Ph.D. 2018, Université de Montréal
Professeure à l’École des arts visuels et médiatiques de l’UQAM
Annie-Marie Ninacs is professor at the School of Visual and Media Arts at UQAM, where she has been teaching art education and studio arts students since 2013. She previously worked as museum curator at the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec and Musée d’art de Joliette, as exhibition curator of various exhibitions – including Mois de la Photo in Montreal in 2011– and as head of publications for artist-run centres.
1. How are you applying your degree in Art History and what do you value most from your Art History experience?
My studies in art history have played a fundamental role in my career. When I was younger, I did two Master’s degrees, in Art Education and Museum Studies, back to back. This unintentional pairing turned out to be the perfect combination since it equipped me with the academic and institutional knowledge needed for the positions I coveted. In my current position, I utilize my knowledge of art history to help young artists contextualize their practice and to mentor their research. On a day to day basis however, my experience analyzing works of art is the most useful to me. For example, for a spur of the moment critique of a work of art or a Master’s project in progress, it is our discerning perceptive system that works the hardest to extract what is attempting to emerge, to then work to conceptualize it. We must then have been vigorously trained to look, feel, name, situate, and interpret our reactions to the most varied works of art with precision. I have diligently incorporated this practice into all of my writing since my bachelor’s degree in art history.
2. What was the most precious part of your doctoral journey?
The entire experience! I loved the long and methodological exploration of an issue I cared about deeply, loved feeling the movements of my soul in research mode, loved the writing experiences that only arise out of great toil, and even loved the defence. However, this experience was at times fraught with doubt and fear. The feeling of surpassing oneself – by far the most valuable aspect of the PhD for me – is a result of having repeatedly overcome these obstacles, allowing me to reach my full potential.
After many years working in the field, I felt compelled to further my studies in order to examine my artistic viewpoint and deepen my philosophical affiliations. In this respect, I have truly been very satisfied. Indeed, I left the program with a depth of thought, methodological rigour, and toolkit of references that exceeded my expectations. I now feel fully equipped to mentor the students that I am supervising.
3. What advice would you give to someone considering graduate studies in Art History?
I would advise students to come up with a burning question. Curiosity and motivation are crucial in order to reach the end of this quest. Personally, I was not ready to undertake doctoral research at 25. Rather, I waited until I had pressing questions before committing, which turned out to be a great decision for me.