In what way did your experience at The Department of Visual Arts at Western impact you & your career path?
I have spent my entire career (30 years) in the Department of Visual Arts and have moved through all of the academic ranks (Assistant Professor, Associate Professor, Full Professor) during my tenure at Western. Recently (spring 2017) I was named Distinguished University Professor for my longstanding contributions to all three categories of research, teaching, and service. Thus it’s possible to say that I have helped shape the Department of Visual Arts for three decades and that conversely the Department has helped to shape me.
Can you think back and share a memorable moment from your time here at Visual Arts?
The most important moment for me was the move of the Department from its quarters in a series of metal portable buildings to the current John Labatt Visual Arts Centre. I spent my first 7 years at Western in the falling-apart Quonset hut, which was populated by plenty of mice, groundhogs, and raccoons. There was a plywood floor in my part of the portable, and it moved when you walked! The move to the new building signaled that the Department had an exciting future because the greatly expanded space and facilities would spark and accelerate the development of graduate programs. The large and attractive new facility also meant that we could attract talented students at all undergraduate and graduate levels.
What was the most important thing you learned during your time here?
What is something you are passionate about? What are you working on right now?
I am passionate about many subjects in art history, including medieval art and architecture, the history of museums and art collecting, medievalism, and the historiography of cultural-historical thought. My own research crosses all of these areas. At the moment I am working on a book that analyzes the scholarly imagination of North America’s pioneering art historian, the Harvard medievalist Arthur Kingsley Porter (1883-1933).
Why do you think a career in the Visual Arts is important / valuable?
A career in the Visual Arts is important because it teaches creative problem-solving. It also teaches us about our humanity and the history of creativity at large across
What would your hopes be for the next 50 years of Visual Arts at Western?
I would like to see the historical component of the art history program strengthened with further faculty hires in the pre-modern era. Creativity is all about engaging with the past, present, and future, and I have seen all too often in our own program that many graduate and undergraduate students who make or write about art have little sense of historical art and cultures. Informed knowledge about the art of the past can greatly enrich current production, whether in studio art or art scholarship, and in many different ways. In a larger sense I would like to see the art history program achieve parity with the studio in terms of prominence on campus and beyond.