Orientation address

By Dr Cynthia Hammond, Chair of Art History

16 September, 2014

I’m delighted to officially welcome you all to this “Art HistoryMixer”, very impressively organized by the Concordia Undergraduate Journal of Art History, or CUJAH. I always think that this space, the 11th floor of the EV building, is one of the best in the wholeuniversity, with its beautiful views over Montreal.

The fact that we are in this space is, to me, really important. I want those of you who are new to our programs to know that it was not me, nor any of the other professors who made this wonderful, convivial event happen. Instead, it was your peers, your fellow students.

I am a graduate of Concordia’s MA in art history, and my experience here 20 years ago is what convinced me that I wanted to make art and architectural history my life. But, just as you are going to discover for yourselves, I found that it was my fellow students who inspired me in my studies and convictions, as much as my professors.

If you look around you right now, you can see what I mean. We are surrounded right now by the intelligence, ingenuity, and commitment of students, the creativity and chutzpa of students. This is why I love Concordia. Rather than have art history be something that professors teach from the top down, I see here that students are creating art historical knowledge from the ground up. You see around you other students, but these are also curators, authors, artists, editors,
activists, and a whole lot of people who are, simply, genuinely passionate about what they do.

So the aim of tonight’s event is to introduce you to that passion, to give you a taste of what lies ahead, and what options are open to you. I’m so proud that we have a diversity of student groups and interests, with different mandates and goals – you will all, I am sure, find something that stirs your intellect, piques your curiosity, or touches your heart.

I think what unites us in this Department is the belief that culture matters in an increasingly complex world. We believe that art historians are on the front lines of culture, fighting for deeper understanding, creating greater inclusivity, and working for change. The professors at Concordia are all active participants in the discipline of art history; we publish, go to conferences, curate exhibitions, stage events, write articles, exhibition catalogues, and books, and we encourage our students to share in this output, and create their own. There could be no better representation of this spirit than the event planned for this evening.

Before I turn the mike over to our wonderful departmental coordinator, Dr Anna Waclawek, I want to conclude by thanking tonight’s organizers, especially Ashlee Griffiths and all the representatives of our student groups for their efforts to welcome our new cohorts, and share with new students what the possibilities are in our Department. I warmly encourage you all to get the most you can out of your time in the Department of Art History, in the University as a whole, and in the beautiful and inspiring city of Montreal. And so, welcome. Have fun! We are so glad to have you with us.