Andrea N. Walsh

Andrea N. Walsh
Associate Professor and Smyth Chair in Arts & Engagement

On leave

Office: COR B238

PhD York

Area of expertise

Visual anthropology, visual culture & theory, contemporary First Nations visual culture

I am a visual anthropologist who specializes in 20th-century and contemporary aboriginal art and visual culture in Canada, as well as theoretical and methodological approaches to visual research.

I am interested in collections of objects and images and how museums and galleries curate and exhibit these pieces of material culture. My primary purpose for thinking about collections is to consider how institutions, which care for Indigenous objects and images, engage Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities and audiences through curatorial and exhibition practice. My work critically reflects on and addresses discourses and actions of reconciliation and redress regarding relationships between Indigenous peoples and Canada. My focus on these larger issues through art and visual culture flows through art and cultural and educational institutions. The majority of my work as a visual anthropologist and curator is based in community led research initiatives that seek to engage these institutions and their practices.

My work as a visual anthropologist and curator is two fold:

  • Indian Residential School and Indian Day School art collections: My community-based curating and research considers the historical and contemporary significance of aboriginal children's art created and its role today in reconciliation and redress actions and movements.
  • Contemporary art practices by Indigenous artists from nations in Canada. My curatorial work and writing about contemporary Indigenous art and artists explores how art is a medium for negotiating complex intercultural experiences of continuing colonial spaces, places, and histories.


I have directed the Visiting Artist Program out of the Department of Anthropology since 2011. This program brings artists of Salish ancestry into the Anthropology of Art class (ANTH 305) to teach students about their practice. Over a series of weekly class and studio visits with the invited artist, students have worked with artists on ideas and concepts of culture, land, identity and residential schools, as part of a series of dialogues and roundtables, and they have learned hands on techniques through interactive sessions with various artists.

The Visiting Artist Program has hosted the following artists to date:

  • May Sam, Joni Olsen, Adam Olsen W̱JOȽEȽP (Tsartlip First Nation) (with Sylvia Olsen), 2013.
  • Sheilia Austin, Tsartlip First Nation, 2014.
  • Temoseng, Charles Elliott W̱JOȽEȽP (Tsartlip First Nation), 2015.
  • Susa’meethl Deb George, Cowichan Tribes, 2016.

  • Doug and Kathy LaFortune, Tsawout First Nation, 2017.

Over the term that ANTH 305 is offered, each Visiting Artist creates a piece of work in connection with the class or their teaching. This work is then installed as part of the growing public exhibition of Salish art in the Cornett Building

The exhibition of art in the Cornett building was initiated with the installation of window designs by the Salish artist lessLIE.


  • Museums and galleries
  • Archives and collections research
  • Curatorial studies
  • Visual anthropology
  • Visual culture & theory
  • Contemporary First Nations visual culture IN THE NEWS...


Fall 2023/Spring 2024

  • Not teaching

Current projects

Collections and Community Based Research and Curating

Indian Residential School and Day School art collections.

  • At present I’m collaborating with two groups of residential school Survivors (from the Alberni IRS formerly of  Port Alberni, British Columbia and the MacKay IRS formerly of Dauphin, Manitoba) as part of a community based repatriation initiative of paintings created at these schools by children in the late 1950s and early 1960s. The work involving the Alberni paintings includes an ongoing partnership with the Alberni Valley Museum, and the work in northern Manitoba is being carried out in partnership with the University College of the North in Thompson, Manitoba. Through our curatorial and research collaboration Survivors and their families, community members, faculty, and students work together to mount public exhibitions of the children’s paintings. The initial work on these projects began with our participation in regional and national events associated with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. Our work to reconnect and repatriate residential art works is recorded as part of the TRC’s final report and is described in the Executive Summary of the TRC’s final report. Our collaboration between the university faculty, staff, students, and Survivors also seeks to mobilize knowledge within Indigenous communities about the existence of collections of residential school art and archives within institutional and private collections. This work is conducted through the RIDSAR (Residential and Indian Day School Research) Collective run out of the Department of Anthropology’s Visual Research Lab. Please see the film about Healing through connection.
  • In the summer of 2015 I began discussions with Survivors from the McKay IRS at Dauphin, Manitoba in dialogue with Dr. Jennie Wastesicoot at the University College of the North. In the spring of 2016 we formed a project to repatriate a collection of paintings created by children at the MacKay IRS in the 1960s. The transfer of the paintings to the University College of the North occurred in the spring of 2018 and Dr. Wastesicoot, Lorilee Wastasecoot (UVIC Social Sciences graduate) are working toward a collaborative research program with Survivors and families beginning the in spring of 2019.

