Current Student Research

Brittany Ball Snellen

MA candidate in History of Art, Design and Visual Culture
Email: 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 candidate in History of Art, Design and Visual Culture
Email: 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,

Sarah Flowers

MA candidate in History of Art, Design and Visual Culture
Email: sflowers@ualberta.ca

In the spring of 2014, I completed my Bachelor of Arts degree at the University of Alberta with a major in the History of Art, Design, and Visual Culture with a minor in Anthropology. I am continuing my studies at the University of Alberta due to the changes currently occurring within the local arts community. As Edmonton’s arts community continues to expand, I believe that this is the opportune moment to conduct research on the impact of museums upon a community as well as the role that government plays in shaping the arts within that community. Developments such as the recent renovation of the Art Gallery of Alberta, the upcoming expansion of the Royal Alberta Museum, and the continuous changes being made by local arts establishments in and around 124 Street’s Gallery Walk will enable me to conduct my research at a local level while utilizing an interdisciplinary approach. I hope to conduct research on the impact of arts institutions on the community, particularly in terms of cultural and economic capital. Other areas I am interested in include how the government influences the construction of cultural institutions. In particular, I am interested in how government funding impacts not only what types of institutions are built, but also what exhibits, and subsequently, what types of programming, is offered by a government-funded museum. I hope to work not only with the Department of Art and Design but also with the university’s Department of Anthropology to further my proposed research on museums.

Vicki Kwon

PhD candidate in History of Art, Design and Visual Culture
Email: vkwon@ualberta.ca

I completed my Masters in art history and undergraduate degree also specialized in art history, with a minor in semiotics and communication theories, which exposed me to interdisciplinary approaches to art and visual culture, at the University of Toronto. Before joining the HADVC, I have developed my career as an emerging curator and art administrator with over 6 years of experience in arts administration, research for exhibitions, fundraising and program coordinating for non-profit arts and cultural institutions, such as Ontario Association of Art Galleries, the University of Toronto Art Centre and commercial galleries in Toronto. My ongoing independent curatorial project on “Mass Ga­me: Artistic, Cultural, and Ideological Exchange between North Korea and Guyana in the 1980s” extended my research interests in modern and contemporary performance-based art into inter-continental exchanges of arts, visual culture and material culture, as well as archiving them. As a first-year PhD student, I am currently developing my dissertation topic. My doctoral research will build on either my curatorial project on “Mass Game” or my MA research on contemporary body performance, with the theories of the historical invention of “nature” and the “human and nonhuman dichotomy.”

Yifan Li

MA candidate in History of Art, Design and Visual Culture
Email: li17@ualberta.ca

In 2012, I obtained a BA degree from Nanjing University, China with the major of Chinese Language and Literature. During the undergraduate years, I got an academic exchange opportunity in National Chengchi University, Taiwan, which established my basic knowledge and ignited my interest in art history. Before joining in U of A, I completed my MA in China Studies in the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. This academic experience gained me more insights into the field of Chinese art history and strengthened my faith to go on with graduate study in this area. My current interests mainly contain woodblock printing and architectural painting ihn ancient China. However, I am still exploring in the marvelous realm of Chinese art and my research focus has not been decided yet. I believe the Department of Art & Design is the most suitable place for me to obtain professional and rigorous academic training and reach my academic and personal goals.

Julie-Ann Mercer

MA candidate in History of Art, Design and Visual Culture
Email: julie-ann.mercer@ualberta.ca

My research examines the print portfolio Views in Hudson’s Bay (1825), a series of six hand-tinted lithographs based on watercolours by the nineteenth-century artist Peter Rindisbacher. This project compares both the lithographs and watercolours, analyzing the visual construction of indigenous and settler-colonial relationships. In connection to my academic pursuits, I work as an Assistant on the SSHRC-funded research project Object Lives and Global Histories in Northern North America: 1700s-2000s [http://www.objectlives.com/], as a Gallery Assistant at the Fine Arts Building Gallery, and as a freelance writer in the Edmonton arts community.

Misa Nikolic

PhD candidate in History of Art, Design and Visual Culture
Email: 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 candidate in History of Art, Design and Visual Culture
Email: 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.

Anran Tu

MA Candidate in History of Art, Design and Visual Culture
Email: atu@ualberta.ca

My research interest lies in the intersection between art and science in East Asian culture. My proposed research, under the supervision of Professor Claypool, examines animal paintings and natural historical drawings produced in China and Japan in the early 20th century. It concerns the questions of art and knowledge, the global circulation of images and visual modernity in China. I hope to work closely with the faculty members and students with diverse and interdisciplinary research focuses, while benefiting from the supportive academic environment of HADVC at the University of Alberta to develop my research and academic career. Before joining the community of HADVC, I obtained the MA Degree in History of Art from the University of Edinburgh and worked at several museums in China.

Meining Wang

MA candidate in History of Art, Design and Visual Culture
Email: meining@ualberta.ca

In 2015, I completed my Bachelor of Fine Arts degree on History of Art at the University of Kansas, USA. During my undergraduate study, I have already attended a considerable number of graduate seminars on various topics in East Asian art history, which built up me a greater academic maturity by conducting the senior research projects. My future research interests are in diversiform Chinese visual media, such as prints, posters, newspapers, and magazines, made between the Republic of China period (1912-1949) and the present. By examining these media, I would like to explore the processes in which Chinese modernity and nationalism were formulated in the tensions with the Japanese invasions as well as investigating the impact of Japanese art on the stylistic features and technologies of these visual media. Sino-Japanese and Sino-European artistic exchanges since the late Qing Dynasty by art education and the commercial art activities at Guangzhou will also be examined in my Master program. I believe that the expertise of the professors in late-imperial and modern Chinese art in the University of Alberta will professionally lead me into the academic career.

Adam Whitford

MA candidate in History of Art, Design, and Visual Culture
Email: awhitfor@ualberta.ca

In the spring of 2015 I completed my Bachelor of Fine Arts degree at the University of Alberta, specializing in video and intermedia. My experience in the BFA program helped me to develop a practical and working knowledge of the creative process which continues to compliment my research in art history. Specifically, I am interested in the differences between humour and irony and how they are created in art. They might be used to resist cultural hegemony and separate the artist from accepted forms of image making. The artists of Les Arts Incohérent and other 19th-century artists outside of the academy used comedy to critique and create difference from their dominant cultures. Humour in art often seems infantile but it questions accepted modes of experience and understanding art. Phenomenological theories can be useful in this investigation into the experience of humour. Moods make it possible for beings to understand how encounters will be important to the subject and how the artist creates sympathy with the viewer. I look forward to continuing my research at the University of Alberta with the help of the strong faculty and facilities offered to me.

Michael Woolley

MA candidate in History of Art, Design, and Visual Culture
Email: woolley@ualberta.ca

In the spring of 2015, I convocated first class honors with a bachelor of arts honors degree from the University of Alberta in the History of Art, Design, and Visual Culture. My undergraduate research focused primarily on Modern and Contemporary art, with a strong emphasis on photography, performance art, and performance photo documentation. My undergrad thesis examines selected works of Heather Cassils, a trans gender Canadian performance artist currently working in LA. Taking my undergraduate work as a starting point, I seek to examine in my graduate studies the use of the body by gender and sexual minority artists, both as anticipatory and reflective of the turn toward the material in contemporary philosophy and feminist theory. I keenly look forward to carrying on my research and writing practice at the University of Alberta, working alongside the professors and colleagues who have continued to engender an environment supportive of creativity and critical inquiry.