25.07.22 - For two Visual Studies students this summer, awards, residencies and trips abroad

It has turned out to be an exciting summer for a pair of Daniels Faculty MVS students, each of whom have earned rare opportunities both in Canada and abroad to hone their talents and skills.  

To name just one of her accomplishments this season, Omolola Ajao, a Master of Visual Studies candidate in Studio Art, has been taking part in the Doc Accelerator program, a “bespoke private lab” run by the documentary-film organization HotDocs to foster the careers of emerging filmmakers. “Her films,” HotDocs says of Ajao, a Nigerian-Canadian who is one of 14 2022 fellows there, “waver and work within documentary and narrative, [revolving] around consciousness, temporality and spatiality.” 

The Doc Accelerator program will allow Ajao to undertake in-depth career workshops and engage with industry experts, promoting real-world skill development in the process. Her past documentary work has already been screened internationally and even garnered a Canadian Screen Award. She was also a 2021/22 fellow at TIFF. 

But that’s not all: In addition to participating in this year’s Doc Accelerator program, Ajao is the Daniels Faculty’s first-ever Flaherty Film Seminar Fellow. An intensive week-long “process of screening and exchange” that attracts some of documentary film’s best artists, curators and programmers, Flaherty describes itself as the world’s leading seminar for experimental moving image practice. This year — the fellowships’ 67th — the seminar was held from June 24 to July 1 both online and in person at Colgate University in Hamilton, New York. Ajao’s fellowship was supported by the Flaherty Film Seminar and the Canada Council for the Arts.  

And there’s more: Ajao’s itinerary this summer also includes a Hambige Center Artists’ Residency in Rabun Gap, Georgia, some 186 kilometres northeast of Atlanta. One of the first artist communities in the U.S., the Center was established by artist’s-model-turned-weaver Mary Hambidge in 1934 and has a distinguished history of supporting creative thinkers of all kinds through self-directed residency programs. Current residencies, which provide successful applicants with private studios, living spaces and meals, range from two to four weeks. Ajao is using hers to conduct research and production work on her forthcoming thesis project. 

Meanwhile, fellow Visual Studies student Atif Khan, MVS candidate in Curatorial Studies, is also venturing abroad. Through a biannual international-travel award administered by the Art Museum at the University of Toronto and Hart House, he’ll be taking in the 2022 Venice Biennale, which opened this year in April and closes in November, as well as a couple of Germany’s leading cultural events.  

Established by Reesa Greenberg, an internationally renowned scholar on museums and exhibition studies, the award bestowed on Khan recognizes academic excellence among Curatorial Studies students at the end of their first semester by supporting travel to Europe for study and research at the Venice Biennale.

In addition to visiting Venice, Khan is slated to attend both the 15th edition of contemporary-art exhibition documenta in Kassel and the 2022 Berlin Biennale for Contemporary Art.

As part of his VIS1004 MVS internship requirements, he will also be conducting preparatory work on his 2023 thesis exhibition through a two-week research program with the National Archeif, the National Archives of the Netherlands.

Banner images: Master of Visual Studies students Omolola Ajao (left) and Atif Khan (right) are broadening their academic horizons this summer through artistic residencies and work-study trips.