Deputy Director, Chief Curator
Ottawa Art Gallery

catherine sinclair

I first heard about the Bachelor of Humanities when I was at Dawson College CEGEP in Montreal taking a Liberal Arts DEC (Diplôme d’Études Collégiales) in 1997. I soon beelined it for Ottawa, where I began at the College of the Humanities, and embarked on my journey of obtaining a strong foundation in a solid, classical education, and making what are now life-long friends.

I was a little different right off the bat: I used my artwork as a portfolio, and convinced the founder, Professor Peter Emberley, to allow me to take a visual arts class as an elective at the University of Ottawa to round out my Liberal Arts concentration. Four years later, I graduated with a Bachelor of Humanities.

I always knew I would end up in the visual art field, and so, following a year in Japan and another in Montreal, in 2003 I went back to Carleton and earned a Master’s Degree in Canadian Art History. This program included internships and placements, and I managed to secure a 2-day a week job at the Ottawa Art Gallery (OAG) as a curator focused on a 20th-century historical Canadian art collection.

I am now Deputy Director, Chief Curator at the OAG, and my Humanities education certainly contributed to where I am today. My curatorial work involves selecting artists for exhibition, both historical and contemporary, organizing those exhibitions and providing the research to back up those ideas, and assessing and growing the Gallery’s Permanent Collection.

A major part of my job is research and analytic writing, and these skills really began for me in those B.Hum years. At the OAG, I have contributed essays to numerous exhibition catalogues, including most recently

  • “Circling the Essential: Alma Duncan, Abstraction and a Quiet Feminism”
  • “The Miriam and Hudson Sargeant Art Collection” (2014)
  • “Natural Motif: Lorraine Gilbert and Natasha Mazurka” (2013)

I have curated many exhibitions, such as

  • Alma: The Life and Work of Alma Duncan (1917-2004) (forthcoming in 2014)
  • Sell Out? (2013)
  • Explode: Marcelle Ferron and Rita Letendre (2013)
  • Pat Durr: Persistence of Chaos (2012)
  • Wally Dion: Star Blankets (2011)
  • Wyse Works: Exposing the Inevitable (2011).

I have presented on a variety of Canadian art historical topics in forums including

  • University Art Association Conference (UAAC) (Concordia University, Montreal, QC, 2012)
  • Magnetic North Theatre Festival (Ottawa, 2011)
  • An Ontario Association of Art Galleries (OAAG) panel at the Art Gallery of Hamilton (2011)
  • University of Ottawa (2009 and 2014)
  • Canadian Women Artists History Initiative Conference (CWAHI) (Concordia University, Montreal, QC, 2008 and will again in 2015).

Finally, here is some recent coverage of the type of things I am involved with at work.

Catherine Sinclair is Deputy Director, Chief Curator at the Ottawa Art Gallery.

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