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Faculty appointment: NSCAD welcomes Dr. Joshua Schwab-Cartas

NSCAD University is very pleased to welcome Dr. Joshua Schwab-Cartas to its distinguished faculty as Assistant Professor, Art Education, Division of Art History and Contemporary Culture.

Dr. Schwab-Cartas’s work explores notions of belonging, storytelling, memory, community building, and representation through socially engaged film and documentary. His technology-based projects also address issues of equity and connection, such as the Zapotec language acquisition app he developed that combines visuals such as drawings with accessible learning activities.

“I’m really excited to join NSCAD and work in an institution where ‘art’ is the essential core of its identity,” said Dr. Schwab-Cartas. “I’ve always been curious to see how art can support and sustain Indigenous language and community tradition.”

Dr. Schwab-Cartas’ research explores how technology becomes a bridge when grounded in Indigenous culture.

“Cellphilm, the medium in which I currently work, is a participatory visual storytelling methodology using cellphones,” he said. “Cellphilm demystifies technology for elders and allows them to share their stories with the community and the youth. Youth, in turn, learn to value their technology literacy by making the stories and culture accessible to their own generation through channels they are actively using.”

Two men and a woman filming two Indigenous men with oxen and carts in a slow moving riverr
Participants in cellphilm documentary entitled Leonel Nisa- Nguiiu Riguba Yuxhi (Leonel Water- The sandman). Photo: Dr. Schwab-Cartas

His innovative research explores intergenerational language revitalization and youth cultural production in Canadian and Mexican contexts and includes a SSHRC-funded PhD in Education from McGill that focuses on decolonial, Indigenous, and anti-racist approaches through visual methodologies. Dr. Schwab-Cartas’ co-edited book What’s a Cellphilm? Integrating Mobile Phone Technology into Participatory Arts Based Research and Activism (2016, Sense) is the first book on cellphilm methodology. He is currently pursuing a SSHRC postdoctoral fellowship at University of British Columbia.

“Dr. Schwab-Cartas’ expert knowledge brings together community-based work, vernacular technology, and activism, particularly as it respects language revitalization, and makes him particularly well-suited for this position,” said NSCAD’s Vice-President (Academic & Research) and Provost Dr. Ann-Barbara Graff. “He brings deep knowledge of supporting marginalized and racialized students. This diverse and exciting portfolio will make Dr. Joshua Schwab-Cartas a vibrant new voice in art education at NSCAD.”

“As an Indigenous person, I know that technology- and visually-based approaches gives us the power to tell our stories from a participant-led set of practices that reflect nuanced and distinct Indigeneity,” said Dr. Schwab Cartas. “It also helps demystify the process of research and personalizes it for students. I believe that some of the best work people do is when they have a personal connection to it.”