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Talking Wellness

A project & exhibition by Pam Patterson's Art and Design Education (ADEL): Community class, in collaboration with OCAD U Health & Wellness Centre & the Library's Learning Zone, Fall 2018

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Classrooms at OCAD will come equipped with comfy chairs, rugs, light dimmers, and fridges stocked with an assortment of snacks and drinks. When you walk into class, you will be greeted by ambient music and the smell of lavender. Relax into your seat and eat a snack as you enjoy your class! - Ariella Polisuk

Faculty at OCAD will receive training on how to support students in emotional distress, create a safe classroom environment, juggle, and perform magic tricks. Faculty will not only be able to facilitate a safe and supportive learning environment, but they will also release tension and create joy as they perform a show of magic tricks for their classes! - Ariella Polisuk

Critiques at OCAD will take place in a safe and supportive environment. Students will take part in a relaxing guided meditation at the beginning and end of critiques. Teachers will come prepared with Kleenex and snacks. They will be available to talk and give supportive hugs after class. - Ariella Polisuk


Artist Bio and Statement

My name is Ariella Polisuk and I’m a fourth year Drawing and Painting student. During my time at OCAD I have participated in many critiques, some of which were great and some of which were terrible. My work and research for this project was based on these positive and negative experiences in critiques.

I met with Robyn Shaw, the manager of Health and Wellness, and we talked about the structure of critiques and how they can be improved. I also researched the resources available to faculty on how they can create a safe classroom environment. I read HANDBOOK: Supporting Queer and Trans Students in Art and Design Education and the presentation faculty receive on Supporting Students in Emotional Distress. Based on my research, I created a list of ideas on how critiques can be improved.

Through this project, I learned that many students at OCAD have negative experiences in critiques. These experiences can negatively affect student’s mental health. Therefore, I believe it is important for students to feel safe and comfortable in their classes. As an art educator, I will try to be considerate and sympathetic in order to try to create a safe learning environment for my students.