Are you curious about social issues and innovation, or about how art can be used to educate and offer solutions? Have you ever wondered how to wield a work of art like a tool, how to drive it forward with purpose?  Do you want to be drawn into an installation, and come out the other side just a little bit different? Would you like to know how to create a work that encourages interaction, communication, and thought? The projects in Off-Course 2019, created by OCAD’s Industrial Design and Graphic Design students, have the answers.  

Off-Course is an annual work-in-progress exhibition of thesis projects, and this year it featured the works of twenty students. Each project was built around a current social issue, including mental health, technology, cultural appropriation, and politics. Furthermore, these projects presented responses and unique perspectives on these issues in combination, incorporating user interaction and an aesthetically pleasing design. While, usually, galleries can be one-sided or passive, this exhibition feels like moving through experiences rather than space. As a visitor, you are both the audience and a part of the installation, which is an incredible way to perceive a work of art. 

The featured projects fall under no singular area of art and design. Daniel Antonucci’s Left to Our Own Devices presents furniture that serves our dependence on technology. Jannyl V. Molina’s Psychedelic Healing: The Future of Mental Health consists of a scale model of a psychedelic medical facility as well as relevant research on the topic. Donya Aref’s Chaos in Power uses collages to represent the political tension between Iran and the West. These are just examples of how the artists use diverse methods to create evocative and thoughtful works. Despite their differences, the works coalesce into a thematically and visually united exhibition. 

The event took place at 950 Queen Street West, downtown Toronto. It spanned 2 floors, and was open to the public from Saturday, January 19th through Sunday the 27th. Though technically an exhibition, the space was also there for students to work in, which speaks to the interactive and developmental aspects of the projects. Whether you live and breathe art or don’t know Monet from Manet, Off-Course 2019 is a place to interact with, learn from, and experience unique creations by OCAD students. If you missed this year’s show, you can learn more by clicking the link below, and be sure to visit next year! 

Off-Course 2019 – Website 

Article by Melissa Roberts