Patricia Olynyk’s photographs, videos, and installations investigate science and technology-related themes and the ways in which social systems and institutional structures shape our understanding of science, human life and non-human life, and the natural world. Working across disciplines to develop “third culture” projects, she often collaborates with scientists, humanists, and technology specialists. Her multimedia environments frequently call upon the viewer to expand their awareness of the worlds they inhabit—whether those worlds are their own bodies or the spaces that surround them.
Olynyk’s research-based arts practice informs her teaching and academic leadership. Prior to joining Washington University in 2007 as Director, Graduate School of Art and Florence and Frank Bush Professor of Art, Olynyk was appointed in the School of Art & Design at the University of Michigan, where she also directed the Penny W. Stamps Distinguished Visitors Program and the Roman J. Witt Visiting Faculty Program. In 2005, she became the first non-scientist appointed to the university’s renowned Life Sciences Institute.
Olynyk received her MFA degree with Distinction from the California College of the Arts and spent four years as a Monbusho Scholar and a Tokyu Foundation Research Scholar in Japan at the Osaka University of Foreign Studies and Kyoto Seika University. She is the recipient of numerous awards and distinctions, including a Helmut S. Stern Fellowship at the Institute for the Humanities, University of Michigan and a Francis C. Wood Fellowship at the College of Physicians, Philadelphia. Olynyk has held residencies at UCLA’s Design Media Arts Department, the Banff Center for the Arts, Villa Montalvo, California, and the University of Vienna, Austria. Her work has been featured in Venice Design 2018 at Palazzo Michiel, Venice; the Los Angeles International Biennial; The Brooklyn Museum; the Saitama Modern Art Museum, Japan; and Museo del Corso, Rome. Her solo exhibitions include: Sensing Terrains at the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, D.C., Dark Skies at the Art I Sci Center Gallery at UCLA, and Transfigurations at Galeria Grafica Tokio, Tokyo, Japan. Other recent exhibitions include: Skeptical Inquirers at the Sidney Mishkin Gallery, Baruch College, New York, Sleuthing the Mind at the Pratt Manhattan Gallery, and Ephemeral:Unraveling History at the Ruth S. Harley Gallery, Adelphi University, New York.
Olynyk is former Chair of the Leonardo Education and Art Forum, a branch of the International Society for the Arts, Science and technology (Leonardo/ISAST). She co-directs the Leonardo/ISAST NY LASER program in New York, which promotes cross-disciplinary exchange between artists, scientists, humanists, and scholars. Her writing is featured in publications that include Public Journal, the Routledge Companion to Biology in Art and Architecture, Technoetic Arts, and Leonardo Journal.