toolkit for Artists & Designers of Colour

collage image of artwork attributed to Raju Rage
Thursday, September 14, 2017 - 3:30pm

Surviving Art School: An Artist of Colour Toolkit
with artist + activist Raju Rage

Thursday, 14 September 2017, 3:30–5 PM
Lambert Lounge (MCA 187), 100 McCaul St
OCAD University

Co-presented with the Office of Diversity, Equity & Sustainability Initiatives and OCAD Student Union
Hot Lunch will be served starting at 2:30pm ($3 suggested for meal)

Using the 'Surviving the Art School' publication, produced by Collective Creativity (of which Rage is a member) and published by Nottingham Contemporary (UK), as a starting point, the talk and workshop will ask what this visually entails. During this workshop participants can expect to learn and share strategies for decolonising education. Participants are encouraged to bring with them a 'problem' of the institution to collectively strategise and create a surviving the art school toolkit. This workshop is open to students from all disciplines. 

A presentation of Collective Creativity: a Queer, Trans* Intersex People of Colour artist collective in London UK which aims to create radical, grass roots space for QTIPOC to interrogate the politics of art, in relation to queer identity, institutional racism, and anti-colonialism. CC is dedicated to creating space for conversations that challenge institutional racism and white supremacy within a cultural framework. We are concerned with how we decolonise our art educations, unlearn the histories that replicate the colonial gaze, re-formatting our own art educations and a re-positioning of this canon by re-centring artists and cultural producers of colour.

Raju Rage is an interdisciplinary artist who is proactive about using art, education and activism to forge creative survival. Based in London and working beyond, they primarily use their non-conforming body as a vehicle of embodied knowledge; to bridge the gap between dis/connected bodies, theory and practice, text and the body and aesthetics and the political substance. They work in performance, sculpture, soundscapes and moving image, focusing on techniques of resistance and utilising everyday objects and everyday life experiences in communicating narratives around gender, race and culture. They investigate history, memory and trauma, with an emphasis on colonial legacy, its continuation and impact on the body and contemporary diasporan identity. They are an organiser and member of Collective Creativity arts collective. 

For any accessibility accommodation requests to fully participate in this event, please contact Shamina Chherawala at or 416.977.6000 ext.3840 in advance.

Venue & Address: 
Thursday, September 14 at 3:30 PM - 5 PM Lambert Lounge, 100 McCaul Street
416.977.6000 ext.3840
Workshop is free! OCAD Student Union will be serving Hot Lunch from 2:30pm onwards (suggested $3)

Whose Art Counts?

Whose Art Counts? event poster
Thursday, January 26, 2017 - 7:00pm to 10:00pm

Whose Art Counts
Moderated by Emily Norry

Whose Art Counts is a night of presentation and discussion to consider who is and is not included in art and art history. Our speakers will take varied approaches to the subject consider what art is left out of our mainstream culture and what problems do these artists face. Together we will question the cultural canon and broaden ideas of whose art has value.

This event is fully wheelchair accessible.


  1. Pamila Matharu - Worlding the Art World
  2. Ojo Agi - African Art and the Politics of Authenticity
  3. Ryan Rice - Whose Art Matters
  4. Rei Misiri- Re-Rooting Urban Arts culture: Why We Must Give Exposure to Hip Hop's True Reputable Face

Artist Bios:

Pamila Matharu
Pamila Matharu is a Toronto-based interdisciplinary artist, educator, and cultural producer. Her practice engages a close reading of the ‘other’ experience; examining issues of identity and representation through socially-engaged art, critical / feminist pedagogy and the minutiae of the everyday. Installation artworks are the result of combined strategies through collage, analogue + new media, printed matter and social practice. She received her BA in Visual Arts and her Bachelor of Education in Fine Arts Education, from York University (Toronto), has exhibited and screened her work, locally, nationally and internationally.

Ojo Agi
Ojo Agi is a Nigerian-Canadian self-taught artist living and working in the GTA. Ojo studied Health Sciences and Women's Studies at the University of Ottawa and is currently taking Continuing Studies courses with OCADU. She studied anti-racist feminisms throughout her undergraduate degree and has a deep interest in applying a social critical lens to contemporary art. For more of her work visit

Ryan Rice
Ryan Rice, a Mohawk of Kahnawake, Quebec received a Master of Arts degree in Curatorial Studies from the Center for Curatorial Studies, Bard College, graduated from Concordia University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts and received an Associate of Fine Arts from the Institute of American Indian Arts. He has worked for the past 18 years within the museum/art gallery milieu at various centers including the Iroquois Indian Museum, Indian Art Centre, Carleton University Art Gallery and the Walter Phillips Art Gallery. Rice was also a co-founder and former director of the Aboriginal Curatorial Collective. His exhibitions include ANTHEM: Perspectives on Home and Native Land, Oh So Iroquois, Scout’s Honour, LORE, Hochelaga Revisited, ALTERNATION, Soul Sister: Re-imagining Kateri Tekakwitha and Counting Coup. In August 2014, Rice was appointed the Delaney Chair in Indigenous Visual Culture at OCAD University.

