Current Student Research


Asal Andarzipour

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

Asal Andarzipour's thesis research is about representations of Persia at the World's Fairs in late 19th-century Europe. She finds that what makes the case of Persia special compared to other countries on display from "the Orient" is that Persia was highly influenced by -but not colonized by- Britain and France. The question is how the political relations between the Persian royalty and the Europeans formed the exhibits of Persia and the fit of post-coloniall theories for the study of this subject. Andarzipour is looking at visual materials found in the Bruce Peel Special Collections at the University of Alberta and also travel diaries mainly written by the Qajar monarchs during their visits to Europe. She will explore different narrations of these international events to offer an understanding of what the display of objects and people has to say.


Alexandra Duncan

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

Alexandra's dissertation project developed from an awareness that many people who identify as IDD (intellectually/developmentally disabled) and psychiatrized (that is, individuals who have been "constituted as medical subjects through the psychiatric system") create unique and interesting artistic works, and that these artworks have proven difficult to integrate into the art historical canon. This project seeks to uncover the disparate events and ideas (from the fields of medicine/science, law, politics, economics, and religion) that have converged to shape institutional discourse regarding the art of IDD and psychiatrized artists, including: the institutionalization and medicalization of "idiocy" and "insanity" during the Industrial Revolution; early medical analyses of patient art (as diagnostic aid, during the nineteenth century, and as art, in the early twentieth century); the influence of patient art on Modern artists; the case of "degenerate" art in Nazi Germany, which instrumentalized patient art as part of a broader eugenics agenda; Art Brut and Outsider art (categories that tend to construct IDD/psychiatrized artists and their artworks as Other, exoticized, and a source of passive pleasure for viewers); and the recent emergence of Disability arts, which aims to empower marginalized voices and to enact the aims of disability rights activism.


Brandi S. Goddard

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

Brandi S. Goddard specialises in theories of folk art and craft, with a cultural and geographical focus on Ireland. Her dissertation research examines the role played by handicraft and craftsmanship in the ideological construction of the Irish Free State following decolonisation in the mid-twentieth century. This research focuses on issues of gender, particularly as they relate to women's experiences within the highly traditional and dogmatically Catholic nation. More generally, Brandi is interested in how artists and craftspeople use craft media to address historical trauma and contemporary injustices, as well as issues related to state-formation, state-run museums, and art galleries.

Goddard has published book and exhibition reviews in Irish Studies Review, History Ireland, and Review of Irish Studies in Europe. She was the recipient of an academic award to study the Irish language in the Connemara Gaeltacht on the west coast of Ireland, and has developed and taught an introductory course on the art, design, and visual culture of Ireland at the U of A.


Vicki Kwon

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

Vicki Sung-yeon Kwon researches contemporary art focusing on socially engaged practices surrounding transnational issues in East Asia. In her dissertation tentatively titled "Connections in Frictions: Participatory Art of East Asian Artists in Contact Zones," Kwon critically analyzes artworks that explore social issues such as migrant labour, disasters, and wartime atrocities in China, Japan, and South Korea. Kwon completed her BA and MA in Art History at the University of Toronto and has worked for non-profit art and cultural organizations. Kwon has published research papers in the scholarly journals Korean Studies and Inter-Asia Cultural Studies. Her curated exhibitions include <Mass and Individual: The Guyanese Mass Games> at Arko Art Center, Seoul (2016) and <Designing Connection in Friction> at Harcourt House, Edmonton (2018). She also participated as a project manager in the research and exhibition project, <Immune Nations>, held at UNAIDS Headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, and Galleri KiT in Trondheim, Norway (2017). For more information, please see www.vickiskwon.ca.


Han Li

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

Han Li's work examines the two stages of intimacy objects and designs have with humans: the first time being when they emerge from makers' handwork and the second time when they are lived with and handled by humans. Both stages of intimacy are accomplished by both visual and tactile interactions with such objects. Li's work focuses on the visual and physical features of such objects serving as interfaces between the craftsman and the object's owner; while to the more disinterested gaze of the scholar, the visual offers a window into significant cultural beliefs depending on the context of such viewing.


