First Chair in History of Indigenous Arts in North America Announced
WAG and UWinnipeg Announce Scholar and Curator Dr. Julie Nagam as First Chair in History of Indigenous Arts in North America
Winnipeg, Manitoba, August 12, 2015: The Winnipeg Art Gallery and the Department of History at the University of Winnipeg are pleased to welcome Dr. Julie Nagam as the first UWinnipeg/WAG Chair in History of Indigenous Arts in North America. This joint position with the Gallery and University, the first of its kind in Canada, involves research and teaching in the Department of History at UWinnipeg and curatorial and exhibition work at the WAG.
Assuming the post this week, Dr. Nagam is responsible for researching and developing a series of courses, exhibitions and related programs designed to engage, enhance, and develop the area of Indigenous art both at the University and the Gallery.
Dr. Nagam is a published scholar and curator with a strong background in research and teaching. Her research, curatorial, and artistic practices are grounded in concepts of Native space, and she is interested in continuing to explore different methodologies in cartography, art, and geography to bring forth distinctive epistemological views. Another focus of her work has been to unpack the tensions between Indigenous and colonial histories within the politics of technologies in the context of digital and new media art. This current research is part of a SSHRC funded team that Dr. Nagam is leading: The Kanata Indigenous Performance, New and Digital Media Art Project. She has curated exhibitions locally, nationally, and internationally.
“Dr. Julie Nagam’s innovative teaching and curatorial work with contemporary Indigenous art makes her the clear standout–and leader–for the UWinnipeg/WAG Chair in Indigenous Arts in North America,” states Dr. Stephen Borys, WAG Director & CEO, adjunct professor in UWinnipeg’s history department, and UWinnipeg alumus. “This is an important first for Winnipeg and for Canada–and the WAG is proud to be spearheading this international, gamechanging initiative with UWinnipeg.”
The newly created position was made possible in part with the generous support of Michael Nesbitt, who continues to champion the role of contemporary art and artmaking in galleries and studios across the country.
Situated at the cultural crossroads of Indigenous art, knowledge, and material culture, the new joint Chair position aligns with the goals of inclusivity, accessibility, diversity, and public engagement as stated within the strategic plans for the WAG and UWinnipeg.
“We are delighted to be able to strengthen our longstanding collaboration with the WAG through this new joint position in such a key area of interest, not only for the University and the Gallery, but for the wider community,” said Dr. Neil Besner, Provost and Vice-President, Academic, UWinnipeg. “The magnificent artistic and cultural achievements of Indigenous people will become more widely known and studied through this collaboration; nourishing this kind of cultural literacy benefits us all.”
“The art historians at the University of Winnipeg are thrilled to be working with Dr. Julie Nagam,” says Dr. Serena Keshavjee, Associate Professor in UWinnipeg’s History of Art Program. “As a curator, artist, academic and activist, she fills a number of important gaps in our program. The students are excited to start classes this fall!”
Dr. Nagam comes to Winnipeg from the Indigenous Visual Culture Program and the Faculty of Liberal Arts and Sciences at OCAD University. She holds a PhD from York University in addition to a MA (Native Studies) and a BA Honours (Women Studies and Art History) from the University of Manitoba.
“There is a growing trend of global recognition of the innovative and dynamic contribution Indigenous artists, curators, and scholars have to offer, and I would like to continue to be at the forefront of this artistic and curatorial renaissance,” comments Dr. Nagam. “I foresee a pivotal moment for Winnipeg as a key site for contemporary Indigenous art. My goals are to empower a new generation of students with knowledge of Indigenous artists, curators, activists, and scholarship, and to place the WAG and UWinnipeg as leading institutions that will showcase the strength of the Indigenous arts community within Manitoba and abroad.”
This historic partnership between the Winnipeg Art Gallery and UWinnipeg builds on a strong foundation of joint programming in arts education. WAG curators helped initiate the UWinnipeg art history program over 45 years ago. This relationship continues to thrive with WAG curators now teaching as part of the University’s Masters degree in the Curatorial Studies program. The two institutions share expertise, collections, and a strong commitment to mentoring students and the downtown arts community.
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