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New Media Futures: The Rise of Women in the Digital Arts captures the spirit of women working in digital media arts and education in the Midwest. These pioneers made essential contributions to the international technological revolution, helping to catalyze what we now think of as the age of digital and social media.

Our Herstory Screening Room features works that emerged from seminal events that took place at the University of Illinois and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in the 1980s-2000s, in a fertile environment combining social feminist change, artistic energy, and technological innovation. While women artists in Chicago, marginalized in traditional venues, built a network of independent galleries and exhibit spaces to house and highlight their work, interdisciplinary Renaissance Teams at the University of Illinois developed advanced academic computing communities that created a bridge to the humanities and forged new partnerships between the artist and the scientific environment. Behind this revolution lay a history of social change, artistic innovation, women’s civic leadership, and breakthroughs in science and technology.

Please enjoy a curated video art selection of featured works that were included in New Media Futures:

150 Years of SAIC Trailer, 2016

“Nothing could be worse than the fear that one had given up too soon, and left one unexpended effort that might have saved the world.” –Jane Addams

150 Years of SAIC Trailer features images from 'New Media Futures,' including SAIC Alumni, Ellen Sandor and Jane Veeder; Faculty Member, Claudia Hart; and Book Contributor, Copper Giloth.

The seminal symposium 'Simulations/Dissimulations,' held at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) in 1987, inspired many artists to consider new possibilities of artistic intersections with emerging technologies, which helped form Chicago’s New Media Arts community during the infancy of video art, computer graphics, interactive games, scientific visualization, and virtual reality (VR). The culmination of 'New Media Futures' coincided with the 150th anniversaries of SAIC (2016) and the University of Illinois (2017). Celebrating Women in New Media Arts, a special one-day symposium, was held at SAIC on March 18, 2016, during Women’s Month “to examine the achievements of women in the field of New Media Arts and emerging technologies from the 1980s onward.” 

Symposium participants included Tiffany Holmes, past dean of undergraduate studies and book contributor; Lisa Wainwright, dean of faculty; Ellen Sandor (MFA 1975, HON 2014), book editor and contributor; Donna J. Cox, book editor and contributor; Janine Fron, book editor and contributor; Elissa Tenny, SAIC provost; Barbara Sykes (MFA 1981), book contributor; Dana Plepys (BFA 1981), book con-tributor; Abina Manning, book contributor and director of the Video Data Bank; Carolina Cruz-Neira, book contributor; Margaret Dolinsky, book contributor; Lucy Petrovic, book contributor; Jon Cates, SAIC faculty; Brenda Laurel, book contributor; Jane Veeder (MFA 1977), book contributor; Copper Giloth, book contributor and former SAIC faculty; Stephanie Rothenberg (MFA 2003); David Getsy, SAIC faculty; Snow Fu (MFA 2014), SAIC faculty; Claudia Hart, book contributor and SAIC faculty; Lee Black (MFA 2011), SAIC faculty; Marlena Novak, SAIC faculty; Sabrina Raaf (MFA 1999); Maxine Brown, book contributor; Christina Gomez, SAIC faculty; Faith Wilding, former SAIC faculty; Terri Kapsalis, SAIC faculty; Jessica Westbrook, SAIC faculty; Kirsten Leenaars, SAIC faculty; and Lynn Tomaszewski, SAIC associate dean of graduate studies.

The SAIC 2016 event featured opening introductions made by Lisa Wainwright, Tiffany Holmes, Ellen Sandor, and Donna J. Cox. Topical panel discussions and presentations explored the early history of video art and New Media, VR, science and art, narrative in games, and cyberfeminism, which resonated with artists, faculty, and students who are striving to contribute to contemporary society in meaningful ways. The symposium concluded with a screening of Donna Cox’s exquisitely rendered films of the earth and the cosmos at the Gene Siskel Film Center. In an insightful, concluding roundtable discussion, students were encouraged by all participants that they could make a differ-ence in the world through hard work, tenacity, and compassion, as the women interviewed in the book candidly spoke of their experiences. The significance of community building underscored the entire event, with acknowledgment of all of the unknown women who made a difference before us.

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Courtesy of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago

From New Media Futures:

"This book and the artists and projects recounted here will prove a key text for future generations of intrepid women working across disciplines to ask the hard questions about our place in the universe and how to best “map” the conditions they encounter. Technology is a valuable handmaiden in the advances of culture, but only when wielded with a spirit of empathy, collaboration, and care, skills in which women, in my opinion, excel.”
— Dr. Lisa Wainwright Vice President of Academic Affairs and Dean of Faculty, School of the Art Institute of Chicago


“This is a fascinating and important book. It will appeal to scientists, technologists, artists, and the general public. It tells wonderfully exciting stories of creative, risk-taking women (and men) that will inspire present and future generations. These stories demonstrate that the creative spark that drives scientists and artists knows no disciplinary boundaries. And it is simply a delightful read.”
— Walter E. Massey, Past Chancellor, School of the Art Institute of Chicago



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