Research is vital to NSCAD’s mission, culture and success and the university is committed to creating and fostering opportunities that advance the visual arts and furthers NSCAD’s reputation as a leader in research pertinent to the university’s mandate.

In our increasingly complex and diverse cultures, research in the visual arts requires knowledge, experience, originality, reflection, risk, experimentation, innovation, invention, flexibility and adaptability, among others. Although there are many approaches to research at NSCAD, many successful research practices find common themes: the identification of significant questions, issues and/or interests for inquiry; the development of a body of knowledge and understandings of the contexts in which questions, issues, interests are positioned; the employment of a relevant method of inquiry, toward an outcome; and, the communication of the outcome of the inquiry to the communities which have an interest in the research, including the public.

Although the scope and nature of research at NSCAD is fundamentally rooted in the priorities of Divisions, discipline areas, and individual researchers, the university has assigned overarching responsibility for research to the Provost and Vice-President (Academic Affairs). Those responsibilities include: ensuring that research initiatives are in compliance with university’s policies and that the university is in compliance with regulations of funding partners, promoting, supporting the ongoing and emerging research areas and opportunities for new initiatives; liaising effectively with funding and other partners, including post-secondary institutions nationally and internationally.  

With the support of the Office of Research Services and Industry Liaison and other university-wide administrative offices, NSCAD faculty, students, and staff are engaged in a range of individual and collective projects relevant to research in the visual arts and design. As well, the University continues its support of its research centres, institutes, and clusters, including those well established, emerging, or proposed.  Research activities in the visual arts are often interdisciplinary, involving private and public partners and collaborators from other cultural organizations and educational institutions as well associations with business and industry. Research activities at NSCAD are supported by funding agencies specific to the arts, by funding bodies specific to the social sciences and the humanities, the natural sciences and engineering, as well as through other federal and provincial agencies, and the private sector.

 Pushing the boundaries of art and design

NSCAD Professors are not only artists but innovators and researchers. Here are some examples of NSCAD researchers:

-    Prof. Gary Markle (Fashion) has been looking into creating a fashion line for seniors, called Well Worn. Inspired by his mother, who has dementia, Prof. Markle wants to make clothes that are fashionable, are comfortable, are easy to take on and off, and allow the wearers to maintain their dignity. Funding was received through the Canadian Institute of Health and Research (CIHR). Read more »

-    Prof. Darrell Varga, Canada Research Chair, Art History and Critical Studies, has a book forthcoming from McGill-Queen’s University Press. Shooting From the East: Filmmaking on the Canadian Atlantic is a major work of scholarship on the history of filmmaking in the Atlantic region, from the early days of art cinema, including the presence of Robert Frank at NSCAD, through to the establishment of a commercial feature film and television industry.  Read more »

-    Prof. Glen Hougan (Design) is also interested in design for seniors. He has been researching medication management systems and assistive aids for the bathroom. Prof. Hougan is a leader in design for aging populations. For more information, please see "How Older People Adapt Everyday Objects to Make Life Easier" in The Wall Street Journal.

-    Prof. Sandra Alfoldy (Art History and Critical Studies) is investigating the plethora of "artisan" and "handcrafted" labels and the impact on genuine craft professionals.

-    Prof. Sam Fisher (Film) has created the “Andra” focus puller to “democratize” the craft of focus pulling for the film industry. Read more »

-    Mathew Reichertz (Painting) is working with colleagues Bryan Maycock at NSCAD and Raymond Klein and John Christie at Dalhousie University to explore the effects of lighting on the drawing process. Visit the Drawing Lab website »

-    Paul Maher (Foundation) is designing visual artifacts and participatory art experiences to engage decision makers, experts and communities on the topic of climate change. Visit Paul Maher's website »

Contact Information

Ann-Barbara Graff, Ph.D.
Vice-President, Academic & Research

Marlene Ramos
Research Grants Officer (Acting),
Office of Research Services
5163 Duke Street, D301
Halifax, Nova Scotia  B3J 3J6
Phone: 902.444.7221

Eric MacDonald
Academic Affairs and Research
5163 Duke Street, D300
Halifax, Nova Scotia  B3J 3J6
Phone: 902.494.8220

Contact Information