Tag: Dr. Charissa Terranova

Dr. Charissa N. Terranova, Associate Professor of Aesthetic Studies


Charissa N. Terranova will be publishing her next monograph, Biology in the British Bauhaus: Morphogenic Modernism in Art, Science, and Design, on Bloomsbury Press. Forthcoming in 2019, the book studies a culture of creative interaction across fields in twentieth-century Britain that began in the German Bauhaus during the 1920s. With the emigration of figures from the Bauhaus to London during the 1930s, a new field of creative action unfolded according to the logic of biological emergence. Emergent form, like embryos, takes shape through integrative levels, with greater complexity and unique form arising from lower levels but irreducible to them. The precepts of modern German design took hold among a group of embryologists, geneticists, crystallographers, and physicists creating a panoply of pioneering exhibitions, publications, laboratory experiments, and art and design projects across the twentieth century. Terranova shows how such collaborations created extraordinary outcomes in the arts, humanities, and sciences alike.

Forthcoming on Bloomsbury Press 2019, D’Arcy Wentworth Thompson’s Generative Influences in Art, Design, and Architecture: From Forces to Formsis an anthology coedited by Ellen K. Levy and Charissa N. Terranova about the Scottish zoologist-mathematician D’Arcy Wentworth Thompson. With essays by fourteen international scholars of art, science, and design, the book situates Thompson within both scientific and cultural domains that are themselves interwoven. It pursues largely overlooked dimensions of evolutionary theory and form generation, including the roles of aesthetics, agency, and relationships of parts to wholes.



Charissa N. Terranova leads a dialogue between six internationally renowned scholars of modern and contemporary art history about artist and impresario György Kepes. Titled György Kepes’s Vision + Values Series and the Origins of Cybernetic Art, this gathering is open to the public and takes place 10 am – 12 pm Saturday October 13 at the Nasher Sculpture Center. Audience participation is encouraged.

Kepes was a renaissance man and shapeshifter of modernism. A pioneer of new media art and heir of the Bauhaus, Kepes pushed modernist experimentalism into new realms. He incorporated science and technology as a means to rethink the avant-garde through cybernetics, both organic and mechanical. Prior to an almost thirty-year career as professor at MIT 1947-1974, he lived in North Texas, making lifelong connections here and leaving a trail of fascinating art and design projects. Join us and engage in a discussion about the life of Kepes, a second-generation Bauhaus figure, who spent a year in North Texas before embarking on his career at MIT. This event is supported by the Terra Foundation for American Art, the Edith O’Donnell Institute for Art History, and the Nasher Sculpture Center.



Charissa N. Terranova has been invited, along with Pomona College Professor of French Claire Nettleton, to give a talk at Being Human, a symposium in London sponsored by publishing house Palgrave-Macmillan and the University of London in partnership with the Arts & Humanities Research Council and the British Academy on Tuesday, November 20, 2018. Terranova and Nettleton will give a presentation titled Viral Culture: How CRISPR Gene-Editing and the Microbiome Transform Humanity and the Humanities.



Dr. Charissa N. Terranova is co-chairing with Pomona College Professor Claire Nettleton Culturing Bacteria: How Microbes Reconfigure Mind, Art, and the Humanities, a double panel of eight scholars at the annual meeting of the Society for Literature, Science, and the Arts November 14-18, 2018 in Toronto, Ontario. Scholars from the arts, humanities, and natural sciences will present work on the new materialist politics that has arrived in the form of microbiota. Scientific data about bacteria in the air, ocean, and on and in bodies of all living matter reveal that humans are ecologically integrated in a multiverse of humming life. Recent studies have shown that ratio between human and bacterial cells within the human body to be 1:1. We are thus as human as we are bacterial. This panel explores the ways in which bacteria are commensal to all life, recasting minds outside of bodies, art beyond the realm of the gallery, and the humanities in terms of the inhumanities.

Dr. Charissa Terranova, Associate Professor of Aesthetic Studies

The anthology D’Arcy Wentworth Thompson’s Generative Influences in Art, Design, and Architecture: From Forces to Forms, coedited by Dr. Charissa N. Terranova Ellen K. Levy, has been contracted by Bloomsbury Press.

