The graduating BFA class puts on one final exhibition. Photo: Andrew Wright.
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Visual Arts building to host works on identity, social media, and more

The end of another school year brings the most anticipated artistic event on campus, as the fourth-year bachelor of fine arts students showcase their talents for all the Ottawa art community to see.

The grad show is an annual event that marks the end of the BFA program, is a requirement to graduate, and the last major opportunity for students to exhibit their art as an undergrad.

The exhibition blends seamlessly with the program—all graduating visual arts students take a course called Intensive Studio where the exhibited piece tends to be created, and the piece is graded before the vernissage.

“It’s part of our grade, but it’s basically your fourth year, especially your final semester, the work you’re creating in your studio is the work you put into the show. Exhibiting is part of your mark, as well as putting together the show,” explained Briana Fitzgerald, a fourth-year fine arts student and one of the two head organizers of the event.

All 28 graduating students are involved with this year’s rendition, entitled Voix, divided into five groups: marketing, vernissage, catalogue, finance, and fundraising, along with translators. Planning for the show runs throughout the year, with different groups securing funds and dealing with money, advertising and doing outreach, creating a catalogue of all the art that is sold at the vernissage, and planning for the opening night, explained Sarah Clothier, a fourth-year fine arts student and one of two head organizers of Voix.

The vernissage is the biggest night for the visual arts department, with professors, faculty, family and friends, and artists and gallery owners passing through. The show takes up all the floors, from paintings on the top floor to installation pieces in the basement.

“We managed to curate the show so that there’s some thematic ties within each room, so that when people go into each room, it feels like its own curated room and not just art put up next to each other willy-nilly,” Fitzgerald said.

There are also several prizes given out during the night for sculpture and installations, painting, video and media arts, and photography. It can be a good opportunity for graduating students to meet Ottawa-based artists and galleries, making connections within the artistic community.

Voix was chosen as a theme that could cast a wide net over the diversity of artists and projects. The night isn’t organized thematically, but each artist can showcase their own voice, their own distinct talents and interests.

As for the final piece that will eventually be on display, it’s the work of an intensive semester-long project building on four years of changing artistic practices. As Clothier explained, it’s a consistent project with some professor feedback, but it’s very self-driven.

It’s hard to say what visitors should expect—in the end, the exhibit boasts 28 artists with projects that vary wildly. Clothier said it’s impossible to point to any one takeaway or highlight from the night. Fitzgerald pointed out several large-scale pieces this year, like large paintings and room-filling installations.

Fitzgerald and Clothier explained that the first floor will highlight time-based projects and pieces that deal with personal identity and family heritage, while the third floor has individually curated rooms, each based on the themes and colour palettes of the artists. There will also be a large collection of artwork centered around social media.

“The viewer of this year’s exhibition can expect to see a much more curated show than in previous years, as we have worked hard to connect works within shared spaces and throughout each floor of the building,” Fitzgerald explained.

Or, as Clothier put it, “just expect to see some cool art.”

Voix is open to the public from April 25–29, with the vernissage at 6 p.m. on April 27. Entrance is free.


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