The 103rd year of GradEx seemed to be its busiest, and most dynamic show to date. The annual four-day exhibition featured works by over 900 students in both art and design across several buildings on campus. The school has been expanding its programs in recent years, aiming to combine studio practice with emerging technologies as well as newly recognised communities. Notable examples of these new majors include, Indigenous Visual Culture, Digital Futures, and Design for Health. With 19 undergraduate programs, and 7 graduate programs represented, the show looked drastically more bustling than what would have been seen even three years ago.
Josi Smit (front) and Oliver Roberts (back)
Works among visual art students coagulate into several trends which can be seen throughout the show. The first one has to be the combination of painting and digital technologies. Several programs specifically focus on creating work with this emerging media, while other work seems to observe it as currently expands into an environment onto itself. Digital influence can be felt throughout most programs in the exhibition.
Rebecca Rose Vaughan
Other rising trends in art include the integration of 3D elements in painting, including creating paintings as installations. This cross-disciplinary approach blends several disciplines into works that invite the viewer to see the work beyond its discipline. Much of the work invites the viewer into its space, an environment where tactile objects and found objects are manipulated to create the feeling of being inside a painting rather than looking from outside. This trend inevitably comes out of the internet, carried forward by the plethora of dayglow colours and neon. Plenty of online games and virtual spaces that simulate life, or other created environments are commonplace and feel like home. Works like these combine line, dimension and space, and respond personally to material culture as well as digital identities.
Alena Pychtina and Alison Mittertreiner
Allana Cooper (back) and Jonathan J. Fong (front)
Work by design students similarly responds to current cultural trends through various lenses. Creating work that is politically charged and responds to consumers’ needs through concepts which aim to further inclusiveness in society.
Xingyu-Yan. Courtesy of the artist
Becca Howes (left) and Cotey Pope (right)
From left to right: Alya Fleischacker, Emily Kim and Elise Conlin
Text and photo: Nazli Nahidi
*Exhibition information: May 3 – May 6, 2018, OCAD University, Toronto.