Works by the next generation of University of Ottawa artists

Posted on Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Work by Zainab Hussain, Personal Mythologies 3, 2020

Zainab Hussain, Personal Mythologies 3, 2020. Projection and textile installation. Photo: Zainab Hussain, artist and graduate of uOttawa’s visual arts program

Thesis projects by uOttawa MFA students will be on display at the Ottawa Art Gallery

Five artists who recently earned their Master of Fine Arts (MFA) at the University of Ottawa will have their works featured in a professional gallery, thanks to a new partnership with the Ottawa Art Gallery (OAG).

An exhibition entitled Emergent will run from February 20 to March 7, 2021, and present the thesis projects of Julie Caissie, Carol Howard Donati, Martin Godin, Nic Cooper and Zainab Hussain.

“Our students, the next generation of artists, will be introduced to the general public to highlight the continued importance of contemporary art,” said Lorraine Gilbert, Full Professor in the Department of Visual Arts at the University of Ottawa.

Visual artist Martin Godin, who hails from Northern Ontario, earned his MFA at the University of Ottawa in 2020. His work, entitled Paydirt, will be featured at the OAG. This series of paintings reflects his current research on the use of slag rock – a by-product of the mining industry created when ores are smelted – as an artistic medium to “re-enact the mining process: excavating memory and identity to rediscover that the internal self is in constant modes of formation, destruction, and re-creation.” Click for more information.

Slag Rock sample

Slag Rock sample (Paydirt 2020) Photo: Martin Godin material, Sudbury, ON.

“Having my MFA thesis exhibited at the OAG along with my graduating cohort is a rewarding opportunity,” said Martin Godin. “The thesis presentation is a rite of passage that is the culmination of the MFA program and studio research. Having it exhibited at an established gallery allows us to make connections within the art scene and provides us with a platform. It is great that the art community and the OAG are supportive of emerging artists – especially during the challenges of the pandemic.”

In fact, the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the gallery’s initial plans to present the inaugural exhibition, which was originally scheduled for August 2020. It will finally start on February 20, 2021 and will include works from the Class of 2020.

“In addition to displaying works from our MFA candidates, the OAG also provides assistance to students through its gallery curators, along with regular support to thesis supervisors and technical assistance in professionally mounting the exhibitions,” explained Professor Lorraine Gilbert.

In December 2019, the University of Ottawa’s Department of Visual Arts signed a five-year agreement with the OAG for the exhibition of thesis projects.

“Each year, the OAG will host an exhibition to display the works of each graduating class in one of the OAG’s superb rooms, an event that will be integrated into their annual programming,” said Professor Lorraine Gilbert. “This new agreement attests to the confidence and admiration which the OAG’s conservators and managers have for the quality of the artistic works produced within our Department’s studios.”

Thanks to financial support from the Stonecroft Foundation, the University will publish a paper catalogue to promote and document the works of the MFA Class of 2020. The catalogue will contain photos, accompanying texts, biographical notes on the artists, and other elements related to the exhibition.

“An exhibition catalogue is documentation of an exhibition and is of great importance to an artist’s CV,” added Martin Godin. “The exhibition and catalogue mean having the studio research and artwork published and accessible. The catalogue is archived, and the event and work are referenced. In this case, it allows us to have our work photographed and professionally documented, along with an essay and accompanying texts. Also, it showcases that these exhibitions are a collaborative, group effort — a way to give thanks to everyone involved for their support and contributions.”

“For students, an OAG exhibition is a major asset, one that caps off their academic careers with honour and launches their careers as independent artists,” said Professor Lorraine Gilbert. “I am sure that the opportunity to participate in an exhibition and a professional catalogue will attract young artists to come study with us.”

Emergent: MFA Graduate Work from the University of Ottawa Department of Visual Arts 2020 runs from February 20 to March 7, 2021. The exhibition will be open to the public by reservation. A virtual opening reception will take place on February 23rd. Details and registration here.


For media inquiries:
Justine Boutet
Media Relations Officer
University of Ottawa
Cell: 613-762-2908
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