In November 2017, Terranova gave the talk, “Bacteriophiles Unite! The Protean Identity Politics of Bacteria within Bioart” at the annual meeting of the Society for Literature, Science, and the Arts in Tempe, Arizona. The paper was part of the panel Other Signals: Communication among Forms of Embodiment, chaired by Meredith Tromble.

In October 2017, Terranova went to the UK for research and to give a conference talk and three invited lectures. The conference talk was titled, “Space, Time, Visualization: D’Arcy Wentworth Thompson, Joseph Plateau, and the History of Art-Sci Imaging,” at the Centenary Celebration of D’Arcy Wentworth Thompson’s On Growth and Form, University of Dundee, in Scotland. Other talks included “Fearless Polymathy: The Morphogenic Modernism of British Art-Science-Design,” at LASER, Leonardo/The International Society for the Arts, Science, and Technology, in London and “Modeling Expanded Evolution: The Work of D’Arcy Wentworth Thompson, Stuart Kauffman, and Gemma Anderson,” at a workshop on D’Arcy Wentworth Thompson that was co-sponsored by the Lorentz Center and University of Amsterdam, Leiden, NL.

Director’s Welcome

Richard Brettell – AH – Margaret M. McDermott Distinguished Chair in Aesthetic Studies – Art History


Fall 2017 marks the beginning of the fourth full year of the Edith O’Donnell Institute of Art History. We have already done a good deal for the discipline of art history in North Texas—sponsored and co-sponsored symposia, scholars’ days, lectures, workshops, and festive gatherings for art historians in museums, universities, colleges, and galleries—and beginning to fulfill the mission encouraged by Mrs. O’Donnell of bringing the scattered community of art historians in Dallas-Fort Worth together as often as possible. We have also done very well in providing a nurturing environment for UT Dallas doctoral students, and six newly minted “Drs.” have been sent out into the world. We have brought scholars to Dallas from Switzerland, Italy, and Canada and are about to welcome a new colleague for a year-long visit from Harvard University. All in all, we can look back with pride on three action-packed and exciting years.

We will hold our Fourth Annual Dinner this Fall, and it will be our first to be held at UT Dallas rather than at the wonderful home of our partner, the Dallas Museum of Art. At the dinner we will honor our founder with a premier of a newly commissioned film about her philanthropy and we will let our inner circle in on our ambitious plans for the future. This Fall, we will also inaugurate two international partnerships which we hope to grow into long-term scholarly programs—the first with our colleagues at Nanjing University in China and the second with the Capodimonte Museum in Naples. Who knows—when we begin to think about Africa, perhaps will add Nairobi to Nanjing and Naples!

This Fall, we said a fond, if reluctant, “goodbye” to two esteemed colleagues, Dr. Sabiha Al Khemir, who plans to start an ambitious new foundation for Islamic Art in New York, and Dr. David McPhail, who is returning to London after launching our Conservation Science Program, a partnership with the Department of Chemistry in the School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics at UT Dallas and its Dean, Dr. Bruce Novak. Look forward to news on both of those fronts.

Dr. Suzanne Preston Blier
Allen Whitehill Clowes Chair of Fine Arts and of African and African American Studies
Department of History of Art & Architecture and Department of African and African American Studies, Harvard University

We extend a big Texas welcome to Dr. Suzanne Preston-Blier, the Allen Whitehill Clowes Professor of Fine Arts and of African and African-American Studies at Harvard University. Dr. Blier will be with us for a full academic year, has rented an apartment in the heart of downtown Dallas, and is trying to figure out how to live in Dallas without knowing how to drive! She will work both on campus and in an office at EODIAH-DMA (the latter a short walk from “home”), and her plan this year is to complete a new book and to develop an interactive digital map of Africa throughout human history (the longest of any continent). She will work with our colleagues in Arts and Humanties and ATEC as well as with Dr. Roslyn Walker, Acting Chief Curator at the DMA and curator in charge of the museum’s superb collection of African Art.

