The New Social Environment#598

Looking After: Conversations on Art and Healing

Art, Health, and Incarceration


1 p.m. Eastern / 10 a.m. Pacific

Featuring Sheena Hoszko, Brett Story, Leslie Topp, and Allison Morehead, with introductions by Suzanne Hudson and Tanya Sheehan. We conclude with a poetry reading by Bianca Rae Messinger.

In this talk

View epsiode one: Picturing the COVID-19 Pandemic →

View episode two: New Histories of Art, Medicine, and Healing →

View episode three: Curating and Healing →

Sheena Hoszko

Photo of Sheena Hoszko
Based in Tio’tia:ke/Mooniyaang/Montréa, Sheena Hoszko is a sculptor and anti-prison organizer. Her art practice examines the power dynamics and violence of geographical, architectural, and psychological sites, informed by her family’s experiences with incarceration, the military, and mental illness. Employing strategies of post-minimalism to draw attention to the politics of space and material, Hoszko primarily uses rented and reusable materials, which re-enter the world as non-art after a project is complete. Hoszko has exhibited nationally and internationally at the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal and La Ferme du Buisson in Paris, among others. Hoszko was named to the 2021 Sobey Longlist and is currently a Ph.D. student in Cultural Studies at Queen’s University, Ontario.

Brett Story

Black and white image of Brett Story
Based in Toronto, Brett Story is a filmmaker, writer and geographer. Her films have screened internationally at festivals such as CPH-DOX and the Viennale. Her most recent feature documentary, The Hottest August, was a New York Times Critics’ Pick and is currently playing cinemas and festivals around the world. Brett has held fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the Sundance Documentary Institute. Brett is the author of the book, Prison Land: Mapping Carceral Power across Neoliberal America, and coeditor of the forthcoming volume, Digital Life in the Global City. She holds a PhD in geography and is currently an assistant professor in the School of Image Arts at Toronto Metropolitan University.

Leslie Topp

Photo of Leslie Topp.
Scholar Leslie Topp is Professor of Architectural History in the Department of History of Art at Birkbeck College, University of London. Her teaching encompasses art, architecture, design, and urbanism from 1800 to the present, with a particular focus on Central Europe around 1900. She was previously Lecturer at Oxford Brookes University and Junior Research Fellow at St Hilda’s College, Oxford. She was Director of the Architecture Space and Society Centre from 2014 to 2017, and Head of the History of Art Department from 2017 to 2020. She co-founded the Compass Project, which provides routes into university for people in the asylum process, and is chair of the Compass Steering Committee.

Allison Morehead

Photo of Allison Morehead
Scholar and curator Allison Morehead is Associate Professor of Art History at Queen’s University, specializing in the relays between European modern art, the psy-sciences, and medicine. They have received numerous grants and fellowships, most recently from The Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts in Washington, DC. Their book, Nature’s Experiments and the Search for Symbolist Form (Penn State University Press, 2017) considers symbolist painting and printmaking in light of late 19th-century practices and discourses of psychological experimentalism. Currently, Morehead is curating the exhibition Edvard Munch and the Medicalization of Modern Life and co-directing the online series Confabulations: Art Practice, Art History, and Critical Medical Humanities.

Tanya Sheehan

Photo of Tanya Sheehan.
William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of Art at Colby College, Tanya Sheehan is the Principal Investigator of Colby’s inaugural Public Humanistic Inquiry Lab, Critical Medical Humanities: Perspectives on the Intersection of Race and Medicine. Across her career, Sheehan has worked at the intersection of American art history, medical humanities, and critical race studies. This work includes two books, Doctored: The Medicine of Photography in Nineteenth-Century America (2011) and Study in Black and White: Photography, Race, Humor (2018). Her current book project examines the subjects of medicine and public health in modernist and contemporary art by African Americans. Since 2015 she has served as executive editor of the Smithsonian Institution’s Archives of American Art Journal.

Suzanne Hudson

Photo of Suzanne Hudson.
Art historian and critic Suzanne Hudson is Associate Professor of Art History and Fine Arts at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. She writes with special emphasis on the history, theory, and conventions of painting and process. She is also a regular contributor to Artforum, and has penned numerous essays for international exhibition catalogs and artist monographs. Recent books include Agnes Martin: Night Sea (Afterall/MIT, 2017) and Contemporary Painting (Thames & Hudson, 2021). She is currently at work on Better for the Making: Art, Therapy, Process, a study of the therapeutic origins of art-making within American modernism.

The Rail has a tradition of ending our conversations with a poetry reading, and we’re fortunate to have Bianca Rae Messinger reading.

Bianca Rae Messinger

Photograph of Bianca Rae Messinger
A poet and translator living and working in Buffalo, NY, Bianca Rae Messinger is the author of the long poem The Land Was V There (Poetry Will Be Made By All, 2014) and the chapbook, “The Love of God” (Inpatient Press, 2016). Her chapbook “parallel bars” was the winner of the 2021 Center for Book Arts Chapbook Prize. Her translations of South American authors have been published for the Berlin Biennale, Monster House Press, among others. She writes for ramona (Buenos Aires).

❤️ 🌈 We'd like to thank the The Terra Foundation for American Art for making these daily conversations possible, and for their support of our growing archive.