Data visualization artist opens new Creative Inquiries series March 24

February 24, 2022
A portrait of Mimi Onuoha sitting in a red chair.

Cutting-edge Nigerian-American artist Mimi Onuoha, who explores issues of race, fairness and data in her work, is the first speaker in the new series Creative Inquiries that VCU Libraries is launching March 24. 

The series highlights researchers, educators, artists, scientists, theorists and those whose work responds to issues related to technology and society. Featured speakers will come to campus, either virtually or in person, for a presentation and a demonstration of their process. The series is hosted by The Workshop, the multimedia and maker space in Cabell Library.   

“Often discussions of technology are framed with the loose notion of  future-orientated “innovation” with little regard about the nature of those imagined futures,” says organizer Multimedia Teaching and Learning Librarian Oscar Keyes about his motivation for starting Creative Inquiries. “This series aims to add a little friction to these sleek ideas about innovative technologies by discussing the complexities of living in an increasingly technological world.

“This series will feature experts whose work intersects research methodologies and the creative process with regard to technology. Whether they are a research-based maker or a researcher who makes, these speakers do not approach technology as an answer but rather as a question. How does technology reflect the issues in our society and what is there to be done about it?” 

The inaugural speaker, Mimi Onuoha asks provocative questions about the relationship between people and data. Says Keyes:

“She looks beyond the data points themselves and instead digs deeper to reveal the whole narrative surrounding data collection as a process. Weaving together threads of histories related to missing, destroyed and forgotten data sets. Onuoha also examines the labor and politics surrounding data collection. 

“Her work gives us keen insight into the ways that seemingly objective materials, like data, are gathered and distributed with the same prejudices and inequities that disproportionately affect marginalized peoples. Ultimately, Onuoha’s work addresses the power of data collection and questions the role that data plays in shaping our realities, histories and futures. Given the important role that data collection plays in research, especially surrounding the topic of technology, she was the ideal speaker to reflect the hope of this series as a whole. Rather than approaching technology as the answer to every problem, this series aims to create a platform where research-based makers (or researchers who make) can ask better questions about technology.”

The event takes place Thursday, March 24 at 1 p.m. via Zoom. Sign up here 

In addition, an exhibition of Onuoha’s work will be showing on the Cabell Screen March 14-April 01, 2022. 


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