This story is published in YFile’s New Faces Feature Issue 2021, part one. Every September, YFile introduces and welcomes those joining the York University community, and those with new appointments. Watch for part two on Sept. 10.
This fall, six new faculty join the School of the Arts, Media, Performance & Design (AMPD). They are Rebecca Caines, Moussa Djigo, Danielle Howard, Marissa Largo, Taien Ng-Chan and Archer Pechawis.
“On behalf of everyone in the School of the Arts, Media, Performance & Design, I am delighted to welcome our newest AMPD colleagues to York University. The exceptional artists, scholars, creators and researchers who join us this year embody both the shared values of our school and our ambitions to both challenge and empower our students and each other,” said AMPD Dean Sarah Bay-Cheng. “These newest colleagues join a growing body of leading faculty members who are committed to excellence in research, creation, teaching and service, both to the University and the global communities it serves.
“What excites me most about this exceptional cohort are the connections that they bring to AMPD and York. These newest colleagues work across cultural contexts, artistic techniques and emerging technologies, diverse histories and contemporary practices. There is an invigorating restlessness and curiosity in each that speaks to both the legacy of AMPD as one Canada’s leading centres and to new directions,” added Bay-Cheng.
Rebecca Caines is an interdisciplinary artist and scholar whose research crosses between creative technologies (including sound art, new media and augmentation) and socially engaged art, with a special focus on improvisatory practices. She joins the Department of Theatre as an assistant professor.
Caines, who holds a PhD in performance studies from the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia, completed two postdoctoral research fellowships at the University of Guelph before moving to the University of Regina to help build a new cross-faculty program in creative technologies. She was also the director of the Regina Improvisation Studies Centre, a partnered research site and faculty-based research centre at the University of Regina.
Caines serves on the executive team of the International Institute for Critical Studies in Improvisation, a long-running, $2.5-million Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council partnership. She has completed large-scale, community-based art and research projects in Australia, Northern Ireland, Canada, China and the Netherlands. Her work investigates the role of art and technology in social justice, contemporary understandings of community and the fragile promise of ethical connection offered through dialogic approaches.
Moussa Djigo joins AMPD as an assistant professor in the Cinema and Media Studies program. An award-winning director, screenwriter and producer with a background in journalism and cinema studies, his research interests include Canadian Indigenous cinema, African American cinema, city symphony films, research creation and space in cinema.
Djigo is the author of Spike Lee: Aesthetics of Subversion in Do the Right Thing (Paris, Acoria, 2009), a book that examines how images can use very specific formal tools to convey a political message. He is currently working on another book, Cinema and otherness: a perspectivist anthropology of Wapikoni Mobile, that explores the notion of “otherness” in films made by young Indigenous filmmakers. Djigo has written, directed and produced Obamas and Rosalie, two fiction features that have earned more than 20 awards and have been screened in more than 60 venues around the world. He previously taught in France (at Jean-Moulin University Lyon 3 and Sorbonne Nouvelle University Paris 3) and Quebec (at André-Laurendeau, Outaouais, Bois-de-Boulogne and Rosemont).
Danielle Howard joins AMPD as an assistant professor in the Department of Theatre. She recently taught within the University of California-Los Angeles’ School of Theater, Film and Television.
Howard writes at the intersections of race, gender, performance, visual and sonic culture. She is currently working on a manuscript titled Making Moves: Race, Basketball, and Embodied Resistance that spans the 20th and 21st centuries.The project foregrounds Black basketball players’ virtuosic and improvisational movements as oriented towards a kinetic knowledge of freedom and akin to contemporaneous jazz aesthetics. An article excerpted from this work, “Dribbling Against the Law: The Performance of Basketball, Race, and Resistance,” will appear in a forthcoming collection of essays titled Sports Plays. Her article “The (Afro) Future of Henry Box Brown: His-story of Escape(s) through Time and Space” won The Drama Review‘s 2020 Graduate Student Essay Contest Award and will appear in the publication’s September 2021 issue.
Originally from the United States and trained in music, dance and theatre, Howard is invested in improving the health and resilience of her communities through their participation in the collective making of artistic expressions with different forms of art.
Marissa Largo joins AMPD as an assistant professor of creative technologies in the Department of Visual Art and Art History. Her work focuses on the intersections of community engagement, race, gender and Asian diasporic cultural production.
From 2006 to 2020, Largo honed her love and skill for teaching as a full-time secondary school art teacher. She has also taught at the Ontario College of Art and Design (OCAD) University, where she was awarded the OCAD University Teaching Award for Continuing Studies and Non-Tenured Faculty in 2020. From 2020 to 2021, she was an assistant professor in art education in the Division of Art History and Contemporary Culture at NSCAD University.
Her forthcoming book, Unsettling Imaginaries: Filipinx Contemporary Artists in Canada (University of Washington Press), examines the work and oral histories of artists who imagine Filipinx subjectivity beyond colonial logics. She is co-editor of Diasporic Intimacies: Queer Filipinos and Canadian Imaginaries (Northwestern University Press, 2017) and a guest co-editor of the “Beyond Canada 150: Asian Canadian Visual Cultures” special issue of the Journal of Asian Diasporic Visual Cultures and the Americas (Brill Press, 2018). She is the recipient of an Ontario Arts Council grant for Indigenous and culturally diverse curatorial projects and a Canada Council for the Arts grant for the Arts Across Canada program for her forthcoming curatorial project “Elusive Desires: Ness Lee & Florence Yee,“ opening at the Varley Art Gallery of Markham, Ont., this month.
Taien Ng-Chan is a writer and media artist joining AMPD as an assistant professor in the Department of Cinema and Media Arts. Her research explores experimental processes of urban mapping and sound art, “object-oriented storytelling” and futurist imaginings of everyday life in the Asian diaspora through immersive cinema, both in virtual-reality headset and dome projection modes. Her writing ranges from scholarly work in publications such as Intermediality and Humanities to books and anthologies of creative writing, collaborative multimedia arts websites, and drama for stage, screen and CBC Radio.
Ng-Chan has shown her digital media works in film festivals, art galleries and conference events across Canada and internationally, including at the Biennale internationale d’art numérique in Montreal, Toronto’s ReelAsian Film Festival, the International Mobile Innovation Screenings in New Zealand, Waterloo’s Lumen Festival, the Art Gallery of Windsor and the Art Gallery of Hamilton. She is Chair of the Commission for Art and Cartography at the International Cartographic Association, one half of the Hamilton Perambulatory Unit (with artist Donna Akrey) and one half of Centre for Margins (with artist Carmela Laganse). In 2019, she won the City of Hamilton Arts Award for Media Arts, as well as the AMPD Junior Faculty Teaching Award.
A performance, theatre and new media artist, filmmaker, writer, curator and educator, Archer Pechawis joins AMPD as an assistant professor in the departments of Theatre and Visual Art and Art History. Pechawis was born in Alert Bay, B.C.
He has a particular interest in the intersection of Plains Cree culture and digital technology, merging traditional objects such as hand drums with digital video and audio sampling. His work has been exhibited across Canada, internationally in Paris and Moscow, and featured in publications such as Fuse Magazine and the Canadian Theatre Review.
Pechawis is the recipient of many Canada Council, British Columbia and Ontario Arts Council awards, and won the Best New Media Award at the 2007 imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival and Best Experimental Short at imagineNATIVE in 2009. Of Cree and European ancestry, he is a member of Mistawasis Nehiyawak, Saskatchewan.