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Finding a Voice: a Historiography forms the beginnings of a historiography of craft in Alberta. This is an ongoing, multifaceted project that requires input from the community and from those who attended the college or knew the individuals who taught there in the early 1900s. It is an opportunity to tell the stories that contribute to AUArts’s rich history, and to uncover historical and cultural treasures as yet unknown.
Dr. Jennifer Salahub is a craft historian who arrived in Alberta 13 years ago and gradually became obsessed with researching and writing about what wasn’t there – the history of craft at Alberta University of the Arts.
While there are several histories of the College, there is little that recognizes the role that craft and those teaching craft have played in this history. There is no extant list of teachers who taught craft, nor is much known about the early years.
Salahub’s research may even re-establish the founding of AUArts from 1926 to 1916, as her research has uncovered Annuals (course offerings) published by the Provincial Institute of Technology and Art (PITA) during the 1920s suggest that art and craft courses were already being offered during this time. Her research of this period has also shown that craft education at the College was tied to the Educational Sloyd Movement in Canada.
Salahub’s research delves into the history of selected individuals who taught at the College, including the well-known painter and print maker Marion Nicoll (1900–1985).
After graduating from the PITA, Nicoll travelled to London (1938–1939), where she studied craft at what is now Central St. Martins. She was the first woman hired to a permanent position, and according to most historians, it was assumed she taught painting.
In fact, Nicoll was hired to teach craft and design. A strong proponent for Alberta craft in the midcentury, when Nicoll retired it is generally acknowledged that it took four men to replace her. One of those was Luke Lindoe (1913–2000), who taught ceramics, and for whom the AUArts library was named.
One of the key reasons this history must be written is we currently have access to a generation of makers taught by the likes of Marion Nicoll and Luke Lindoe. It is also critical now more than ever, as craft publications were treated as ephemera by academics of the time, and thus were often not indexed and mostly relegated to the basements and attics of the artists. While these materials still exist, it’s important they are found and included.
Salahub sees her research as the first step in the establishment of AUArts as a centre for craft studies. Beginning with an exhibition (The History of Craft at AUArts in 100 objects), she hopes AUArts will eventually be able to support a wesbite/database. ACOR (Alberta Craft On-line Resource) is the working title for this tool, which would contain a general history of craft as well as an ongoing history of the four craft areas (ceramics, jewellery and metals, textiles, and glass).
This resource would serve the greater craft community, enabling people to find lists of teachers and their biographies, as well as images of their work and related publications about the artist, their work, and their exhibitions.
Researcher: Marty Kaufman
This project’s focus was on researching religious spaces in Rome, resulting in the development of a body of work that illustrates a connection between the secular ethos of spirituality, the liturgical expression of beauty and the significance of place. Kaufman was selected as an artist in residence at the American Academy in Rome, a leading American overseas centre for independent studies and advanced research in fine arts and humanities, from June 15 to July 15, 2013.
However you do it... Consider the Stars
Researchers: Sophie Farewell collective (Shawn Dicey, Eric Moschopedis, Heather Kair Smith, Mia Rushton)
This interactive project featured two sculptural installations with related performances by actors in the guise of town criers during Nuit Blanche. By anonymously texting the town criers, participants shared social, political, and personal messages – hollered by the criers into the night air. Enjoyed by thousands at Nuit Blanche, the propular project also toured Halifax, Charlottetown, Sydney, Toronto, and Montreal.