This work by Jessica Bromley Bartram is part of a larger project called The Rise and Fall of Cordycepts. It introduces the viewer to an imaginary biotech company that, between the years 2040 and 2065, manipulated the foundations of life and irrevocably altered the future world. Presented from the perspective of those dealing with the aftermath of the company’s collapse, the pieces that make up Bromley Bartram’s work speak in two voices: one coming from the represented Cordycepts era, and the other from those organizing the Cordycepts exhibition in 2074.
The narrative presented by this future exhibition allows viewers to become part of a parallel universe that has a matching reliance on capitalist ideals as well as social, scientific, and environmental concerns similar to those found in our current world. Drawing on our existing era for inspiration, the Cordy-cepts and post-Cordycepts universes act as mirrors that reflect our own issues back to us. Bromley Bartram’s pieces ask viewers to suspend their disbelief for long enough to begin to question structures that many assume to be
Jessica Bromley Bartram is a graphic designer, illustrator, writer, and artist. In 2015, she completed a Bachelor of Design in Graphic Design at OCAD University, and was also a university medal winner that year. Bromley Bartram is currently working as a freelance designer, and splits her time between design, illustration, and 3D work in a variety of media.
Horse is from a body of work entitled Follow Suit, which looks at a theme park just outside Beijing called The World. Promoted with the slogan “See the entire world without ever leaving Beijing,” it features over 100 world-famous international monuments. China is currently experiencing explosive growth and is often portrayed as a country inescapably influenced by globalization. The images found in Follow Suit depict a place hybridized between the signs and ideologies of the East and West.
In an ersatz landscape, the shifts between documentary and staged photography are difficult to identify. The prevalence of copy, imitation, and pastiche in this theme park serves as a reminder of the nature of the photographic medium itself.
Kotama Bouabane is a Photography instructor at OCAD University. His work has been exhibited in many galleries, including Centre A in Vancouver, Parisian Laundry in Montreal, and Gallery 44 in Toronto. Bouabane has received multiple awards and grants from the Toronto Arts Council, the Ontario Arts Council, and the Canada Council for the Arts.
Laura Thipphawong seeks to investigate the complex and ambiguous relationship between the Self and the Other through an exploration of psychological elements in folkloric narratives and archetypes. The resultant images evoke feelings of unsettlement and inner conflict.
Thipphawong is interested in how we are comfortable separating our personal realities from that which threatens us, but she insists that no one is a spectator of humanity, or is absolved of it. She believes that personal evolution and emotional unrest are the truest aspects of humanity, however terrifying and ecstatic. For this reason, along with her morbid curiosity for the esoteric, she is intent on investigating the liminal space that exists between the (false) dichotomies of good and evil, predator and prey, and beauty and the grotesque.
Laura Thipphawong holds a Bachelor of Arts in Visual and Critical Studies from OCAD University, from which she also received a medal. An emerging Toronto-based artist, writer, and historian, she has exhibited in group and solo shows in several Canadian galleries, and has showcased her research and writing in various international academic forums. Thipphawong focuses on violence, sexuality, and abject psychological elements in cultural media and folklore.
In Cathedral (Neon Gothic), Luke Painter is interested in the continual transformation of Gothic architecture from the 12th century to today. As a pre-eminent Western architectural style, Gothic architecture has been representative of and directly related to religion and higher education, and is one of the most influential and recognizable designs in the world.
Painter aims to pair this style with neon tubing that came to prominence in the 20th century in commercial applications and is produced to grab consumers’ attention. The purpose of Cathedral (Neon Gothic) is to provide a direct, stylistic relationship and contrast between these two anachronistic signifiers within the same picture plane.
Luke Painter is a Toronto-based artist and an associate professor of Drawing & Painting at OCAD University. Recent exhibitions and screenings of his work include The Teasers and the Tormentors at Galerie Clark in Montreal, Ways of Something at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City, and Five Years of Contemporary Canadian Drawing at the Sudbury Art Gallery. Painter has received grants from the Canada Council for the Arts, the Ontario Arts Council, and the Toronto Arts Council.
Boundaries is part of a series that explores psychological landscapes as altered views of reality. Mara Gajic reconstructs an existing landscape by introducing subtle impossibilities, such as having the sun simultaneously set on two sides of a street. Through these unusual reconstructions, a shift in perception occurs and notions of reality are challenged.
The scenery in Boundaries possesses an uncanny compositional balance and order: the sky appears to be blue, yet somehow it seems too good to be true, isolating both the subject and the viewer. The strong focus on rigid forms, fences, and physical boundaries transforms the landscape into a psychological space. The viewer is compelled to question whether the space of the photograph is real or fabricated, and the photographic space hovers uncomfortably between reality and fantasy.
