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U of O students exhibit their work at Nuit Blanche

Photos by Annie Thomas and Megan Balah

COMING OUT OF the rain and into galleries, museums, and private exhibitions, art lovers across Ottawa participated in Nuit Blanche on Sept. 21.

The event is an annual all-night arts exhibit open to the public that displays art installations, performances, and other artistic events like stick ‘n’ poke tattooing. While the movement has been held in cities around the world for more than a decade, this is only the second time it’s been to Ottawa.

This year, the University of Ottawa’s fourth-year visual arts students showcased their work in an exhibition called “Spectra” at the Routhier Community Centre on Guigues Avenue. In a darkened room, the students’ pieces were lined up and lit by spotlights.

“We’re trying to show the diversity of ideas, of the student body in the visual arts,” said Lea Hamilton, one of the exhibit organizers and a fourth-year visual arts student. She pointed out that the name speaks to the diversity of work and ideas, but also refers to the light shining on each piece of art.

“Since the event is a nighttime event, the works have to accommodate a different type of setting,” she said.

Megan Smith, creative director of Nuit Blanche Ottawa, was trying to expand the citywide event this year and bring artists together in the spirit of collaboration. The student exhibit tried to meet this goal through its diversity of works.

Nuit Blanche allows artists to exhibit their pieces in more creative ways than traditional museum settings.

“There are different types of media that are being played with, as opposed to the traditional, ‘Oh, there’s a painting on the wall and there’s a blurb about it,’” Hamilton said.

“Since it’s a one-night-only event, it has a different feel to it than a museum,” she continued, “It’s the one thing that you’re going to see for that night and then it’s gone.”

In addition to being an event organizer, Hamilton also participated in the exhibit as an artist, showing an oil painting she described as, “Exploring the body as being landscape.”

Although the student artists were present throughout the exhibit and interacted with the audience if anyone had questions, Hamilton hopes for interaction directly with her work.

“I want to be able to provoke any sort of reaction from the audience,” she said. “I want them to be able to look at my work and think about what it means.”

While her family has been supportive of her pursuit of a fine arts degree, the U of O has been instrumental in her development as an artist.

“The university has allowed me to go from something very rudimentary to something refined and more conceptual,” she said.

Nuit Blanche was an opportunity to demonstrate her talent and work in a unique and collaborative way. Working with her classmates and exhibiting all of their work together allowed them to embody the atmosphere of Ottawa’s Nuit Blanche.

For students interested in learning more about art in Ottawa, the U of O’s Visual Arts Student Association organizes gallery crawls on Thursdays that all students can attend to visit artistic venues around the city.



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