Faculty of Communication, Art and Technology, School of Interactive Arts & Technology, School for the Contemporary Arts, School of Communication, Performance & Culture, Media & Politics, Art & Design

Celebrating Black History Month across the Faculty of Communication, Art and Technology

February 18, 2022

To celebrate Black History Month, we’re highlighting the work of our Black faculty members whose research and creation are integral to our programs. In our School for the Contemporary Arts, Professor Henry Daniel’s work is at the intersection of dance, performance studies and new technology. In our School of Interactive Arts and Technology, University Lecturer Chantal Gibson’s research interests include art, decolonization, and social activism in the Canadian cultural landscape; technologies of literacy and the overlap between literary and visual art; and semiotics and the representation of identity. In our School of Communication, Assistant Professor Victoria E. Thomas focuses on Black popular cultural studies, queer & transgender media studies, and media criticism. 

Henry Daniel

Distinguished SFU Professor Henry Daniel’s research concentrates on strengthening notions of Practice-as-Research (PaR), Arts-based-Research, and Research/Creation in Canada. He leads a group of artists and scholars who help define new parameters for excellence in these areas. 

Daniel’s most recent multi-year research project, Contemporary Nomads, investigates patterns in large-scale movements of bodies across international spaces by thinking of them as a transnational choreography. His new monograph “Re-choreographing Cortical and Cartographic Maps” with Intellect Books will be on the shelves this summer.

Before joining the School for the Contemporary Arts in 2000, Daniel’s professional dance career included being a founding member of Astor Johnson's ground-breaking company, the Repertory Dance Theatre of Trinidad and Tobago, and working with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Centre Workshop, Pearl Primus African American Dance Company, Frank Ashley Dance Company, Asakawalker Dance Company, the Bernhard Ballet, and as soloist with the José Limón Dance Company of New York. In Germany he founded and directed Henry Daniel and Dancers while continuing to work as a member of TanzProject MünchenTanztheater Freiburg, and Assistant Director, Choreographer, and Dancer for Tanztheater Münster with Birgitta Trommler. In the UK he founded and directed the performance group Full Performing Bodies, which he still maintains.

Listen to Daniel discuss what it means to be a nomadic artist on The Background Dancer podcast.  

Photo: B Kadonoff.

Chantal Gibson

A 2021 recipient of the 3M National Teaching Fellowship and 2016 recipient of an SFU Excellence in Teaching Award, Chantal Gibson is a compassionate educator and celebrated author and visual artist who has been teaching writing and design courses in our School of Interactive Arts and Technology since 2002. Her art practice confronts common knowledge and questions assumptions embedded in cultural institutions and imperialist systems. 

Her artwork has been exhibited in Toronto’s ROM, the Vancouver Public Library, and Canada’s Senate. Souvenir is currently on display on Canada’s east and west coasts as part of Art Gallery of Nova Scotia’s permanent collection in their Tyranny exhibit and as part of the Museum of Anthropology’s Sankofa: African Routes, Canadian Roots exhibit on display until March 27, 2022. 

Gibson’s first book of poetry, How She Read, received the Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize and was shortlisted for the Griffin Poetry Prize. Her latest collection, with/holding, examines the representation and reproduction of Blackness across communication media and popular culture. 

Listen to Gibson's interview with Nora Young on CBC Spark talking about how with/holding takes up the themes of race and digital media. 

Victoria E. Thomas 

Victoria E. Thomas joined the School of Communication in 2021 and is currently teaching courses in the undergraduate program, including one of the school’s most popular, Race and the Media.

Her most recent paper, “Black Trans Lives Matter: Social Activism, Solidarity, and Performances of Black Trans Sisterhood” was published in the special Black Lives Matter edition of the Pennsylvania Communication Annual, which she also guest edited. She explains in her editor’s letter: 

“The phrase Black Lives Matter first appeared on Twitter in 2013 as a hashtag to advocate and provide awareness about the murder of Trayvon Martin. As a hashtag, the phrase Black Lives Matter marked a moment in which Alicia Garza, a Black cisgender woman, chose to remind Black folks and the world that Black people are valuable (Ransby, 2018). Black Lives Matter has since morphed into a social movement, a mantra for Black liberation, and sadly, an ideology that has become a divisive topic for friends, families, communities, and the nation.”

Read the full letter and Thomas’s paper: Thomas, V.E. (2021) Black Trans Lives Matter: Social Activism, Solidarity, and Performances of Black Trans Sisterhood. Pennsylvania Communication Annual, 77(2), 31-51.