Meet The AGGV’s New Chief Curator: Q&A with Jaimie Isaac

Jaimie Isaac joined the AGGV as the new Chief Curator in September 2021, and we’re excited to get to know her more in this interview!

Jaimie is a curator and interdisciplinary artist, member of Sagkeeng First Nation in Treaty 1 Territory and is of mixed heritage. Prior to coming to the AGGV, she served as the Indigenous and Contemporary Arts Curator at the Winnipeg Art Gallery for more than 6 years and has been in leadership positions in arts and cultural organizations as well as many independent projects.

Q: The staff, volunteers and members of the AGGV are excited to welcome you into our community. How do you see your role as Chief Curator taking shape here?

J.I.: Well I’m excited to be here. The AGGV has a great reputation, so continuing in that path, I would like to expand the collection, programming and exhibitions further to support and make/hold space for many voices, experiences and perspectives. One of the first tasks is to expand our team by creating 4 new positions and restructuring so we can work together in full capacity to maintain current projects and open up new possibilities with exhibitions, collections, programming, outreach and partnerships. With future generations in mind, and a connecting intercultural diverse perspectives, I’m looking forward to working with the staff and leadership to embark on the new gallery.  To ensure holding space for development of new exhibitions and partnerships, with the intent of representing an inclusive and relevant program, indicative of what is motivating art production and dialogue today.

Q: What curatorial projects do you have in the pipeline that we can all look forward to in the near future?

J.I.: I’m very excited to work with the team to dream up future projects, create a vision and trajectory that includes an inclusiveness, regional reciprocity and relevance, criticality and rigour within interdisciplinary practices. Programming, community engagement and building community relationships and partnerships are integral to my curatorial and leadership methodologies for the purposes  of creating meaningful experiences for the artists and audiences. I do have some exhibitions that are underway and can’t wait to announce them soon…

Q: You have written extensively about decolonizing the curatorial practice. Can you briefly share your views on the subject with our readers? 

J.I.: Decolonial theory, methods and practices are significant areas of interest. In the context of reconciliation,  comprehending what colonization/decolonization means is key.   Understanding, identifying and recognizing the colonial systems and the consequential circumstances, the process towards deconstructing that knowledge – individually and socially takes time, energy, strength, truth and dedicated commitment. In considering collections and exhibitions, institutions need to respond to the gaps in contemporary art collected and shown in order to more support IBPOC and LGBTQIA2S+ artists – which has been underrepresented or misrepresented for too long. I’m interested in learning more about what other institutions are doing to sustain a relevant presence in the future, and what 21st museums and galleries have the potential to be.

Q: What do you think about the diversity of cultural objects in the AGGV’s collection?

J.I.: I will be working with the collections team to analyze and review the collection, understand what we have in our collection in order to address the gaps and organize a focused plan ahead. I have done this in a previous role and it’s eye-opening to analyze a collection and with reasoning, advise a plan to reflect regional relevance within the collection and redress underrepresentation – as many institutions are doing – taking an inward assessment.

Q: If you could highlight just one object from the collection, what would it be and why?

J.I.: I’m still in the process of delving in and understanding what we have in the collection! There are so many to choose from – you’ll have to ask me that same question next time!

Thank you, Jaimie!

Feature image: Jaimie Isaac. Photo credit: Scott Benesiinaabandan. Courtesy of Jaimie Isaac, AGGV Chief Curator.