Department of Visual Studies

DVS faculty and staff were outraged by the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis and by the countless episodes of police violence against Black people and other people of color before and after his death. In the strongest possible terms, DVS condemns anti-Black racism and discrimination and stands in solidarity with Black community members and the pain, anguish, fear, and deep frustration that so many people are feeling. Race-based violence must be stopped and institutional racism dismantled in North America and elsewhere.

DVS is committed to doing its part to effect positive change. We strive to create an anti-racist, inclusive, diverse, and equitable learning environment where everyone belongs. We are a diverse community, with BIPOC, Latinx, and other people in underrepresented groups working together as professors, staff members, sessional instructors, postdoctoral fellows, and teaching assistants. This doesn't mean our work is done—far from it. Only 18% of DVS's regularly offered cinema, art history, and visual culture courses focus on regions outside Europe. And even though some of the other DVS courses address non-European contexts and BIPOC and Latinx artists, theorists, and filmmakers, we must do better. We are planning to offer courses focused on African, Afro-Canadian and Caribbean topics in the coming terms and to recruit BIPOC instructors to teach them. We are also providing support for the faculty to develop creative pedagogies that can work toward decolonizing the classroom and addressing the hierarchical structures of white privilege embedded in the art and film worlds. Consultations with BIPOC and Latinx scholars in DVS and outside the university will help us revise our curriculum to better reflect the needs and concerns of students today. We are also committed to expanding our student recruitment efforts in racialized communities.

For those of you who are current DVS students or graduates, we are developing an anonymous survey for you to help us gain a more complete view of the inequities and racism students are experiencing inside and outside DVS classrooms. The survey will help us understand what kind of changes—both large and small—you'd like to see in your program so that we can do a better job of upholding and promoting our fundamental values of diversity, inclusion, respect, and civility.

Sheridan, DVS’s institutional partner in two collaborative programs, has signed the Black North Initiative aimed at dismantling systemic racism; you can read about Sheridan’s pledge of support here.

  Three Glitch Art Images banner

Rosa MenkmanBeeches and gleeches (2010); Stallio, scramblgltch6 (2011); Stallio, bibleman_glutch3 (2011). Images courtesy of the artists. 

The Department of Visual Studies (DVS) is an interdisciplinary department that stresses the importance of history, theory, and studio practice in the study of the visual. We are committed to understanding the meaning and power of images and their impact on our lives. Courses examine art, architecture, media images, consumer culture, film, television, video games, political propaganda, new media, websites, and more.


DVS is home to five degree programs:

Art & Art History and Visual Culture & Communication are joint programs with Sheridan Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning. Students combine academic studies at UTM with hands-on classes at Sheridan, studio art in the case of Art & Art History and media production studios in the case of Visual Culture & Communication.

DVS is also home to the award-winning Blackwood Gallery, one of the most respected public contemporary art galleries in the greater Toronto area. The gallery presents a number of curated exhibitions and projects throughout the school year including the annual Grad Show for fourth-year students in the Art & Art History program.  

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“If only, some say, we could do without any image. How so much better, purer, faster our access to God, to Nature, to Truth, to Science could be.” To which other voices (or sometimes the same) answer: “Alas (or fortunately), we cannot do without images, intermediaries, mediators of all shapes and forms, because this is the only way to access God, Nature, Truth and Science.” -Bruno Latour, Iconoclash (2002)