Concordia University

New Associate Dean, Academic Affairs joins the Faculty of Fine Arts

August 14, 2018
By Andy Murdoch


Concordia’s Faculty of Fine Arts welcomes Elaine Cheasley Paterson as the new associate dean, academic affairs as of July 1, 2018.

The associate professor of craft studies recently served as Chair of the Department of Art History and sees this new role as continuing her service commitment to the Faculty of Fine Arts.

“This position is exciting to me because it offers the chance to participate in the democracy of this institution. I’m looking forward to collaborating with colleagues across the fine arts to design curriculum from the ground up, with all of the creative thinking that goes into making this a reality,” says Paterson.

"Elaine walks in a room and suddenly everything seems possible. She has a clarity of spirit that is so refreshing and inspiring for us all as we imagine the future of the Faculty. I appreciate her approach to academic issues that is solidly grounded in an ethics of equality and social justice. It's rare to find an individual who can view the Faculty from 30,000 feet and yet also notice the finer details within the everyday. That's Elaine. She's sharp. She's graceful. She's patient. We're thrilled she's stepped into the Associate Dean role," says Rebecca Duclos, dean of the Faculty of Fine Arts.

Paterson sees in this role the possibility of supporting emerging university-wide academic initiatives, from Indigenous curriculum and pedagogy to community engagement strategies, working toward a feminist university with the Simone de Beauvoir Institute to developing STEAM and cities research-creation initiatives within the classroom.

“We are a leading Faculty in the arts, nationally and internationally. There is so much work going on at Concordia to imagine the future – be it speculative design, Indigenous material practice, ethnocultural art and new media, to name a few — our creativity is an asset in any disciplinary context. The pedagogical and curricular opportunities to learn, think and make across disciplines is a strength that sets us apart.”

Paterson holds a PhD from Queen's University (Kingston, 2004) and her funded research concerns women's cultural philanthropy in early twentieth-century British, Irish and Canadian craft guilds of the home arts movement. Her work traces a lineage from this historical material to the current resurgence in Do-it-yourself, maker culture and craftivist practices.

Her writing and teaching focus on the relationships between material culture and feminist theory, with an emphasis on the decorative arts and craft history. A significant stream of her research, which has emerged from her teaching, examines questions of skill, hybridity, and pedagogy within a contemporary craft milieu.

Upcoming publication projects include her work co-editing a special issue on Identity, Craft, Marketing of the Journal of Canadian Art History (2018), Craft and Heritage: Intersections in Critical Studies and Practice (2019) and The Craft Studies Handbook for Bloomsbury Academic in 2020. Her most recent publication “Our Lady of the Snows : Settlement, empire and ‘the children of Canada’ in the needlework of Mary Seton Watts” in L. Binkley and J. Amos, eds. Stitching the Self (2018) emerges from her initial forays into a new line of research concerned with education, settlement, social benevolence and imperial philanthropy (through the migration of people, craft practices and objects) in early twentieth-century Britain and Canada.

Paterson replaces Mark Sussman, who served as associate dean from 2012–2018. Sussman came to Concordia in 2005 and he returns to his role as a full-time faculty member in the Department of Theatre.

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