Fiona P. McDonald
Material Culture and Visual Anthropology
University College London (UK)
Graduate Specialization - Maori Studies (2007)
University of Auckland (Aotearoa New Zealand)
Master of Arts (History of Art, Design, and Visual Culture) (2006)
University of Alberta (Canada)
Interests and Research
My PhD, Charting Material Memories: an ethnography of visual and material transformations of woollen blankets in Canada, Aotearoa/New Zealand, and the United States, was developed upon research started in my Master of Arts and Graduate Specialization studies that looked at trade blankets in Canada and Aotearoa New Zealand. Undertaken as both an historic and contemporary material ethnography of the material nature and transformations of woollen (trade) blankets that were produced in the United Kingdom since the seventeenth century, my work is a direct examination of the pluralistic histories that things and objects have when re-worked and recycled by contemporary artists. This project considered why artists and contemporary cultural practitioners use blankets, and more specifically questioned how and why certain material culture and narratives are consumed at specific historical moments - how does materiality, memory, and consciousness affect these trends? And, what is the knowledge that is generated from the social relations that coalesce around blankets?
UCL Overseas Research Scholarship
Canadian Centennial Scholarship Fund (Canadian High Commission, London)
Fred Sandback Archives (Private Donor Graduate Award)
Collaborative Curatorial Projects
Ethnographic Terminalia Presents
October 2013—New York
City, NY, USA. “Seeing Ethnography with Zoe Bray”. Invited installation project
for the Margaret Mead Film Festival at the American Museum of Natural History
Ethnographic Terminalia Exhibition –
2014—Washington, D.C, USA (Hierarchy Gallery)
November 2013—Chicago, IL, USA (Arts Incubator at Washington Park—UChicago)
November 2012—San Francisco, CA, USA (SOMArts Cultural Center)
November 2011—Montréal, Canada (Eastern Bloc Center for New Media and Interdisciplinary Art)
November 2010—New Orleans, LA, USA (The Du Mois Gallery)
December 2009—Philadelphia, PA, USA (Crane Arts)
Works in Progress
- Book Review of “Multisensory Museum: Cross-Disciplinary Perspectives on Touch, Sound, Smell, Memory, and Space.” Edited by Nina Levent and Alvaro Pascual-Leone. New York City: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2014.
- “Painting as Ethnography, Exhibition as Research—exhibiting ethnographic and artistic research methods.” Co-Authored, Fiona P. McDonald, Craig Campbell (University of Texas, Austin), Zoe Bray (University of Nevada, Reno), Audra Simpson (Columbia University), Fred Myers (NYU).
- “Smallpox, Art, and Woollen Blankets.” Peer-Reviewed article written as part of the 2013/2014 Wissenshaftskolleg zu Berlin program on “Cultural Encounters”.
- “An Unexpected History Lesson: Meeting European ‘Colonial Girls’ through Knitting, Weaving, Spinning, and Cups of Tea” in Colonial Girls in the 19th Century (Edited by Michelle Smith and Kristine Moruzi). London: Palgrave-Macmillan. 2014.
- “The woollen blanket and its imagined value(s): material transformations of woollen blankets in contemporary art” in Living in a Material World (Edited by Susanne Kuechler and Adam Drazin). London: Bloomsbury. Completed & Approved. Forthcoming mid-2014.
- Comparative Book Review of: (1) “Museums and Communities, Curators, Collections and Collaboration.” Edited by Viv Golding and Wayne Modest. London: Bloomsbury Publishing, 2013 | (2) “Gallery as Community: Art, Education, Politics.” London: Whitechapel Gallery, 2013. Curator: The Museum Journal. Spring 2014.
- Book Review of “Distributed Objects: Meaning and Matter after Alfred Gell.” Edited by Liana Chua and Mark Elliot. New York and London: Berghahn Books, 2013. Material Word Blog. January 2014 (www.materialworldblog.com/?s=The+Distributed+Effects+of+Alfred+Gell).
- Book Review of “Extra/Ordinary: Contemporary Art and Craft.” Edited by Maria Elena Buszek. Durham and London: Duke University Press, 2011. Museum Worlds: Advances in Research 1 (June 2013): 241–252.
- Book Review of “(Re)Staging the Art Museum.” Edited by Tone Hansen. Oslo: Heine Onstad Kunstsenter, 2011. Museum Worlds: Advances in Research 1 (June 2013): 241–252.
Peer Reviewed Articles
- “Woollen Blankets in Contemporary Art: Mutability, Mobility, and Materiality in the work of Sonny Assu.” Material Culture Review 76 (response to themed issue: Objects in Motion). (October 2013).
- “Material Culture Encounters: framing an epoch as a concept through contemporary art and material culture in Aotearoa New Zealand” (prepared and ready for publication).
