LSU Art History Professor, Art Historian Susan Elizabeth Ryan Receives $50,000 ATLAS Award
BATON ROUGE – Susan Elizabeth Ryan, an art history professor in the LSU College of Art & Design and an art historian, recently won an Awards to Louisiana Artists and Scholars, or ATLAS, award in the amount of $50,000 for her proposal, “Critical Dressing: The Development of Wearable Technologies as Art and Design.”
Ryan’s project, which will complete the first historical analysis of wearable and fashionable technologies, in the humanities category, was chosen from a pool of 52 proposals. The proposals were solicited for creative and scholarly activities undertaken by Louisiana faculty in all arts, humanities and social sciences disciplines
The ATLAS award will support Ryan in completing a manuscript, “Critical Dressing,” for which she is under contract with MIT Press.
“Wearable technologies drive innovations in the expanding realm of mobile media, especially garments that augment our bodies’ capabilities, sense bodily functions for therapeutic purposes or connect us to online interfaces with social application,” Ryan said.
In her paper, Ryan explores aromatherapy clothing, mood-activated luminous dresses, and a wide range of other innovative applications such as color-changing fabrics which can be used to monitor autonomic body functions.
According to Ryan, these so-called “smart wearables,” however beneficial their intent may be, can advance a notion of subjectivity in step with a market-driven approach to economic and social policy, or neoliberalism.
Ryan, an authority in the emerging field of digital media art history and theory, is the author of “Somehow a Past: The Autobiography of Marsden Hartley” and “Figures of Speech: The Art of Robert Indiana, 1958-73.” In 2006, she won a competition from the Leonardo Educational Foundation to curate an exhibition called, “Social Fabrics,” at the 2008 College Art Association’s annual conference. The exhibition allowed a large audience to view wearable works in action, worn by models walking a runway.
This month, Ryan is also presenting a paper at the International Symposium on Electronic Art in Istanbul related to her project, “Dress Acts: Wearable Technology and Virtuosity.” She will also deliver the paper at the MediaArtHistories conference in Liverpool, England, this month while also interviewing leaders there, as well as in Wales and London, about wearable technology.
Ryan is a fellow of the LSU Center for Computation & Technology and was also a principal investigator for the interdisciplinary Arts, Visualization, Advanced Technologies and Research group, or AVATAR, in its successful application to the Board of Regents’ 2008 Multi-Hiring Initiative Program.