Rhonda Weppler and Trevor Mahovsky’s “Stacks (Blocks)”. Be extra careful as you walk around. Edward Cai/The Medium

UTM is home to the Art & Art History program, jointly with Sheridan College, which employs a unique and stimulating approach to the study of art and design by  emphasizing studio practice as well as theoretical knowledge. Founded in 1971 with only four students under its banner, this year marks the 40th anniversary of this  diverse, accomplished, and successful program.

To commemorate the occasion,  curator Shannon Anderson  devised a collaborative curatorial approach for Viva Voce by  selecting artwork, designs, and films created by a diverse group of UTM graduates. The exhibition at the Blackwood  Gallery features contemporary art in all media, generated by a selection of Art & Art History alumni: Dorian FitzGerald, Alison S.M. Kobayashi, Richie Mehta &  Stuart A. McIntyre, Johnson Ngo,  Denyse Thomasos, Carolyn Tripp, Jessica Vallentin, Rhonda  Weppler & Trevor Mahovsky,  Andrew Wright, and Robert Zingone. The artists were selected by recommendations from past and present faculty members. In keeping with the 40th anniversary theme, exactly 40 faculty members were contacted for recommendations. The curatorial and exhibition method for Viva Voce focusses on the relationship between a professor and their student. Not only does this exhibition exemplify the importance and complexities of a student-teacher relationship, it also illuminates the transformation of a student into a coworker.

Viva Voce is Latin for “by word of mouth” (literally “with living voice”), a powerful and appropriate title. Within each piece of artwork is a message or conceptual idea that has become “voiced” by its existence. This title also illustrates the many voices that have contributed to the development of this exhibition, including those of students, alumni, and faculty members.

Walking through the doors of the Blackwood Gallery, hordes of people gathered around crisp white walls, whispering, laughing, and chatting for the exhibition’s opening reception last Wednesday night. Hung on the entrance wall of the gallery and first to be seen is Denyse Thomasos’ piece “Stealth”. Encompassing an assortment of  architectural forms, the piece borders on the abstract, employing bright primary colours. One must walk around this wall in order to reach the other works of art in the gallery. Each work is drastically different, drawing the viewer in time and time again.

Each work of art is constructed differently, and conceptually each one represents the unique voice of its artist. Collectively, the works of art represent relationships with teachers and the transition from student to graduate. Viva Voce gives students a fantastic opportunity to explore former students’ work, while also giving the alumni an opportunity to further showcase their pieces. Students should check out this unique exhibition and join UTM in saluting the exciting 40-year milestone.

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