Kathleen Vaughan (MFA, PhD) is an artist-researcher with a trans-disciplinary orientation to questions of place and belonging, from social and environmental justice perspectives. Kathleen’s research integrates visual art and storytelling and comprises multiple approaches: studio-based, collaborative/ participatory and community-based, often sited in museums and galleries. In both studio and community projects, she balances her love for post-industrial sites, urban forests and green spaces with critical engagement, and often uses walking and mapping as method and form. She has strong ties to her Montreal neighbourhood of Pointe-St-Charles – a gentrifying, post-industrial site – as well as to Iceland, where she has ongoing research-creation projects and developed the Iceland Field School for Concordia University.
Most recently, Kathleen has been taking up interdisciplinary explorations of the St. Lawrence River. Using electronics, conductive textiles and digital embroidery, Kathleen created Walk in the Water | Marcher sur les eaux, a multi-pronged project comprising a wall-sized interactive, touch sensitive textile map that plays back excerpts of interviews about the River at the Pointe-St-Charles shoreline (2018) and a ‘displaced’ audiowalk along the much-changed water’s edge (2020). With seven collaborators, she is developing Learning with the St. Lawrence, a SSHRC-funded project (2019-2022) that considers how the arts can embody and raise awareness of the links between the River’s environmental well-being and Montrealers’ understanding of the complexity of issues that affect it, and the River life’s natural resilience and capacities. Further, the project considers how interdisciplinary arts-science collaborations can enhance the generation of new knowledge and public engagement with ‘wicked problems’ – that is, problems that are so complex that that they cannot be addressed from any single perspective.
Kathleen is the Concordia University Research Chair in Socially Engaged Art and Public Pedagogies and Professor of Art Education.