Abdi Osman

Abdi Osman is a Somali-Canadian multidisciplinary artist whose work focuses on questions of Black masculinity as it intersects with Muslim and queer identities. Osman’s video and photography work has been shown in Canada and internationally in both group and solo exhibitions. His works and writings have been published in Scarf Magazine, Ground Magazine, Kapsula Magazine, Transitions, Journal of Images, and Culture, Journal of Canadian Studies. He has two forthcoming articles in the journal, Public, and Drain Magazine. The artist also has a forthcoming publication of his drawings, Modern Primitive, by the publishing house, Iwalewabooks.

Osman holds an MFA in Documentary Media from Ryerson University, and a B.A. in African Studies from the University of Toronto. Solo exhibitions of his work have been organized at the Art Museum, Toronto, ON (2019); The Gardener Museum, Toronto, ON (2019); Photopolis, Halifax, NS (2017); McColl Centre for Visual Arts, Charlotte, NC (2010); Richmix Gallery, London, UK (2017); Gordon Snelgrove Gallery, Saskatoon, SK (2012). Select group exhibitions include London Ontario Media Arts Association, London, ON (2020); Mythological Migrations: The Darkroom; Aalto University, Helsinki, Finland; Contact Landing(s), Thames Art Gallery, Chatham, ON (2018); I believe in Living, Untitled Art Society, Calgary, AB (2018); Future Africa: Visions in Time, The National Museum of Kenya, Nairobi, Kenya (2017), Goethe Institute, Johannesburg, South Africa (2017); Canadian Belonging(s), The Art Gallery of Mississauga, Mississauga, ON (2016); Future Africa: Visions in Time, Iwalewahaus The Centre for African Contemporary Art and Culture, Bayreuth, Germany (2015); and IMA Gallery, Toronto, ON (2012). Osman’s work is in numerous public and private collections, including The University of Toronto, Toronto; The Canada Council Art Bank, Ottawa; Vtape, Toronto; and the 519 LGBT Community Centre, Toronto.

Osman has received numerous grants and fellowships, including the Ontario Arts Council Grant (2019); Gardiner Museum funded Community Arts Project (2019); and Charlotte Lesbian and Gay Fund to McColl Center for Visual Arts for the Community Outreach Project (2010). Fellowships include; The Mark Bonham Centre for Sexual Diversity, University of Toronto (2019-2023); Bayreuth Academy of Advanced African Studies, University of Bayreuth (2015); United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC), Cardiff, Wales (2014); and Community-Based Intellectuals/Activists/Artists Residency, University of Saskatchewan (2012). Osman is a sessional lecturer in visual studies at The John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design at University of Toronto.

What’s your favourite thing to do right now?

Reading, watching films/documentaries, keeping myself busy with making art in my studio, and teaching (virtually, of course).

Who are some of your influential authors or books to read?

I have many influential authors, but for some of you who are into lists here are some of them: James Baldwin, bell hooks, Audre Lorde, Dionne Brand, Keguro Macharia, Rinaldo Walcott, and Tina Campt.

What are you currently working on?

Due to the pandemic, I have paused photographing people and instead I’m working on a set of COVID-19 influenced drawings and doing some writing/research.