Current Student Research

Asal Andarzipour

MA, History of Art, Design, and Visual Culture
andarzip@ualberta.ca

Having a strong background in theory and practice of design made me realize the importance of studying historical and cultural intersections in arts and design. Followed by my undergraduate studies in Industrial Design at the University of Tehran, I pursued my MFA in Collaborative Design at Syracuse University, New York. Throughout these years I noticed relationships between sustainability and meditative art and design practices. As a result, my MFA thesis was titled, “Celebrating Slow Movement: Design of a Sensory Experience Through an Inter-generational Platform".
My international experiences from the Middle East to the West motivates me to push the boundaries of nations, and study the human visual culture as an interconnected wholeness. In particular, I am interested in exploring overlapping aspects of Buddhist, Persian and Islamic art and design to address the everyday life challenges of our century. Seeking a diverse and interdisciplinary community, I chose to continue my journey at the University of Alberta. This allows me to dig deeper into my interests, research the past and reveal new possibilities for the future.

Brittany Ball-Snellen

MA, History of Art, Design, and Visual Culture
ballsnel@ualberta.ca

My undergraduate studies consisted mainly of Walter Benjamin's theory of the aura of art and the contemporary German artist Gerhard Richter's photo-paintings. My interests within art history are vast, however, a common theme throughout my research has been expression of the self through art, psychological impacts of artworks on the viewer, as well as the psychological state of the artist at the time of production, and photography as a mode of artistic expression and inspiration. I chose to pursue my graduate studies at the University of Alberta because of the diversity of art historical topics that our professors specialize in, and the unique research opportunities offered. I also enjoy being a part of the growing arts community surrounding the university through students and professors alike.

Alexandra Duncan

PhD, History of Art, Design and Visual Culture
akd1@ualberta.ca

During my Undergraduate studies at the University of Toronto (in conjunction with Sheridan College), and my Masters studies at York University (in conjunction with Ryerson University), my research focused on street art and graffiti, and these art forms’ relation to issues of political activism, and identity formation, as well as the recent increase in exhibitions of such work in galleries and museums. For my PhD research, I now turn my focus to another nascent field, Disability Arts, and in particular, the work of neurodiverse artists. My research aims to identify ways in which Disability Arts can be further supported and promoted, as well as ways in which public engagement of Canadians with disabilities can be encouraged, so that all Canadians may gain greater insight into, and understanding of, the experiences and viewpoints of individuals with disabilities. A more general objective of my proposed research involves a reworking of contemporary notions of art and artistic excellence, as well as of ability and disability, with the aim of promoting inclusivity and understanding. At the same time, my research will assess the representation of neurodiverse artists within the broader Canadian Disability Arts landscape, and will contribute to the recent discourse on neurodiversity,

Brandi Goddard

PhD, History of Art, Design and Visual Culture
bgoddard@ualberta.ca

I am excited to begin my doctoral studies in the History of Art, Design and Visual Culture at the University of Alberta. In January 2016 I completed my Masters degree, also at the U of A, which focused on art production during the Irish revolutionary period. My MA thesis explored five allegorical self-portraits by the Irish painter Seán Keating who, over a fifty year period, used his paintings to subtly express his own evolving opinions on the ideologies, governance and nationalism of the Irish state, both during the wars of independence and following the establishment of the Free State. My doctoral research will continue to focus on Irish history, but my geographic centre will shift to the United States and Canada (including pre-Confederation British North America) in order to analyze the visual experience of the Irish diaspora in nineteenth-century North America. I will examine visual depictions of the many negative stereotypes of the Irish which existed in print media and the illustrated news. More broadly, I wish to emphasize the technique and form of printmaking during this time period as both a burgeoning artistic medium (lithography) and a vehicle through which to broadly disperse popular ephemera, especially illustrated newspapers and broadsides.

Vicki Kwon

PhD, History of Art, Design and Visual Culture
vkwon@ualberta.ca

My doctoral research explores socially engaged, participatory art facilitated by artists from China, Korea, and Japan in transnational global contact zones (funded by SSHRC Doctoral Fellowship). A tentative title for my dissertation is "Connections in Frictions: Participatory Art of East Asian Artists in Contact Zones." I received both Bachelor’s degree in art history and semiotics and communication theories and Master’s degree in art history at the University of Toronto. Prior to joining the HADVC program, I worked as a curator, administrator, and researcher for non-profit art, education, and cultural organizations in Toronto. My recent curated exhibition <Mass and Individual: The Archive of the Guyanese Mass Games> at the Arko Art Centre in Seoul, fall 2016, garnered the largest of the 2016 Korea Arts Council’s exhibition grants. Currently I am participating in an interdisciplinary project of art, public health, and public policy, "The Vaccine Project," and its exhibition <Immune Nations> as a project manager and an artist. For more information, please see www.vickiskwon.ca.

