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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:

Ellen Sandor & (art)n : A Burst of Hope: Editing the BRCA Gene, 2022

A Burst of Hope: Editing the BRCA Gene, 2022
Ellen Sandor & (art)n: Diana Torres and Azadeh Gholizadeh
Caren Helen Rudman
Digital PHSCologram Sculpture

An immersive collage of paintings are interwoven with scientific renderings and a provocative, intergenerational narrative that explores one family’s challenges with overcoming their genetic disposition for the BRCA-Gene. Drawing inspiration from Ellen Sandor and (art)n’s recent collaboration with Jennifer Doudna, who along with Emmanuelle Carpenter was awarded the Nobel Prize for their discovery of CRISPR, this work confounds viewers through a journey of strength, hope, and beauty.

As heroines of STEM, Doudna and Carpenter became the sixth and seventh women to win the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for their breakthrough genetics research. As described by Doudna, CRISPR is used as a gene-editing tool to cut DNA at precise places within a cell to replace/repair sequences that may be causing a disease, including autism and cancer. It is hopeful that it can be used to heal patients diagnosed with the BRCA-Gene, increasing mortality rates and potentially reversing women’s family DNA inheritance to break women free from the cycle of this threatening disease.

As a visual artist and curator, Caren Helene Rudman endured life-saving surgeries to overcome her inherited genetic affliction with the BRCA-Gene. Rudman created an ethereal canvas portfolio, capturing her process of grieving and releasing her personal experiences to inspire other women’s healing journeys through artistic expression.

The textures comprised of her mixed media paintings infuse the scientific, sculptural renderings and virtual expression of CRISPR, creating pathways of healing that combine science and art. To create an appliqué collage of photographs by women artists to embellish the sculpture, (art)n included classic artworks from the Richard and Ellen Sandor Family Collection, featuring Diane Arbus, Lotte Jacobi, Dora Maar and Judy Dater, revealing a feminist gaze of the female form, captured from pivotal moments in art history.

The installation includes ethereal video portraits, photographic montages and PHSColograms, revealing a healing journey that combines artistic expression with scientific breakthroughs that may turn the tide on this fatal disease to break the genetic cycle for so many women. The featured portraits by Diane Arbus, Lotte Jacobi, Dora Maar, and Judy Dater, circa 1935-1974, mirror the feminist revolution that began ripening in the 1970s, after women experienced a sense of freedom and empowerment from their vital contributions during WWII and its recovery. Women’s health issues are an imperative for the vitality of our society to flourish alongside the evolution of our shared humanity. May this installation illuminate, inspire and bring hope for all women and future generations.

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