BIO/artist statement

I am a Chicago-based filmmaker, installation artist, and educator who is inspired by the enlightening, humanizing and healing capacities of storytelling. For the past 30 years, I have maintained a collaborative social practice and exhibition career embracing and interrogating the indivisibility of the making of art and the making of relationship.

I work in documentary and experimental film, installation, participatory performance, public and social practice art, and face-to-face gatherings, often involving food and music. The results are stylistically mixed, viewed from multiple perspectives, improvisational, and intentionally open-­ended. My work features intimate, accessible voices in well-crafted images that act as alternatives to corporate media by showcasing speakers' narrative agency, the linchpin of personal and social transformation.  

I have collaborated with a wide range of under-represented and misrepresented communities including people with disabilities, LGBTQI youth, older sex workers, rural hospital workers, and women in the prison system. I am interested in processes that reveal our human connectedness. Many of my installations aspire to create sacred spaces for community healing.

My work has shown across the US and internationally in film festivals, galleries, and museums including DOX Centre for Contemporary Art, Prague; National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington DC; Slamdance Film Festival, Park City UT; Cinema Mostra AIDS, Sao Paulo; Feminist Active Documentary Video Festa, Tokyo; Frameline Film Festival, San Francisco; Creative Time’s Democracy in America; Chicago Humanities Festival; and the United Nations. My films are also widely distributed in educational institutions. I am a Purpose Prize Fellow, a Women’s eNews Ida B. Wells Bravery in Journalism Awardee, a “21 Leaders for the 21st Century” honoree, and the recipient of a Chicago Foundation for Women Impact Award and the Illinois Humanities Council Towner Award.

Current works include Present Absence, a five-channel video installation and website making visible the lives of people killed by Chicago police, generated from interviews with family members; and Code of the Freaks, a look at Hollywood representations of disability from the perspectives of disabled artists and culture critics.

I founded Beyondmedia Education, where from 2000 to 2012 I led workshops with people who are traditionally excluded from media production and self-representation, creating videos, exhibitions, websites, and social media campaigns. As an IREX fellow, I facilitated programs in online journalism and media activism with the Female Journalists Association of Liberia in Monrovia. I have an M.A. in Theatre and Performance and a Ph.D. in Performance Studies from Northwestern University. I teach in the Art Education department at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. I am also a visiting faculty member in the Visual Arts program at Vermont College of Fine Arts. I see teaching as an extension and vital  expression of my artistic practice, and I try to model and promote humanity, accessibility and relationality in the classroom. Key principles include  “me-­search” research, developing student voice, sharing leadership, building classroom community, and creating spaces for discovery and failure.