2017 Shelly Peterson Student Art Exhibition

2017, Art, Art Museum at the University of Toronto, Temporary Exhibit
contemporary art, Greater Toronto Area, student art, University of Toronto, visual studies
About This Project

Date: March 24 – April 15, 2017

Partner: Art Museum at The University of Toronto

Venue: University of Toronto Art Museum – map

Project Members: Khristine Cuthbertson, Tammy Law, and Alex Robichaud


The University of Toronto Shelley Peterson Student Art Exhibition (SPSAE) showcases the artistic excellence of undergraduate students in the University of Toronto’s tri-campus visual studies programs. The selected works demonstrate the dynamic ways in which University of Toronto students are engaging with timely topics such as human-environment relationships, feminism, consumerism, and identity. The SPSAE also serves as a final project for the Masters of Museum Studies program at The University of Toronto’s Faculty of Information.


Held annually in conjunction with the Masters of Visual Studies Studio Program Graduating Exhibitions, the SPSAE’s audience is composed mainly of students, artists, and academics in the Visual Arts fields within the University of Toronto network.


The exhibition is held at the University of Toronto Art Museum, comprised of the Justina M. Barnicke Gallery and the University of Toronto Art Centre. Spanning approximately half of the University of Toronto Art Centre, the SPSAE has ample room for the artworks of 26 student artists to be featured in the space.


The exhibition’s curators have been supported by Renée van der Avoird from the MacLaren Art Centre as Guest Curatorial Mentor, by Matthew Brower, Associate Professor and Director of the MMST program, and by course TAs Rebecca Noone and Hillary Walker Gugan. Coordination and promotion of the exhibition were supported by Art Museum staff, Sarah Robayo Sheridan, Marsya Maharani, Maureen Smith, and Brittany Brooks.


Preliminary planning for the SPSAE took place between September through December 2016. In January 2017, studio visits were conducted and a call for submissions was released. Accepted artists were notified on February 28, 2017. Floor plans, texts, and promotional material were finalized by mid-March 2017. Artwork shipment took place between March 15 – 16, 2017. Installation spanned March 20 – 23, 2017. The V.I.P opening occurred on March 23 and the public opening occurred on March 24, 2017. The SPSAE closed on April 15, 2017.


The SPSAE is comprised of the work of 26 student artists working in various media including painting, drawing, sculpture, textile, photography, videography, and multimedia installation pieces. Given that the aim of the project is to highlight exceptional artistic works of undergraduate students at the University of Toronto, the curatorial group thought it was important to include a wide variety of artistic practices which highlight both technical as well as conceptual qualities of student artworks. While the call for submissions did not have specific thematic requirements, themes did emerge organically from the selected artworks. The exhibition consisted of one introductory label which outlined general themes, six extended labels to provide context to more conceptual pieces and 21 tombstone labels to give general details for the remaining artworks.


Much of the marketing campaign for the exhibition was organized by Art Museum staff, who advertised through print, social media, online art promoters, and press releases. The curatorial group created a social media schedule with the intention of promoting the exhibition through a series of ‘Artist Spotlights’ featuring artists across the three University of Toronto campuses. The group also provided the photos and text for a promotional brochure designed by Brittany Brooks, which was made available onsite for visitors to the SPSAE.


Both the V.I.P and the public openings of the SPSAE were well attended and received positive feedback from Art Museum staff, as well as artists and audience members. Two artists in the SPSAE, Seo Eun Kim and Denyca Decaen, received mentions by Terence Dick on the Akimbo blog on March 29, 2017. As the exhibition is still on display, it remains to be seen if visitors will successfully interact with participatory artworks, as the group has planned. Future suggestions would employ gallery attendants to prompt or inform visitors of works which can be touched or interacted with.


We would like to thank Kendra Ainsworth from the Art Gallery of Mississauga as guest juror, and send congratulations to this year’s prize winners: Maryam Hassan, Dahyun Nam, and Bo Fan. We gratefully acknowledge support from the Canada Council for the Arts, the Ontario Arts Council and the Toronto Arts Council, with additional support from the Office of the Vice-President & Provost, Manulife, TD Insurance, the MBNA, and ongoing support of Shelley and David Peterson.