April 9, 2018
Tyler Sloan '17
photo of professor with art equipment
Christensen in 2015 with "e-waste," a concept that she explores in her artwork. Photo credit: Jennifer Manna

Christensen’s innovative work explores the ways in which technology interacts with the environment, science, and society through mixed media art. 

The John Simon Guggenheim Foundation named Associate Professor of Integrated Media Julia Christensen a 2018 Guggenheim Fellow on Thursday, April 5. The prestigious fellowship, awarded to approximately 175 of 3,000 applicants each year, seeks to facilitate scholars’ and artists’ research “under the freest possible conditions and irrespective of race, color, or creed.” For Christensen’s project, she will focus on how technological “upgrade culture” is impacting institutions, archives, and scientific research.

“I am excited to be working with scientists at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab (JPL) in Pasadena to make artwork about a future space mission to Proxima b, an exo-planet 4.2 light years from Earth,” says Christensen, who is working toward a show of this work in conjunction with JPL and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art’s Art (LACMA) + Tech Lab, where she is currently a fellow. “The spacecraft for this mission will have to upgrade itself autonomously over the course of a 40-year interstellar journey in order to remain relevant to life on Earth over the course of decades.”

Christensen will also focus on an ongoing book project, Upgrade Available, to be published next year by the Ice Plant, an arts press based in Los Angeles. Christensen also has been working on an art project in Cleveland, documenting Lake Erie as it freezes and melts with changing seasons and weather patterns.

“Julia is an extraordinarily gifted and accomplished artist,” says Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences Tim Elgren. “The Guggenheim Fellowship is a wonderful acknowledgement and celebration of the value and impact of her work. Her broadly interdisciplinary projects involve a multitude of professional activities, and in many ways, Oberlin is a unique place where all of these elements can synergistically thrive.”

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