Lisa Daniels has been named director of Western’s McIntosh Gallery, effective March 4, 2024.
Daniels’ appointment was announced Jan.18 by Florentine Strzelczyk, provost and vice-president (academic).
“Lisa brings a demonstrated track record in designing and implementing strategic plans and artistic visions,” Strzelczyk said. “She will provide strong leadership, sharing her experience and expertise in developing creative partnerships with our local communities and in the management of McIntosh Gallery operations and programs.”
Daniels is currently director and curator of the MacLaren Art Centre in Barrie, Ont. There, she oversaw and implemented digital engagement technology and upgrades to help the centre move forward post-COVID. In her previous role as director and curator of the Judith and Norman Alix Art Gallery in Sarnia, Ont., she successfully increased community engagement with the gallery through innovative exhibitions, ancillary programming and community partnerships.
Daniels told Western News she’s excited by the opportunity to lead a university-based, public art gallery at a time when the art and cultural sector is in the midst of an evolution, accelerated by the pandemic.
“What attracted me to this role was the fact that university-affiliated art galleries like the McIntosh are not just pedagogically driven, but also civically minded and taking a leadership role in their communities. It really excites me to be part of the re-imagination of the academic gallery within the community, as well as within the institution itself,” she said.
“To be at this moment in time, within an institution that is about innovation and the future, really offers the opportunity to reshape the gallery and be a leader in that broader sector.” – Lisa Daniels, incoming director, McIntosh Gallery
Cultivating community connections through art
Originally from Calgary, Alta., Daniels can’t remember a conscious intention to study art. “It was just a natural progression for me,” she said. “As long as I can remember, I had a very strong, visceral connection to art and theatre. In high school, my refuge was the art studio at lunchtime and after school.”
She earned her BFA from NSCAD University and her master’s in art history, with a diploma in curatorial studies and visual culture from York University.
“When I discovered there was such a thing as being a curator, I realized I was most suited for that role. I’ve always loved being around artists and engaging them with people who don’t have that level of involvement in this sector. I enjoy being immersed in artistic studios and in the artist life, but also facilitating the vision of the artist with the general public and working in a creative and engaging way to bridge and facilitate that dialogue.”
Having begun her PhD in Western’s Art and Visual Culture Program, specializing in Collecting, Curating and Museum Histories and Practices, Daniels says she “knows firsthand that Western is an innovative and future-oriented institution.”
She considers the Western community itself a valuable resource to tap into when shaping a vision for the gallery’s next chapter.
“Because the McIntosh is located within the university, we have built-in, diverse communities, as well as the next generation of artists, curators, thinkers and innovators. It’s a great opportunity to engage and connect with the next generation. What are they thinking? What are their values? I can’t think of anything more meaningful at this stage of my career.”
Strzelczyk thanked her colleagues and community members for their support and acknowledged the dedication of her fellow selection committee members: Catherine Elliot Shaw, acting director of McIntosh Gallery; Joel Faflak, professor, department of English and writing studies; Linda Miller, former vice-provost (graduate and postdoctoral studies); Alena Robin, department chair and associate professor, department of visual arts; Susan Lewis, vice-provost (academic programs); and Patricia Deadman, curator, Woodland Cultural Centre.
Strzelczyk extended a special thank you to Elliot Shaw, who’s been acting director at the McIntosh Gallery since February 2021.
“I want to extend my sincere appreciation to Catherine for her committed and continued leadership of the McIntosh and wish her well as she begins her long-awaited retirement,” Strzelczyk said.