Olynyk Transitioning from Administrative Post to Full-Time Faculty

Patricia Olynyk, Dark Skies, 2013. Video and sound installation, 8' x 8' dimensional projection surface.

Posted by Sam Fox School May 27, 2020


After 13 years at the helm of the Sam Fox School’s MFA in Visual Art program, Patricia Olynyk is transitioning from her administrative post to the full-time faculty. She will teach in both the undergraduate and graduate programs, in addition to continuing to pursue her studio practice and research.

“I am grateful for Patricia’s dedicated leadership and steadfast work in shaping the MFA in Visual Art program, which has been inspired by her energy and vision,” said Carmon Colangelo, the Ralph J. Nagel Dean of the Sam Fox School.

Since coming to Washington University in 2007, Olynyk has been a valued leader of the MFA in Visual Art program, guiding hundreds of students through their graduate experiences, from initial recruitment to their culminating thesis shows. She was critical to the development and implementation of the School’s interdisciplinary MFA curriculum, and introduced a rich array of distinct and diverse voices into the program in the form of visiting artists, lecturers, and critics. She has developed numerous programs for our students and faculty to advance scholarship and research, including the Sommerakademie in Berlin and the Collaborative Technology Center. She also established strategic partnerships for students and faculty through courtesy appointments in the School of Medicine—a first for the Sam Fox School—and with the Medical Humanities Program, Performing Arts Department, and Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies Department in Arts & Sciences. Last year’s Research Pods Program brought collaborative teams together from across campus and beyond to advance research and creative work. As former co-president of the Association of Women Faculty (2011-13), she worked with colleagues and leadership to advance the quality of campus life for all women at Washington University.

Olynyk has contributed nationally and internationally to important conversations around art, science, the humanities, and new media aesthetics, including organizing symposia and engaging in collaborative partnerships across the University and the St. Louis region. This includes her work as director of the Creative Research Institute Fellowship Program and stewardship of programs such as the Multiple Feminisms series—a collaborative project between the Graduate School of Art and the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum in 2011-12—and WashU’s Art|Sci Initiative and Fellows Program, initiated in 2014 with funding from the Skandalaris Center for Entrepreneurial Studies. She received four Interdisciplinary grants from the Provost’s Office to co-teach “The Art of Medicine,” a gateway course to the Medical Humanities and part of the Beyond Boundaries Program. Working closely with colleagues from the Saint Louis Art Museum, she has played a key role in the Henry L. and Natalie E. Freund Teaching Fellow selections, each of whom has contributed greatly to the intellectual life of the program while producing work for their solo exhibitions at the museum. She co-directs the NY LASER program in New York, a branch of Leonardo/The International Society for the Arts, Sciences and Technology, and is former chair of the Leonardo Education and Art Forum (2009-13).

In her practice, Olynyk’s work explores art, science, and technology-related themes that examine the ways in which institutional structures shape our understanding of history, science, and the natural world. Appropriating scientific imaging technologies, her installations, photographs, and videos address how interpretation fluctuates between fact and speculation. Among her most recent projects, she co-curated Cyfest12: 12th International Festival of Media Art (St. Petersburg, Russia) and was featured in Design 2018 (Venice, Italy) and Umwelt (BioBAT Art Space, Brooklyn). Her writing appears in numerous publications, including Techoetic Arts (Intellect Press), The Routledge Companion to Biology in Art and Architecture (Routledge Press), Public Journal (York University), and Teaching Artistic Research (DeGruyter).

“We are grateful for Patricia’s important work on the graduate program in visual art and look forward to her future contributions to teaching, research and practice as the Florence and Frank Bush Professor of Art,” said Amy Hauft, director of the College of Art and Graduate School of Art.

We thank Professor Olynyk for her contributions thus far. The College is in the process of identifying a new chair for the MFA in Visual Art program, to be announced shortly.