ACA Teaching Awards – Visual Arts Secondary
Irving Osterer – John McCrae Secondary School
School’s Art Department was involved in design and production of special orange t-shirts that were worn on Friday, September 30, 2016 as a way to honour the survivors of Canada’s residential Schools. This project started as an idea to raise student awareness of the residential school issue with Mr. Osterer’s integrated arts students at Merivale High School.
When Osterer was attending the Ontario College of Art in the early 1970s, Norval Morrisseau exhibited at the Pollock Gallery which was in close proximity to the McCaul Street campus. OCA students had a chance to view Morrisseau’s work and on occasion, see the artist at the gallery. Osterer’s interest was rekindled at a recent Morrisseau retrospective at the National Gallery of Canada.
For the t-shirt graphic, he created an image of a child suggested by one of the artist’s canvases and added some decorative elements so that they would work well as a black motif on an orange ground. The artwork was sent to Jody Alexander, the OCDSB’s Vice-Principal, First Nation, Métis, and Inuit Education for approval. She then forwarded the design to other principals who she thought might also be interested in t-shirts for their students.
With the support of Principal Barb Gage (now retired), Robert Way at the SAM Group who printed the shirts on short notice, and Barb Dettmar, our school’s office administrator, we were able to have more than 250 orange t-shirts distributed to students at Merivale High School, Sir Winston Churchill Public School, Goulburn Middle School, Metcalfe Public School, Fisher Park/Summit Alternative, and Half Moon Bay Public School. Trustee Donna Blackburn wore hers while meeting education minister Mitzi Hunter.
A shirt was sent to Prime Minister Trudeau, who sent a wonderful letter acknowledging his support for this project.