On Campus

OCAD prof heads to Arctic

Will teach students how to express climate change through art

An art professor at the Ontario College of Art and Design will join a multinational and interdisciplinary team of students, scientists, and artists when they set off on a voyage through the Arctic waters of Iceland, Greenland, and Canada for three weeks in September.

Twenty-eight high-school students from the U.K., Ireland, Germany, Mexico, Brazil and India, along with 16 Canadian students, will set sail from Reykjavik, Iceland on Sept. 7 as part of the Cape Farewell 2008 Expedition. They will land at Baffin Island on Sept. 20.

The students’ mission: become global climate-change ambassadors. Cape Farewell will teach them about climatology, oceanography, biogeography, geomorphology and, on the cultural side, how best to express climate change through artistic expression.

Cape Farewell is funded by the British Council Canada, a cultural charity that “builds lasting relationships” between the U.K. and other countries and also supports a climate-change program. Participating schools were selected based on their climate-change programming, and students were then selected to represent their schools.
OCAD professor Colette Laliberté, who will serve as the voyage’s artist-in-residence, has been charged with helping students understand “what they see, hear, feel and learn” while aboard their ship, the Russian-made MV Akademik Shokalskiy.

“My role is being kind of a mentor for students and also to use the experience to feed myself in terms of my artwork and also my teaching that I do at OCAD,” she said.

Laliberté said there a number of artistic techniques students will employ when in the Arctic: traditional landscape painting, physically working with snow, or a more abstract approach.

“One could decide to address (the issue) in a more ephemeral way, thinking of aspects of disappearance, absence,” said Laliberté, who favours that approach and will be capturing much of what she sees on camera.