E.6 ROUNDTABLE Envisioning First Year

Fri Oct 22 / 9:00 – 10:30 PDT
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chairs /

  • Karen Engle, University of Windsor
  • Catherine Heard, University of Windsor
  • Linda Steer, Brock University

As we reckon with the imperialist/colonialist legacies of traditional art history, visual culture, and studio instruction, new issues in teaching are emerging both in content and in pedagogical approaches. Art history and studio classes are taught with certain assumptions. Can we imagine an environment where first-year art history/visual culture harmonizes with studio classes in deliberate and conceptually aligned ways? Can we rethink sequencing in both studio and art history/visual culture classes? (For example, what would happen if studio classes teaching representational drawing skills before experimental skills, or art history classes teaching the Western canon before teaching Contemporary or Indigenous artists). What are some of the strategies and solutions first-year instructors can adopt as we move away from traditional methods of instruction? What do we want students to get from first-year classes? This roundtable invites participants to submit proposals for brief papers (5–10 minutes) on innovative approaches to first-year courses in art history or studio.

Karen Engle (PhD) is a writer and full professor of Media Arts and Culture in the School of Creative Arts, at the University of Windsor. Research interests include visual culture (especially photo-based work), theories of affect, memory, and modernity. Having spent time in various disciplines (English Literature, Sociology, and Visual Arts), she is a committed inter-disciplinarian. Recent publications include: Feelings of Structure: Explorations in Affect, co-edited with Dr. Yoke-Sum Wong (2018, McGill-Queen's University Press); "Fragments of Desire" with Trudi-Lynn Smith in Imaginations: Journal of Cross-Cultural Image Studies, 7, no. 1 (2016); "The Boondoggle: Lee Miller and the Vicissitudes of Private Archives" in Photographies, 8, no. 1 (2015): 85–104); Seeing Ghosts: 9/11 and the Visual Imagination (2009, McGill-Queen's University Press).

Catherine Heard's work interrogates the histories of the body, science, and the museum. Frequently using fine craft as a foil for abject subject matter, the works delve into primal anxieties about the body. Her work has been exhibited internationally and is in the permanent collections of the Canada Council Art Bank, The Art Gallery of Hamilton, The Art Gallery of Kamloops, and The Robert McLaughlin Gallery. Catherine lives in Windsor, Ontario, and teaches at the School of Creative Arts at the University of Windsor. Catherine Heard is represented by Birch Contemporary Gallery in Toronto and online by CMS Art Projects.

Linda Steer (she/her) is an Associate Professor of the History of Art and Visual Culture at Brock University on the traditional territory of the Haudenosaunee and Anishinaabe peoples, which is covered by the Upper Canada Treaties and is within the land protected by the Dish with One Spoon Wampum Agreement. Dr. Steer teaches in the Department of Visual Arts and is a member of the PhD Program in Interdisciplinary Humanities. She is the author of Appropriated Photographs in French Surrealist Periodicals, 1924–1939, Routledge Press, 2017. Her current research looks at connections between neoliberalism, empathy and photography depictions of drug use from the 1970s to the present. She teaches first-year art history and is the creator of Unboxing the Canon, an open-source podcast for first-year students that takes a thematic approach to introducing a critique of the canon of Western art.

