Blue Omar, 2019. Image courtesy of Blue Omar.
The sight of yellow buses, colourful backpacks and crossing guards means summer has come to a close, and the rigours of academia are imminent for students everywhere. Fear not: the AGO is packed full of endless inspiration, and if you’re 25 and under you get unlimited free admission!
Admission is also free for students attending OCAD University, whose campus neighbours the AGO and is home to some of tomorrow’s top artistic minds. Speaking of which, we met Blue Omar, who told us a bit about her enrollment at OCADU and how she finds inspiration by roaming the halls of the AGO.
Blue Omar (or M.I. Blue) is a 22-year-old multidisciplinary artist and second-year Integrated Media student. In the program, students are encouraged to make creative use of a number of artistic media, often simultaneously. This is a tall order that even for a well-established young artist like Omar often requires a proactive search for inspiration and reference material – enter the AGO.
Since beginning her program last year, Omar has taken full advantage of free admission perks for OCADU students at the AGO, visiting as often as twice a month to check out the latest exhibition or study something from the AGO Collection. “How could I not absorb all the influence that’s around me?” she asks while describing various works that have influenced her practice and perception. After citing Claude Tousignant’s Violence Lucide as a favourite, her tone deepens as she says, “Femmes Noires by Mickalene Thomas gave me goosebumps. It felt like my dreams, as the type of artist I want to be, are so possible. As a Black woman, witnessing all that space devoted to her and her work was remarkable.”
With this type of drive, commitment and use of opportunities, it’s hard not to imagine an exhibition by Blue at the AGO someday. Already this year she’s crafted an album, a short film and an interactive installation, all slated for release in the near future. When asked about her intention as an artist, she states, “I’d like to bring forward a different vision of female Eritrean artists. I want to give people a space to feel the complexity of melancholy.”