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COVID Pedagogies: Tools, Content & Strategies: OCAD U Responses

Swimming Upstream

Swimming Upstream: A Commentary on COVID Pandemic Online Learning

by Andria Keen

As a parent and mature student in a studio program who has been in attendance through three full remote learning semesters, I have a unique perspective on the online post-secondary experience. In this visual essay, I reflect on my experiences, addressing areas of success, failure and the murky in-between of the online institutional structure and personal performance.

Andria Keen (she/her), is an artist working and completing her BFA in Cross-Disciplinary Art Practices: Life Studies at OCADU, in Tkaronto. Her works engage with themes of temporality, cyclicality, inclusion, and the natural world, using figurative, abstract and narrative themes within the mediums of acrylic painting, photography, photogrammetry, digital collage, clay, bronze and mixed media sculpture. Evocative of the feminine and the perspective of the mother, her work ask us to question our place in relation to deep and future times. Andria has returned to studio work after over a decade dedicated to raising her children. Her work has been shown at OCADU’s Ada Slaight Gallery, the OCADU Great Hall, the Earl Selkirk Gallery, the Village Gallery and the Lonsdale Gallery.

travelling mattes

travelling mattes

by Pam Patterson (Author), Natalie Piper (Illustrator)

Wikipedia notes that mattes are used in photography and film to combine two or more elements into a single, final image. The principle of a matte often requires statically masking certain areas of a film emulsion to selectively control which areas are exposed. Sometimes mattes need to change, to mask the shapes of moving objects. These are called travelling mattes.

Through the process of masking and revealing images and mapping shared stories, this monograph highlights how choices are made as to what becomes visible or what remains unseen. Voices and stories are not assigned. It is enticingly deliberate in its intent. Here the County, and cities and towns beyond, appear on this uniquely textured map. The map is stamped, altered, and embroidered by the hands of those who have worked it.

The art of conversation

For about a month, Edith Cairns and Pam Patterson met together, both isolating as seniors, during the COVID-19 pandemic. They chatted about books, family, the farm, crossword puzzling, teaching, and COVID vaccines, sharing stories and each other’s family photos.

Natalie Piper then joined as designer and composed the images and designed the monograph.

The multi-page monograph travelling mattes represents their collective canoodling and maps/mattes their interconnected creative interrelationships.

Thanks to Krista Richardson and Marie Dawson for archival support; Daniel Payne for editing, resources, and story sharing; John Cairns for contributing to conversations, suggesting text edits, and for gathering and printing family photos; ARC, Toronto for printing; and Janna Smith and Colin Gillis respectively from Prince Edward Arts Council and Community Care for Seniors for facilitating and supporting this project. And special thanks to Edith Cairns for her generosity and wonderful stories.

Covid 19 Anxiety

COVID-19 Anxiety: Location, Refuge and Loss 

by Pam Patterson, Daniel Payne and Joanna Black

Visit COVID-19 Anxiety: Location, Refuge and Loss at

COVID-19 demonstrates that anthropogenic processes are having devastating effects on planetary life but how can we, as humans, productively and creatively assemble during such a major crisis? Does this event mark a severe discontinuity? Is Donna Haraway correct when she suggests, “What comes after will not be like what came before”.

Our objective as artists and researchers connected online in isolation has been to push ourselves into directions that we didn’t yet necessarily know how to express. The moment has so completely enveloped our lives that we still can’t quite comprehend the results of our actions from where we are currently situated. But what has consumed us over this year is an irrepressible, manic curiosity… an “anxiety of dissolution” that has created a “state of indecisive agitation”.

Responses to these questions and more continue to speak to our intentions to develop and produce “bodies of evidence”. “Bodies”, in this project, address issues of “location,” “loss,” and “refuge”. Here, we   enact socially mediated and subjectively variable responses, as “shudders” that support modes reflective of urgent embodied knowing, thinking, and feeling. It is not resilience we are talking about here, but rather a realization of our limited survivability. While we three have collaborated in different capacities on projects as artists, designers, curators, and writers never before has this been accomplished in isolation, online, and in the making a collaborative video work and in building this three-person online exhibition.