Rei Misiri
Rei Misiri is a Toronto-based multidisciplinary artist and designer migrated from Tirana, Albania. Since 2006, he has been consistently involved in community related urban art projects. As an urban arts youth educator and performer, Rei has had the privilege to spread the discipline of urban arts and dance across Ontario. Moreover, he has extensively worked along leading Canadian urban arts organizations such as Unity Charity, Toronto Crime Stoppers, and The Patch project. Since 2010, he has hosted and curated over 15 integrated urban arts events - providing youth opportunities to preform and compete along some of the world’s highest ranking urban dancers, artists, and DJ’s. Upon graduating from OCAD University with a major in fine arts and a minor in graphic design, Rei plans to pursue a masters in visual arts to further merge urban arts into academia and other professional fields.

This event is funded by the OCAD U $1,500 Big Ideas Fund. The fund is sponsored by the Office of Diversity, Equity & Sustainability Initiatives and made possible with generous support from OPSEU Local 576 Unit 1. 


Venue & Address: 
OCAD University The Lambert Lounge - rm. 187, 100 McCaul Street
416.977.6000 ext.3840
Free public event
Whose Art Counts? event poster

Social Justice Arts Education: Opportunities, Challenges and Contradictions

Tuesday, October 4, 2016 - 11:00pm to Wednesday, October 5, 2016 - 1:00am

LOCATION : OISE - University of Toronto, 252 Bloor Street West - Room 11-164
TIME : 7pm - 9pm
DATE : Tuesday October 4, 2016


Andrea Fatona, Associate Professor, OCAD University, Toronto

Kathleen Gallagher, Distinguished Professor, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education

Carmen Mörsch, Institute for Arts Education, Zurich University of the Arts

Patrick Scmidt, Chair, Associate Professor and Chair, Department of Music Education, Western University


Rubén Gaztambide-Fernández, Associate Professor and Director of CMCE, OISE.

Venue & Address: 
Centre for Media and Culture in Education, 252 Bloor Street West, OISE
Event poster for Social Justice Arts Education

Exhibitions as Advocates: From Auschwitz to Darfur

Thursday, November 6, 2008 - 11:00pm to Friday, November 7, 2008 - 1:00am

Art exhibitions are increasingly being harnessed to support social justice causes, including genocide awareness. In this illustrated presentation, Carla Rose Shapiro, Ph.D, will look at traveling exhibitions depicting the crisis in Darfur, with particular reference to those employing documentary media. She will also explore how contemporary representations of the Holocaust have informed the ways in which the Darfur genocide is depicted.

Dr. Shapiro is a curator and critic whose work focuses on artistic and museological approaches to representing the experiences of Holocaust and genocide survivors. Everyone is welcome.

Supported by Hillel of Greater Toronto.

Seating is limited. First-come-first-served.

Venue & Address: 
Room 284 100 McCaul Street, Toronto, Ontario

Artist Mel Chin: From Melrose Place to toxic landfills

Image of artist Mel Chin speaking with students
Thursday, March 10, 2016 - 5:00am

Houston-based artist Mel Chin opened his March 9 talk “You are Never Done” with a solo rendition of Elvis Presley’s “Suspicious Minds.” After grabbing the attention of the capacity crowd – more than 300 people filled the auditorium – Chin launched into a lively presentation of some of his most spectacular creations: large-scale conceptual art with social impact.

Chin showed images from Revival Field, a landscape-art project that combines science, technology and art. He planted hyperaccumulator plants to naturally draw toxic heavy metal from the soil at a Minnesota landfill. Chin has worked with other scientists and artists to replicate the project in Palmerton, Pennsylvania, and Stuttgart, Germany.

For In the Name of the Place, Chin and his collaborators inserted art objects on the set of the prime-time TV series Melrose Place, placing fine art into popular culture. The pieces were later auctioned off to benefit educational charities.

Chin also screened the trailer for 9/11-9/11 (2006), an animated film based on his graphic novel of the same title. The fictional love story examines the human impact of covert political machinations.

During his visit to OCAD University, Chin also met with a group of students who are committed to social justice through their art or activities on campus.

