Current research follows two interrelated streams. The first is the relationship of Canadian artistic avant-garde practice and minoritan struggles within larger transnational intellectual/cultural trends. This work focuses on the 1960s, conceptual art and the civil rights movement by following the activities associated with the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design (NSCAD) and a black activist Nova Scotia Project (NSP). The second looks at a wide range of contemporary work created of and by young people. These investigations are shaped by broad questions about technology, visual culture, and the cultural politics of representation shaping the fields of child and youth cultural studies. Research supported by Contract Faculty Research Grants Fund and Faculty of Arts Research Grant (York University, Toronto 2008).

Children in 1960s Civil Rights Photography, Artwork, and Ephemera

Visualizing Children in Contemporary Music Videos

My research on Music Videos by and of “Kids”, is the the result of a long-time project of collecting into playlists and studying the music videos posted to You Tube with young people in them. This work grew out of my research in visual culture and child and youth studies, and two upper level seminars which I teach at York University, Toronto. I am grateful to the eager contributions students in Writing By Children and Youth and Contemporary Children’s Culture have made not only to the playlists but also to my thinking about the incredible range, genres, implications and ramifications of kids and music videos. Thanks also to friends, children and colleagues who have indulged my fascination by sending many videos my way.

Playlists of kids in YouTube Music Videos can be found at Children In Music Videos

1960s Conceptualism & Civil Rights

Short Fall: Sixties Conceptual Art and Civil Rights Movements in Halifax and the Edge of CriticismMy interest in collaborative methods used by artists and children builds on my doctoral thesis at the University of Toronto, Short Fall: Sixties Conceptual Art and Civil Rights Movements in Halifax and the Edge of Criticism (2007). In it, I focused on 1960s international avant-garde and social movements as they intersected in one Canadian city. “Short Fall” exposed the inability of existing scholarship in art history and sociology to recount the movements’ inter-related histories, and devised methods for analyzing their troubled relationship. This cross-disciplinary approach required research expertise in global, cross-cultural dimensions of twentieth century cultural production and “minoritarian” movements. While my doctoral thesis developed research tools to make connections between race, the avant-garde and the black civil rights movement, my current research looks at contemporary avant-garde initiatives with children that seek to bridge the world of childhood with international artistic production.

5 Painters/ 5 Peintures

Five Painters from Regina/Cinq Peintures de ReginaIt was controversial. It was unprecedented. The 1961 Five Painters from Regina/Cinq Peintures de Regina exhibition at the National Gallery of Canada represented a euphoric cultural moment. Forty years after the event artists, Ronald L. Bloore, Ted Godwin, Kenneth Lochhead, Arthur F. Mackay, and Douglas Morton, and exhibition organizer, Richard Simmons, believed that it was the first time a group of living Canadian painters had ever shown at the nation’s premier exhibiting institution! My MA project, Five Painters in Ottawa: The Governance of Exhibitionary Spaces, undertook an in-depth critical and interdisciplinary interpretation of this event, specifically focusing on the convergences between identity, fine art production and the governance of the publicly supported cultural domains. In this endeavor, it draws together three separate strands of thought: i) Foucault’s latter work on governance, including neo-foucauldian work in the fields of sociology and cultural studies ii) an understanding of spaciality suggested by the geographer theorist Edward Soja, and cultural theorist, Tony Bennett iii) and finally, a Barthes-like engagement with the materiality of different kinds of cultural texts.