Meet Our Five 2023 History of Art Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Student Journalists
My name is Jamila, and I am approaching the final year of my BA in History of Art. Although I come from Egypt, I have always lived abroad, growing up between Malaysia and Dubai. Art History has become my way of navigating my heritage and learning about its history, geography and traditions.
I am delighted to be a student journalist for the department’s EDI journal. Through my studies at UCL, I have cultivated a passion for Middle Eastern and North African art, contemporary art conservation and publishing. As much as I am enjoying my degree and the commitment of the History of Art department to de-centre Eurocentric and canonised art historical narratives and scholarship, I have found that the curriculum still requires study into contemporary Middle Eastern art. As Middle Eastern art lacks publications and recognition in Western art institutions, I hope to use my position as a student journalist to diversify the material available to students and make Middle Eastern art more visible within UCL.
Publications hold an immense role in our efforts to recognise the arts of all cultures within the discipline of art history, and that is what I hope to do through the EDI board journal.
Interview with Sunny Rahbar, Third Line Gallery, Dubai
In the Heart of Another Country: The diasporic imagination arises at the Sharjah Art Foundation
Waking Life to Death: Etel Adnan ‘Shifting the Silence’
Ana Charriere Alvarez de Ron
Hi! My name is Ana; I’m a second-year, single honours student. I come from Spain and France but have spent most of my life in Madrid and Hong Kong, which is where I discovered my love for art and culture. I feel incredibly fortunate to have access to museums and art daily, but this is not the same for everyone. Thus, I am interested in public spaces which employ art for social, educational, and therapeutic purposes, expanding access to the arts for underrepresented minorities and histories. Art is not only displayed in museums or galleries, but also exists in schools or women’s centres. Communal craft is as historically valuable as oil painting, and a camera can belong to an acclaimed artist as much as to an anonymous student. However, creative production that lives outside of institutional art is not often written about or historicised, and its active exclusion further reinforces the lack of cultural diversity in museum collections.
In my EDI journal, my research of historical and contemporary public programs has a twofold purpose. Firstly, I want to bring visibility to art making as a tool to work through social, intergenerational and shared trauma and empower oneself. I will also critically dissect museums’ public programs which aim to represent traditionally marginalised groups and practices, considering who is able to attend these events or exhibitions. Through the socially active and approachable nature of journalism, I hope to demonstrate that public programs have a space in contemporary art debates and writing.
My name is Savanah James. I am a first year History of Art student with a subsidiary focus in Philosophy. I was raised in New York and Hong Kong—two cities that have had crucial roles in fostering my love for all things art and art history. As a child, my mother, a first generation immigrant from China, spent long hours with me exploring the Asian Art collections of New York City’s museums. It was in those galleries that my grasp of the English language was built simultaneously alongside my love for Asian art history, and that interconnected relationship has only strengthened with time through my writing and my learning. A natural big-city lover, I have thoroughly enjoyed my first year living in London and studying at UCL. Hoping to contribute to ongoing efforts of diversification and inclusion both within the department and the larger London art scene, I plan to dedicate my voice as an EDI student journalist to spotlighting East Asian voices, perspectives, and contributions throughout the upcoming months.
Alongside art, I am also incredibly interested in foreign policy, astronomy, fusion cuisine, and musical theater, and I’m very excited to see how all these categories translate into my work! Fluent in both English and Mandarin, I hope to use my language abilities to access sources and communicate with those who can offer unique first-hand perspectives and cultural insights. I hope that my pieces can serve as a reminder to students of all minority backgrounds that our heritage and culture can be, should be, and will be recognised and celebrated.
Art has always been at the core of my being. I have a unique perspective on the art world as both an academic and creative individual. As a first-year student, I have begun to evaluate the canon that dominates art and explore art through contemporary, feminist and post-colonial lenses.
My journalistic and art historical viewpoints have been greatly shaped by my ethnic background. My Armenian background, identity and heritage has fuelled my increasing interest in social justice and equality. Similarly, growing up half in the UK and half in Cyprus has furthered my passion for exploring differing cultures. I am motivated to share both my own and other’s history and experiences, challenging norms and misconceptions within society and in the art world.
My previous work has explored Iranian women in Pre-Revolutionary Iran, European art history’s exclusion of Black individuals in Kehinde Wiley’s painting Prelude (Babacar Mané), The National Portrait Gallery’s Pre-Raphaelite Sisterhood, and mental health in cultural upbringing via visual podcast. I also created my blog ‘Art and Architecture’ in 2020 where I share my reviews of exhibitions, art articles and artist quotations. As an EDI journalist, I am keen to platform key individuals from different cultures in the contemporary world of art who can share how they have changed the art historical narrative.
I am currently studying MA History of Art at UCL. Before becoming an EDI journalist, I was the 2020/21 President of the UCL History of Art Society and the 2021/22 Events Coordinator of UCL Japan Society. During my undergraduate study, I curated exhibitions that featured emerging artists from underrepresented groups. My past projects have been supported by institutions including University College London, University of Cambridge, and the Courtauld. My writing and translations have contributed to programs at Nanjing Museum, Long March Space, and UCCA Beijing. I am bilingual in English and Chinese. At UCL, I also learned French and Japanese. My academic interests include 19th-century photography, visual culture of the British Empire, and history of exhibitions.
In 2022, I curated the Kissaten/Tea Room exhibition in UCL's Japanese Gardens which featured six emerging London-based Asian artists. Some of my other curatorial practices include The Enigma of Arrival, featuring live dance and performance art, and Reconnect which sought to unite 37 London artists under one creative platform.
As an EDI journalist studying for my MA, I plan to focus on East and South Asian art and represent the graduate students of UCL through a series of interviews.