Stephen Severn is an artist, educator, and set designer whose work examines human-material encounters at the intersection of Queer theory and phenomenology. Through practice-based exploration, they collaborate with objects, materials, and spaces to investigate shared participation in world-building. Their research aims to position Queer methodological approaches in visual art practice as emergent sites of Queer futurity. Stephen’s creative work frequently employs photography, video, sculpture, and installation, informed by their commercial experience as an art director and a set/prop/display designer for the photography, video, and retail industries.
Stephen has designed and fabricated props, displays, and large-scale installations for Harrods, Selfridges, Anthropologie, and Holt Renfrew, while their styling and set designs have appeared in The Globe and Mail, Fashion Magazine, and Vogue UK. Stephen received their MFA in Interdisciplinary Art, Media, and Design at OCAD University, together with the prestigious Joseph-Armand Bombardier SSHRC (Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada) Graduate Scholarship. Their work has been exhibited in solo shows in Toronto at Remote Gallery, The Window Gallery, and OCAD University, and in group shows at Ignite Gallery, Propeller Gallery, the University of Toronto, and the University of the Arts London.
Currently, Stephen is a PhD student in Media and Design Innovation at Toronto Metropolitan University, where they lecture in the School of Interior Design. Their next installation — Forticulture — will be presented at Toronto's Nuit Blanche on the night of Sept 23-24, 2023.
For Commercial Portfolio, please follow this link: Commercial Portfolio
Exhibitions - Solo
2022 Fluid Things, OCAD University Experimental Media Space, Toronto, On.
2022 Arranging Things, Remote Gallery, Toronto, On.
2022 Solid Things, The Window, Toronto, On.
Exhibitions - Group
2023 Forticulture, Nuit Blanche, Toronto, On.
2023 Past-Forward, Ignite Gallery, Toronto, On.
2023 —ome: Object, Material, Experience, ECC, Etobicoke, On.
2023 YOUphoria, Propeller Art Gallery, Toronto, On.
2023 Annual Juried Exhibition, Latcham Art Centre, Stouffville, On.
2023 Diaspora and Belonging, UAL (University of the Arts London) AoCA, London, UK.
2022 Life Doesn’t Stand Still, Leslie Grove Gallery, Toronto, On.
2022 Queer Things, OCAD University GradEx, Toronto, On.
2022 Familiar Strangers, Vacant Museum, online
2021 Matrix of Mobility, Wollesen Memorial Symposium, University of Toronto
2018 Entartete Kunst, FAT - Fashion Art Toronto, Art Direction and Set Design, Toronto, On.
Contributors: Zoran Dobric, Draga Jovanovic, Stephen Severn
2016 Fashion and Death, FAT - Fashion Art Toronto, Art Direction and Set Design, Toronto, On.
Contributors: Sandro Altamirano, Zoran Dobric, Stephen Severn
2027 (Expected) Toronto Metropolitan University – PhD Media and Design Innovation
2022 OCAD University – MFA Interdisciplinary Art, Media, and Design
2009 Sheridan College – Visual Merchandising Arts Diploma, High Honours
Conferences / Talks
2022 Universities Art Association of Canada (UAAC) Conference, “Vibrant Things.” Session: Re:making :
Mending, Materiality, and Reuse in Craft and Design
2022 UAAC Conference, “Research-Queeration as Methodology.” Session: Research-Creation Caucus
Roundtable – At the Intersections of Art and Knowledge-Making: Where Do We Go Now?
2021 UAAC Conference, Graduate Student Lightning Talk
Grants / Honours / Awards
2023 Toronto Arts Council, Visual Artists: Creation
2023 Ontario Arts Council, Exhibition Assistance Grant
2023 Ontario Graduate Scholarship, Toronto Metropolitan University
2023 Toronto Metropolitan University Graduate Fellowship
2022 OCAD University Graduate Student Project Grant
2021 Joseph Armand Bombardier SSHRC CGS-M, OCAD University
2019 Applied Arts Award – Still Life Photography
2009 Royal Doulton Excellence in Portfolio Design Award, Sheridan College
2009 St Joseph Excellence in Photostyling Award, Sheridan College
2008 CGTA Full Tuition Scholarship, Sheridan College
2021 Contingencies of Care – Toronto Biennial of Art, Bush Gallery, OCAD University, Emily Carr University
2003/5 - Present Freelance Commercial Artist, represented by Judy Inc. (2017-present). Client list: Holt
Renfrew, Hudson’s Bay Co, The Globe and Mail, Fashion Magazine, Deloitte, Indigo,
Gluckstein Home, Cadillac, Hyundai, Loews, The Body Shop, HomeSense, Marshalls,
Winners, Walmart, Campbells, Kellogg’s, PepsiCo, Longos, Sobeys, Loblaws, Shoppers
Drug Mart, Joe Fresh, etc.
