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Jen Bervin

Artist-in-Residence: Jen Bervin

The Block Museum welcomed Jen Bervin to campus during Winter Quarter 2018 as part of the Kaplan Humanities Institute’s Artist in Residence program. Additional program and teaching support was provided by the Department of Art Theory and Practice, the Center for the Writing Arts, and Northwestern Libraries.

Jen Bervin is an artist and poet whose research-driven interdisciplinary works weave together art, writing, science and life. Exploring the intersection of traditional craft and cutting edge technology, Bervin’s work has been the subject of solo exhibitions at the Des Moines Art Center and Granoff Center for the Arts at Brown University, and has been featured in group exhibitions at MASS MoCA, MCA Denver, The Power Plant in Toronto, and the Walker Art Center.

Bervin has published ten books, including Silk Poems—a long-form poem presented both as a book (Nightboat Books, 2017) and as an implantable biosensor made from liquefied silk developed in collaboration with Tufts University’s Silk Lab. She is a SETI Institute Artist in Residence, a program that facilitates a cross-disciplinary exchange of ideas between artists and scientists.

Campus Engagement

In addition to connecting to Northwestern’s staff, faculty and students across disciplines, Bervin conducted research for future art projects in the diverse collections of Northwestern University Libraries—from its John Cage archives in the Music Library to textiles and ancient manuscripts in the Melville J. Herskovits Africana Library.

Bervin’s residency culminated in an interdisciplinary writing workshop for faculty and students using the Library’s collections. The workshop was developed by the artist; the Block Museum’s Susy Bielak, the Susan and Stephen Wilson Associate Director of Engagement/Curator of Public Practice; Martin Antonetti, the Library’s Head of Distinctive Collections; and a team of the Libraries’ curators and conservators. Participants drew inspiration from library holdings, as well the architecture of the historic Deering and Main Libraries themselves, examples of the Collegiate Gothic and mid-century Brutalist styles.

Bervin’s other campus engagement activities included a rich array of programs and learning opportunities, including teaching Advanced Materials, a studio course focused on the intersections of art and science through exploration of traditional craft and technological innovation. Offered through the Department of Art Theory & Practice in collaboration with the McCormick School of Engineering, the course was open to all Northwestern undergraduate and graduate students and faculty.

Events with Jen Bervin

Read with the Spine was developed and led by Jen Bervin; the Block Museum’s Susy Bielak; Martin Antonetti, the Library’s Director of Distinctive Collections; and a team of the Libraries’ curators and conservators—including from the Art Library, Archival Processing, Melville J. Herskovits Library of African Studies, Music Library, Preservation and Conservation, Transportation Library, and University Archives. Participants drew inspiration from library holdings, as well the architecture of the historic Deering and Main Libraries themselves. The workshop was open to anyone on campus seeking new modes of research and inspiration. [Learn More]