Art History alumna Christina Sanita (BFA ’19) came to a cross roads in her University career. She arrived at York U with the goal of becoming a curator. She also loved to paint, had solo exhibitions and received accolades and awards for her work. How to choose her future path? Ultimately she choose a third option, to share her passion for the arts as an educator, enrolling as a Teacher Candidate at Queen’s University.
Read more to learn how Christina came to her decision when her passions were pulling her in multiple directions and how boundaries and challenges motivated her to work harder.
Career and Creativity Path
Christina’s creativity and passion for mentorship has always been outside of the box. She learned to play cello and piano by ear. She was enrolled in art extra curriculars from a very young age, developing a unique but accessible impressionist style. She transitioned her art learning into teaching children both visual art and music in studio and summer camp settings. In the past few years she also took her love of fitness to a professional level becoming certified as a personal trainer, applying her creativity into movement and motivating others.
Her passion for curatorial studies was ignited in grade 11 when she curated her first solo exhibition at Richmond Hill Centre for the Performing Arts, with a keen eye to detail from planning the lighting design to inviting local dignitaries like the Mayor. It was a huge success and a massive undertaking for a 16 year old. A highlight for her was being interviewed by Rogers Television at the opening reception.
“I love being in the art world,” Christina said. “For me, curating is the opportunity to engage in a subject that is really important and interesting and can also give me opportunities to represent myself as an artist.”
She built on that event planning experience to produce a second event at the centre, a concert fundraiser she called Music to Their Ears, to benefit SickKids. She put her organizational gifts to good use recruiting performers of all ages, selling tickets and event sponsorships raising thousands of dollars to help the children’s hospital.
Christina choose York U because of the strength of the Art History program, the option for the Public History Certificate and the opportunity to study art and art history at the same time.
“York gave me the platform and opportunity to connect with Toronto’s arts scene,” Christina said. “I attended lots of events, met artists, went to shows and engaged with the arts scene to learn what goes on behind the scenes, gain insight and experience. Like many industries the art world is so much about connections. It can take a lot of courage to show up at an event but our instructors made it easy for us and it kept getting easier after that.”
Public History Certificate was a challenge for Christina because she’d never taken history at such an advanced level.
“The certificate includes a lot of intense courses,” Christina said. “But York gave me the opportunity and I worked past those boundaries. It was hard, but it makes me value it even more.”
A highlight of that certificate was an internship at the Archives of Ontario. For the internship Christina created a case exhibition titled “Miles Away in the Mediterranean” showcasing travel letters and documents from 1922 that originally belonged to the McLaughlin family and now reside in the archives. The case was on display for a full year.
“It was a super visual display, I digitized many things from the archive including maps, pictures of things they would have seen and excerpts from their travel diary,” Christina said. “I had almost 50 citations of images and text including many letters.”
She also turned her research for that project into a class presentation.
“My prof Jennifer Fisher gave me such good feedback on my presentation skills,” Christina said. “It was part of what helped me understand I wanted to be a teacher.”
Words of Wisdom
Christina recommends exploring your interests and taking courses outside your major.
“I started to take Gospel Choir in 3rd year,” Christina said. “Between my 120% course load, keeping my grades high and dealing with symptoms from a concussion I had in the summer before – I was feeling overwhelmed. Music helped me get through it all. Gospel Choir kept me grounded and I felt like I sang my problems away.”
“York has so many unique opportunities that you’d never get anywhere else. Take advantage and seek new opportunities to learn. There are also great supports on campus like the writing lab and writing centre and workshops and leadership conferences.”
In terms of how she made her decisions, she took time to step back and really think about what she wanted to do after University.
“Reflecting on who I was and my past experience, I kept coming back to the fact that I was a teacher,” Christina said. “I chose education for an opportunity to give back and share my love of art. I hope to inspire people to follow their passions like my art teachers have inspired me.”