Selected media links about the repatriation of the Alberni IRS artworks to Survivors and families.

Contemporary Art Curating and Writing

  • 2017 - I curated, There is Truth Here: Creativity and Resilience in Children’s Art from Indian Residential and Day Schools.

  • 2016 - I curated the exhibition, Out of the Frame: Contemporary Salish Printmaking for the Legacy Art Gallery.

  • 2015 - I authored the exhibition essay for Rande Cook’s (‘Namgis First Nation) solo exhibition, Behind the Gold Veil, at the Campbell River Art Gallery. Essay title “What The Veil May Reveal” (2015).

  • 2014 - I curated along with Survivors from the Alberni IRS the exhibition We Are All One. This exhibition was the largest exhibition of repatriated paintings from the school to date, and it focused on the relationships between art teacher Robert Aller and his students and the content of the paintings they created under his tutelage.

  • 2013 - I curated with Dr. Robina Thomas the exhibition To Reunite to Witness to Honour. This exhibition was the first exhibition of Alberni IRS repatriated paintings and it focused on the return process of the works of art.

  • 2013 -  Re-connections: Coast Salish Knitting and Resilience in Chicago. Arts Incubator/Field Museum. Ethnographic Terminalia Exhibition. Chicago.

Faces of UVic Research video

In this video, Dr. Walsh explains the study of visual anthropology, and discusses her work with children's art from Residential Schools. She also explains how the study of art helps us to understand the past, the present, and the future.

Selected publications


  • 2015 -What The Veil Reveals. Curatorial Essay for Behind the Veil: Rande Cook at the Campbell River Art Gallery.
  • 2009 - Healthy Bodies, Strong Citizens: Okanagan Children's Drawings and the Canadian Red Cross" in Depicting Canada's Children. Loren Lerner, ed. Waterloo, Ontario. Wilfred Laurier Press.
  • 2009 - (with Dominic Lopes) Objects of Appropriation, in The Ethics of Cultural Appropriation. Conrad Brunk and James Young, eds. Pp.211-234. Malden, MA. Blackwell Publishing.
  • 2006 - Re-placing History. Critiquing the Colonial Gaze Through Photographic Works by Jeffrey Thomas and Greg Staats, in Locating Memory: Photographic Acts. Annette Kuhn and Kirsten McAllister, eds. Pp. 21-51. London, Berghahn Books.
  • 2005 - Nk'Mip Chronicles: Art from the Osoyoos Museum. Osoyoos Museum Society, Osoyoos, BC.
  • 2004 - Drawing on Identity: The Inkameep Day School Art Collection –

Curatorial work

  • 2017 – There is Truth Here: Creativity and Resilience in Children’s Art from Indian Residential and Day Schools. Legacy Art Gallery. September 23, 2017 – January 6, 2018.

  • 2016 - Out of the Frame: Contemporary Salish Printmaking. Legacy Art Gallery. June 8 – October 1, 2016.

  • 2013 - To Reunite, To Honour, To Witness: Art from the Port Alberni Indian Residential School. Legacy Gallery, Victoria BC. May 8 – June 13.

  • 2014 - We Are All One. Alberni Valley Museum. Port Alberni, BC. October 21, 2014-March 7, 2014.

  • 2007 - 08 "Transporters: Contemporary Salish Art" Art Gallery of Greater Victoria. November 2, 2007-February 24, 2008.

  • 2007 - "Nk'Mip Chronicles: Drawings from the Osoyoos Museum" Travelling Tour to Penticton, Kaslo, and Grand Forks, British Columbia. July – November.

  • 2004 - "Nk'Mip Chronicles: Drawings from the Osoyoos Museum" Maltwood Museum and Art Gallery. February 23 – April 06.

  • 2000 - "Nax'wida gyax xux (let there be light) "20 year Retrospective, Francis Dick, Kwak waka wakw artist. March 17 – April 5th. Maltwood Museum and Art Gallery.