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Alumnus/Alumna profile

Ashley Raghubir

PhD Student, Department of Art History, University of Toronto

1.  How are you applying your degree in Art History from Concordia?

I am reflecting on my time in the department of art history only several months after graduation, but I already feel as though I am benefiting from my experience in the MA program. In Fall 2021 I start a PhD program in the department of art history at the University of Toronto to continue to think through research questions that arose as an outcome of my MA thesis. For me, the uncertainties, unresolved questions and changes in thinking that emerged throughout thesis research and writing are the most important takeaway. Between MA and PhD programs, I am pursuing shorter and non-academic projects such as a curatorial and writing residencies which are inevitably informed by academic research conducted while studying in the department of art history at Concordia.

2. What do you value most from your Art History experience?

Two things come to mind: the range of opportunities made available to graduate students and the relationships formed with peers and faculty. During my brief time in the department, I was fortunate to hold several teaching assistantships from which I learned so much about research and pedagogy. A stand-out is my TA experience for the Faculty of Fine Arts-wide course FFAR 250 Keywords: Reading the Arts Across the Disciplines where I learned a great deal from Dr. Maya Rae Oppenheimer in the department of studio arts. This brings me to how special it is to be a part of a broader Faculty of Fine Arts where one can study alongside and in friendship with artists and practitioners in a range of disciplines. I truly enjoyed the art history graduate seminars and the peer relationships that developed in such generative and supportive learning environments. The faculty in the department of art history are remarkable and I greatly value what I learned, and continue to learn, from their work. My MA supervisor Dr. Alice Ming Wai Jim, as well as the teaching and leadership of Dr. May Chew and Dr. Johanne Sloan led to a very positive experience in the department.

3. Is there a particular memory that stands out from your time at Concordia?

I had the opportunity to complete a for-credit curatorial internship at the Leonard & Bina Ellen Art Gallery in Winter 2020 which was a fantastic experience. The internship allowed me to explore my strong interest in public programming. My writing practice was also greatly strengthened working under the direction of Michèle Thériault (Director) and closely with Robin Simpson (Public Programs and Education) and Julia Eilers Smith (Max Stern Curator of Research and Collection). The internship at the Ellen Art Gallery facilitated an introduction to Tio'tia:ke/Mooniyang/Montréal-based art institutions and contemporary artistic practices which was one of the most fulfilling aspects of my experience at Concordia. In this way, living and studying in the city was very significant to the MA program.

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

Pursuing graduate studies is an opportunity to devote a significant amount of time and focus to a research question which can be daunting but so fulfilling. As you study, be curious and remain open to shifts in your thinking, researching, and writing. Cherish the people you meet and the exchanges both in and outside of your seminars as they may inform your work more than you may anticipate.

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