Digital Arts and New Media: MFA: Collaboration, Innovation, Social Impact

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Laurie Palmer


A. Laurie Palmer’s work is concerned with material explorations of matter’s active nature as it asserts itself on different scales and in different speeds, and with collaborating on strategic actions in the contexts of social and environmental justice. These two directions sometimes run parallel and sometimes converge, taking form as sculpture, installation, writing, and public projects. Collaboration, with other humans and with non-humans, is a central ethic in her practice.

Her recent book In the Aura of a Hole: Exploring Sites of Material Extraction (Black Dog, London, 2014) investigates what happens to places where materials are removed from the ground, and, once liberated, how these materials move between the earth and our bodies. Based on observations from first-hand visits, the book refuses a strict separation between industrial materials and the embodied “I” that observes and experiences where and how they are produced.

Palmer co-founded (with 17 other artists, attorneys, scholars, and activists) Chicago Torture Justice Memorials, a collaborative public project that helped build the foundation for passing, in May 2015, the first reparations legislation in a U.S. municipality for racially motivated law enforcement violence (

Palmer collaborated with the four-person art collective Haha for twenty years on site- and community-based projects. She has shown her work at Grimaldi Forum, Monaco; Les Abattoirs, France; The Renaissance Society, Chicago; Artists Space, NY; Aperto XLV Venice Biennale; Magasin, Centre d'Art Contemporain, France; The Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; Randolph Street Gallery, Chicago; MASS MoCA, North Adams, MA, among other venues. Her public art commission, River of Memory, is permanently installed  at Seniorenzentrum Dornach, Austria. Palmer taught sculpture and contemporary theory at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago for 18 years before coming to UCSC in 2015. She has lectured widely on her work, and published art writing in Frieze, artforum, Art in America, and other journals. 

Education and Training: 
B.A. Williams College
M.F.A. School of the Art Institute of Chicago
Teaching Interests: 

sculpture, installation, public art, contemporary theory, writing

Office Location: 
E-112 Baskin Visual Arts
Office Hours: 
12:00 - 2:00 Thursdays, and by appointment E-112 Baskin Visual Arts
Mailing Address: 

Art Department
Baskin Visual Arts
UC Santa Cruz
1156 High Street
Santa Cruz, CA 95064