Polina Ilieva
Polina Ilieva
Polina is Associate University Librarian for Collections and UCSF Archivist.

Meet the 2023 UCSF Library Artist in Residence

We are excited to welcome the 2023 UCSF Library Artist in Residence, Katina Bitsicas.

The UCSF Library Artist in Residence program was launched in 2020 and continues to exceed our expectations. The program serves as an intersection of arts and sciences and brings humanities dimension to our health sciences campus. It also enables the library to open its Special Collections holdings that are often perceived as exclusive and inaccessible. The Makers Lab collaboration connects artists with state-of-the-art tools as well as provides expert help for fulfilling their creative ideas.

We are excited to introduce the 2023 artist – Katina Bitsicas and welcome her to UCSF. Katina commenced her year-long project titled Glyphosate Dreams on July 1, 2023.

About the residency

“During my artist residency at UCSF, I will create my new body of work Glyphosate Dreams, which visually translates the herbicide glyphosate into chemically deteriorated images and an interactive extended reality (XR) experience reflecting on its consequences to body and land. The broad-spectrum herbicide glyphosate, found in Roundup, is the most used herbicide in the world. Research suggests that exposure to glyphosate can increase the risk of cancer1. Not only is the use of glyphosate a concern for public health, but some of the 95,000 personal injury lawsuits by those diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma have now converted to wrongful death lawsuits2. This is due to the terminal nature of lymphoma, which I have personal connection with. 

I will be using the UCSF Industry Documents Library, specifically the “Roundup Litigation Documents” within the Chemical Industry Documents Archive to research glyphosate and to dive deeper into the depositions. In addition to text and images from the Special Collections, I will also deteriorate my personal image archive, from my childhood through the present, of my family’s land, with the material of glyphosate to make visible the invisible deterioration this chemical causes in human cells.” 

Katina Bitsicas

Katina will share updates on her project and upcoming workshops on the UCSF Library Artist in Residence webpage.

About the artist

art headshot
Katina Bitsicas, 2023 UCSF Library Artist in Residence

Katina Bitsicas is a Greek-American new media artist who utilizes video, installation, AR and performance in her artworks to explore grief, loss, trauma, and memory. The overarching theme of her work is how humans can connect via shared experiences and make meaning of these experiences. Metaphors, such as red thread, are used as symbols for loss and the longing for connection. Often these works are created or installed in the natural environment, making parallels between the human body/systems and these unseen systems/structures within nature. 

She has exhibited worldwide, including The Armory Show, PULSE Art Fair, Satellite Art Fair, Superchief Gallery NFT, Plexus Projects, the Wheaton Biennial curated by Legacy Russell, CADAF: Digital Art Month Paris, Torrance Art Museum, Westbeth Gallery, New York, Eye’s Walk Festival, Syros, Greece, 57th Dimitria Festival, Thessaloniki, Greece, HereArt in New York, Art in Odd Places in Orlando, Digital Graffiti Festival, and the St. Louis International Film Festival. In 2022, her artist book Luci: The Girl with Four Hearts was published with Flower Press.

She received her BA from Kalamazoo College, post-baccalaureate from SACI in Florence, Italy, and MFA from the University of South Florida. She is an assistant professor and coordinator of digital storytelling at the University of Missouri (MU), where she also conducts research with the MU School of Medicine on utilizing digital storytelling as a meaning-making intervention for bereaved family members. This collaborative research has been published in Death Studies, OMEGA: Journal of Death and Dying, and the Journal of Social Work in End-Of-Life & Palliative Care.

Learn more about Katina’s work: www.katinabitsicas.com@katinabitsicas on Instagram • LinkedIn

Q&A with Katina

Why did you apply for the UCSF artist in residence program?

“I have been aware of the UCSF artist in residence program for two years and was so drawn by the opportunity to collaborate in a space where the arts can exist alongside scientific research. The process of developing a proposal that utilized the collections at UCSF left me so inspired after I came across the Chemical Industry Documents Archive which has a distinct personal connection to my current work about the loss of my father to lymphoma. Even just the initial research opened so many new ways of looking at my work that helped me to forge a path into this next body of work.”

Enduring Impermanence, Photographic digital transparency print by Katina Bitsicas
Enduring Impermanence, photographic digital transparency print, 58.5 feet by 13 feet (Permanent installation at the NextGen Precision Health Institute, Columbia, MO), 2021

What are you most excited to work on?

“I’m excited to work with Dylan Romero at the UCSF Makers Lab to support the VR and AR portions of my project. Their expertise in both emerging technologies and health sciences will be an amazing asset for collaboration on this project. I am excited by the philosophy of experimentation at the lab and look forward to thriving in this environment. I am also excited to try new alternative photography techniques as well as 3D printing. This project has a unique combination of emerging technologies with more traditional processes. I’m also looking forward to taking a deep dive into the chemical industry documents to pinpoint the necessary data and resources to make this visualization project possible in addition to the Special Collections books with the vital imaging that will be used in the VR project both sonically and visually.”

Echoes, multimedia installation by Katina Bitsicas
Echoes, multimedia installation (tarps, thermal emergency blankets, video, sandbags, bed sheets, paracord, AR, audio) in collaboration with Becky Alley, 2022

What challenges do you foresee?

“With this body of work I am experimenting with a lot of new-to-me techniques. With experimentation comes excitement but also large windows of trial and error. Just going with the flow of making and not being so set on my original view of this work in my head will be challenging, since I tend to be a perfectionist! On the tech side of things, I have used VR in my research projects but never in my own creative practice, so I look forward to this exciting opportunity to learn new techniques for this VR experimental documentary.”

In Memoriam, immersive video installation by Katina Bitsicas
In Memoriam, immersive video installation, wool, silk flowers, jute ribbon, performance documentation, 2023

What is the role of arts in the health sciences?

“I have led/initiated partnerships with faculty across the University of Missouri from the School of Medicine to the College of Engineering and see my research as an infusion of art and health science. My research centers on the use of creative practices to promote health and well being. My primary research focus is on the use of digital media to translate grief, loss, trauma, and memory to answer questions about how we can connect via shared experiences and make-meaning of these to reduce complicated grief and stigma around death and dying.

The arts are a necessary way to process and communicate health related issues and to connect with individuals on a human level. The arts can also aid in meaning-making and enhances our sense of well-being when it comes to our own bodies or the bodies of those we care about. The arts serve to connect with others who have the same lived experience as you.”

Vivid Light, projection mapped video by Katina Bitsicas
Vivid Light, projection mapped video, 6:31, 2021

Thank you to the people behind the program

We are grateful to the following UCSF colleagues for their commitment of time and effort when serving on the 2023 UCSF Artist in Residence review committee:

  • Eushavia Bogan, UCSF School of Medicine, MD candidate
  • Susie Kuo, UCSF EVCP, executive analyst
  • Kirk Hudson, UCSF Library, facilities manager
  • Dylan Romero, UCSF Library Makers Lab, manager
  • Polina Ilieva, UCSF Library, associate university librarian for collections and university archivist

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