Banafsheh Mohammadi

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

Banafsheh Mohammadi is a PhD candidate in the Department of Art and Design and a University of Alberta graduate fellow. She specializes in history and theory of 20th-century architecture and religious studies. Her multidisciplinary doctoral research explores the petroleum-based aesthetics that emerged during 1940s and 1950s in the United States through the works of architectural historians Joseph Rykwert and Vincent Scully, and historians of religion Henry Corbin and Mircea Eliade.

Mohammadi's larger research and teaching interests include philosophy of architecture, and ecological and postcolonial critique. Her book, the Farsi translation of The Ethical Function of Architecture is published by Nashre-No in Iran and she is currently working on the Farsi translation of Disfiguring: Art, Architecture, Religion. Her latest article on the ethical necessity of social and environmental justice is published by The International Journal of Architectonic, Spatial, and Environmental Design.


Misa Nikolic

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

Misa Nikolic's 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. Nikolic's Master's thesis on Fuchs (also conducted at the University of Alberta) centred on the mechanisms of historical materialism in his methodology. His 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 Nikolic is a practicing artist (in painting and photography) with an MFA from the University of British Columbia (2001).


Diana Onoshorena Ohiozebau

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

Diana Ohiozebau has degrees from Ambrose Alli University (BFA 1st Class Hons.) and the University of Calgary (MFA).Her research is focused on femininity, identity, historical, and interdisciplinary approaches to visual culture. Particularly, her research addresses the intersection of race and cultures through a multidisciplinary approach. Drawing upon her background as a fine artist, her research interest strides between fine art and art history. She is currently working on research focused on the emergence of African artifacts in World Exhibitions and Fairs in the 18th and 19th century and how the formal qualities of African artifacts on display began to influence Pablo Picasso's analytical cubism (the second period of cubism from 1910 to 1912). In the coming years, she hopes to expand the scope of her research by making works using western painting techniques and African traditional fabrics and dyes.


Hugo Plazas

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

Scientific images, such as maps, botanical illustrations, and diagrams, were widely used in numerous expeditions that took place in the Andean region between the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries to discover natural resources and its economic benefits. After the independence process, the new Bolivarian countries stimulated educative policies to reinforce the sense of patriotism in the population, using either part or derivatives of those scientific images in school textbooks and the press. Hugo Plazas' research interest focuses on the development of the scientific image in the Colombian press in the late nineteenth century as part of the local visual culture and in line with the expansion of scientific knowledge. Newspapers and magazines played a crucial role in the introduction of science and modern thought in the culture; meanwhile, the politic conditions led to the formation of a conservative period, which promoted the modernization of society. He will work with primary sources to understand the social role of the image in that period.


Somayeh Noori Shirazi

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

Two 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, Shirazi felt a special affinity with one of their works, which then led her to publish an article in the Women's Art Journal entitled "Mandana Moghaddam Chelgis II and the Iranian Woman." Currently she is working 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. That is her project.


Mariana Soares Espindola

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

Mariana is interested in examining religious images like St George on an album cover of the Brazilian heavy metal band Angra to uncover the role of religion in heavy metal visual culture. She is especially keen to trace the development of local metal visual identities through the use of culturally specific religious iconography. Although her academic training is in the history of art, design, and visual culture, her research so far has ventured into popular music studies, cultural studies, religious studies, and aesthetics.


Kalyna Somchynsky

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

Contemporary art in Ukraine is political and pivotal to protest and consciousness raising in a time of ongoing conflict with Russia and increasing ultranationalism. My research examines one example of a contemporary feminist art initiative: the exhibit TEXTUS. Embroidery, Textiles, Feminism that occupied the Visual Culture Research Centre in Kyiv, Ukraine in 2017. The exhibit featured art works created by female artists utilizing the mediums of embroidery and textile. Somchynsky explores how the art works featured in this exhibit carry political messages that subvert conceptions of identity, gender roles and sexuality and argue for women's rights to self-determination in Ukraine. Embroidery is both a gendered and nationalized medium in Ukraine. It is a skill that girls have traditionally been required to master and the Ukrainian embroidered shirt has become synonymous with the nation. Somchynsky is interrogating how contemporary artists disentangle the ways that ideals of femininity in Ukraine have been, and continue to be, woven together alongside national myths. Furthermore, her research pursues how the reappropriation of traditional artisanal mediums in contemporary Ukrainian art destabilize the role of nationalism in conceptualizing the identities of contemporary Ukrainian women.


Treva Swick

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