2023/1 - Present Toronto Metropolitan University, School of Interior Design – Contract Lecturer,
2013/1 - 2021/12 Seneca College for Applied Arts and Technology – Sessional Professor, Toronto, On.
2015/6 - 2017/8 St Joseph Content Group – Prop Lead, Fashion Studios, Toronto, On.
2014/10 - 2015/6 Hudson's Bay Company – Senior National Visual Presentation Manager, Toronto, On.
2013/1 - 2014/10 St Joseph Content Group – Prop and Roomset Stylist, Toronto, On.
2012/4 - 2013/1 Harrods – Visual Merchandising Coordinator, London, UK.
2011/9 - 2012/4 Anthropologie at Selfridges – Manager, London, UK.
2009/6 - 2011/9 Anthropologie – Visual Merchandising and Display, Toronto, On.
2009 Designer’s Walk – Resource Centre
2008 St Joseph Content Group – Studio Prop Department
2008 Holt Renfrew – Visual Merchandising Department
2021 - Present Member, UAAC - Universities Art Association of Canada
2020 - Present Visual Merchandising Arts Program Advisory Committee, Seneca College
2010 - 2011 Visual Merchandising Arts Program Advisory Committee, Sheridan College
2010/03/30 Zoran Dobric FW 2010 Fashion Show – Toronto LG Fashion Week
2009/03/18 Zoran Dobric FW 2009 Fashion Show – L'Oréal Toronto Fashion Week
2008/10/22 Zoran Dobric SS 2009 Fashion Show – L'Oréal Toronto Fashion Week
2008/03/20 Zoran Dobric FW 2008 Fashion Show – L'Oréal Toronto Fashion Week
2023 Vogue UK, February Issue, “Designer Profile – Zoran Dobric”
2021 (Academic, Peer-reviewed) “A Knot, A Network, A Thing, A World: Composition as Generative Meaning-Making in Still Life Photography,” Tba: Journal of Art, Media, and Visual Culture, vol. 3, no. 1: Reworlding, https://doi.org/10.5206/tba.v3i1.13934
2021 Flora Fiction, vol. 3, no. 2
2021 Superpresent, Summer 2021
2021 Artmagazineium, issue 04
2020 Fashion Magazine, October issue, “Applied Art”
2019 The Globe and Mail, Style Advisor, September issue, “Chain Reaction”
2017 Elle Canada, May issue, “Neutral Territory”
2017 The Globe and Mail, Style Advisor, November issue, “Outside the Box”
F 2023 Toronto Metropolitan University, School of Interior Design – IRL500/IDF250 Modern and
Contemporary Art, Design
W 2023 Toronto Metropolitan University, School of Interior Design – IRH 401 Design Seminar
F 2021 Seneca College, Visual Merchandising Arts – Lighting and Styling
S 2021 Seneca College, Fashion Studies – Portfolios and Presentations
W 2021 Seneca College, Fashion Business Management – Fashion Styling and Merchandising
W 2021 Seneca College, Visual Merchandising Arts – Lighting and Styling
W 2017 Seneca College, Visual Merchandising Arts – Materials and Props 1
F 2016 Seneca College, Visual Merchandising Arts – Lighting for Visual Merchandising
W 2016 Seneca College, Visual Merchandising Arts – Menswear and Merchandising
F 2015 Seneca College, Visual Merchandising Arts – Lighting for Visual Merchandising
W 2014 Seneca College, Fashion Business Management – Merchandising and Space Planning
W 2014 Seneca College, Fashion Studies – Portfolio Capstone
W 2014 Seneca College, Fashion Studies – Fashion Illustration
W 2014 Seneca College, Visual Merchandising Arts – Menswear and Mannequin Styling
F 2013 Seneca College, Fashion Studies – Fashion Illustration
F 2013 Seneca College, Visual Merchandising Arts – Photostyling and Digital Imaging
S 2013 Seneca College, Visual Merchandising Arts – Photostyling and Digital Imaging
W 2013 Seneca College, Fashion Studies – Fashion Illustration
W 2013 Seneca College, Visual Merchandising Arts – Portfolios and Presentations
W, S 2000 Centre for Lived Language – Beginner ESL