York Professor Nina Levitt has been awarded a Chalmers Arts Fellowship by the Ontario Arts Council. The one-year award of $17,500 will allow Levitt, an artist and sessional instructor in photography for the Department of Visual Arts, Faculty of Fine Arts, to conduct historical and creative research in Canada, the US and Europe. Levitt plans to study the relationships between women, espionage and technology during the Second World War. Levitt uses photography, video and new media to illustrate the marginalization of women in popular culture and often relies on the recovery and manipulation of existing images.
Levitt received her Master of Fine Arts in photography at the University of Illinois at Chicago in 1997. She has participated in numerous shows and exhibitions, both as a solo artist and contributor to group exhibits. Her work has been widely published and she also has works in the Canada Council Art Bank, Toronto Photographers Workshop and private collections.
Right: image from Little Breeze exhibit
Her latest exhibition, Little Breeze, is an interactive installation about the ephemeral presence of women spies during the Second World War. An evolving installation, the work was recently expanded to include photographs of nine British agents, French and English biographical texts and an interactive sound track. The exhibition reveals the experiences of women whose contributions to the war effort might seem ordinary or inconsequential, rather than the notorious female agents like Mata Hari or the fictional James Bond femme fatales. The work centres around the experiences of British agent Violette Szabo, code named “Louise” who at the age of 23 was sent into Occupied France for two missions, and was captured and executed just a few months before the end of the war. Viewers are encouraged to become active participants in the gathering of audio information and the decoding of video images.
The Ontario Arts Council Chalmers Arts Fellowships support activities that advance the talent, artistic practice and achievements of arts professionals and contribute to their professional development and artistic career.