Back to top
Jean-Paul Kelly

01.20.21 – Jean-Paul Kelly named the new director of the Daniels Faculty’s visual studies programs

The Daniels Faculty and interim dean Robert Wright are pleased to announce that assistant professor Jean-Paul Kelly has been appointed to the position of director of visual studies, effective January 1, 2021.

As director, Kelly will assume leadership of the Daniels Faculty's visual studies programs. The Daniels Faculty currently offers three different visual studies degrees: a Bachelor of Arts in visual studies, and two Master of Visual Studies degrees, one in studio art and the other in curatorial studies.

"I'm glad to be in the role," Kelly says. "Our students are focused on really incredible innovations in how exhibitions and practices of representation can respond to our changed and changing world. I'm looking forward to working with them and seeing their visions come to fruition."

Kelly was one of the first students to enrol in the University of Toronto's Master of Visual Studies program, when it was created in 2003. He was among the program's first graduating cohort, in 2005.

After graduating, he lectured at OCAD University, Ryerson University, and the University of Toronto. When he wasn't teaching, he was building an internationally recognized body of artistic work.

Kelly's artwork draws upon documentary materials, including film, audio, and photographs. By examining, abstracting, adapting, and re-enacting those source materials, his work, as he puts it, "attempts a radical reassessment of the opaque and tangible ways cultural productions are governed by economic, political, and social structures."

Gallery installation photograph

A photograph of Kelly's installation at the Delfina Foundation.

Kelly's video work has screened at many international festivals, including the Toronto International Film Festival, the International Film Festival Rotterdam, and the New York Film Festival. In 2014, he was the recipient of the Kazuko Trust Award, from Film at Lincoln Centre. The following year, his experimental film The Innocents won the Images Award, the grand prize of that year's Images Festival.

Kelly's recent solo exhibitions include The ends that matter, a multimedia installation at London's Delfina Foundation, where he was a resident. In a feature on Kelly's work, Artforum's Erika Balsom wrote: "In insisting on the variable constructions of documentary form, [Kelly] leads us not into a relativistic realm beyond fact but to an ethics of attunement that must be the starting point for any production of truth."

Kelly succeeds former director Charles Stankievech, who was appointed to the role in 2015 and worked to revise the undergraduate visual studies curriculum, increase the program's exposure through research, and diversify faculty membership.

"I thank Charles for his five years of extraordinary leadership," says Robert Wright, the Daniels Faculty's interim dean. "And I congratulate Jean-Paul on his new appointment. The visual studies program has grown and improved significantly over the past few years, and I'm confident it will continue to do so under this new direction."