Co-Authored, Peer-Reviewed Journal Articles
- “Thinking Through Collaboration” (alphabetical order) Craig Campbell, Hate Hennessy, Fiona P. McDonald, Trudi Lynn Smith, Stephanie Takagarawa. Anthropology News special series on “Collaboration” (www.anthropology-news.org/index.php/2013/10/15/ethnographic-terminalia-curatorial-collective/). 13 October 2013.
- “Introduction” (alphabetical order) Maria Brodine, Craig Campbell, Kate Hennessy, Fiona P. McDonald, Trudi Lynn Smith, Stephanie Takagarawa. Visual Anthropology Review (peer-reviewed). Vol. 27. Issue 1. Spring 2011.
- “27 Works” (alphabetical order) Kate Hennessy, Fiona P. McDonald, Trudi Lynn Smith, Stephanie Takagarawa. Visual Anthropology Review (peer-reviewed). Vol. 27. Issue 1. Spring 2011.
On-line Journal Articles, Websites & Interviews
- “Art and Anthropology” Interview with WebsEdgeEducation TV. American Anthropological Association Meetings, Chicago, IL. October 2013. www.youtube.com/watch?v=xkBFXAWueg0
- “Plastic” Art: The work of Maika’i Tubbs.” Material World Blog. September 2013. www.materialworldblog.com
- Research Images as Art. Online Gallery. UCL (2012). www.grad.ucl.ac.uk/comp/2011-2012/research/gallery/index.pht?entryID=32
- “Collaborating and Curating.” University College London Anthropology News (2011).
- “Charting Material Memories.” Material World Blog. December 2010. www.materialworldblog.com
Exhibition Essays and Catalogs (Single and Co-Authored)
- Ethnographic Terminalia 2009, Philadelphia. Exhibition Catalog. Published by the Society for Visual Anthropology. December 2014.
- Ethnographic Terminalia 2010, New Orleans. Exhibition Catalog. Published by the Society for Visual Anthropology. December 2014.
- Ethnographic Terminalia 2011, Montréal—Field, Studio, Lab. Exhibition Catalog. Published by the Society for Visual Anthropology. December 2014.
- Ethnographic Terminalia 2012, San Francisco—Audible Observatories. Exhibition Catalog. Published by the Society for Visual Anthropology. December 2014.
- Ethnographic Terminalia 2013, Chicago—Exhibition as Residency: Art, Anthropology, Collaboration. Exhibition Catalog. Published by the Society for Visual Anthropology. December 2014.
- “Materialising the Unseen.” Dispersant (Installation) by Meliors Simms at the Sanderson Gallery (Auckland, New Zealand). Published April 2012.
- Lilong: a sensory reading of place.” Lilong (Video Installation) by Valentina Ferrandes at the Muratcentoventidue | Arte Contemporanea (Bari, Italy). Published January 2012.
- “Visual Iterability.” Finding Aid (Installation) by Trudi Lynn Smith at the Southern Alberta Art Gallery (Lethbridge, Alberta Canada). Published June 2010.
- Co-‐Curators. Ethnographic Termianlia 2014—Bureau of Memories: Archives & Ephemera at Hierarchy Gallery, Washington, D.C. 1-‐8 December 2014.
- Lead Facilitator and Curator. Ethnographic Terminalia Presents: Zoe Bray in “Seeing Ethnography” at the American Museum of Natural History, Grand Gallery, NYC, NY, USA. A special presentation as part of the Mead Dialogues for the Margaret Mead Film Festival. 18-20 October 2013.
- Principle Curator. Ethnographic Terminalia 2013, Chicago: Exhibition as Residency—Art, Anthropology, Collaboration. Chicago, USA. Arts Incubator in Washington Park (28-22 November 2013). www.ethnographicterminalia.org
- Co-Curator Ethnographic Terminalia. Group Exhibition. San Francisco, USA. SOMArts (16-19 November 2012). www.ethnographicterminalia.org
- Principle Curator with Kate Hennessy and Trudi Smith. Ethnographic Terminalia 2011, Montréal: Field, Studio, Lab. Group Exhibition. Montréal, Québec, Canada. Eastern Bloc New Media Gallery (15-19 November 2011). www.ethnographicterminalia.org/2011-montreal
- Co-Curator. Ethnographic Terminialia. Group Exhibition. The Du Mois Gallery, New Orleans, LA. November-December 2010. www.ethnographicterminalia.org
- Co-Curator. Ethnographic Terminalia. December 2009. Crane Center for the Arts, Icebox Gallery, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. www.metafactory.ca/terminalia
Oral History Projects
- Sisters who Spin: The Spinners and Weavers of Albany, New Zealand (Working Title). Oral History Project. In progress. Supported by an award from Zonta International. 2006-present
Sample of Public Presentations and Seminars
- “Indianapolis: City as Living Laboratory”. Midwest Popular Culture Association/American Popular Culture Association Conference. Indianapolis, Indiana. 4 October 2014.