As for faculty news, Dr. Mark Rosen is in the throes of completing an important new book on the representation of cities from above from its beginnings in the fifteenth century through the era of hot-air balloons in the late eighteenth century—a study which links the arts and the sciences of observation. Dr. Charissa Terranova has completed an edited series of articles, and is hard at work on her third scholarly book, all of which are involved with the history of the visual arts in their intense interaction with the sciences. Dr. Sarah Kozlowski has pursuing projects on fourteenth-century diptychs in Naples and on fictive porphyry versos in Italian panel painting, and will soon be promoted to Associate Director of EODIAH.

This semester we look forward to a series of workshop talks, a study day in collaboration with the DMA, a co-sponsored symposium around the Meadows Museum’s Zurbaràn exhibition, and a number of site visits to Dallas collections.


Richard R. Brettell, Ph.D.

Founding Director, The Edith O’Donnell Institute of Art History and the Margaret McDermott Distinguished Chair

Dr. Charissa Terranova, Associate Professor of Aesthetic Studies

Dr. Charissa N. Terranova will co-chair with Oliver AI Botar a panel, The Politics of Biocentrism: How Creativity Masks, Transforms, or Enhances the Politics of the Ecological Movement, at the annual meeting of the Society of Literature, Science, and the Arts [SLSA] November 3-6 in Atlanta. She is presenting the paper “The Cell State: Ludwig von Bertalanffy, Organismal Biology, and the Führer Principle,” which interrogates the right-wing politics of Bertalanffy during WWII and his seminal role in systems art during the 1960s.

Hans Haacke, Chickens Hatching (1969), an example of systems art

Hans Haacke, Chickens Hatching (1969), an example of systems art


Dr. Charissa Terranova, Associate Professor of Aesthetic Studies

Dr. Charissa Terranova, Associate Professor of Aesthetic Studies

Dr. Charissa Terranova, Associate Professor of Aesthetic Studies

It has been a banner year of publishing, public speaking, curating, and researching while on sabbatical 2015-2016. I published a co-edited volume of essays, The Routledge Companion to Biology in Art and Architecture, on Routledge Press, a book, Art as Organism: Biology and the Evolution of the Digital Image, on the British press I.B. Tauris, and edited a double issue of Technoetic Arts: A Journal on the theme of “COMPLEXISM: Art + Biology + Computation, A New Axis in Critical Theory?” I conducted panels and/or presented papers at five conferences: the International Symposium on Electronic Art in August, Society of Literature, Science, and the Arts in November, College Art Association in February, Critical Juncture in April, and the biennial Transimage Conference in July. I was an invited guest speaker at the University of Michigan Stamps School of the Arts, where I gave the paper “Biology in Art and Bioart: A Study in Elective Affinities” on December 2, 2015. I curated two exhibitions: an online exhibition titled Gut Instinct, co-curated with Dave Wessner, Professor of Microbiology at Davidson College, during the late winter 2016 and Chirality: Defiant Mirror Images at Gray Matters Gallery in Dallas, Texas fall of 2015.

Art as Organism: Biology and the Evolution of the Digital Image by Dr. Charissa Terranova

Art as Organism: Biology and the Evolution of the Digital Image by Dr. Charissa Terranova

The sabbatical year wrapped up with a research junket in the UK for my next book, The Alchemy of Art and Science, focusing on the history of biology in British cybernetic art, 1930-1970. This book will trace the interactions of British biologists, embryologists, geneticists, artists and designers from the London Bauhaus in the 1930s to the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London in the 1950s to the creation of the art-sci-tech journal Leonardo in 1968 to the advent of cybernetic and digital art in the UK in 1960s and 1970s. Notable figures in this story include: László Moholy-Nagy, György Kepes, Walter Gropius, Marcel Breuer, Conrad Waddington, Yolanda Sonnabend, Jasia Reichardt, Herbert Read, Marcus Brumwell, Joseph Needham, Frank Malina, Jacob Bronowski, JD Bernal, LL Whyte, Gordon Pask, Ross Ashby, and Heinz von Foerster.

Dr. Charissa Terranova
Associate Professor of Aesthetic Studies