SoVA, So Good: Joelle Dietrick

What it lacks in big-city buzz, Penn State’s School of Visual Arts more than makes up for with engaged faculty, talented students, a supportive culture, and a track record of producing acclaimed, innovative artists—like Joelle Dietrick ’96 A&A, whose art lives at the intersection of creation and technology and is scheduled for a solo exhibition in Brooklyn next year.

Joelle Dietrick's 2012 work Sherwin's Wall fused images of foreclosed homes with colors from a line of house paints released just before the 2008 housing bubble, courtesy Dietrick

Pairing Artistic Instincts with Digital Execution

Illustration of Joelle Dietrick by Joel Kimmel

"I'm one of those people who came out of the womb drawing,” says Joelle Dietrick ’96 A&A, an associate professor of art and digital studies at Davidson College in North Carolina. Her art lives at that intersection of creation and technology: Her latest project, called “Chasing the Sun” and scheduled for a solo exhibition in Brooklyn next year, uses code to randomly configure extinct plants and ecofriendly architecture in digital animations and large-format prints. The project pulls inspiration from sources as varied as climate change and screen addiction to “unhinged ambition, which I’m often guilty of.” Dietrick, who recently oversaw the design of the computer lab in Davidson’s art department, calls her project “perhaps too ambitious.”

Her School of Visual Arts peers in the early to mid-1990s included Brian Alfred and Barbara Campbell Thomas, featured here, as well as Laurie Riccadonna ’95 A&A, Mike Christy ’97 A&A, and Gerald Davis ’97 A&A, all of whom have gone on to acclaimed careers as artists, art educators, or both. She says that when she was back on campus to give a talk at the Palmer Musem of Art in 2015, “the professors talked about that wave of students with nostalgia, like it was a sort of renaissance for the department. It was a magical time.”

Cargomobilities 2015 by Joelle Dietrick
Cargomobilities (2015)

 

Cargomobilities 2015 by Joelle Dietrick
Cargomobilities (2015)

 

Sherwin Series 2012 by Joelle Dietrick
Sherwin Series (2012)

 

Cargomobilities 2015 by Joelle Dietrick
Cargomobilities (2015)

 

Systems + Circumstance 2015 by Joelle Dietrick
System + Circumstance (2015)

 

View the other alumni artists in this feature:

Brian Alfred, Barbara Campbell ThomasLauren Luloff, and Devan Shimoyama