Photo of Emily Putnam

Emily Putnam

PhD Student, Visual Culture

Degrees:M.A. Art History, concentration in Art Exhibition and Curatorial Practice, Carleton University, B.A. Honours, History & Theory of Art; English Literature (University of Ottawa)

Research Interests: contemporary art, art in Canada, global urban art histories (connecting the local-global through cities), notions/interpretations/interventions into the archive, social justice, equity, and the histories of social movements, museology and curatorial practice

As a curator, art historian, and educator, Emily Putnam’s research and practice emphasizes building relationships, collaboration, and public engagement. She grew up on the traditional territory of the Anishinabewaki and Mississauga nations, and presently resides on the unceded territory of the Algonquin nation. A Teaching Assistant and a Contract Instructor in the School for Studies in Art and Culture, and Emily has also worked as a Research Assistant on numerous projects at Carleton including as a member of the Trans-Atlantic partnership project, “Worlding Public Cultures.”

Emily is the Research Manager of “Mobile Subjects, Contrapuntal Modernisms,” (2023-2027), a SSHRC-funded research project lead by Ming Tiampo.

As of Fall 2023, she is the Managing Director of the Centre for Transnational Cultural Analysis (

Outside of her institutional work with Carleton, Emily is an independent curator and cultural worker. She is currently a Full Member of the Heritage Commemoration Policy Advisory Group for the City of Ottawa as a memory studies expert (2021-ongoing) and was featured in the project’s educational video. She has also worked as an Image Research Associate at the Art Canada Institute from 2019 – 2023 on notable projects such as, but not limited to: Suzy Lake: Life & Work, Jin-me Yoon: Life & Work, War Art in Canada: An Illustrated History, Art & Artists in Ottawa: An Illustrated History, and the forthcoming Photography in Canada: An Illustrated History.

Doctoral Project

Emily’s dissertation research thinks about how art working with archives, and the processes of archiving can transform the way knowledges are learned/unlearned and can expand human capacities of empathy and curiosity for human and non-human beings. She is interested in how art is formed by, with, and through publics and counterpublics, and the ways in which artmaking is significant in acknowledging and understanding shared histories and memories. Her primary scope of theoretical interest includes activism and social justice, memory studies, worlding, cities, and potential/imagined/future archives.

Emily received departmental funding to pursue her doctoral studies and her dissertation research is also funded in part by an Ontario Graduate Scholarship (2021-2022; 2022-2023).

Curatorial Work:

2025 – Grandmother’s Kitchen at the Canada Food and Agriculture Museum, Ingenium, Ottawa, working as a researcher for the exhibition development team (Forthcoming 2025)

2024 – Emma Nishimura: Generations of an Archive at the Town of Lincoln Museum and Cultural Centre, Jordan Station, Ontario (Forthcoming 2024)

2023 – fragmented body, a group exhibition at Glad Day Bookshop, Toronto, as part of the open call exhibitions for the Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival (18 May – end of June 2023). Co-curated with Jaime Nesrallah.

2022 – Norman Takeuchi: Long Division at Karsh-Masson Gallery, Ottawa City Hall, City of Ottawa Public Art Program (8 September – 4 November 2022)

2019/2020 – Sites of Memory: Legacies of the Japanese Canadian Internment at Carleton University Art Gallery (15 September 2019 – 26 January 2020)

2019/2020 – Inheriting Redress: The Ottawa Japanese Community Association Archive at Carleton University Art Gallery (15 September 2019 – 26 January 2020). Co-curated with Rebecca Dolgoy in collaboration with members of the OJCA.

2016 – Laura Kaardal: Across the Intersection at the OAG Annex, Ottawa City Hall (16 April – 26 June 2016). Presented by ART Rental and Sales, the Ottawa Art Gallery.

Courses Taught:

ARTH 4000: Public Art and Art Publics – Fall 2022
ARTH 3000 A: Art and Activism in Canada – Fall 2021

Emily will be a Teaching Assistant in Fall 2023.