Carleton University’s Allan J. Ryan, associate professor in the School of Canadian Studies and the Department of Art History, has been named Distinguished Educator as part of The Ontario College of Art and Design University’s inaugural Alumni of Influence Awards.
To mark the 100th edition of its annual Graduate Exhibition, OCAD University honoured accomplished alumni for their outstanding professional and artistic achievements, as well as for their service to the community.
“I am honoured to receive this award from OCAD U because it was there that I developed an aesthetic sensibility that has informed everything I have done since in the field of Indigenous arts,” said Ryan. “I am also pleased that it recognizes the value of Indigenous arts scholarship, Indigenous pedagogy and Carleton’s role in raising awareness of Indigenous arts through courses in the Art History department and through its continued support of the New Sun Conference.”
Recipients of the Alumni of Influence Awards are nominated by their peers and selected by a jury of alumni, faculty and staff. The five award recipients demonstrate excellence in a diverse range of fields and activities, whether at home or abroad. These include art, design, media, business, science, humanities, medicine, education and public service. The award reception took place in May of 2015.
“It gives us great pride to sing the praises of these internationally acclaimed alumni whose diverse achievements continue to change our world for the better,” said Sara Diamond, president and vice-chancellor, OCAD University. “Their lives bear testimony to the many decades of OCAD University’s leadership in shaping the imagination of artists, designers and thinkers.”
In his acceptance speech, Ryan paid his respects to the many selfless Aboriginal artists who have shared with him their uniquely personal experiences.
“This is very much a communal award, said Ryan. “Aboriginal art scholarship and the fostering of more holistic and experiential ways of learning are part of a much larger project of cultural reclamation and cross cultural healing, and I’m fortunate to have a small part in that project.”
Ryan went on to praise OCAD for the instrumental role it has played in how he perceives the world and how he teaches.
“The college has given me an aesthetic edge – the “OCAD edge,” if you like – that has allowed me to imagine creative possibilities for my students… Who would have thought that art college kid with the guitar would be back here tonight for this?”
Watch Ryan's Acceptance Speech
Allan J. Ryan is one of North America’s foremost interpreters of contemporary Aboriginal art whose achievements go well beyond conventional scholarship and teaching. His eclectic career included stints as a graphic designer, television satirist, singer-songwriter and recording artist. His contributions to society are numerous and varied, but he is most known for promoting Indigenous pedagogy and fostering understanding across cultural communities through art.
A 1967 graduate of OCA in Advertising Design, Ryan taught liberal arts courses at the institution during the 1980s and is currently an associate professor at Carleton, where he was appointed New Sun Chair in 2001, the first university chair in Canada devoted to Aboriginal art and culture. He organizes the annual New Sun Conference on Aboriginal Arts, which provides a forum for contemporary First Nations, Métis and Inuit artists across a broad spectrum of the creative arts.
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