Dedicated to recognizing the importance of creative exchanges that artists experience through collaborative work, Jia Lu, a Sculpture and Installation major, discusses the stress of changing majors in third year, the importance of networking, and his unconventional participation in the tool loans system at OCAD.
Tell us about yourself. Where are you from? What is your major?
My name is Jia Lu, I am from China originally, I moved here to Canada aged 9 and I spent most the following time in Guelph. Then I moved to Toronto for University, my major is in Sculpture and Installation, I used to be in ED for the first 2 years at this school then I switched after realizing that I really enjoyed the amount of creative freedom sculpture students have.
What is your thesis project about? Where did you get your idea from? Inspirations? Did you have any shows?
My thesis project, I’m currently working with ideas about labor, helping people and making connections and what I’m doing for my thesis is: I registered myself into the tool loans system at OCAD and made myself available every Friday for people to sign out. I’m part of that performance, I have this sign-out sheet, I also allow outside hours so anyone can book me to go anywhere outside of school anytime outside of Fridays as long as they fill out this special rental sheet and then when I’m working I wear this white lab coat that has the official barcode for the tool loans and I will appear in the system when I get checked in at tool loans. They will send you an email that you have rented me out. This is all in the system. I got the idea from initially feeling like there was a lot of creative motivation behind helping people and I just wanted to see if there was a way I can formalize that and I was hanging out around AV tool loans and it had this bench with a barcode on it and it wasn’t a legit item you can sign out but they can still do the whole barcode scanning thing. And I just asked them have you ever tried signing out a student and they’re like “no one’s ever done it” and they never heard of anybody doing it before. So that’s where it took off. There was a lot of really cool experiences that came out of this thesis. As part of the sculpture thesis, we each get our own gallery show and I was part of a group show at Gallery 1313 which was the past week and a half. It was a really cool experience; I was able to install the work I’ve been doing to this point. I’ve been taking documentation of everything that I was doing, the forms, and I brought in my lab coat and my sign-out station. I had one photo per hour rental which added up to about 85 hours. I had about 24 claimed items installed and a binder of documentation.
What are you currently up to outside of school? Do you have any hobbies, are you working?
Right now I’m taking four other courses besides thesis because I am trying to get out of school as fast as I can. Switching out of ED was a big change, not a lot of credits transferred over. Outside of thesis I have been trying to network, talk to people and hang out around shops.
Are you currently experiencing any difficulties with the graduating process? How do you feel about graduating? Are you anxious, excited, etc?
With the whole switching from ED thing, there were some difficulties with requirements and making sure that everything works. Student advising was pretty helpful at first, but I think with this year I’ve planned to get everything done by doing everything back to back each semester. Other than that everything else has been good. In terms of how I feel about graduating, there are a lot of people I am going to miss. There are a lot of things I wish I could have done, but in some ways I’m also feeling done because of thesis. Even my classmates who aren’t taking that many classes, they have jobs. Everybody is so busy. There’s been a huge anxiety going around actually. If you see a thesis student, give them a hug.
What are your plans for after OCAD? What are you doing to achieve them?
Some of my professors gave us some talks about options after school, and one of the options that was intriguing for me was prop making and set design. So I took up a mould making class to take up some skills. Picking up skills in those areas definitely helped with CV, also making some works that are going into my portfolio. I do find that given the chance to expand the amount of things you can do, it lets you tailor your CV a bit better.
What was your most memorable moment at OCAD?
There was a crit that just so happened to fall on Halloween. The prof was really bummed out about how he couldn’t take his daughter out trick-or-treating. So he told us to come in our costumes and bring some booze, to have a great time and for it to be a chill crit. So I dressed up and drinks were shared. He might have gotten into trouble because technically it’s not allowed, it was an amazing memory though. For a bad memory, there was this one night where I had a lot of work and I was studying for ED. I could not, I was just so anxious. So I went home for a week, and played League of Legends. I kind of developed a bad habit from that day forward. I ended up failing some classes that semester. It was a bad time. What could’ve really helped me in that situation was more support.
Do you have any advice for current OCAD students or students planning on applying to OCAD?
I would suggest that coming in and taking a good tour of the school and coming to Grad Ex. The open houses are really good. Definitely do a full walk around, there are still a lot of places that I haven’t been. I feel like it’s easier to do that when you’re a freshman or never been here before. I remember having a lot of fun at the summer intensive things that they do, like portfolio prep weeks. It’s also important to build a solid network of friends and a support system in your first couple years at the school because there’s gonna be those days down the road where you may fall apart on the inside. That’s super valuable. If you have those days, it’s nice to have someone checking out for you. Hang out around the school especially the shops and you can meet a lot of people.
Interviews by: Emily Chan
Photography: Valerie Yfp