Katrie Chagnon

Katrie Chagnon

PhD 2017, Université de Montréal
Associate Professor, Art History Department, UQAM, Artistic Director, Spirale Cultural Magazine

Katrie Chagnon is an art historian, curator, and researcher specializing in art theory and discourse, as well as psychoanalytical, feminist, and phenomenological methodologies. She is currently Associate Professor in the Department of Art History at UQAM. From 2015 to 2018, she carried out various curatorial and publishing projects as the Max Stern Curator of Research at the Leonard & Bina Ellen Gallery at Concordia University. In her doctoral dissertation, to be published shortly, she studied the fantastical dimension of the theoretical works of Michael Fried and Georges Didi-Huberman in depth. Her current research is an extension of this critical historiography based on a renewed approach to psychoanalysis. Katrie Chagnon has also been active in the field of visual arts and culture for several years, including as artistic director and member of Spirale magazine’s editorial committee.

How are you applying your art history degree and what do you value most from your doctoral experience?

My art-historical studies have played a crucial role in my academic work. The expertise and skills I acquired have allowed me to hold a curatorial and research position in a university gallery dedicated to contemporary art where I developed projects based on existing scholarship while also building on the critical questions that came out of my graduate studies. I am frequently asked to participate in intellectual or professional activities that allow me to apply my knowledge as an art historian in an interdisciplinary perspective thanks to my particular expertise. Similarly, I inevitably use historical and theoretical knowledge drawn from my studies when writing about the work of artists or curating exhibitions.

In addition to an extremely valuable period of time dedicated to thinking and writing, what I retain above all from my doctoral studies are the stimulating encounters I have had with colleagues, professors, other researchers, and the students I had the opportunity to teach. In the seminars, symposia, or more informal activities, the intellectual exchanges with peers and mentors have been among the most formative. 

What advice would you give to someone considering graduate studies in Art History?

A PhD is an adventure that is as exciting as it is demanding. Those who undertake doctoral studies in art history should not lose sight of the issues and interests that drive them, while allowing themselves to get drawn into unfamiliar territory. Above all, do not let yourself get discouraged! Research and thinking do not always function according to the rhythm or trajectory we want to impose on it. Accepting this helps alleviate some of the stress that comes with writing, and instead focus on the joy it brings.