Introduction from OCAD U

Sara Diamond, OOnt, PhD, RCA
President and Vice-Chancellor, OCAD University

Ever since humans first daubed colour onto cave walls 40,000 years ago, visual artists have been leading us on journeys to “other worlds”—to places that expand, enrich, and even subvert our personal and collective understanding of who we are and what we might become.

Our Other Worlds exhibition appears on the eve of the 150th anniversary of Confederation. What better way to mark this occasion than through the arts? As the works presented here reveal, the arts affect our hearts and minds. Sparking both visceral and intellectual reactions, they illuminate other ways of seeing, knowing, and being.

In addition to this milestone in Canada’s history, OCAD University is this fall marking its own 140th birthday. Like Ontario and the country at large, our institution is profoundly and proudly diverse, spanning generations, cultures, genders, physical abilities, and other forms of difference. Woven throughout is a deep respect for Indigenous cultures, practices, and histories. Drawing on this fertile context, Other Worlds exemplifies the creativity of OCAD University students, faculty, and alumni. Their art reminds us of many things, not least the value of sustainability, the ways we interface with technology, and our responsibilities to each other and our global neighbours.

As we consider our past and look eagerly to the future, it is a great honour for OCAD University to mount Other Worlds in the Lieutenant Governor’s Suite at Queen’s Park, a setting that offers such tremendous possibilities for dialogue among people invested in culture and change. Our university and the Office of the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario have had a close relationship for many decades, one that is founded on a recognition of the essential role of the arts in shaping a healthy and prosperous society.

This collaboration also reminds us that creativity—whether expressed through art, design, or digital media—inspires further connections and innovations. OCAD University is a unique site of artistic production and social engagement, and we are committed to bringing art and culture face to face with the critical questions of our time through research, teaching, and community partnerships. Over the next decade, we will enhance our capacity in these areas through a new Creative City Campus at McCaul and Dundas streets, which will be an accelerator for creative expressions and industries. Down on the Toronto waterfront, our Campus for the Connected World will locate art and design in a dynamic interface with emerging technologies.

Other Worlds is direct manifestation of this energy and outlook. I invite you to immerse yourself in our artists’ visions, and I offer sincere thanks to the many who made this exhibition a reality: curators Anda Kubis and Jana Macalik; the Lieutenant Governor’s Office; OCAD University’s faculties of Art and Design, and its departments of Government Relations and Marketing & Communications; and Ignite Imagination: The Campaign for OCAD University.