Han Li

PhD, History of Art, Design and Visual Culture
hli4@ualberta.ca

My research interest lies in contemporary craftsmanship in China, where the idea of “Craftsmen’s heart/spirit” is popular among people of different occupation and the nation was called to learn from craftsmen by the current Premier. The importance of craftsmen has never been addressed like this. The Pengchengzhen artisans, who I worked with for my MA research, saw it as a well-deserved praise. I am interested in further exploration of how contemporary Chinese craftsmen comprehend their new status as the model of the nation, and what the connotation of the government exhortation to learn from craftsmen’s spirit is, as well as what would be the development of visual skills and habits in this historical context and how the development in pictorial style connects with conventions and traditions.
This currently widespread idea contrasts greatly with the historical social status of craftsmen, who were ranked above merchants, but below the intellectuals and peasants. The craftsman in the imperial ranking pointed to a broad range of people who labored in manufacture occupations, therefore closely associated with skills and technology. Yet who counts as a craftsman nowadays is drastically different from the historical meaning. This points to an intriguing research direction for me. It has the potential to advance the understanding about the relationship between art and technology in China.

Banafsheh Mohammadi

PhD, History of Art, Design and Visual Culture
banafshe@ualberta.ca

My academic background is strictly architectural. I received my Bachelor of Architectural Engineering degree from The Islamic Azad University in 2011; my thesis was about sustainable mobile architecture. I received my Master of Architectural Design degree from University of Tehran in 2015; my thesis discussed the possibility of re-thinking the discourse of solitude in the design of total establishments. I joined Pennsylvania State University in 2016 to study Master of Science in Architecture; during my studies at Penn State, my research interests shifted towards criticism and history of architecture, therefore I joined University of Alberta’s History of Art, Design and Visual Culture.

My interest lies in the borders of architecture with history and philosophy. I particularly work on architecture's history of phenomenology, and how some of its figures have appropriated works of Heidegger, particularly those he wrote after the 1940’s onward.

Misa Nikolic

PhD, History of Art, Design and Visual Culture
misa@ualberta.ca

My research is on the independent German scholar Eduard Fuchs, mainly active between 1900-1930. His work on caricature and erotica was informed by his Marxist politics and holds many insights into satire that are still relevant today. Obscured by time and Nazi persecution, his numerous books are largely unknown today and have never been translated into English. My Master's thesis on Fuchs (also conducted at the University of Alberta) centred on the mechanisms of historical materialism in his methodology. My intent is to continue this line of questioning by broadening the scope to include other writers contemporaneous to Fuchs, thus revealing the singular nature of his approach to the subject. In addition to this research I am a practicing artist (in painting and photography) with an MFA from the University of British Columbia (2001).

Somayeh Noori Shirazi

PhD, History of Art, Design and Visual Culture
noorishi@ualberta.ca

I intend to broaden my knowledge of contemporary art, particularly the contemporary art of Iran and feminist art. These subjects started to generate interest in me when two Iranian women artists were delegated to represent Iranian contemporary art in the second presence of Iran in Venice Biennale in 2005 after about a thirty-year absence. As an Iranian woman, I felt a special affinity with one of those works which led me up to publish an article in Women’s Art Journal entitled “Mandana Moghaddam Chelgis II and the Iranian Woman”. I plan to work further with artworks by Iranian women artists who adopt contemporary art language to reflect the cultural context in which they are rooted. These works have received extensive attention in international art forums but some of their subtle nuances of meaning have remained uncharted which necessitates more research and writing more analytical essays to let them be recognized better. I believe that the interdisciplinary approach of the Department of Art and Design at the University of Alberta and the expertise and experience of its scholars will help me to excel at theoretical aspects of art in order to examine the distinctive features of contemporary art of Iran and contribute to a better recognition of its status in today’s art of the world.

Kalyna Somchynsky

MA, History of Art, Design and Visual Culture
ksomchyn@ualberta.ca

During the course of my studies at the University of Alberta I became engrossed with the culture and history of Eastern Europe in the first half of the twentieth century. I have explored the art of the Ukrainian Avant-Garde, issues pertaining to historical memory and the intersection of feminism and nationalism during the Maidan Protests in Ukraine. These various themes have propelled my current research interests into the domain of feminist art and female artists working during and after periods of revolution with a focus on the Ukrainian context. I have yet to decide whether I will focus on the historical period of the 1910s-20s or on the contemporary context. The University of Alberta is home to a number of organizations dedicated to the study of Ukrainian art, culture, history and folklore as well as knowledgeable faculty with whom I have developed meaningful relationships and who have strong connections with scholars working in Ukraine.

Daniel Walker

MA, History of Art, Design and Visual Culture
dbw@ualberta.ca

My research lies at the intersection of art and design history, chiefly their engagement at a theoretical level. I am increasingly interested in the ways that art and design can address and serve as a platform for thinking about ecological issues, and this has guided me in the direction of various strategies of participatory practice and research-creation. Throughout my undergraduate studies, I have focused on participatory design models (primarily speculative design and open design), and have developed and maintained a keen interest in socially oriented artwork. In my proposed Masters research, I plan on continuing my studies of contemporary art and design practice, looking specifically to work that explores issues relating to feminist theory and ecology.