This summer we are glad to be in the company of Karla McManus, an art historian who specializes in the study of photography and the environmental imaginary and researcher in residency in our collection. This research project will explore how Canadian artists have engaged with and responded to the growing awareness of environmental crisis, as preserved in the collection of the Artexte Documentation Centre. Focusing particularly on photography, and the genres of landscape, nature, and eco-photography, my research begins from a point of curiosity about the evolution in Canadian artistic practices since 1965, as ideas about the environment have become more nuanced, critical, and interdisciplinary.
Exploring the collection, Karla McManus is interested in discovering how more traditional genres like landscape photography have been subverted or maintained by current ideas about the environment. Artexte’s collection of documents, while rich and varied, raise important questions about artistic access, authority, and institutional framing of the landscape in Canada, as well as the role of the publication in shaping an understanding of Canadian artistic production. This research residency will provide me with the opportunity to explore these questions and bring to public attention some of the counter-narratives in Canadian landscape photography.
Karla McManus is an art historian who specializes in the study of photography and the environmental imaginary. Her writing and research considers how historic and contemporary concerns about the environment—from wildlife conservation, to environmental contamination, to anxiety about the future—are visualized photographically.
Karla has written essays about the landscape practices of contemporary Canadian artists including Jessica Auer, Geneviève Chevalier, David McMillan (forthcoming), and Andreas Rutkauskas. Her scholarly writings can be found in the Journal of Canadian Art History, Imaginations, Captures, the Journal of Canadian Studies, and Intermédialités. She is currently completing a monograph entitled, Eco-Photography: Justice, Nature, and the Global Environmental Imaginary with McGill-Queen’s University Press.
Born and raised in Winnipeg, Montreal has been Karla’s home since 2009. In 2015, Karla was awarded a PhD from the Department of Art History at Concordia University. From 2015 to 2017, Karla was a SSHRCC Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Art History and Art Conservation at Queen’s University. Beginning in July 2017, she will be teaching at Ryerson University’s School of Image Arts as a Limited Term Faculty member.