Ryerson and OCAD students recently gathered to celebrate their first collaborative art show, whose title borrows from a message anyone with an iPhone is likely all too familiar with: ✓SEEN.
“We thought that was kind of a good culmination of what we were trying to get at, which was this relationship between physical and digital realities,” said Jeffrey Chiu, Ryerson student and exhibition co-ordinator.
The Oct. 22 opening of ✓SEEN marked the end of the first Art Camp Residency program, which began in May. Thirteen students from the Ryerson School of Image Arts and OCAD University’s photography department participated in workshops and studio visits, including to Gibraltar Point, while developing the concept for the show and creating individual pieces to include.
Opening night was packed with family and friends, who were treated to multimedia works with a Millennial edge. A box held index cards covered with misogynistic comments pulled from social media in the wake of Gamergate. A bowl of coloured wooden blocks displayed QR codes which, when scanned, showed an image of the fruit they represented — a playful update on the classic still life.
Camille Rojas, artist and communications co-ordinator, submitted an epic six-hour portrait session, which she recorded on Super 8 film to comment on selfie culture and image manipulation. She said that working alongside her peers at OCAD was inspiring.
“There’s two major universities, you know, two major art programs and there’s not — I feel like there’s not a conversation happening there,” Rojas said. “I was really interested to see what they were working on and what they’re influenced by, so it was really amazing meeting and exchanging these ideas between us.”
Robyn Cumming, who created Art Camp with fellow Ryerson grads Marc Losier and Jennifer Long, said this was precisely their hope for the program. The three have all taught at one or both institutions.
“We felt the students could benefit from each other’s perspectives,” Cumming said, adding that they were motivated by “an awareness of how difficult it can be to create work during the summer when the students don’t have the same structure and access to feedback as they do during the school year.”
The show was held at Ryerson Artspace, a non-profit, off-site gallery operated in some form since 1990. Artspace has been at the Gladstone Hotel since last year.
Rojas, for one, is thrilled the university managed to secure a spot in the eclectic Queen West community, which Vogue named the “second-coolest neighbourhood in the world” in 2014.
“It’s pretty significant,” she said. “Especially for student work, to get out of that Ryerson bubble was
Chiu said that the response to the collection so far has been great, even from attendees that might not relate to that text-y title: “I was talking to one of my friends who’s in the show. Her dad — he didn’t understand because he has a flip phone.”
✓SEEN runs until Sunday, Nov. 15 at 1214 Queen St. W.
This article was published in the print edition of the Ryersonian on Oct. 28, 2015.