Ruba Kana’an, historian of Islamic art at University of Toronto Mississauga’s (UTM) Department of Visual Studies considers how art and architecture enrich our lives and the stories it tells about people and places.
Kana’an has a regular exercise called “Imploding the object” that requires students to look at a particular three-dimensional object she brings to the classroom and consider what questions they might ask about it. She says questions come up regarding its design, including shape, style, and colour, but the considerations expand out from there. “They ask questions about labour – how it was made? How it is marketed? What does that tell us about society?” says Kana’an.
Prior to returning to academia and becoming a full-time faculty member at UTM in 2020, she worked extensively in outreach and scholarly communications, and was an integral member of the leadership team of the Aga Khan Museum three years before it opened in Toronto in 2014. The museum is the only one of its kind dedicated to Islamic art in North America. She says she was fortunate to have the opportunity to shape the stories the museum wants to tell, and that learning to reach a diverse community in her museum experience has helped inform her current teaching and research communication.
“One of my major roles at the Aga Khan Museum was that I was responsible for educational and scholarly programs, which requires communicating about the art to different groups of visitors, whether that is a child, a scholar, or a family coming to the museum for an outing,” says Kana’an.
Full article at UTM