Humans of the UIC School of Art & Art History: Deborah Stratman

Image Credit: Martha Williams

Deborah Stratman, Associate Professor (Art), is the latest human to be featured on our blog about the diverse human ecology of the UIC School of Art & Art History. We capture the unique style of members of our community somewhere on campus and ask them 5 questions.

1.) So, rumor is that you like to live “off the grid” now and then.  How does this factor into your practice?

My partner Steve and I like living in ways that make us conscious of infrastructure.  When you have to deal with all your human waste, or generating power, or distilling gray water... you get ecologically re-wired.  It’s a politic of the everyday, a questioning of the habitual.

2.) What is your favorite class to teach at UIC?

My favorite classes have been “Considering the Interval”, “Drift”  (on the aesthetics of mobility), “Manifestos and the Moral Imagination” and “Science Fictionals” which I’m teaching this semester!  I also love teaching audio, which changes a bit every time I teach it.

3.) In addition to your extensive work in moving image, you also apply cinematic concepts to sculpture in a really interesting way. Can you tell us about these works?

Well, the project that maybe most directly does this is “The Swallows” which was a multi-media project about sinkholes that culminated in a temporary sinkhole museum.  I looked at the phenomena from geological, psychological, metaphorical and ontological perspectives.  Sinkholes are thieves, events that literally "take place.”  I love that they are essentially edits in the landscape, approximating a kind of dream logic wherein at any moment you might drop into some alter-territory.

4.) Who has most influenced you in your artistic trajectory?

I’m influenced by single works more than any artist’s entire oeuvre – but people who have been mainstays in the inspiration camp are Barbara Loden, Agnes Varda, Etal Adnan, Marcel Broodthaers, Maryanne Amacher, Werner Herzog, Athanasius Kircher, Claire Denis, Hannah Arendt, Eliane Radigue, Hollis Frampton, Sharon Lockhart, Straub & Huillet, and a bunch of the land artists, especially Heizer, Holt and Smithson.

5.) Oh congratulations! You just won another prestigious award for your extraordinary and innovative films (USA Artist Award, 2015, and Alpert Prize, 2014).  Many of your works deal with reckless environmental destruction and degradation caused by corporate greed, and the dangers to our democracy of unchecked military surveillance.  How does art make a difference and impact some of the most pressing issues of our time?

Because art doesn’t let the dust settle.  It keeps asking questions.