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Lee Matasi Gallery - Downtown Campus

Diploma students at the Ottawa School of Art are independent, strong-willed and determined. Their determination has led them to establish a non-profit, student gallery.

The Lee Matasi Memorial student gallery is primarily reserved for third-year diploma students, mentorship exhibitions, and work produced by second-year diploma classes.  Resident artists may also exhibit their work in the Lee Matasi Memorial gallery depending on schedule availability.  Graduating diploma students are required to exhibit their work in the Lee Matasi Memorial gallery at least once during their third-year of study and preferably before applying for any off-site venues.  Exhibitions are rotated every two weeks and students are provided with a separate guideline information sheet, when their exhibit is scheduled for this gallery.  Exhibitions in this space are organized through the OSA Diploma Advisor and the Gallery Coordinator.


The Lee Matasi Memorial student gallery is located at 35 George St. on the ground floor, to the right of the main entrance, and gives third-year diploma students an opportunity to exhibit their work in an attractive, public and high traffic space.  OSA students go beyond the call by contributing to Ottawa’s artistic community through creating, promoting and exhibiting their works in the Lee Matasi Memorial gallery.

Lee Matasi

This student gallery is named in honor of 2005 Diploma graduate, Lee Matasi.  Lee passed away suddenly on December 3, 2005. He was the victim in a fatal shooting in Vancouver, British Columbia.  As a rapidly ascending artist and popular skateboarder, his legacy continues at Leeside Skateboarding Park in Vancouver and at the Lee Matasi Gallery in Ottawa.  Lee adored the OSA, its community and the opportunities it offered.


Here are Lee’s words:

“During my time at the Ottawa School of Art I have learned many things, some simple lessons such as trying new forms of art and the notion of producing as much as possible with the goal of experimentation and not worrying about the final outcome…  My art has evolved through to abstraction, which has been the most gratifying to develop.”


In 2006, Lee’s mother, Susan Jessop established a scholarship available to OSA third-year students titled, The Lee Matasi Memorial Scholarship and in 2007, it was established that the gallery will serve principally students who have completed at least one of the two mentorship requirements for all graduating OSA students.  The mentorship courses offer OSA students a unique one-to-one learning experience with established artists reputed in specific disciplines or mediums who teach in the school or work as artists in the region or elsewhere.  This gallery opportunity permits OSA students the completion of their project in a professional manner.


In 2015, after renovations to the space took place, the gallery re-opened with a memorial exhibition of Lee Matasi’s paintings.  Those who knew and respected Lee were on hand for the opening event. Visitors and collectors of Lee’s paintings paid tribute to him in the company of Susan Jessop, and a large gathering of people from the arts community.

It is important to have a student gallery for the creative development of the students themselves.  Being an artist is understanding, through the experience and manipulation of materials, how to communicate in a visual way.  Communication for an artist happens in the studio and is completed by the exhibition of the works in a public forum.  Exhibiting the artwork resulting from the mentorships completes the mentoring experience for the student and enriches the creative life of the school.  Students learn how to be a professional from A to Z.


Since 1983, the Ottawa School of Art has been developing its pre-professional fine arts program.  The most recent addition to its long history of invention is the Lee Matasi Gallery Memorial gallery.  What is most important about a space expressly for students is not only its location and charm but also its function of introducing OSA student work to the greater arts community.  Having a place for students to show serves the purpose of offering the viewer an opportunity to reflect on what is fresh and vibrant coming out of the school.

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