Photos: Jaclyn McRae-Sadik.
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Event serves as a multifaceted fundraiser for graduating student art show

Art doesn’t discriminate. Common wisdom dictates that if you’re passionate and willing to learn, then the community will welcome you.

On Friday, March 10, students embodied this mentality to a tee and transformed Café Alt into the epicentre of Ottawa’s art scene.

The event, Your Art is on Fire, featured poets, stand-up comedians, and musicians who were united by a common passion for the craft. The underground café had one wall that displayed a psychedelic assortment of videos, a pillar transformed into an audio eulogy, and the rest of its space was monopolized by various art vendors, performers, and guests.

Throughout the many performances at Friday’s festivities, artists mingled and peddled unique creations to their like-minded peers.

Emilie Azevedo, co-host of the event and a first-year communications student, was also selling handcrafted candles and jewelry made from owl pellets.

“I think there’s a nice community and arts scene but it’s not as big as I wanted it to be,” explained Azevedo. “That’s where people like me come in—we’re working on building it.”

Alongside Azevedo’s artistic creations, there were also canvas paintings, drawings on slabs of cardboard, Apple-inspired woodwork, and framed artwork for sale.

“It’s an amalgamation of my favourite artists in Ottawa, and I really wanted them to come together and have one final show,” explained Ashelita Shellard, one of the event organizers and a U of O fine arts student in her final year.

“I wanted to show that there’s a lot of artists out there making dope art. I don’t see enough of it at school.”

While the showcased artworks were a big hit, they weren’t the only things for sale.

Guests also had the opportunity to interact with artists and purchase live creations, which included portraits created on the spot and body painting.

As the evening progressed, the combination of new and old art, live performances, and the welcoming atmosphere made Your Art is on Fire feel like the central hub for emerging and creative minds.

“Everyone here is just trying to get their art out, just like me,” explained Shellard.

This event also served as a fundraiser for the annual graduating visual art students show, known as ARC. Similar to Your Art is on Fire, ARC will promote students’ avant-garde creations which provide a means for artists to express themselves.

Shellard, for example, intends on presenting a piece of art at ARC that incorporates “traditional femininity, modern femininity, and video components, editing, music, (and) dance.”

Shellard’s work will be one of many on display at ARC, which will take place on April 21 in the Visual Arts building at 100 Laurier Avenue East.

To finance the graduates’ upcoming show, all donations and proceeds from the food that was sold at Your Art is on Fire will be used for ARC’s production.

For Azevedo, art is a simple means of expression, and events like ARC and Your Art is on Fire definitely bring that dynamic to the forefront.

“People go through hard times and they have to deal with it in a way, and art is a way of doing that. Art is expression. Without art, there’s nothing.”


  • Spring 2022: Desiree Nikfardjam Fall 2021: Zofka Svec 2020-2021: Aisling Murphy 2019-2020: Ryan Pepper 2018-2019: Iain Sellers 2017-2018: Ryan Pepper