Modeen, Mary

Professor, Chair of Interdisciplinary Art Practice

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Professor Modeen supervises nine PhD research students currently in various areas of inter- and cross-disciplinary studies, which combine academic and creative studies, much of which focuses on place-based investigation, decolonisation, ecological concerns and geo-locational identities. She supervises and lectures across a broad range of subjects as they coincide with studio practice and contributed extensively to undergraduate and Masters level fine art teaching.

Key Teaching Initiatives

Modeen has been central to the development of interdisciplinary studies in DJCAD and the School of Humanities. She was the Course Director for Art, Philosophy and Contemporary Practices (now simply Art and Philosophy) for over seven years (2003-2010), developing this unique undergraduate course, liaising with the Humanities faculty, for the first early years through its first five years of graduates. Following this, she designed and developed the interdisciplinary Master of Fine Arts in Art & Humanities, for which she was Course Director, from 2012-2018. She was the Coordinator for PhDs and Research Studies, most recently initiating the Masters by Research in DJCAD (both MDes(by Res) and MFA(by Res)) 2015-2021.

To date, Modeen has eleven completed PhD students, 3 completed MRes students, with nine current doctoral candidates. She has served as an External Examiner for 12 PhD students across the UK and internationally. Combined with Convening and Internal Examining, she has served on 25 PhD examinations to date.

2017       Chancellor’s Award for Outstanding Contributions to Teaching at the University of Dundee

2016       DUSA (Dundee Univ. Student Association) Student-Led Teaching Award for Inspirational Teaching


Research Summary:

Modeen’s research focuses on place-based investigations, and the various ways that sitedness grounds our understanding of being in the world, how the environment shapes us and how we co-exist as participant in the world. In conducting this research, she derives from studies in the humanities, particularly philosophy, literature, feminist and indigenous studies and cultural geography. These connect cultural values, history and embodied experience, and sometimes deploy deep mapping methods.

Recent research publications include:

(Book chapter) Ecosophy, Geopoetics and the Desire to Know, in New Relationships with Nature: Creative, Critical and Plural Approaches to Livable Ecological Futures. Riina Haanpää, Ullrich Kockel, Máiréad Nic Craith and Katriina Siivonen (Eds), Studia Fennica Ethnologica, Finnish Literature Society, 2024. Open Access.  

Decolonising Place-Based Arts Research, (M. Modeen, Ed), 2021

Guest Editor, Open Rivers, Issue 20. E-Journal, Institute of Advanced Studies, University of Minnesota

Creative Engagements with Ecologies of Place: Geopoetics, Deep Mapping and Slow Residencies, co-authored with Iain Biggs, (London: Routledge, 2020); 

Modeen, M. ‘Traditional Knowledge of the Sea in a Time of Change: the Caiçaras of Ilhabela, Brazil’ in The Journal of Cultural Geography, Nov. ’20.

Current Funded Research Grant:

1 Sept.'21-22 Feb '22, 'The Rural Reimagined: Connecting Irish and Scottish Artists and Writers with Rural Practices and Narratives.' Co-Funded by the Royal Irish Academy and the Royal Society of Edinburgh. See:

Selected Solo Exhibitions include:

2014          The Absolutely Other, Edinburgh Printmakers Gallery, Edinburgh. Prints, artists' books and constructed prints. With a gallery brochure.

2012-13     Ways in Which the World Takes Shape. Solo large permanent installation within the Min No Aya Win Human Services Center, Fond du Lac Reservation of Chippewa Indians, Cloquet, Minnesota, USA

2007           Te Whenua Maori, Auckland University of Technology, Auckland, New Zealand, with acquisitions for the permanent collection (10 July- Aug)

Two-person exhibitions:

2011           The Enigma of Place, collaborative multi-media installation, with Iain Biggs, for Sensory Worlds: Environment, Value and the Multi-Sensory 7-9th December, in conjunction with the conference Embodied Values: Bringing the Senses Back to the Environment, Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities (IASH), University of Edinburgh. With funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation

2010-11        Landscapes of Epiphany and Memory, with Dr Judith Tucker, Armory Gallery, Virginia Tech University, Blacksburg, Virginia USA.

Recent Selected Group Exhibitions:

2020                Ossuary, a group exhibition curated by Prof Laurie Beth Clark, Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design, 17 January-7 March 2020, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA

2019-22           *Confluence: Tradition in Contemporary Art, a group exhibition, 9 Oct-7 Dec.’19 George Segal Gallery, Montclair State University, New Jersey. And, 27 Nov-31 Dec,’ 21, Sichuan Fine Art Institute, Chongqing, China. And currently: DJCAD,  27 Oct- 22 Dec. 2022. Also, book publication:

Modeen, M. (Editor and author). Confluence: Tradition in Contemporary Art, Montclair, NJ: Montclair State University, 2019. 72pp. ISBN978-0-578-56913-0.  

2017                In Praise of Wetlands exhibition with Biggs and Baeumler, in association with the CMIT Conference sponsored by ASLE-UKI, Bank Street Art Centre, Sheffield, England; Sept.17. Major installation with printed fabric and sound work, and also an artists book entitled In Praise of Wetlands

Selected Publications include:

(Book Chapter) Poetics At The Edge Of Vision And Art, in Poétique Liminars, Mallorca: University of Balearic Islands Press, 2016.

(Book) Invisible Scotland: Revealing a Process of Interdisciplinary Discovery, Mary Modeen (Editor and author), Moray School of Art Press: University of Highlands and Islands, 126pp. With additional funding from The Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland. ISBN: 978-0-9576428-0-5.

Refereed Journal Papers (published)

  • Modeen and H. Whiting,'Groups of the manners in Scotland': David Allan -- the Process and Politics of Printmaking’, Journal of the Scottish Society of Art Historians, Vol. 22 (2016-17), Nov’17, St. Andrews, Scotland
  • Modeen: ‘Breaking the Boundaries of ‘Self’: Representations of Spatial Indeterminacy’, Architecture and Culture Journal, special issue Transgression: Body and Space, Volume 2/Issue 3, November 2014, pp335–358. David Littlefield and Rachel Sara, Eds. ISSN: 2050-7828 Online ISSN: 2050-7836

Recent Residency:

2018         Casa na Ilha, Sao Sebastiao, Brazil

Recent Funded Research Grants:

2019-2020     Global Challenge Research Fund, for interdisciplinary investigation of traditional artisanal fishermen in Brazil;

Future research aims to continue this trajectory with artwork and publications that examine the ‘invisible’ but important elements in perceptions of site-specific places across the world, and especially to support this work with attention to indigenous knowledge, multiple recovered histories, memory and reprised pasts, partially through a process of ‘deep-mapping’, and reindigenising ecological knowledge to rebalance ecosystems.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 5 - Gender Equality
  • SDG 6 - Clean Water and Sanitation
  • SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities
  • SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • SDG 13 - Climate Action
  • SDG 15 - Life on Land

External positions

Visiting Research Fellow

17 Nov 2020 → …


  • NX Arts in general
  • Place Based research
  • NE Print media
  • printmaking
  • N Visual arts (General) For photography, see TR
  • Contemporary Installations
  • Sited work
  • GE Environmental Sciences
  • Place-Based Research
  • Restoration
  • Conservation
  • GF Human ecology. Anthropogeography
  • Indigenous Studies
  • Geo-locational identity
  • GR Folklore
  • Traditional lifestyles
  • BH Aesthetics


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