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Ontario College of Art & Design University

I began teaching a second semester third-year illustration course this January at OCAD U. My classroom is up there in the wacky checkered pencil-case in the sky. (This architectural wonder has caused extreme love/hate reactions amongst Torontonians. The only thing I regret about the Sharp Centre is the loss of a 50s-style outdoor atrium with a pool that used to be below it. It was always a very tranquil, calming spot, weather permitting.) So far it seems to be going well. The students are great and very talented! 

Being here again brings back a lot of memories, good and bad. I attended the Ontario College of Art as it was called then, back in the 80s as a prickly,  arrogant, depressed, hope-filled, cynical, innocent, closeted teenager with extremely high expectations of the faculty (sometimes, but not always met) and even higher ones for the students (er, um, let’s just say I never got lucky with a fellow art student… I did meet amazing friends I’m still very close to.)  The illustration courses used to be part of something called Communication & Design. There was a large, painted cutout of the letters”C&D” at the reception which was regularly graffitied, once with the damning phrase “Copy & Decorate” (clearly the work of someone from Experimental Art) and even more accurately “Coffee & Doughnuts!” The secretary was an extremely formidable woman. You would only approach her in cases of utter desperation and be left sitting waiting for hours wondering what, exactly her job consisted of, if not to help us. The illustration teachers were uniformly straight white males of a certain ilk (think private clubs, pipes, tweed jackets, ascots, booze  and women) who were interested primarily in having us imitate their style as closely as possible – something I could never understand, since, presumably, we would one day be their competition. Oh well, plenty has changed around the old place…

Final art for the first assignment due tomorrow, can’t wait to see!

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