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Patricia Olynyk

Patricia Olynyk is an artist, writer, and educator whose work explores science and technology-related themes and the ways in which social systems and institutional structures shape our understanding of our place in the world. She is the former director of Washington University’s Graduate School of Art and the Florence and Frank Bush Professor in Art. She holds a courtesy appointment in WashU’s School of Medicine and fellowships in the Institute for Public Health and Living Earth Collaborative, both interdisciplinary hubs that facilitate research across a wide range of fields. Prior to joining WashU in 2007, Olynyk was part of the Stamps School of Art & Design at the University of Michigan, where she also directed their endowed distinguished visitors program and the Roman J. Witt visiting faculty program. In 2005, she became the first non-scientist appointed to the university’s renowned Life Sciences Institute.

Olynyk earned her MFA degree with distinction from the California College of the Arts and spent four years as a Monbusho Scholar and a Tokyu Foundation Research Scholar in Japan at the Osaka University of Foreign Studies and Kyoto Seika University. She is the recipient of numerous awards and distinctions, including a Helmut S. Stern Fellowship at the University of Michigan’s Institute for the Humanities; the R. D. Richards Memorial Faculty Award for outstanding teaching and service in the Stamps School of Art & Design, University of Michigan; and a Francis C. Wood Fellowship at the College of Physicians, Philadelphia. Her work has been featured in Venice Design 2018 at Palazzo Michiel dalle Colonne; the Los Angeles International Biennial; The Brooklyn Museum; the Saitama Modern Art Museum, Japan; and Museo del Corso, Rome. Her solo exhibitions include: “Sensing Terrains” at the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, D.C., “Dark Skies” at the Art | Sci Center Gallery at UCLA, and “Transfigurations” at Galeria Grafica, Tokyo, Japan. Other exhibitions include: “Skeptical Inquirers” at the Sidney Mishkin Gallery, Baruch College, New York; “Sleuthing the Mind” at the Pratt Manhattan Gallery, New York; and “Interplanetary VR Sustainable Futures, Ars Electronica,” Linz, Austria.

Olynyk is former chair of the Leonardo Education and Art Forum, a branch of the International Society for the Arts, Science, and Technology (Leonardo/ISAST). For the past twelve years, she has co-directed the Leonardo/ISAST NY Laser Talks program in New York, which promotes cross-disciplinary exchange between artists, scientists, humanists, and scholars. In 2020, she was appointed the inaugural Medicine + Media Arts Fellow at UCLA’s Art | Sci Center. Her writing has been featured in publications that include Public Journal, the Routledge Companion to Biology in Art and Architecture, Technoetic Arts, Leonardo Journal, the Angewandte Book Series, DeGruyter, and Bio/Matter/Techno Synthetics.

Personal website


Affiliate Faculty in Medical Humanities, Performing Arts, and Women, Gender & Sexuality Studies
Faculty Scholar, Institute for Public Health
Biodiversity Fellow, Living Earth Collaborative
College of Arts & Sciences

Affiliate Faculty, Center for Humanism and Ethics in Surgical Specialties
School of Medicine

Washington University in St. Louis

Medicine + Media Arts Fellow, UCLA
Co-Director, NY LASER, (Leonardo/ISAST), New York

Work by Patricia Olynyk