Open Studio Curriculum

Open Studio Curriculum 

by Angie Ma 

Open Studio hosted by undergrad student Angie Ma was created as an optional, online work/studio space for students in the course, Materials and the Anthropocene, taking place on Teams. Suggested here are programming ideas and activities for providing a designated studio space for fostering classroom connection and community online through remote learning. Designed as a curriculum resource for faculty and teaching assistant use, Open Studio puts forward a compassionate pedagogy and building networks of care, creating opportunities for students to engage with their peers, faculty, and researchers in a collective dialogue around course content, research creation and course feedback.

Angie is an undergraduate student enrolled in OCADU’s Drawing and Painting program. In her visual work as a painter, her creative practice has been about understanding her cultural identity as a Chinese Canadian woman and as a source of healing and self-care. She has exhibited her work at OCAD at Research 114, Land/Liminality/Loss and at the Teaching Expo in 2020. She has been hosting workshops at OCAD around identity, storytelling and community-building both online and in gallery. She hosted a workshop in collaboration with Health and Wellness peer support for students who experience the effects of land displacement, as part of Liminality, Loss exhibition, using storytelling to share the complexities of settler/immigrant experience in connection with land, loss and trauma. She has written a reflection piece on ‘Difficult pedagogies’ published in Canadian Art Teacher in 2020. She hosted workshops at the Art Gallery of Ontario and at OCAD with Vicky Talwar for Art and Design (ADEL) students on interpretative learning and intersectionality. She has also worked at the Art Gallery of Ontario as a summer camp counsellor, assisting studio instructors and creating safe and fun creative learning environments for children.

In her research, Angie has complied an annotated bibliography of resources on teaching in times of crisis including teaching and learning strategies on teacher wellness as well as collection of resources discussing the inequities of race, economic, social and environmental issues pushed to the forefront by Covid-19. She has also been hosting online open studio workshops for students as a space for students to stay connected amidst this pandemic through their creative expression and play. Some of the activities they did included visiting online galleries together, getting feedback on creative work and participation in collaborative performance activities. She has written a curriculum document on this benefits of including designated studio sessions as apart of online learning to foster networks and communities of care. The annotated bibliography and curriculum document are published with Libguides, OCAD’s Library and Research online guides. Angie is interested in continuing her practice after she graduates with her BFA in Fine Arts as a researcher, educator and artist creating spaces of connection and compassion.

Drawing Across the Disciplines

DRAWING ACROSS DISCIPLINES @ OCAD UNIVERSITY: First year drawings from Fall 2020

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Drawing Across Disciplines is OCAD University Faculty of Art's first-year drawing experience. In the wake of COVID and other difficulties in the year 2020, this exhibition-site of our students' drawings stands as a testament to our collective will to educate ourselves and make the world a bit better, more beautiful by our re-making.

This year the course was taught by Luke Painter, David Griffin, JJ Lee, RICHard SMOLinski, Amy Swartz, Heather Frise, Spencer J. Harrison, Derek Liddington, and Erin Finley. Working to engage our first-year students with a wide range of materials and ideas, DAD faculty emphasize that drawing is a thinking practice with deep roots, surprisingly useful across disciplinary lines, not just as formative approaches to the work of Art and Design.

To draw is to build bridges between languages and cultures. Human beings have been working surfaces for tens of thousands of years, and while we can't know exactly what our ancestors were up to with their glyphs, notches, or pictures, we surely recognize ourselves and our preoccupations in their markings. DAD argues that in the primacy of drawing – scroll through this exhibition, for examples -- we are enabled to generate complexity from the simplest of means. Look at what we have done together this strange year, and read the thoughts of the artists about all that work! (David Griffin 2020)