renee stephens


Tag: toronto

What OCADU Has Taught Me

Ontario College of Art and Design University is an exquisite institution for the creative and imaginative people of my generation, generations past and of the future. I am now in the middle of my third year in Critical and Curatorial Practices and I really enjoy it. It is definitely safe to say that five years ago I did not expect my life to be the way it is today.

I went to OCADU with intentions of Majoring in Drawing & Painting. The week before the deadline for declaring majors, I decided to ask my mentor and good friend (and also my old high school teacher) for some advice because I was having second thoughts about D&P. I thought, “what the hell kind of job is this going to get me?” I’m extremely glad I looked into other options at OCADU and found Critical and Curatorial Practices (which I didn’t even know existed) because writing and being critical is what I enjoy doing. Not only that, but it gives me career choices other than being a freelance artist or teacher, both of which I knew were slim chances of becoming successful (especially for my talent level).

I think I have learned more from the people at my school that I have by the professors themselves. I have met a lot of different kind of people that I would have never of met otherwise since I live in such a small town. The creative and intelligent minds at OCADU have taught me many things about the art scene that I never knew. They have also taught me a lot about myself and what sort of things I believe in and want to strive for. I have made many great friends at OCADU and I am so thankful that they are in my life. The school is all about creating relationships and collaboration because those are the people you will need to know once you have graduated and you’re out and about in the ‘real’ world.

It is an amazing institution and I strongly recommend it to anyone who is interested in art and design. It is a fun place to express yourself and be experimental about the things you are practicing.


Thoughts on Mayor Rob Ford


I do not identify myself as a citizen of Toronto because I am not one, I do not live there. Although, I spend about 4 days a week in Toronto for school. I take the subways and streetcars, I walk the streets, and I participate in events in the city. I am actively involved in the city of Toronto.

The Mayor has really screwed up. The man is an alcoholic, even though he insists that he isn’t, he is. He has other people buy him his liquor in secret, and there are plenty of images of him in public extremely drunk. This isn’t the first time that these sort of ‘allegations’ have been accusing the mayor of substance abuse. The difference now is that its crack cocaine, and alcohol.

This is bad for Toronto. Yes, he does good things for the city. Although we must think of the message that this is sending to people of the Greater Toronto Area and frankly, the world. This isn’t just on CP24 in Ontario, this is on CNN and other world news channels. It’s embarrassing to the people of Toronto that we are the laughing stock of the world with an alleged ‘crackhead’ Mayor. I mean, when you smoke crack and you are such a public lawful figure in society it’s not like you can just “move on”, which is what the Mayor wants to do. People who get arrested for crack possession can’t get off by saying, “listen let’s just move on”. That isn’t the way the law works. The Mayor is being extremely selfish, childish, and is showing serious signs of being a substance abuser.

I just think it would be best for him to at least take a leave of absence and stop being so stubborn about this entire situation. If he takes some time off he can relax, perhaps get some help for his substance problem, and he could come back stronger than ever. Really, that is all council is asking of him.

He’s acting like a fool, and making a fool out of the city of Toronto.

American Apparel’s Menstruating Vagina T-Shirt Explained!

American Apparel’s Menstruating Vagina T-Shirt Explained!

My OCADU school-mate Petra Collins, Toronto based curator/artist, made some surprising headlines last week with her new “Period Tee” for clothing franchise American Apparel. The tee, a line drawing of a woman with pubic hair masturbating and menstruating has news websites and magazines questioning the morals of the designer and company who would back (what they think) is ‘such a vile’ message.

In an interview with VICE (in the URL attached above), Collins discusses her meanings behind the t-shirt and states that this sort of negative attention is precisely what the shirt represents. The oppression of female sexuality and of something that is completely natural. Collins states that, “out of all the images everywhere, all of the sexually violent images, or disgustingly derogatory images, this is something that’s so, so shocking apparently.”

I highly recommend reading the interview, even if you are grossed out by the topic. Then, come back and tell me what you think:

Scotiabank Nuit Blanche

As my first year of attending the 8th Annual Scotiabank Nuit Blanche in Toronto, I was amazed to say the least by the outstanding number of people of whom attended the over-night event: youth of all ages, elderly, tourists, pets, children, etc. As a first timer, it was confusing knowing where to go, what to see first, what to see next, whether we should walk or take public transit, all of that being said it was a little overwhelming. Of course, I had made my way over to Nathan Phillips Square to find Ai Wei Wei’s Forever Bicycles, which was surprisingly smaller than I expected (even though it was huge, for some reason I thought it was much, much larger). The sculpture made up of 3144 bicycles appeared as a beautiful flower with coloured lights which shone from within it. Within the over-populated downtown core this piece was the centre of attention yet it featured  some interesting conceptual pieces on the side. Crashing Cars by Alain Duclercq and A rose is without why by Boris Archour provided a bit of confusion and critical thought along side the spectacle of bicycles. I didn’t really get to see all that much. I saw the pieces that were at OCADU and the AGO as well as Garden Tower by Tadashi Kawamata.

Some interesting things that I did not know about Nuit Blanche is that I have to wait in line in order to see the artworks. I felt more like I was at a carnival or theme park than at an art show. I did not have the patience to stand in the line ups of over 100 people for each artwork, so I suppose I lucked out in that sense, but really, I was there until 1:00am and I only saw about 10 pieces of art, seriously. There was so much to see that was spread out all over the city (rather far might I add) that I couldn’t bother with wondering to the far edges of the downtown core. To get through the crowds of drunk people was difficult enough, I wasn’t prepared to trek along the sidewalks of puke to wait in line for 40 minutes any longer. 

Besides all of my complaining, the art that I did see was spectacular, and I think that it is great that the city of Toronto does something to get the public interested in art (even if it is just for one night). 

Newmarket Jazz+ Festival





I have the pleasure to be helping out with the Newmarket Jazz+ Festival in Newmarket, Ontario at Riverwalk Commons (beside Ferry Lake and behind Main St.) on August 2, 3, and 4th. This wonderful festival celebrates the arts as a whole, ranging from musical talents to visual art and beyond. Justin Hines will be headlining the wonderful event with many, many more talented artists such as George St Kitts. The festival will include: Musical Entertainment, Art Show & Plein Air, Fabulous Food, Kids Art/Activities, Free Workshops, and a Beer & Wine Garden! 


It would be greatly appreciated if you could stop by! To start, you could simply like and follow the festivals Facebook and Twitter pages (links below). All the support that this festival can get will be simply amazing. If you have any questions or comments regarding the festival feel free to ask! 




Upcoming Artist

Upcoming Artist

This is my pal Iris’ Facebook page where she displays her wonderful art. This artwork is for sale! Get it while you can because I swear she is brilliant, the woman can do anything! Take a look I guarantee you won’t be disappointed. 

AGO Toronto

Has anybody gone to the Frida & Diego exhibition at the AGO in Toronto? I’m interested in learning what the public thought about the exhibition before I not only go to the exhibition but also write a review on it. Comments?