Skip to main content

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

Image Text: 

Faculty will be kind and teach with respect but most importantly they will teach with love. A love for learning, art, and community.  Each classroom will be a safe shared space free from hatred. Gender will not be policed in washrooms. The stolen land we learn on will be acknowledged. This lack of understanding must require mandatory sensitivity training. Every day we will try to not only do better but be better. Our stories are important and they must be told. - Cleopatria Peterson 

Sign Image: A white toilet on a black background. Sign Text: Washroom, This accessible bathroom may be used by any person regardless of gender identity or expression. This signage along with a informational poster and zine were installed on the doors and wall next to the two accessible, single use washrooms in the Learning Zone. 

Image description: White toilet on bright red background, with a poop emoji positioned over the toilet seat. Image text: Bureaucracy is Bullshit.

Poster Text: 

Bureaucracy is Bullshit!

I am grateful for Health and Wellness for their assistance in making these bathroom signs a possibility. It is extremely encouraging that there are individuals in this academic institution that want it to be a better place. It is extremely discouraging that there are those that don’t.  When bureaucracy injures students and displays a lack of care for their well being it is imperative we look closely at why. Do they want to save money? Are they too self involved? Do they simply lack an understanding of the diversity of their academic institution?  If the people making decisions on a minority’s well being are cisgender, white, heterosexual and/or able-bodied it is extremely unlikely that they are making the right decisions. Diversity is not just a flavour word that earns you a pat on the back, it needs to be present in the people who make decisions. It is extremely important to have discussions with the people who use your spaces; their well-being is at stake. 

With this project I simply wanted to ensure gender neutral spaces were properly mapped and visible so that trans and non-binary students could have an easier way to navigate their environment and so that those students could be validated for their existence.

I haven’t achieved that. 

Designing the bathroom sign was the least and easiest thing I could do. In discussion with fellow trans/nb and students with disabilities I learned that all they want portrayed in a neutral space is an image of a toilet. What they do NOT want is the trans symbol, gendered logos, and even a wheelchair. OCAD has the nerve to pride itself on a gender neutral bathroom in their new Queens Quay location while it’s use of the transgender logo basically outs anyone that uses it. Having actual conversations with the people this affects is important and OCAD’s negligence appalls me. 

The signs provided here are temporary, they can be removed at any time and lack permanence. I want everyone to sit with why and I want you to question your academic institution. Why in 2018 do we not have neutral bathroom signs? Why does no one know where accessible bathrooms are located?  In trying to get these signs made I was pulled into an email chain of over ten people. It was an overwhelming experience and showcased how important beauraucracy is in halting positive changes in academic institutions.  

The sign I’ve designed is cold and unwelcoming but it follows OCAD branding guidelines.  I was provided with their guideline brief and encouraged to follow it to help my case in the need for this signage. This is branding that I don’t even see the school following. As an art school we all know that creating branding and signage is a costly endeavour. I refuse to do this work and not be paid for it. I am happy to create this signage with the assistance of Pam Patterson and Health and Wellness for our class but I am disappointed in OCAD's inability to do this work themselves.  My sign lacks a proper braille transcription and for that I apologize. I hope this work causes students and faculty to think about why we police gender in bathrooms and why the care of those that are marginalized is put second instead of first.  As an institution we need to do better and I hope through writing this I can force that change to happen.

Image Text: Support trans & nb students. 


Artist Bio and Statement

My name is Cleopatria Peterson. I am a published illustrator and storyteller. Through our collaboration with Health & Wellness I wanted to focus on the lack of care present to transgender and non-binary students in our current academic institution. OCAD struggles with a lack of sensitivity training and visibility towards their transgender and nonbinary students. My work is trying to encourage that OCAD can become a safer and more inclusive space. I hope to achieve this by encouraging conversations over policing gender in bathrooms and pushing towards mandatory sensitivity training within OCAD'S faculty.