First annual showcase Emergent celebrates emerging artists

The Ottawa Art Gallery (OAG) and the University of Ottawa present Emergent: MFA Graduate Work from the University of Ottawa Department of Visual Arts 2020, at OAG. The show features the thesis exhibitions of UOttawa MFA graduates and runs from February 20 to March 7, 2021. This show marks the launch of a major partnership between the University’s Department of Visual Arts and the Gallery.

Emergent is a showcase of recent work by the 2020 graduates of the University of Ottawa’s Masters of Fine Arts (MFA) Program Julie Caissie, Carol Howard Donati, Martin Godin, Nic Cooper, and Zainab Hussain. The exhibition highlights the work and unique practices of these five artists working in a variety of mediums and across diverse disciplines. This is the first exhibition of its kind, but the new partnership between the University of Ottawa and OAG will cement it as an annual showcase.

For the past decade, OAG Curators and Professors at the Department of Visual Arts have collaborated on supporting and mentoring individual MFA thesis exhibitions by University of Ottawa students, many of many of whom have gone on to participate in artist residencies and to produce solo exhibitions nationally and internationally. This initiative bolsters and broadens this opportunity for emerging artists from the MFA program.

In this partnership, the OAG will showcase thesis exhibitions of graduates from the University of Ottawa MFA program annually. Also, under the OAG MFA Exhibition and Mentorship Program, the MFA artists will also be given the opportunity to receive professional development, give artist talks, engage with alumni mentors, and learn about the exhibition process in a professional gallery setting, working directly with museum staff. Finally, OAG will provide an annual curatorial didactic writing mentorship for art history students from uOttawa.

“Programs such as the Department of Visual Arts MFA at uOttawa are vital to the health of the local arts. They bring into the community motivated, stimulated emerging artists driven to make their mark in the art world. OAG has been committed to supporting and highlighting this program and its artists for over 10 years. The launch of this newly defined partnership comes at an important time as society emerges from enduring past months,” said Alexandra Badzak, Director and Chief Executive Officer of the Ottawa Art Gallery. “The OAG MFA Exhibition and Mentorship Program helps MFA candidates to bridge the gap from emerging to professional, at a critical point in their careers, and helps set the stage for a productive future.”

The University of Ottawa is excited about this new exhibition partnership. “It is the ideal place to showcase the astounding talent of our emerging visual arts.” Kevin Kee, Dean of the Faculty of Arts said.

Support for this new partnership is provided by the RBC Foundation’s Emerging Artists Projects Fund. The Stonecroft Foundation produced an associated catalogue publication for the group of exhibiting graduates.

Members of the public can view the first exhibition of this new partnership, Emergent, in the Alma Duncan Salon on the 3rd floor of the Ottawa Art Gallery, for free during Gallery opening hours and must book their visit here.

The general public is invited to the virtual exhibition opening reception and partnership launch on Thursday, February 23rd, from 4PM to 5:30 p.m., which will include a curatorial guided tour, followed by an artist panel. Reservations for the Zoom event can be made here.