Globally renowned Indigenous art historian and curator Heather Igloliorte joins the University of Victoria as the inaugural Canada Excellence Research Chair in Decolonial and Transformational Indigenous Art Practices.
Igloliorte’s research in decolonial and resurgent Indigenous creative practices in Canada will focus on institutional, community-based and collaborative research towards decolonization across the country and internationally.
“The arts have the power to challenge the historical narrative of Canada’s colonial ‘truth’ as told—and hidden—by museums, galleries, educational institutions and public spaces,” Igloliorte said in a news release. “With art, we can create meaningful shifts in relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples and support systemic and structural cultural, social and economic change towards decolonization.”
The $8 million in federal funding – through the Canada Excellence Research Chairs program and administered by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council – was announced Nov. 16 and includes support for 34 new research chairs.
Applying her skills in digital media, artistic processes and boundary-pushing curatorial methods, Igloliorte will bring together Indigenous knowledge and artistic practices from the past, present and future. In the process, she will move institutional, community-based research and museum practices towards decolonization.
“Alongside many partners who have committed to share in the work of this CERC, our goal is to leverage the transformative power of art and creative intervention for the benefit of Indigenous futurity – especially through the work of artists and communities,” Igloliorte said.
Indigenous Futurisms is a scholarly and artistic movement that imagines alternative futures for Indigenous Peoples.
“I look forward to uniting and empowering an international network of artists, curators, scholars and community members to advance new decolonial and Indigenous scholarship and practices through research and experimentation in art-making, exhibitions, policy and public engagement. We believe it’s time for innovative work to revolutionize museum and gallery practices for the 21st century.”
Igloliorte will provide training and mentorship to Indigenous and other equity-deserving post-secondary students through hands-on learning and opportunities to experiment and innovate.
The new position represents progress, said Lisa Kalynchuk, UVic’s vice-president, research and innovation.
“It recognizes the pivotal role arts-based research can play in creating a more just society and shines a spotlight on the impact of Indigenous-led scholarship. We’re beyond excited to welcome Heather to UVic and we know her contribution to our students and extended arts community will be profound,” Kalynchuk said.