In July of 2001, after a national search, Carleton University in Ottawa appointed Dr. Allan J. Ryan as the New Sun Chair in Aboriginal Art and Culture—the first position of its kind in the country. For further information see the following Carleton University News Release or the Fall 2001 issue of Research Works.

Carleton University appoints “internationally acclaimed scholar” as New Sun Chair in art and culture

OTTAWA, January 26, 2001 – After a national search, Carleton University has announced the appointment of an innovative scholar as the New Sun Chair—the first university research chair in Canada to specialize in Aboriginal art and culture.

Natalie Luckyj, Director of Carleton University’s School of Canadian Studies, says Allan J. Ryan’s appointment brings a wealth of experience in the area of aboriginal art and culture, and international acclaim for his scholarship.

“With the New Sun Chair, our goal is to enable the development of a generation of scholars in the field of Aboriginal art and culture,” says Luckyj. “Allan Ryan has a strong record of a sensitive and respectful engagement with Aboriginal artists and communities.”

Colleen Cutschall, an Oglala-Sicango-Lakota artist, a professor and Visual Arts Co-ordinator at Brandon University, and past president of the Native American Art Studies Association, calls the appointment “just wonderful. Allan is an outstanding researcher and an entertaining lecturer whose papers and lectures have always been well received. He has welcomed Aboriginal people into his life, and is both supportive and sensitive to the issues,” says Cutschall.

Viviane Gray, a Mi’gmag artist and Coordinator of the Aboriginal Arts Secretariat of The Canada Council for the Arts, says students at Carleton University will have the opportunity of working with a modern scholar who has a unique and humane approach to the study of contemporary Native art. “As an Aboriginal artist and arts professional, I welcome Allan Ryan to Ottawa where I know that he will have a positive impact and influence on the students at Carleton University and also play an important role in promoting Aboriginal art.”

Calling his book, The Trickster Shift, “one of the most important and serious studies of contemporary Native art,” Ruth Phillips, former Professor of Art History at Carleton University and currently Director of the Museum of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia, acknowledges Ryan to be one of “the leading academic university-based scholars of First Nations visual traditions in Canada who brings to the study of visual culture a productive interdisciplinarity.”

The Chair was made possible by an anonymous contribution of $503,000 through the Community Foundation of Ottawa.

About Carleton University’s School of Indigenous and Canadian Studies: The School offers a broad range of exciting and distinctive interdisciplinary courses. Courses in Canadian Studies and Indigenous Studies lead to majors and minors that will complement any undergraduate degree program. At the graduate level, you can study in our well-established MA program in Canadian Studies or apply to the Ph.D. program that has been run jointly with Trent University since 2001. The School of Indigenous and Canadian Studies tackles problems that do not fit easily into disciplinary boundaries, including the relationship between settlers and the land they occupy, the trauma of colonialism and the process of reconciliation, the complexities of understanding and preserving heritage, tensions between urban and rural parts of the country, nation-branding, and the representation and performance of identity. These problems demand creative and innovative research methods and ways of thinking; the goal of our programs is to help students develop the skills necessary to meet them.