Sheridan Illustration Students No Longer embarrassed to be “Embarrassed”

2D3A5238(3)The Embarrassment Show workshop is an approach to creative thinking developed by Dutch creative director, curator and artist Erik Kessels. Originally conducted with a group of 2nd year photography students in Switzerland, the Embarrassment Show has developed into a travelling exhibition. Earlier in May, the project was brought to Sheridan College’s Trafalgar campus for 2nd, 3rd, and 4th year Illustration students. Kessels led a three-day workshop and oversaw the production of the final exhibition with Sheridan Illustration Professor/Coordinator Joe Morse. Stemming from the philosophy that artists learn best when they learn mistakes, Kessels believes that encouraging students to acknowledge what they are embarrassed, uncomfortable, or shy about will stretch their abilities to the limit.

Making mistakes and risking embarrassment, even failure, is how you make progress. Without it, you’ll be stuck in the same old safe zone: not embarrassed, but not better either. In other words: boring. So if we want to do this thing we love – making stuff – we mustn’t be afraid of looking stupid.

Erik Kessels, Artist, Curator, Designer, and Founder of KesselsKramer

One of the most important parts of a ‘creative campus’ is how creativity is expressed. Erik described the process to the participants, “We have a front garden where everything is tidy and we have a back garden where things are maybe not so perfect. We need to go to the back garden.” The exhibition in the tidy courtyard is unruly, chaotic and absolutely imperfect and hopefully only the first step for the Faculty of Animation, Arts & Design into our back garden.

Joe Morse, Professor/Coordinator, Bachelor of Illustration

The resulting exhibition includes therapeutic and declarative works where students not only overcame their embarrassment, but addressed difficult subjects such as mental illness, identity, body insecurity, and bullying. In many cases, students boldly tackled “embarrassment” in the form of social stigma and trauma by presenting their stories to the public. Third year illustration student Kuma Pather stated that the workshop “dug deep” and helped him grow towards the type of artist that he strives to be: one that works from a sincere place. Kessels’ states that the intensive workshop was “quite emotional” as students confronted their individual hurdles.

2D3A5243(2)The Embarrassment Show is installed in the courtyard— or the ‘back garden’— of Sheridan College’s A Wing as a site specific installation. The show is open to the public and will continue until the end of September. Visit our gallery below to see the process of creating The Embarrassment Show. To learn more about Sheridan’s Illustration program, visit our website.


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Installation and Exhibition Tour:

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Photos by Stuart McGinness.

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