Ottawa school of art celebrates 145th anniversary

The Ottawa School of Art's party exhibition at the J.W. Stellick Gallery

Fathia Tijani • Mar. 18, 2024

The Ottawa School of Art’s party exhibition at the J.W. Stellick Gallery

The Ottawa School of Art (OSA) wrapped up its “Art Party!” exhibition yesterday. The celebratory exhibition opened last month on Feb. 25, 2024.

Community partners put together art pieces in line with the party theme to help the OSA celebrate its 145th anniversary exhibition. There were various artful illustrations. Among them were drawings, paintings, clay mouldings, and a wide array of other party crafts.

Gerard Bélec, outreach program coordinator for OSA

Gerard Bélec is the outreach program coordinator for the faculty. He explains what the OSA means to the creative community in the capital.

“It is a hub of activity We have 70-something artists who work here over the course of their year,” he says. “Part time as instructor or perhaps full time. It is a great place for community citizens of Ottawa to come and have a chance to practise drawing, painting, sculpture, and poetry included.”

One of the artist instructors, Dunia, echoes this theme of community in her work. She speaks about what she’s learned over time filling the role of an instructor.

“It’s a very nice fulfilling role that makes you connected to your community and usually the students teach you a lot more than you teach them,” she says.

With such a wide variety of artworks done by the exhibit’s participants, CHUO had to ask Gerard If he had any favourites.

He pointed at a moulded sculpture that looked like a slice of cake with a strawberry on top. The sculpture was covered in pink frosting and had a thick brown wave edge with two lines, one on the bottom edge and the other below, meeting at a point to form a triangle like shape. This cake sculpture looked like the real deal.

A few party sculptures, including Gerard’s favourite at the top right

The OSA’s outreach program is dedicated to giving free community-based art classes to youth facing economic or social disadvantage. The School of Art offers a safe and encouraging environment the development of creativity, participation, and cultural awareness.

In the conversations we had at the opening exhibition, one that stood out was in regard to the struggles and challenges young and current artists face and the difficulties that come along the way.

Gerard acknowledged these hurdles.

“Don’t lose courage, it’s sometimes difficult to be an artist these days, finding a gallery space for exhibitions, finding whether to be patrons or just connecting with your community,”he says. “Don’t worry hang in there, keep working and especially to the young people, there are so many things you can do if you are good at using your hands and coordinating that with your mind and your ideas, there’s a future for you in Fine Arts.”


Listen to this story as told by Marcela Gonzalez on CHUO’s weekly show The Mosaic: