Class of 2003 – HBA, Innis
Natasha Reid and how a love of art and education turned into a career
Driven by her immersion in the burgeoning field of art education, alumna Natasha Reid, shares her path from Innis College to an appointment at the University of Arizona.
In 1999, I started my university education at the University of Toronto and was a student at Innis College. It was important for me to become involved with my college, so I joined the Social Committee and participated in intramural athletics. It was a thrilling time, full of change and new friendships. In my first year, I was a student in the Life Sciences program, which I enjoyed. However, I quickly realized I belonged elsewhere within the university. At the time, I took an elective course in the Visual Studies program – Visual Culture, with George Hawken. I adored the course. It was the first time that I was introduced to contemporary art practices and critical inquiry through the arts. Within this course, there were multiple visits to galleries, museums, and public art walks. After taking this course, I knew I had found my home in the Department of Art.
I switched into the Fine Art History program in my second year and decided to work on a specialization in this discipline, as well as a minor in German. I relished my time in these programs. At the end of my second year, I visited Hong Kong to study Chinese art history as part of the Summer International Program and was awarded the Stanley Ho Scholarship. That was my first trip on a plane since I was three years old and it was a long flight! It was an enlightening, incredible experience filled with art and culture. I immediately caught the travel bug. At the end of my third year, I participated in the Summer International Program in Berlin and in Siena. These experiences, along with my time in George Hawken’s class, reinforced my love for engaging in learning experiences in art museums, within architectural spaces, around public artworks, and in other art spaces. Once back in Toronto, I began to work as a volunteer art educator at A Home For Creative Opportunity, which was an arts-based community centre in Regent Park. This experience solidified my desire to work with publics to explore artistic ways of knowing in various art settings and methods for learning with and through the arts. I applied to the Master’s program in Art Education at Concordia University, in Montreal, Quebec in order to continue my exploration of art education and pedagogies with various publics. I was accepted into the program and I was elated. Before I left for Quebec, I worked in the summer camp program at the Art Gallery of Ontario. After that, I headed to Montreal, a city I had not yet visited.
I thrived in the Art Education program at Concordia University, as the professors introduced me to curriculum studies, educational and pedagogical theories and arts-based practices. I focused on art museum education throughout my Master’s degree, along with community art education. During that time, I worked as a teaching assistant in the Community Art Education program at Concordia University, as well as the coordinator for the program. I also worked on educational programming, policy, and professional development for the Canadian Centre for Architecture and La Centrale Galerie Powerhouse. I developed a community outreach educational program for La Centrale, which became the focus of my Master’s thesis under the supervision of Dr. Paul Langdon.
After completing my Master’s degree, I immediately started my doctoral degree, again at Concordia University. I was awarded a Faculty of Fine Arts Doctoral Fellowship and a doctoral fellowship from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. I started teaching courses as a part-time instructor in the Department of Art Education. At that point, it became very clear to me that I desired to pursue a career in academia. I was also the educational coordinator at the FOFA Gallery at Concordia, which solidified my desire to remain connected to museum education in my research and practices. My doctoral dissertation examined the contemporary identities of art museum educators through a process of life history research, under the supervision of Dr. Paul Langdon and Dr. Linda Szabad-Smyth. After completing the program, I became the Fall 2012 valedictorian for the Faculty of Fine Arts and the Faculty of Engineering and Computer Science graduation. In 2013, my dissertation won the Elliot Eisner Doctoral Research Award in Art Education from the National Art Education Association, which is an American art education association. In the spring of 2013, I was awarded the Governor General’s Gold Medal at Concordia University.
Since July of 2012, I have been researching the oral histories of museum educators of colour who are working in contemporary art museum that are operating under a multicultural vision. This research is being conducted at New York University and the Université du Québec à Montréal and is funded by the Fonds de recherche du Québec – Société et culture (FQRSC). At the end of August, I will be commencing an Assistant Professor appointment at the University of Arizona in the Art and Visual Culture Education Division. I am really looking forward to continuing to research museum educators’ identities, multicultural realities in art museums, the potential for museums to become centres for stimulating social justice discourses and supporting positive action, and methods for employing arts-based and narrative-based research in professional development programs for educators. It is certainly an exciting time for me, as I venture into an academic position and environment that supports my interests and philosophies, which began to rapidly blossom during my years at the University of Toronto’s Innis College.