2021 Master of Visual Studies Thesis Exhibitions
The University of Toronto

Forward by Jean-Paul Kelly Acknowledgements


From the Faculty

At its core, the Visual Studies program at Daniels is premised on three interrelated features of working in art and its cultural fields: art-making and its exhibition, writing, and public discourse. All radically challenged and altered by the COVID-19 pandemic. Amid this time of uncertainty, isolation, and grief––felt, perhaps, collectively but certainly experienced inequitably––the exhibitions produced by the 2021 cohort of MVS students offers a thoughtful presence, one that is caring and critical, reflective and risk-taking. Our congratulations go out to Oscar, Simon, Matt, and Sophia, along with our admiration of their vital contributions, their patience and commitment.

MVS graduate faculty who served on thesis panels this year: Maria Hupfield (Oscar Alfonso, Principal Advisor), Jean-Paul Kelly (Nish-Lapidus, Principal Advisor), Gareth Long (Fuh, Principal Advisor), Catherine Telford-Keogh (Oppel, Principal Advisor), Mitchell Akiyama, Maggie Groat, Marla Hlady, Luis Jacob, Sue Lloyd, Sanaz Mazinani, and Charles Stankievech.

This year marks the first iteration of the MVS Graduating Exhibition to be installed in the Daniels Building and its impressive Architecture and Design Gallery (ADG). During a strict lockdown in Toronto, where public health protocols revised plans for in-person gallery visits, there has been ongoing and dedicated support from the Daniels Faculty administrative and technical staff to provide Oscar, Simon, Matt, and Sophia the ability to realize their ambitious projects.

In particular, thank you to Mauricio Quiros Pacheco and the Daniels Exhibition Committee; the Visual Studies technician Renée Lear; and to Daniels Manager of Workshops and Building Services Naveed Khan, Facilities Coordinator Sarah Whitehouse, and Studio Technicians Amy George and Joseph Rogal for negotiating the crucial health and safety requirements for production and display of these exhibitions.

A special thanks goes to interim Dean Robert Wright, whose resolution to see these works in the ADG has been exceptional.

The move of venue to the ADG extends our relationship with the Art Museum in new and exciting ways. In our continuing collaboration, Barbara Fischer, Sarah Robayo-Sheridan, and the Museum staff have once again offered their platform and generous insight with a spirit of inclusivity. Thank you.

Finally, an enormous thanks to Charles Stankievech for his 6-years of incisive stewardship of the MVS exhibitions as Visual Studies Director.

From the Students

Oscar Alfonso

A special thanks to all my relations who have come along this journey with me even if you are not within these pages. Thank you for our time together — both for your lessons, your laughter, and for our struggles, our growth. Thank you even if you don’t know this, or if we can no longer be in touch. Thank you also to my panel who have guided me throughout: Maria Hupfield, Sanaz Mazinani, Sue Lloyd, and Tamara Toledo. And thank you especially to my mother, father, and grandmothers, whose patience and knowledge todavía me llevan a lugares desconocidos.

Simon Fuh

I’d like to thank Nic Wilson, Brandon Poole, Kate Whiteway, Gareth Long, Matt Nish-Lapidus, Teiji Wallace-Lewis, Jon Vaughn, respectfulchild, Luis Jacob and Maggie Groat for their guiding conversation and participation in this project. I’d especially like to thank Lillian O'Brien Davis for her continued support, radiant brilliance, and unending patience.

Matt Nish-Lapidus

I’d like to sincerely acknowledge the deeply meaningful mentorship from my thesis panel: Jean-Paul Kelly, Marla Hlady, Mitchell Akiyama, and Tina Rivers Ryan. Very special thanks to my partner, Camille DePutter, whose ongoing encouragement and collaboration in life makes all of this possible. Thank you to my fellow MVS colleagues for their camaraderie, amazing conversations, and mutual inspiration. And finally, to the extended MVS faculty and staff for their gracious interest, excitement, and support along the way.

Sophia Oppel

I would like to thank my advisor, Catherine Telford-Keogh, my panelists Luis Jacob, Maggie Groat, and my external reader, Jasmine Rault, for their exceptional insight, feedback and expertise. I am grateful for the support from our director Jean-Paul Kelly and my wonderful professors Maria Hupfield and Mitchell Akiyama. I thank Parker Galbraith-Nolan, for his incredible metal fabrication, and Eric Steele, for his installation support. Thank you too to my family and close friends for their love and companionship. Lastly, I’d like to thank my MVS colleagues, who inspire me hugely; I am grateful and humbled to have them as peers.


We gratefully acknowledge project support from The Valerie Jean Griffiths Student Exhibitions Fund in Memory of William, Elva and Elizabeth.