OCAD University is honouring accomplished alumni for their outstanding professional and artistic achievements

To mark the 100th edition of its annual Graduate Exhibition (GradEx100), OCAD University is honouring accomplished alumni for their outstanding professional and artistic achievements, as well as for their service to the community.

This year’s recipients:

• Legacy – Painter Doris McCarthy (AOCA, 1930)
• Distinguished Alumni – Designer Donna Cummings (AOCA, 1967)
• Distinguished Educator – Professor Allan J. Ryan, Ph.D. (AOCA, Advertising, 1967)
• World Builder – Photographer Christine Germano (AOCA, 1994)
• Trailblazer – Illustrator Gracia Lam (BDes, Illustration, 2009)

“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,” says Dr. 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.”

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. This exciting new program has been made possible through the support of presenting sponsor TD Insurance.

The Alumni of Influence Awards presentation takes place on Sat., May 2 at 7 p.m. at OCAD University, 100 McCaul St., Toronto.


Doris McCarthy (AOCA, Drawing & Painting, 1930)
Doris McCarthy (1910-2010) is recognized today as one of the leading landscape painters in Canada. Her career spanned more than eight decades, which yielded a prolific body of work, exploration and collaboration and ultimately helping to shape Canadian art. In 1926 she earned a scholarship to OCA, as it was then known, where she was mentored by several premier Canadian artists of the early 20th century; among them, Group of Seven members Arthur Lismer and JEH MacDonald.

McCarthy gained wide acclaim for her work as a trailblazing female landscape artist. In turn, she made great headway for other emerging female artists and, by way of her legacy, continues to do so today. McCarthy received the Order of Canada and the Order of Ontario.

Donna Cummings (AOCA, Interior Design, 1967)
Donna (Tindall) Cummings is a leader in the field of interior design who co-founded Marshall Cummings and Associates (MCA), a pioneering international interior design firm whose corporate clients included the Toronto Stock Exchange, Irving Oil Ltd., McDonald’s Restaurants of Canada and may others. MCA developed extensive training and educational programs at offices in Toronto, Calgary, New York, and London, offering internships to students from OCAD U and other design schools.

After negotiating the sale of MCA in 2006 to IBI Group, Cummings turned her attention to painting, and has since been involved in many art and design shows and events. Cummings served on the board for the development of the Sharp Centre for Design and has supported many charitable initiatives.

Dr. Allan J. Ryan (AOCA, Advertising Design, 1967)
Dr. 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 University in Ottawa, where he was appointed New Sun Chair in 2001, the first university chair in Canada devoted to Aboriginal art and culture. There, 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.

Christine Germano (AOCA, Photography/Sculpture, 1994)
Germano’s work focuses on the voices and images of young people whose futures are influenced by climate change. Among her numerous collaborations with Indigenous communities, she is best known for the photojournalism project she developed in 2003, Through Our Eyes, which encourages First Nations youth to use photography as a means to express themselves and their community, build self-confidence, and share an otherwise unheard voice. The project has been successfully carried out in 14 First Nations communities and schools.

Germano is a 1994 graduate of OCA, where she spent her third year abroad as part of the university’s Florence Off-Campus Studies program. She has exhibited in galleries internationally; among them, the Canadian Consulate in Rome, the Canadian Museum of Civilization, Minzu University of China in Beijing and the National Museum of Denmark. She is also a recipient of the John Hobday Awards in Arts Management through the Canada Council of the Arts.

Gracia Lam (BDes, Illustration, 2009)
Gracia Lam is an award-winning illustrator who lives and works in Toronto. She graduated from the OCAD U Illustration program in 2009 with honours and an already-growing client list. Her unmistakable aesthetic has caught the eye of countless publications and illustration enthusiasts. With a long list of notable clients such as The New York Times, The New Yorker, RealSimple, J. Crew, and Random House, Gracia has covered immeasurable ground since graduation day and is still powering forward.

Despite being in great demand and working on multiple weekly assignments, Lam still makes time to give back to OCAD U; she is invited regularly into core illustration classes to offer mentorship in the areas of client relations, business details, contracts, and process.

OCAD University was originally established in Toronto in 1876 by the Ontario Society of Artists. Back then it was called the Ontario School of Art. In 1912, it was incorporated as the Ontario College of Art (OCA), becoming the first school in Canada dedicated exclusively to the education of professional artists in fine and commercial art. In 1996, the name changed to the Ontario College of Art and Design (OCAD), marking the growth of design programs. In 2010, to reflect the institution’s status as a university granted in 2002, the school became officially known as OCAD University (OCAD U).