Professor Janine Marchessault among 2024 Killam Prize recipients » School of the Arts, Media, Performance & Design
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Janine Marchessault

Professor Janine Marchessault among 2024 Killam Prize recipients

Professor Janine Marchessault among 2024 Killam Prize recipients

York University Professor, Dr. Janine Marchessault has been named one of the five recipients of the esteemed 2024 Killam Prize. She has been honoured for her work in community based and site-specific public art exhibitions, research-creation, and public outreach.

The announcement of the Killam Prize recipients on March 19, 2024, celebrated the exceptional contributions of Canadian researchers across various disciplines. Each year, five eminent individuals are selected for their remarkable work in the humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, health sciences, and engineering, with a prize of $100,000 awarded to each recipient. Marchessault was recognized in the Humanities category.

Janine Marchessault, a prominent Canadian scholar in media and art activism, focuses on community-based public art, research-creation, and public outreach.

As a Professor of Cinema and Media Arts and Tier One Research Chair in Media Arts and Community Engagement, Marchessault has consistently demonstrated leadership and innovation in her field. Her expertise spans cinema studies, communications studies, and contemporary art, positioning her as one of Canada's foremost scholars in media and art activism. Notably, she serves as the principal investigator for Archive/Counter-Archive: Activating Moving Image Heritage, a collaborative research initiative involving over 14 community and artist-run archives in Canada. This project, dedicated to preserving diverse histories from Indigenous, LGBTQ, immigrant, and women's experiences, highlights Marchessault's commitment to amplifying marginalized voices and fostering inclusive narratives.

"The Killam has over the past several years recognized the role of public media culture (cultural festivals, film history, exhibitions, collective cultural experiences, performance) as vital forms of civic culture -- recognizing the ways in which arts, digital media and new technologies have the potential to transform our material understanding of the world around us in an effort to enhance our cultural and civic engagement as Canadians and global citizens," says Marchessault. "It is a recognition of the importance of public history, collective memories, and the need to find innovative voices and places for the exchange and creation of cultural knowledge in order to reimagine the future of the planet. Artists, through experimental and community based forms of art making, are helping to pave the way for what the Killam committee called 'sustainable dreaming.'"

Marchessault was also the co-founder of Future Cinema Lab and the inaugural Director of Sensorium: Centre for Digital Arts and Technology Research at York University. In 2012, she was awarded a prestigious Trudeau Fellowship to pursue her curatorial and public art research around the problem of sustainable development.

"Dr. Marchessault is a prolific researcher and a recognized global leader in media arts and activism," said School of the Arts, Media, Performance and Design Dean Sarah Bay-Cheng. "She has championed important new initiatives at the University, including the establishment of the Sensorium Centre for Digital Art & Technology (inaugural director, 2014-2016). Marchessault's publications include 15 monographs and edited volumes and more than 50 essays and articles. The significance of her work is evident not only in her individual academic accomplishments, but also in Marchessault's sustained commitment to community-engaged work through public art exhibitions, innovative approaches to moving image archives, and excellence in teaching and mentorship of students at the intersections of art, technology and society. She is an exemplary scholar and colleague from whom I continue to learn so much."

As we celebrate Marchessault's well-deserved recognition as a Killam Prize recipient, her exemplary contributions serve as a testament to the power of interdisciplinary research, community engagement, and artistic innovation in addressing pressing global challenges. Marchessault embodies the spirit of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities. By leveraging media arts and community engagement, she contributes to the promotion of inclusive, resilient, and sustainable urban environments for all.

Read more about Janine's work and achievements on her faculty profile page.