Michael Lee Poy

Faculty | Black Cluster Hire

Michael Lee Poy

Portrait of Black faculty Micheal Lee Poy.

Assistant ProfessorFaculty of Design

  • Art
  • Activism
  • Architecture

Michael Lee Poy is an Afro-Caribbean artist-activist and architect in Trinidad and Tobago. His practice and interests are centered on post-colonial Caribbean design and fabrication in the festival arts – especially Carnival. A graduate of Pratt Institute of Technology in architecture (B. Arch.) and the Yale Graduate School of Architecture, Environmental Design (MED), Michael aims to use interdisciplinarity to augment the innovative, creative, and collaborative process of design.

Since 2015, Michael has been teaching the Hero’s Journey process as a design curriculum for graduate students in the Creative Design Entrepreneurship (CDEN) program in the Department of Creative and Festival Arts (DCFA) at the University of the West Indies (UWI), St. Augustine campus. By introducing the class to familiar and unfamiliar local icons, Michael actively decolonizes learning, and deconstructs the “expert” paradigm. He does this in order to generate and inspire new and sovereign knowledge – allowing students from various backgrounds and disciplines to delve into both their historical and creative psyches. 

For the past 5 years, Michael has been incubating the Moko Jumbie Mas Camp workshops for children aged 7-17. The masquerade (mas) camps were designed and implemented as socially conscious design/build and fabrication/studio/lab workshops. They operate like a small design incubator/facilitator – just like typical Carnival mas camps. The students learn leadership training, team building, and balance and acrobatics. Eventually, the older students become experts and mentors for the younger ones.

Michael’s architectural and design portfolio includes two buildings at the UWI, St. Augustine campus, the Trinidad Hilton Conference Centre port cochère, in addition to numerous commercial interiors throughout the island. He was co-chair of the UWI Ministry of Design: From Cottage Industry to State Enterprise Symposium (2015); and his work has been featured in Caribbean Beat Magazine (January 2018).

“OCAD U should brand the process and sell it as a service to other institutions – it was enlightening to witness albeit only as a candidate. As much as I am excited to be selected through this rigorous process, I look more forward to the potential collaborations with my team and to actively participate in the mission/vision of the Caucus. I have a feeling about this place/space/moment, I think Toronto is slated to become the new Black design epicenter of its culture and OCAD U, a sustainable Bauhaus of its time…and the Maple Leafs still need the most design assistance.”

— Michael Lee Poy