Evangeline Mann is the Public Programming and Education Coordinator at the Art Gallery of Algoma. In this interview we learn about her experience in the MA Art & Architectural History program at Carleton, and the beginnings of an exciting career in her field.

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What is your current position and how did Carleton prepare you for your career?

My current position is the Public Programming and Education Coordinator at the Art Gallery of Algoma in Sault Ste. Marie, ON. In this role, I work with teachers and students to introduce students to specific exhibitions at the gallery through both virtual and in-person tours and art activities. Visiting the gallery either online or in-person is a great way for students to learn about art, explore different exhibitions, ask questions, and apply what they’ve learned as they create their own artworks with me in the gallery’s studio.

Being a student in the MA, Art History program at Carleton prepared me for my career in many ways. Carleton’s art and architectural history course offerings truly are second to none, and provided me with a deep, rich understanding of contemporary and historical art created both in Canada and North America more broadly, as well as around the world. As a student, I completed assignments where I wrote exhibition catalogues and labels, designed and gave presentations to my classmates, conducted primary and secondary research from a wide range of sources, as well as analyzed images. I currently use the communication, analytical and research skills that I gained from completing these assignments/courses at Carleton each day as I design programs for students to help them reflect on the many messages and stories that artists convey through their work.

What skills or knowledge did you learn throughout the program that you found most useful in your career?

Completing the MA, Art History program at Carleton helped to enrich my communication skills, which I have found exceptionally useful in my career. The presentations I gave about my research/work as a student at Carleton, from class presentations to the first-year departmental conference to my thesis defence, all helped enrich my public speaking skills as well as strengthened my ability to present (and answer questions about) my work to others. In addition, I worked on a diverse range of writing projects as a student, such as exhibition catalogues and labels, website text, research papers/essays, and my thesis. These writing projects enriched my writing skills, as well as gave me fantastic experience in writing in a variety of formats for different audiences. Communication skills are so important in museum and art gallery work! I use these skills each day in my role at the Art Gallery of Algoma, and particularly as I write education packages for students as well as host classes at the gallery.

How did your experience at Carleton help you find your first position after graduation?

My first position after graduation was a short-term contract role as a Processing Archivist at Appleby College in Oakville from late October 2022 to mid-April 2023 (this position was organized through Young Canada Works, which is a government program that helps current students and new graduates gain valuable skills by working in museums, art galleries, libraries and archival institutions). As a student at Carleton, I gained valuable research, writing and analytical experience as I completed my coursework. I also worked as a part-time research assistant (RA) for several faculty members at Carleton. I found artist biographies online, learned about museum cataloguing standards, completed primary research at Library and Archives Canada, and also completed secondary research as I collected information from a diverse range of sources. These experiences were essential to me as I started looking for, and found, my first position after graduation. They provided me with many skills that are important in archival, museum and gallery work. The professional opportunities at Carleton (such as being a teaching assistant or research assistant, completing a practicum placement at a local gallery or museum, or getting involved with the Audio-Visual Resource Centre) are outstanding!

What are you most proud of from your Carleton experience?

 I very proud of my position as a research assistant (RA) at the Carleton University Art Gallery from 2021 to 2022. In my role at CUAG, I wrote alternative (alt) text descriptions for images on the gallery’s website. Alt text descriptions can help people with visual impairments who use screen readers learn about the images on a website (the screen reader reads each alt text description). It was so exciting for me to learn about alt text and its importance in web accessibility, but also to write alt text descriptions for CUAG’s website. In my role at CUAG, I also researched several artists whose works are in the gallery’s collection, and wrote labels for their artworks. I conducted research both at CUAG, and at the National Gallery of Canada in downtown Ottawa for this project. I very much enjoyed being part of CUAG’s team, and it was wonderful to learn new skills such as alt text writing and conducting artist research.

What is something at Carleton that you absolutely loved being a part of?

At Carleton, I very much enjoyed working as a research assistant for Dr. Michael Windover in 2021 to research a collection of museum items originally from the Design Exchange Museum in Toronto. These items were mainly created between the 1940s and early 2000s, and included thermoses, toasters, hair dryers, dishes, a table, etc. Researching them was part of a broader study into Canadian industrial design. It was so interesting to see these collection items, record data about them, and research their history. As part of my role, I read a few key books about Canadian industrial design between the 1940s and 1970s, and then I also catalogued information about each artifact. I recorded what each artifact was, manufacturer or designer information, its date, materials, where it was manufactured, dimensions, distinctive features, and any other relevant information. I also photographed each artifact. I loved learning about cataloguing standards (mainly the Canadian Heritage Information Network standards), but also learning about and working with the artifacts themselves. It was very interesting to hold an artifact, and consider who used it, what they thought of it, where it was placed in their home, and if they ever considered it would be considered an artifact/collection item one day.

I also especially enjoyed working on my thesis with my co-supervisors, Dr. Carol Payne and Dr. Andrea Kunard. It was wonderful to work with them, and gain key research and writing experience!

What have you been doing since graduation?

I graduated from Carleton in June 2022, and was delighted to continue working at CUAG virtually throughout the summer, until August 2022. In late October of that year, I began a position as a Processing Archivist at Appleby College. This contract role was very exciting because it gave me the opportunity to research photographs in the school’s collection, as well as learn about the Rules for Archival Description (RAD). This role ended in April 2023, and then I began my current role at the Art Gallery of Algoma (AGA) later this year in September 2023. It’s been so exciting to begin working at the AGA and move to Sault Ste. Marie!