OCADU 411: Best watering hole, coolest electives, and more

An OCADU insider's perspective on campus life

OCADU student Inez Genereux

The 411

Best place for a nap: The Quiet Room (fifth floor)

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Best cheap lunch: PWYC vegan lunch from the Student Union on Thursdays

Best hangover breakfast: Fresh fruit from Kensington Market

Favourite campus food: The Grange food court has many quick and cheap options and it’s right across the street

Favourite watering hole: Thirsty and Miserable in Kensington Market. Don’t believe the myth of free drinks at gallery openings!

Perks: The endless opportunities for networking are probably the greatest perk to studying at OCAD U. Also: studying next door to the AGO (free entry with school ID!).

Where to live: Rapid gentrification of the city is making it harder for people of all lifestyles to find cheap housing. Little Portugal/Brockton Village remains a haven for young artists while the more adventurous head north of Dupont Street.

Best place to study: The Integrated Media hallway on the third floor is one of the most peaceful places you’re likely to find, with a lovely view of the park

Worst place to study: Fifth and sixth floors have eternally been the loudest and most stressed out spaces in the school. Study here if you love grinding your teeth.

Coolest electives: Computer science electives are a must for new creatives, offering an opportunity to understand the infrastructure that keep our technology running

Best live-music venue: Air Canada Centre: all the biggest acts play here!


PROFILE: OCAD University | Toronto, Ont. | Founded 1876


University Insider: Inez Genereux, 25, Criticism and Curation

After pinballing between enormous public high schools, co-op programs and self-directed study programs before ending up at a small alternative high school in Toronto, I found the transition to OCADU to be a relatively painless and rather encouraging process. During my tour of the Toronto high school system I met many different types of students. Some were artistically inclined while others focused on liberal studies and social justice. I worried that at OCADU I would find more of the former and fewer of the latter. Happily, I can say I found a satisfying mix of both.

Thanks to the bi-annual portfolio critique days offered by the university to prospective students, I had a huge range of information on the subjects offered by the separate art and design faculties. At first I was apprehensive at the thought of dedicating myself to only one faculty, but I soon realized that if you were creative with your approach to assignments, professors supported experimenting with media outside of your selected major.

Almost every student I know changed their major once, and most (myself included) opted to begin their studies in the first year general art program, where one can get a taste of a variety of subjects.

New majors and minors in recent years include digital futures, integrated media, publications, and cross-disciplinary studies. These subjects outside of the traditional media such as drawing and painting or photography interested me the most, along with applying new technology and a contemporary approach to institutionally recognized forms of art and design.

If you can imagine it, you can make it happen at OCADU. The number of student-originated projects that continue to exist outside of the university are impressive. Xpace, the artist-run centre supported by the OCADU student union, showcases art and curatorial projects by students and emerging artists. It is also home to an ever-growing zine and tape library, and all proposals for workshops and events are put forth by students. Pursing a post-secondary education at OCADU has taught me to value the people who make the work just as much, if not more, than the work itself. You will develop professional relationships with your campus peers as your career broadens outside the university itself.

Extras
Perhaps the greatest assets gained from studying at OCADU are the diverse social networks built with both peers and teachers. Just as art is not created in a vacuum, you will find your career isn’t likely to take off without connections—or an audience. OCAD U also has many student-run organizations and special interest clubs. You’re sure to find kindred spirits if you’re seeking others who like experimental anime films or want to lead the student union.

Studying at OCADU allows you free access to the Art Gallery of Ontario, as well as a discount on tickets to the Royal Ontario Museum. These resources are indispensable research tools when you’re stuck for inspiration, and make it cheaper to enjoy the city.

Local Vibe
Being Canada’s largest city, Toronto is home to a diverse and intersectional arts and culture scene. (Or scenes, as there are many!)

Artists looking for affordable housing and cheap studio rent should look to the city’s west and north ends, away from the condos that seem to spring up on every downtown street corner. Travelling the city is essential to developing a relationship with it; there’s no better way to do this than on a bike!

The Skinny
Aside from social media networks where you will discover peers’ events and projects off-campus, checking in with OCADU’s off-site gallery Xpace is a must. Students should look here for gallery events, workshops and info about what’s going on in Toronto’s art scene.