Leveraging artistic methods with interdisciplinary collaboration to tackle social and climate justice

Natalie Loveless inducted into the Royal Society of Canada for advances in research-creation.

Erik Einsiedel - 10 September 2020

For her innovative use of art and interdisciplinary collaboration to champion global causes including social and climate justice, Art & Design associate professor Natalie Loveless has been named a Member of the College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists by the Royal Society of Canada (RSC).

A leader in research-creation practice and theory, the RSC has recognized her achievements in creating spaces for interdisciplinary minds to collaborate with the fine arts, making meaningful impacts on global issues.

A relatively new field in the university landscape, research-creation is a departure from the traditional perception of art as simply an expression of cultural activity. Rather, research-creation contributes to society by providing a space to use artistic methods as ways of thinking, and producing research outputs that matter to a world in crisis.

“I see a growing trend of PhDs from people who don’t identify themselves as simply ‘artists’ or ‘theorists,’ but rather merge those two identities together into a new hybrid,” Loveless says. “That’s really the space of research-creation.”

Thanks to Loveless’ work, research-creation has taken a front seat at the University of Alberta with Shifting Praxis in Artistic Research/Research-Creation (SPAR²C), one of seven Signature Areas of Research and Creative Collaboration within the Faculty of Arts, co-led by Loveless and fellow Fine Arts faculty members Sean Caulfield, Beau Coleman and Scott Smallwood. SPAR²C leverages the cutting edge interdisciplinary and collaborative methodology of research-creation to transform traditional university research practices, priming them to address today’s global challenges.

Loveless is also the founder and Director of the Research-Creation and Social Justice CoLABoratory, bringing UAlberta researchers together with an international network of affiliates attuned to social justice. Working in collaboration with SPAR²C, CoLAB’s current 2020-2023 research theme is Art, Activism and Global Crisis.

As a Royal Society advocate for social and ecological justice, she is optimistic about the future of research-creation.

“The university of tomorrow needs the arts and humanities, which is the platform for a Royal Society nomination,” says Loveless. “With the right people at the table who are attuned to social and ecological justice, along with the kind of critical consciousness and reflexive thinking that the arts and humanities bring, there’s the potential for truly great things that will push the University of Alberta forward.”

Read more about Natalie Loveless’ induction into the RSC in this Folio story. Loveless also recently spearheaded an issue of Imaginations: Journal of Cross-Cultural Image Studies, outlining one of her internationally acclaimed projects, <Immune Nations>, a collaborative research-creation project tackling complex issues related to the use and distribution of vaccines. In 2020, she will lead an “Art and Global Crisis” lecture and masterclass series, funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, with more information to be announced at researchcreation.ca.