Author Archives: Katie

Structures of Support: Health and Healthcare

A version of our ongoing Structures of Support project that focuses on health and healthcare for an exhibition titled "Take Care" at Weinberg/Newton Gallery.

Structures of Support is an ongoing, multi-phase project. Our goal is to develop a clearer understanding of how our support structures are created and maintained, and how we might then work to build more resilient and robust support structures in the future. We were invited to participate in an exhibition “Take Care” at Weinberg/Newton Gallery in Chicago to explore how health and healthcare are reflected in our experiences of having and/or lacking support. Healthcare, we have found, can hold within it both empowering and diminishing experiences.

The Think Tank that has yet to be named always begins our work with research. For this project, we used multiple methods of data collection to seek out experiences of the healthcare system, feelings about health, and questions about support networks. The individual responses and narratives become the backbone of our visualizations. The work is a sensemaking exploration through which we invite you to explore the experiences of others. We hope you can see yourself within and in contrast to responses. In understanding where we stand, and where others stand, we hope we can work together to create more robust structures of support.

Click here to complete the Structures of Support Healthcare survey.

Weinberg/Newton Gallery has a unique model. This exhibition is organized in partnership with the Metropolitan Chicago Breast Cancer Task Force and aims to shed light on systemic barriers to quality healthcare through the lens of breast cancer. This group exhibition explores themes of care and community, vulnerability and support by way of painting, photography, immersive sound, and text. An array of interactive programming, including screenings, panel discussions, and more, will take place over the course of the exhibition. Artists include Indira Allegra, Laura Berger, Joan Giroux, and The Think Tank that has yet to be named

Structures of Support Survey V 2.0

For nearly two years, our ongoing project “Structures of Support” has explored the notion of support. The essential question we raise is about the structure of support at the scale of the individual, a network of resources — obvious and unseen — which contribute to a particular quality of life. What exactly are the complicated webs of familial, social, and institutional forces that provide robust, redundant support for some while leaving others at a loss? In an effort to better develop frameworks for individual and collective support, we continue this project through qualitative research, public visualizations, and participatory conversations and workshop. We created a survey, asked you what you thought support was, and then displayed the results of that survey at the Katherine E. Nash Gallery at the University of Minnesota and at the Painted Bride in Philadelphia. We shared our own ideas and experiences of support in a series of blog posts, and we hosted workshops at The University of the Arts, Open Engagement, and Youngstown State University.

Through all of this, we have gained more clarity about the attributes and impact of structures of support. It is the power of relationships, the need for institutional safety nets, the value of public spaces, and the importance of self-awareness around our own personal supports that can create a richness of life. After reflecting on the data gathered to date, we have now revised the original Structures of Support survey, both condensing it and focusing it more on non-monetary factors. We’re using this moment of revision to share the project and survey with new audiences in the hope of continuing to collect new insights about support. We need you to help us by taking this survey. Even if you have already engaged with the project, this version focuses more on sharing stories and deep reflection, which we have found to be meaningful for those participating in our workshops and conversations. Responses will not be identified by individual, and all responses will be compiled together and analysed as a group. It should take approximately 10 minutes to complete. Follow this link to complete the survey.

Flag making at Germantown City Hall

As a part of the Germantown City Hall project, Meredith and I worked with community members young and old to create flags for Germantown. Participants showed their true colors by including images of what was important to them, ranging from “Monster Trucks on Germantown Ave” to beautiful appliqué vegetables. The potency of a flag was clear to us when we were working with the after school daycare next door to City Hall. We caught the kids waving their flags silently and staring at them with pride.

From Space to Place

lack-support-posters-v3-PRINTMuch of what we have learned so far in our Structures of Support research — including wall drawings, visualizations, and posters — will be displayed in an installation as a part of an exhibition at the Katherine A. Nash Gallery at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis from May 28th – June 15th, with an opening reception on May 30th from 7-10pm.

Defined by human activities, places are ever-changing, ever-decaying, and always being reborn, often through collective action and collaboration. “From Space to Place” is an exhibition that explores placemaking—the transformation of a space into that which has a distinct identity. Curated by Artemis Ettsen, a graduate student in the School of Architecture, and Teréz Iacovino, a graduate student in the Department of Art, the exhibition is a platform for reexamining place and one’s relationship to it.

On June 1st at 12pm, Meredith and Katie will lead a workshop that further explores mapping our own personal support structures. If you’re in the area, we hope you’ll join us.

Exhibition Location and Hours
Katherine E. Nash Gallery
Regis Center for Art, University of Minnesota
405 21st Avenue South, Minneapolis, (612) 624-7530
Parking available nearby at the 21st Avenue ramp, hourly or event rates apply
Gallery hours are 11 am to 5 pm, Tuesday through Saturday

Personal Structures of Support: Pt. 1

Katie & Her sister

As the Think Tank continues our exploration of support structures, we found ourselves discussing our own entry points into the project. Why are we so keenly interested in the development, maintenance, and furthering of robust support structures?

For myself, I am always interested in the stories we tell. How do we represent ourselves to others through personal narrative, and how does this narrative relate to what other people see. In graduate school, I became aware of some people’s attempt to distance themselves from the financial and emotional support they had received as children and young adults. Why is it a bad thing that your parents were able to send you to college? Why must you have done it all alone? For me, it seems tied to the myth of bootstrapping that is so pervasive in our national founding mythology. Can’t we break that cycle?

I feel very lucky to have been raised in a loving and supportive environment. I went to great schools, and my parents supported me through my undergraduate education. They continue to support me when I ask for help and when they can. And they are proud of the success I have had as a result of their support. They know, and I know, that I was given opportunities growing up on the far north side of Chicago that others were not–due to race, class, and other factors too numerous to name. Why can’t we (the royal we) acknowledge that inequity and work to change it?

Identifying our support structures and owning up to them is the first step in strengthening these networks and support structures for others.