Art begins at 40

Emerging Canadian artists celebrate anniversary of Florence program with unique exhibition

Sara England
February 27, 2014

While via Nazionale is a street of bustle and flow, many passers-by might be unaware of the exciting creative activity taking place behind the doors of this lively street. In a third-floor apartment on the corner of via Nazionale and via Fiume, a group of emerging artists selected annually from Canada’s Ontario College of Art and Design (recently retitled as OCAD University) have been shaping their artistic practice.


Since 1974, when the Florence campus was officially launched, young Canadian artists have been travelling here to study Florentine art and create their own body of contemporary work. Young designers, painters, photographers, artists and curators take part in an eight-month, self-directed studio, where they work independently, shaping and responding to Florence’s creative culture. They work in a modest, collective studio set amidst a landscape of Renaissance architecture and Tuscan hillside to the tune of the persistent cathedral bells and street sounds. The academic year includes an enriching combination of both art history and guided studio practice. Art history lessons are taught by Florence’s exceptional and charming historian Peter Porcal (in and of himself a tour de force of Florence), and studio practice overseen by professional Canadian artists.


This year, OCAD University is celebrating the 40th anniversary of its unique Florence campus. Having become an important and permanent part of Florence’s creative community, the city has been a host to many emerging artists that have matured to be well-known professional Canadian artists. Some have even returned to Florence to continue their own artistic practice after finishing their studies (as we have become well aware that Florence has her way of tugging on our hearts.)


While OCAD University is one of the most prominent institutions for studies in art and design in Canada, it has also woven itself into the fabric of Florence’s contemporary creative practices. This year’s selection of artists will showcase the work they have created during their time here in Florence in a unique and diverse exhibition. On April 11, 2014, this year’s collective of 23 artists will open their studio doors to the public to introduce their wide variety of artistic production. A curated exhibition of painting, sculpture, photography and drawing will explore a variety of themes from explorations of the human body, self-identity, conceptions of beauty, the fantastical and more. Everyone is encouraged to visit the exhibition, enjoy a glass of wine and explore the exciting creativity that is taking place behind the doors of OCAD University’s Florence Studio.


OCAD University is dedicating this exhibition to the memory of art historian and teacher Peter Porçal, who recently passed away. Peter touched many people's lives in Florence and was a well-known figure in the community.


OCAD Florence Studio

Via Nazionale 7, third floor

Opening evening: Friday April 11, 6-11pm

Exhibition on April 12-13, 12 noon-7pm

For more information, email [email protected].

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