"You are never done" is presented by the President's Speaker Series in association with Onsite Gallery’s ONSITE/EXCITE/INSPIRE program which investigates stimulating change through public platforms outside the gallery.

President's Speaker Series: Mel Chin "You are Never Done"

Wednesday, March 9, 2016 - 11:30pm to Thursday, March 10, 2016 - 12:30am

"You are Never Done" Presented by the President's Speaker Series in association with Onsite Gallery’s ONSITE/EXCITE/INSPIRE program, Chin's lecture, "You are Never Done" will focus on the eternal and essential vigilance justice requires of its advocates and the parallel condition within the practice art - the worthy project we can never consider finished.

An ever-shifting political landscape serves as a backdrop and source of inspiration for art with social impact, work that must remain responsive to change and continually extending and reinventing itself to effectively inhabit the society it aims to help shape. Mel Chin breathes life into the once static work of art with his complex and poetic collaborative projects that learn, adapt and evolve to the ever-changing communities they inhabit.

Mel Chin, born in Houston, Texas, has become internationally synonymous with "art as social change", creating over the past thirty years an exceptional body of often political and activist work that provokes greater social awareness and responsibility. Through his broad and multidisciplinary range of approaches, Chin's art insinuates itself into unlikely places, including destroyed homes, toxic landfills and even popular television. Chin's work, described as both analytic and poetic, often employs community and collaborative teamwork, conjoining cross-cultural aesthetics with complex ideas. Documented in the popular PBS Program, Art of the 21st Century, Chin has received numerous awards and grants from organizations such as the National Endowment for the Arts, New York State Council for the Arts, Art Matters, Creative Capital, and the Penny McCall, Pollock/Krasner, Joan Mitchell, Rockefeller and Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundations, among others.

Onsite Gallery’s 2016 ONSITE/ program investigates stimulating change through public platforms outside the gallery.

Please arrive early as seating will be limited
Event is FREE, all are welcome
The space is wheelchair accessible

Venue & Address: 
100 McCaul St. Auditorium (Room 190)
416-977-6000, Ext. 456
"You are Never Done" poster with event info and photo of Mel Chin and photo of Chin's work

Art + Politics @ OCAD

Poster for ASOC student committee with figurative illustration
Monday, December 14, 2015 - 6:00pm to 8:00pm

Art & Social Justice Student Committee
….building a critical space for Art & Social Justice at OCAD and beyond!

Venue & Address: 
100 McCaul, Room 284

Sheila Sampath designs her activist life

Image of Sheila Sampath, OCAD U instructor and social activist
Thursday, March 5, 2015 - 5:00am

An International Women's Day special

Sheila Sampath lives a well-designed life.

The OCAD U Faculty of Design instructor says she’s always been involved in social activism, collaborating on public events for social justice causes and working the front lines in grassroots organizations focused on anti-oppression issues. When she designed a poster for the 2003 Take Back the Night rally and march, she experienced how design and activism could be combined. She says, “That’s how I got into design. I’d get angry about a particular issue, then I’d make something for it. I really enjoyed making something for people that could draw them in and make them feel a part of something bigger.”

In 2008, Sampath started an activist-based design studio, The Public, using design as a tactic for engaging in activism. Putting personal politics into practice, Sampath and her colleagues (who share an activist background) focus on client-based and self-initiated projects around issues of anti-oppression, sustainability and social growth. “We do research, writing and everything from planning things to making things,” explains Sampath.

Clients of The Public include a large university, a health network, and smaller, grassroots organizations. For activist-design services, The Public charges fair market prices and tries not to turn anyone anyway. The business is self-reliant (they don’t rely on grants and don’t take on corporate or commercial clients) right down to the studio furniture they make themselves. Says Sampath, “What we do is driven by our communities. We work to democratize our skill sets for our various communities. We offer skillshares, in-house residencies and internships, and produce how-to zines. We work so that we don't have to do this work anymore, and for a world in which this work is no longer needed. We design only when needed. A logo or a poster isn't always going to change the world.” 

Sampath is also the editorial and art director of Shameless, an award-winning Canadian feminist magazine for girls and trans* youth.  In November 2014, the volunteer-run magazine celebrated its tenth anniversary. A mirror of the work she does with her design studio, Shameless is a grassroots publication that focuses on social justice issues, particularly those at the intersections of race, class, ability, immigration status, sexual orientation and gender identity.

Sampath is working on a personal art project that explores the links between colonialism and design. In her teaching at OCAD U and in her work at The Public, she challenges concepts of design, as well as considering them tactics for engaging in activism. Says Sampath, “Activism always comes first.”