Education prof honoured with international arts education award

Fiona Blaikie, a Professor in the Faculty of Education, is being recognized for her significant international contributions to the global field of art education.

Blaikie is the recipient of the 2020 United States Society for Education through Art (USSEA) and International Society for Education through Art (InSEA) International Edwin Ziegfeld Award. While she may not be able to receive the award in person as planned due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it is still an exciting milestone in a distinguished career.

“At this stage in my professional life, it really is exciting,” said Blaikie. “It means that your colleagues and your peers value your work. That’s more important to me than anything, really; that they value my contributions.”

Blaikie began her career as a high school art and English teacher in South Africa. She came to Canada in the late 1980s to pursue her master’s in art education at the University of Victoria. She worked as a gallery educator at the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria and taught art and English in Victoria before doing her PhD in the Department of Visual and Performing Arts in Education at the University of British Columbia.

Her passion for the arts, regardless of media, is driven by her belief that they play an important role in the lives of people and communities.

“I think they offer people ways to tell stories about lived experiences, about issues, about ideas,” said Blaikie.

While completing her graduate degrees, Blaikie supported herself as a painter and had a studio in British Columbia. Her identity as an artist and creator has shaped her as a researcher and she sees the generation of new ideas through her research as a creative process.

Blaikie’s research is rooted in her interest in the ways people make judgements and the underlying values inherent in those judgements. Her current work focuses on social theory on the body and clothing, new materialism, affect theory and posthumanism. At present, she is editing an international and interdisciplinary collection for Routledge which includes Brock scholars Shauna Pomerantz, Associate Professor of Child and Youth Studies, Kevin Gosine, Associate Professor of Sociology, and doctoral students Julianne Burgess and Nguyen Hoang Giang (Kevin) Le.

Blaikie first came to Brock in 2010 as Dean and Professor in the Faculty of Education. Prior to that, she was a tenured professor at Lakehead University, where she held various administrative roles.

Outside of her work, she has served the field of arts education as President of the Canadian Society for Education through Art and on the Board of Directors for the Canadian National Arts and Learning Symposium. As well, she served two terms on the World Council of the International Society for Education through Art, and as Chief Examiner of Visual Arts for the International Baccalaureate Organization.

Among other awards, Blaikie’s contributions to her field have been recognized with a Canadian Society for Education (CSEA) through Art Affiliate Award in 2005 and honorary life membership of the Canadian Society for Education through Art in 2014.

She says she finds this most recent honour affirming and humbling.

Reflecting back, Blaikie advises colleagues starting out in their academic careers to build supportive communities for themselves to help them navigate challenges.

“There’s often no clear path ahead,” said Blaikie of life as a scholar. “You don’t know what opportunities will present themselves. You don’t know how things will unfold. It’s really important to persevere and show compassion to yourself and others.”

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