Art history department discusses opportunities for students interested in arts

Norman Vorano and Amelia Mackenzie talk student engagement and the importance of art

Image by: Nay Chi Htwe
Union Gallery is a great way to get involved.

Kingston’s vibrant art scene offers multiple avenues for those interested in the arts to become a part of the creative tapestry that colours the Queen’s community.

Head of the Queen’s Department of Art History and Art Conservation, Norman Vorano provided insight to incoming students on how they can get involved in the Queen’s art community, along with the importance of student engagement with the arts.

“Like most people who get into the arts […] there’s a fundamental belief in the power of art [and] the way in which it shapes and transforms our lives,” he said in an interview with The Journal.

Prior to his involvement at Queen’s, Vorano worked as a curator at the Canadian Museum of History. Vorano said this role helped him understand the importance of how art and cultural collections shape our individual identities.

Opportunities exist for students in the art history program, and for those who explore art as a hobby, according to Vorano. He encourages students to subscribe to the art history department’s newsletter, where the department shares events, activities, and opportunities to connect within the department and across the university. This includes learning from alumni.

“In the past, we’ve had our own alumni come back […] to give workshops to students. We’ve had people come back who talk about digital media preservation, different artists come back.”

As for Queen’s classes, the fine art program has courses open for students who have a budding interest in art, despite not being enrolled in the fine art program.

“I would say for students that even have a passing interest in art, take those electives because they’re amazing. They will have hands on studio-based learning with artists who are established,” Vorano said.

Places like the Union Gallery, Agnes Etherington Art Centre, Cezanne’s Closet, and Tett Centre provide ways for students interested in the arts to get involved outside of the academic world.

The City of Kingston has pop up exhibitions at City Hall, including museum pop-up exhibits and the arts walk, Vorano said. Similarly, the Kingston School of Dance hosts a variety of events throughout the year. The fine art department also offers a summer study program in Rome, Italy.

Amelia Mackenzie, ArtSci ’24, and co-president of the Art History Department Student Council (DSC), said the DSC aims to enhance the visibility of the student art community at Queen’s.

Vorano encouraged students to join the Art History DSC, as representatives have voting power in monthly department meetings, enabling them to influence decisions that directly impact art history students.

Mackenzie emphasized the importance of exploring downtown Kingston, especially keeping one’s eyes open for posters advertising artistic events.

“I think limiting yourself only to what you know, and not really going out of Queen’s campus or Kingston, is really limiting yourself and your potential to not just get better, but just interact with different ideas and different types of art,” Mackenzie said in an interview with The Journal.

“Kingston is this really interesting town, where there’s a lot of artistic spirit in it, and to cut yourself off from it, it’s really not beneficial because it’s got so many unique opportunities for you to meet new people, expand your knowledge and just be in a culture that you can’t really get in a lot of other towns in Canada.”

According to Vorano, exploring the city and embracing artistic interests can open your eyes to new careers, horizons, and understandings of the world, as Kingston holds a diverse art community.

“There are many things people can study, and we have to fight against the inertia of our post-secondary school system, which does a pretty poor job of informing students of what’s out there in terms of art.”

Vorano isn’t ignorant to the lack of exposure post-secondary students have to the arts or art history. He said students are often unaware of the events that go on in the art history or fine art department, though he wants to combat this.


August 14, 2023

A previous version of this article incorrectly spelled “Cezanne’s Closet.” Incorrect information was published in the July 31st issue of The Queen’s Journal.

The Journal regrets the error


Art History department, Arts, first year, Involvement

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