Where are you from?
I was born in St. Albert and attended the University of Alberta for my undergrad in Sociology and Women’s and Gender Studies. I worked in the arts and culture sector in Edmonton for a few years before realizing my real passion was in the visual arts and I left for Vancouver where I completed my MA in Art History at the University of British Columbia and then I completed a PhD at the University of Toronto in 2016.
How long have you been at the U of L and what do you do here?
I started at the U of L in 2016 and am now Associate Professor of Art History/Museum Studies. I teach courses on Canadian colonial settler art history, Indigenous contemporary art, and Museum Studies.
What’s the best part of your job? What is the most meaningful part of your job?
That’s a tough question to answer! I’d have to say teaching and mentoring students. I love that part of my job because I am passionate about research and I think that comes across in my classroom. I’ve found that if you’re passionate about what you teach then students will love it too. I love art history precisely because it is so interdisciplinary and the emphasis on liberal education at the U of L is great in this regard. Through the study of art students learn about gender, race, sexuality, religion, power dynamics, and it connects to philosophy, anthropology, sociology and economics amongst other disciplines. I love it when a student, learning to look at Claude Monet’s Impressionist painting of a sunset suddenly realizes they are better able to understand graffiti art, Instagram, and the whole world of images around them. Students know they are surrounded by images everyday all the time, but part of my job is showing them how art and visual culture has an effect on them, what the power of images is. I also love it when our students take what they learn in the classroom and get to apply it in real-world situations in museums and galleries via our Museum Studies Internships.
With June being Pride Month and based on your work in gender and art, what thoughts would you like to share?
Pride month is a really important moment to celebrate but also to reflect on the history of LGBTQ+ activism and the fight for equality. While the Stonewall riots in the US are often the reference point for Pride, Canada also has a long history of LGBTQ+ activism which in many ways began with the Toronto bathhouse raids which also lead to riots and eventually a vibrant Pride festival. There are many more turning points in queer history which have led to Pride events all across the country, but I think what’s really key to remember is that we wouldn’t be where we are today without Black Queer activists and their labour. My own research, which focuses on women artists, representations of blackness in early Canadian art, and the ways that colonial-settler nationalism has marginalized certain artists and artworks works to reveal counterhegemonic discourses about the visual arts in Canada; I go digging into the past to unearth subjugated histories. This approach to my work certainly makes me think about the ways that people of colour and trans folx in the LGBTQ+ movement have often been marginalized and their voices often overshadowed.
What’s one thing most people don’t know about you? Or, alternatively, what do you enjoy doing outside of work?
I don’t have too many dark secrets, but I often laugh when I think that I started my undergraduate degree with a major in…statistics, despite being strong in English, art, and biology in high school. Clearly the statistics didn’t stick…but learning is a journey! I’m also still trying to learn the bass guitar so I can start a punk band.