Mara Gajic is a Toronto-based artist who recently graduated from OCAD University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Photography. Her work explores themes of identity, performance, and constructed realities using self-portraiture and fabricated landscape imagery. Gajic has received numerous awards and scholarships, and has exhibited her work in Toronto, Peterborough, and Boston.
In order to convey the poetics of her lived experiences, Michelle Forsyth employs a diverse array of material processes, including paper cutting, painting, printmaking, sculpture, photography, sewing, and weaving. She seeks beauty in her surroundings and takes pleasure in the respite it affords her.
Forsyth is a proponent of decorative repetition and champions the power of colour to stir emotions and elicit forgotten moments. Orange Object on Red pictures a bundle of objects: a hand-sewn copy of a dress Forsyth bought in Amsterdam, an orange obi given to her by Hiromi, a piece of red felt left over from her project for Nuit Blanche, a silk shirt she bought at Nordstrom with her dear friend Karen, and a hidden note to herself.
Michelle Forsyth is an associate professor of Drawing & Painting at OCAD University. Her work has been exhibited at international venues, including Mulherin + Pollard in New York, Zaum Projects in Lisbon, Pentimenti Gallery in Philadelphia, and Virginia Commonwealth University in Doha. Forsyth has received grants from the Canada Council for the Arts and the Artist Trust (Seattle), and was awarded the Larry Sommers Memorial Fellowship by Seattle Print Arts.
Omar Badrin uses his own biography to explore race and cultural identity through his sculptural artworks. As a transracial adoptee, Badrin was perceived as an outsider in his adopted culture—a fact reflected in his work. In the past, his focus was on the search for acceptance. This has, however, gradually shifted towards an embrace of Otherness. The desire to belong and the frustration of not being able to are echoed in Cry-Baby, while the warped self-perception that resulted from his experiences is exemplified in the monster-like mask Untitled.
What a Sin is part of an ongoing series of small crocheted masks that is intentionally conceived as unending. Work in Progress is made out of thick polypropylene rope. In contrast to his previous masks, it is a sturdier piece that is better able to hold its own form. The stiffness of the piece and its resemblance to chain link are reminders that identity can be stifling and cause discomfort. However, the mask is more confident than the others in claiming physical space for itself; in this way, it parallels Badrin’s gradual, if at times uncomfortable, embrace of Otherness.
Omar Badrin is an interdisciplinary artist in Toronto. In 2015, Badrin completed his Master of Fine Arts in the Interdisciplinary Master’s in Art, Media and Design program at OCAD University, where he was also honoured with a university medal. His work stems from his upbringing in Newfoundland and focuses on cultural identity and its construction and representation through visual metaphors.
Trudy Erin Elmore used a 3D modelling program to create Maya, a complex and layered digital image. On close inspection it is apparent that the water, sky, and reflections in this work are fully rendered, whereas the plants have been left partially rendered, thereby disclosing the synthetic nature of the other “artificial” world from which this landscape hails.
In the tradition of Sanatana Dharma, “maya” literally means “that which is not,” referencing the illusion of matter. Maya is the condition of accepting the temporary as having lasting value and looking for enduring happiness in the artifice of matter. As a digital artist working in 3D programs, Elmore strives to recreate the illusion and beauty that maya seems to possess (the irony of which is not lost on her).
Trudy Erin Elmore is a new media/digital artist in Toronto. In 2016, she graduated from OCAD University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Drawing & Painting: DPXA. Her work deals with issues of mortality, technological evolution, and the paradoxical human condition relating to, and existing in, a hyper-consumer culture. Elmore’s practice is based in digital media and print, as well as video and sound installation.
Turkish political posters and current dramatic, cruel political events inspire Yasemin Oncu’s art. These drawings form part of a body of work called de·monstra·tion. They are studies for monsters that find their way onto flags that parallel Turkish political flags. In Turkey, flags are used to promote politicians and political parties; however, Oncu replaces the political figures with constructed, imaginary monsters. The monsters attempt to “demonstrate” how art can be used as a tool to subvert political moral degradation and its associated demonization of the other.
Through her introduction of the monster as a metaphorical third party in the political arena, Oncu problematizes antagonistic political conflicts that are defined by a clash of extremes. The monsters resist classification built on the hierarchical duality of good and evil because they embody a host of associations, including fear, desire, anxiety, and fantasy. They are the mirrors in which the viewer can see a reflection of his/her own unconscious. Oncu’s drawings join the visual with the political spectacle in order to introduce a humorous critical response that comments on these deceptive daily encounters.
Yasemin Oncu completed a Master of Fine Arts in the International Master’s in Art, Media and Design program at OCAD University in 2016. Through her paintings, drawings, and installations, Oncu seeks to produce an artistic response to contemporary forms of aggression and violence.