PathoGen - 3D virtual exhibition by OCAD University Drawing and Painting


Wed, 12/02/2020 to Tue, 03/02/2021

curated by:

PathoGEN Error: Compiling 2020.

Twenty-four cross-disciplinary students at OCAD University have created this online exhibition situating their personal experiences with the ongoing pandemic. This show is the culminating activity for the third year COVID-19 Responsive Art course.

Through initial class discussions we learned that at the beginning of the pandemic, many students were excited to be at home for a small duration of time. There was still a sense of hope that “lockdown” would be swift and short. As the pandemic continued and worsened, those feelings of excitement slowly turned into fear of the future and a general state of anxiety.

To begin the coursework, students reflected on how artists in the past responded to crises such as the 1918 Pandemic, the AIDS Epidemic, Idle No More, the Civil Rights Movement, Genocide and the Black Lives Matter Movement.

Through this research, students developed a deep understanding of the impact's artists have had on society during these troubled times. Research in the class also included a scan of existing international COVID-19 exhibitions to experience an artistic conversation with artists and makers outside of their class collective. In the second part of the semester, students set out to create their art in response to the pandemic in an effort express their own unique experiences during the various stages of quarantines and shutdowns across the world.

Some artists took a more positive and uplifting approach, and others focused on the melancholy and pain they have been feeling during this time of upheaval and social isolation.

The main themes in the resulting work include mental health, environmental impacts, the passage of time and the lack of touch. The overall mood evoked by these pieces is an ominous one, often hidden behind a mask of bright colours and energetic mark-making.

Many students found themselves without access to shops and studios in which to make work. Forced to adapt to new environments and processes, students moved to utilize a variety of mediums, from digital media, painting, videography often while reusing otherwise discarded and sustainable materials.

This shows us clearly that many people have taken different paths to process the changes COVID-19 has had on their lives. For some, this is a means to focus on the environmental impact of widespread single-use-PPE use; for others, it is a space to address the evolving concepts of home, togetherness, safety and security; for many, it is a reflection on their restricted movement and ongoing upheaval throughout the world.

This unique course provided a historic opportunity for students to express their emotions and responses during this difficult time through their visual practice. As a result, many beautiful and emotional pieces were created.

We hope that viewers will enjoy exploring this impactful show and find solace in how we express our common experiences!

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