E.6.1 Surveying a New Lens

Jaclyn Meloche, University of Windsor

What are some of the strategies and solutions first-year instructors can adopt as we move away from traditional methods of instruction? In my efforts to deconstruct the canonical art historical survey narrative that frames the ways in which post-secondary Western art history is taught, I am focused on two strategies: 1) moving beyond the "traditional" art history textbook; 2) exemplifying why Western art history is relevant today. By way of intervention, my pedagogy aims to destabilize the colonial and patriarchal authorities that continue to frame Western art history and its curriculum. And although I include Marilyn Stokstad and Michael Cothren's text Art History in my Survey courses, I do interrupt the textbook narrative with alternative readings that offer different histories and perspectives on the canon. By introducing readings, such as Margaret Talbot's "The Myth of Whiteness in Classical Sculpture" (The New Yorker) and Nancy Luomala's chapter entitled "Matrilineal Reinterpretation of Some Egyptian Ancient Cows" (Feminism and Art History: Questioning the Litany), I am able to reframe the art history survey course into an inclusive study of visual culture throughout history. Moreover, by inserting new voices into the survey course, I am able to reimagine how canonical works of art are being studied because of how they are engaged with in present day. For example, in 2018, The Carters (Jay-Z and Beyoncé) staged their video Apeshit inside The Louvre in Paris. Performing alongside so-called Western masterpieces, such as Winged Victory of Samothrace, Venus de Milo, The Coronation of Napoleon, and the Mona Lisa, the pop icons instigated a timely critique of institutional colonialism and racism. And when paired with Talbot's writing on Greek sculpture, the lyrics and video thus offer a new lens through which to study and interpret Western art history as it relates to post colonialism and visual culture.

Dr. Jaclyn Meloche is a scholar of art history and visual culture as it relates to inclusivity, feminism, queer theory, sexuality studies, and critical race theory. Meloche's research manifests in four primary modalities: art criticism, teaching, curation, and studio practice. She is the editor of What is our Role: Artists in Academia and the Post- Knowledge Economy (YYZBOOKS, 2018), and her recent book chapters include Houses, Homes and the Horrors of a Suburban Identity Politic (Palgrave Macmillan, 2019), The Politics of Perception: Re/Constructing Meaning Inside the Frame of War (Palgrave Macmillan, 2018), and Camera Performed: Visualizing the Behaviors of Technology in Digital Performance (Palgrave Macmillan, 2017). She has curated and managed more than two dozen exhibitions, and her arts-based research has earned reviews in Canadian Art, National Gallery Magazine, Toronto Star, The Boston Globe, The New York Times, and The New Yorker. Her recent curatorial project Power Play: Hockey in Contemporary Art is scheduled to open at the Peel Art Gallery, Museum and Archives in Brampton, ON, in January 2022. Meloche is currently a Sessional Instructor and Adjunct Assistant Professor with the School of Creative Arts at the University of Windsor.

E.6.2 From Ripples to Waves: A Case for Prioritizing Idea-Driven Approaches and Interdisciplinary Arts Practice in First Year Studio Courses

Amanda Burk, Nipissing University

Over the past ten years, at a small liberal arts university, I have shifted our first-year studio offerings from being focused on traditional practices and technical skill development to centring these courses in interdisciplinary approaches, idea development, and contemporary art and practice.

Initially, I made these shifts with the intention of strengthening our students' capacity to develop their ideas and to expand their understanding of the strategies, methods and materials available to them in contemporary practice. Many students arrive in our program thinking that art (with a capital A) involves only traditional forms (e.g., painting, sculpture, etc.) and believes that the development of technical skill is paramount to their success as artists. There is no question that this thinking limits their potential, so I restructured our first-year courses to focus on idea-driven, open-ended projects, emphasizing that content leads form, in tandem with broadening their understanding of contemporary art practice by exposing them to a wide range of artists, art practices, and methodologies.

What I hadn't anticipated in pursuing this approach is that it also helps to respond to the need for greater inclusivity, accessibility, and diversity of voice in the classroom. In allowing for open-ended solutions to studio-based projects, there is no hierarchy of materials, processes, or approaches. Everything becomes art material, and all ways of working become a possibility. Beading and textile work sits comfortably alongside painting, and those practices easily find a place next to video projection, performance, and digital drawing. Additionally, open-ended projects, when strategically designed, enable students to centre their own experiences in their work, creating space for a diversity of voice, experience, and expression. By sharing examples of student work, I will demonstrate the success of this interdisciplinary, idea-driven model for the first-year studio and will highlight the ways it supports inclusivity, accessibility, and diversity.

Amanda Burk (she/her/hers) is an artist, Associate Professor, and Chair of the Department of Fine and Performing Arts at Nipissing University in North Bay, Ontario. She is also a collaborator and Research Associate with the NSCAD University Drawing Lab and is currently working on the study The Effects of Language and Schema on Drawing (Writing Study). Burk's art practice is centred in drawing, and her work has been exhibited both nationally and internationally, most recently in Thunder Bay, Ottawa, and Toronto. Her work has also recently been featured in the International Drawing Annual, INDA 13, published by Manifest Press. Burk's work has been collected by the City of Toronto, COBRA to Contemporary (Netherlands), and the Thunder Bay Art Gallery.