- “Slow Ethnography”. Humanities Institute and Blanton Museum of Art. University of Texas, Austin. 8 September 2014.
- Chair and Organizer of an invited “Installation” at the 112th American Anthropological Association Meetings. Ethnographic Terminalia 2013, Chicago: Exhibition as Residency—Art, Anthropology, Collaboration. Exhibition at Arts Incubator in Washington Park (part of the Arts + Public Life Initiative at the University of Chicago). 18-22 November 2013.
- Panel Discussant with Dimitris Dalakoglou (University of Sussex) (Substituting for Professor Susanne Kuechler). When Things Do Wrong: The Material Culture of Failure. 112th American Anthropological Association Meetings. 23 November 2013.
- (Invited) Culture Labs—Collaborations with Makers, Scholars, and Communities. Moderated by: Faye Ginsberg. Mead Dialogues: Margaret Mead Film Festival. American Museum of Natural History. 19 October 2013.
- 2013 Wissenshaftskolleg zu Berlin Research Seminar Presentation on “Material Culture and Cultural Encounters Across Time” (Part 1: 29 July- 9 August 2013)
- The Politics of Materiality Symposium. The New School, New York City, New York (USA). TITLE: Political Materials—A Case Study of Woolen Blankets in Contemporary Art in Canada and the USA (April 2013)
- Guest Lecture Presented in Anthropology 589 (Graduate Seminar): Title: Tlingit Culture and the Centrality At.óowu. University of Alberta, Department of Anthropology for Professor Andie Palmer (March 2013)
- (Invited) College Arts Association. New York City, New York (USA). Pacific Arts Association Sponsored Session. Session Chair. TITLE: The Home, The Museum, and The Gallery—illuminating the nexus between identity, materiality, and visual culture in the Pacific (February 2013)
- Textile Society of America 13th Biennial Symposium. Textiles & Politics. Washington, DC (USA). TITLE: Woolen Trade Blankets in Contemporary Art: tracing the personal and social politics of art and material culture in Canada, the USA, and Aotearoa New Zealand (17 September 2012)
- (Invited) Colonial Girlhood/Colonial Girls Conference and Workshop. University of Melbourne (Australia). TITLE: An Unexpected History Lesson: A Presentation of Memory, Femininity, and Materiality in Aotearoa New Zealand (15 June 2012)
- Royal Anthropological Institute—Anthropology in the World Conference. The woollen blanket and its value(s): a material ethnography of things, objects, and art (10 June 2012)
- Chair of Inno-vent at the 110th American Anthropological Association Meetings. Ethnographic Terminalia 2011: Montréal—field, studio, lab. Exhibition at Eastern Bloc Center for New Media and Interdisciplinary Art (15-19 November 2011)
- (Invited) University of Oxford—Pitt Rivers Museum Visual and Material Culture Seminar Series 2011 (Oxford, UK): “Charting Material Memories in the Pacific” (28 October 2011)
- (Invited) International Visual Sociologist Association Conference (Vancouver, BC, Canada): “Archive as Practice: A Panel Discussion” (7 July 2011)
- 7th International Conference on Small Island Cultures (Airlie Beach, Whitsunday Islands, Australia): Recycling and Tourist Art: a presentation of contemporary artists use tourist ‘kitsch’ and vintage goods in Aotearoa/New Zealand today (13 June 2011)
- (Invited) Concordia University (CEREV LAB)—Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Funded Workshop. Curating Difficult Knowledge Workshop. Workshop Facilitator (16-17 May 2011)
- (Invited) Native American History Month Lecture Series at the Sealaska Heritage Institute (Juneau, Alaska, USA): Title: Charting Material Memories: an ethnography of visual and material responses to woolen trade blankets in the Pacific Northwest of North America and New Zealand (25 October 2010)
- [Record] [Create]: Oral History in Art, Craft, and Design Conference (Oral History Society (UK) and the Victoria & Albert Museum, London, England): Title: An Unexpected History Lesson: Oral Histories and the Fiber Arts in Aotearoa/New Zealand (July 2010)
- (Invited) Recycling, Luxury, and Waste in the Long Eighteenth Century Conference (Université Paris Diderot, Paris, France): Title: Weaving and Wool: Materiality through Woollen Blankets in Eighteenth Century Aotearoa/New Zealand (June 2010) (Invited)
Directors—Society of Visual Anthropology (2012-2015)
Visiting Scholar (Anthropology) New York University (NYU) (NYC, USA) (2012-2014)
Visiting Research Fellow with Massey University (Wellington, NZ) (2011)
Visiting Scholar with Sealaska Heritage Institute (2010)
Ethnographic Terminalia International Curatorial Collective (2009-present)
Canadian Society of Anthropologists (CASCA)/ American Ethnological Society (AES) (not active 2014)
American Anthropological Association
Pacific Arts Association
College Arts Association
Royal Anthropological Institute
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