Three UWinnipeg students have each earned a prestigious Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Scholarship (QES). This scholarship, valued at $6,000, will allow them to go overseas for three months to advance their art studies. Harnoor (Noor) Bhangu will head to Edinburgh, Scotland to meander museums for her research, while Sarah Brereton and Olenka Skrypnyk are off to New Zealand to work in one.
Bhangu is a graduate student in the MA in Cultural Studies: Curatorial Practices program. While in Edinburgh she will complete an independent study on Cultural Theories and Practices: Curating Islamic Art in the West, led by UWinnipeg’s Dr. Serena Keshavjee (history of art). Bhangu will study the collection of Islamic art at the National Museum of Scotland and will use the University of Edinburgh’s impressive library holdings to complete her research.
“Considering the 19th century history of collection building in the West, while critically reading contemporary ways of curating these works, I will attempt to generate some meanings on what it means to exhibit Islamic material culture from a Western point of view, and the implications these strategies might have on the present relationship between Western and the so-called Islamic cultures,” shared Bhangu.
Although most of her research will be conducted in Edinburgh, she will also consider the Aga Khan Museum in Toronto, The Arab Institute of Islamic Art in Paris, The Pergamon Museum in Berlin, and the Jameel Gallery at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.
“Comparing and contrasting these museums while centering on the museum in Edinburgh will be key to thinking through historical and contemporary ways of curating Islamic art,” added Bhangu. “I am also hoping this course will allow me to connect historical Islamic art with the field of contemporary Islamic art, which I would like to explore further at the postgraduate level.”
Brereton and Skrypnyk are both art history honours students in their final year. This art duo will be doing an internship at the Pataka Art + Museum, in Poriirua, New Zealand. They will be working with Pataka’s collection of 22,000 objects and assisting with a major collection exhibition with a senior contemporary Maori artist. The museum specializes in Maori art and Pacific, New Zealand, Asian, and international arts and culture as well.
“This New Zealand experience is a wonderful opportunity to get some hands-on, practical experience in an art gallery setting — something that art history students are not always exposed to,” shared Brereton. “This will also allow me to learn about topics such as settler-Indigenous relations, the effects of colonialism on Indigenous art histories, and current practices of curation and museum studies.”
Brereton and Skrypnyk are both looking forward to learning about New Zealand’s culture, and how its social and cultural history effects the curatorial practices of the art gallery. They are also looking forward to working with and learning from Maori contemporary artists, as well as the many members of Pataka Art + Museum.
“I am very excited and feel very lucky to get the opportunity to study in New Zealand for three months,” said Skrypnyk. “The QES has given me the amazing privilege to expand my academic experience through a cross-cultural exchange. I expect that I will come back from New Zealand with new perspectives and experiences that I will be able to apply in my education and life back home in Canada.”
Learn more about the Queen Elizabeth Scholars
Harnoor (Noor) Bhangu
Bhangu holds a BA in History of Art from the University of Winnipeg, where she is currently working on her MA in Cultural Studies: Curatorial Practices. She focuses primarily on South Asian, Central Asian and Middle-Eastern artists who interrogate gender, religion and diaspora in their work. In her recent work, she has begun to look critically at the ways in which marginalized bodies take up or contest spaces online.
Brereton is graduating this fall with a BA (Hons) in the history of art. She hopes to continue her academic studies and pursuing a MA in Curatorial and Museum studies. She is currently exploring settler-Indigenous relations and how such shared histories of colonialism effect contemporary curatorial and collection management practices, and how these can be used to further enhance educational and outreach programs within the gallery setting.
Brereton loves the social implications that can be found in art, and how social and cultural history is reflected through art and the art world. She believes every piece of art has a story behind it in how it ties into its physical world, past and present.
Skrypnyk is graduating with a BA (Hons) in the history of art and will be attending the University of Toronto in the fall to begin her MA in Library Science. Skrypnyk is interested in the library as a cultural space for art — contemporary and historic — and research. In recent work, Skrypnyk has focused on presentations of the self in material histories with a further concentration on their effects to the political geographies of cultural spaces. Skrypnyk views the library as a cultural space where people she should have the opportunity to engage with art and where they have the added advantage of taking out books to do further research on that art.
Skrypnyk enjoys her UWinnipeg experience. She found the Department of History of Art full of inspiring women in academia and in professional careers. She is grateful to Dr. Claire LaBrecque, Dr. Serena Keshavjee, and Dr. Julie Nagam, all of whom have instrumentally helped her in receiving the the scholarship to New Zealand and in making her BA experience great.
Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Scholarship (QES) is managed through a unique partnership of Universities Canada, the Rideau Hall Foundation (RHF), Community Foundations of Canada (CFC) and Canadian Universities. This program is made possible with the financial support from the Government of Canada, provincial governments and the private sector.
Naniece Ibrahim, Communications Officer, The University of Winnipeg
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