E.6.3 How "Intro to Art History" Can Actually Work: A Call to Build a Sustainable and Equitable First-Year Art History Survey

Farrukh Rafiq, University of Toronto

Although attempts have been made to introduce artworks and movements from different regions, the first-year art history survey remains rooted in and centred on European art and art history. The problem lies not only in the collections studied, but the methods used to study them. This talk aims to present the results of an independent project supported by the Department of Visual Studies at the University of Toronto at Mississauga. The aim of this project, titled Decolonizing Art History, was to research and evaluate current art history teaching methodologies in academia and propose new pedagogies. Recently, scholars have begun advocating for the multi-survey approach, which offers multiple introductory surveys focused on different geographic regions to decentre Western art from historical discourse. This approach adequately contests the normative position of Western art, allows students to delve deeper into subject matter previously relegated to footnotes, and creates new opportunities for faculty and educators. However, this approach may not be sustainable in the long term for most university art history departments due to resources that vary yearly and may limit student exposure to other art movements. Instead, this project argues for and proposes a fundamentally rebuilt survey focused on equitable representation and a strong focus on teaching skills pertinent to success in upper-level courses and beyond. This theme-based, interdisciplinary method borrows theories from social anthropology, reconsiders the notion of "Western" and "non-Western" art, and fosters the study of a multitude of perspectives in a single introductory course. Although through this method, students will not be able to study regional arts in a significant amount of detail, the focus on the universality of the application of "art" across regions will allow students to better prepare for more intensive engagement with the material in future classes.

Farrukh Rafiq is an art historian and educator from Mississauga, Ontario. He has taught visual and digital arts at a variety of institutions in the Greater Toronto Area and currently teaches art history at the University of Toronto. Farrukh's teaching methodology focuses on amalgamating a multitude of interdisciplinary lenses to provide learners with a varied and comprehensive approach to art. Farrukh recently completed his doctorate in art history, which focuses on the intersections of national identity and art, at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario.

E.6.4 iArts @McMaster: Centering Transformative Justice and Anti-Oppression in an Art School

School of the Arts (SOTA), Faculty Members, McMaster University (Carmela Alfaro-Laganse, Briana Palmer, Peter Cockett, Adrienne Crossman, Sally McKay, Judy Major-Girardin, Beth Marquis, Angela Sheng, Joe Sokalski, Stephanie Springgay, Syrus Ware)

The School of the Arts will be launching its new iArts BFA in the fall of 2022. The iArts BFA is a Level I, direct-entry program that emphasizes interdisciplinary creative practice as a collective mode of learning. Introducing students to a range of research-creation theories, methods and practices courses blend a range of hands-on media and techniques, community-engaged pedagogy, while also centring the histories and critical contexts of art and performance locally, nationally and internationally. iArts is committed to anti-oppression and anti-racism and is ground in protocols and practices of transformative justice. This means that, together, faculty and students will support each other in social justice practices, sharing and using chosen pronouns, respecting the expertise that comes from lived experiences of oppression, understanding one's own privilege, embracing diversity and deepening our cultural literacy. Members of oppressed groups will not be expected to represent those groups or take on the burden of educating others. All of us are learning, students and faculty alike. Courses will be conducted through open-minded curiosity and collective learning. In this session, iArts faculty will share an overview of the new program and focus on the ideation, design, and implementation process, which was collaborative, bottom-up, BIPOC-led, and grounded in transformative justice, anti-racism, anti-oppression, and social justice.

SOTA's faculty recognize the integral role of the arts in social justice, individual and public well-being, community building, inclusivity, and global awareness. We offer a unique balance of hands-on and experiential opportunities combined with historical, theoretical, and critical approaches. Our students study the social and cultural implications of the arts, and they collaborate with faculty in studio and laboratory settings, and mount and critique exhibitions and theatrical productions.