Ellen Sandor, Founding Artist & Director, (art)n
Ellen Sandor is an internationally acclaimed New Media artist, founder and director of (art)n, and co-founder of the Richard and Ellen Sandor Family Collection. Throughout the 1970s, she created mixed media environments and sculptures, while pursuing her passion for exploring photography and outsider art. She received an MFA from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and was commissioned by private collectors to create sculptural installations that combined neon tubing with photographic murals.
In the early 1980s, Sandor had the vision to integrate photography with other art forms including sculpture and computer graphics that resulted in a new medium she called PHSColograms (pronounced skol-o-grams). This complex blend of forms required collaboration that enabled Sandor to work with additional artists, scientists, technologists, and thinkers who shared her enthusiasm for creating a future that included the use of computers to explore one's creative potential across disciplinary cultures. Sandor has been acknowledged as a forward-thinking pioneer and futurist for her innovations with PHSColograms and interdisciplinary collaborative work methods.
PHSCologram '83 was the first collaborative installation she created that resulted in the formation of (art)n in 1983 with peers from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. The remarkable installation featured sound effects and was contained with sculptural details that referenced historical works by men and women artists, including Louise Nevelson, Georgia O'Keeffe, Man Ray, Marcel Duchamp, and the intuitive artist, realized as PHSCologram images.
This provocative installation caught the attention of the arts community and was reviewed in the New Art Examiner as a historical breakthrough for its original form, process, and evolutionary approach to making 21st Century art. Tom DeFanti and Dan Sandin from the Electronic Visualization Laboratory at the University of Illinois at Chicago were intrigued by Sandor's efforts with (art)n and developed a collaboration with her to digitize the PHSCologram process by 1989, which led to further development at EVL to add interactivity and animation to virtual environments with the invention of the Virtual Reality CAVE, first publicly shown at SIGGRAPH '92 in Chicago, surrounded by an installation of 40 PHSColograms produced by (art)n and collaborators, sponsored by ACM.
In 1986, Sandor worked with Larry Smarr, Donna Cox, George Francis and Ray Idaszik at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Together they created the first PHSColograms made from computer-generated data that "visualized the invisible" with mathematical models such as the Etruscan Venus that were exhibited at Fermilab Gallery in 1987. Sandor began collaborating with scientists from NASA Ames Research Center and The Scripps Research Institute, creating the first PHSColograms used to aid scientific research. From these efforts, a large body of work was produced under her direction that popularized artists working with scientific themes and even scientific data, leading the trends to follow in Art & Science and Art & Technology.
In 1991, Sandor started working in a new direction to address human atrocities through visual history with The Equation of Terror, which was exhibited internationally and also included in the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago's landmark exhibition, Art in Chicago: 1944-1995. The installation brought together elements of photographic history with computer aided visualizations of human warfare. This insightful statement calling for tolerance and creativity led to future work with Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation in 1994 and site-specific commissions for A Living Memorial to the Holocaust - Museum of Jewish Heritage in 1997 and Battle of Midway Memorial for the City of Chicago in 2001.
Sandor additionally worked with Chicago Imagists Ed Paschke and Karl Wirsum, who shared in her spirit for inventiveness and taking creative risks. These works have been shown internationally at Galerie Darthea Speyer in Paris, U.S. Art in Embassies Program in Germany, High Museum of Art, Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art, Brauer Museum of Art, Chicago History Museum, and The Art Institute of Chicago. Recent projects include the exploration of architectural masterpieces and unrealized delineations while continuing to trail blaze the sciences in art.
Sandor's works with (art)n and collaborators are in the permanent collection of The Art Institute of Chicago, Santa Barbara Museum of Art, International Center of Photography, Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art, The University of Oklahoma, The Smithsonian Institution and others. Recent commissions include Murphy/Jahn Architects, City of Chicago Public Art Program, The State of Illinois Art-in-Architecture Program, Nuveen Investments, and SmithBucklin Corporation.
Sandor co-invented U.S. and International Patents awarded for the PHSCologram process and its improvements. She co-authored papers for Computers & Graphics, IEEE, and SPIE. She has lectured by invitation in Europe, Canada and the United States and is a former Collaborator/Associate Professor at the Department of Art and Design at the College of Design, Iowa State University and a former Adjunct Associate Professor at the School of Art & Design at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
She is an Affiliate of eDream, National Center for Supercomputing Applications, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign and Chair of the Advisory Board of the Gene Siskel Film Center of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She is on the Board of Directors for OXBOW, Board of Governors for the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and is a Life Trustee of The Art Institute of Chicago. In 2012, she received the Thomas R. Leavens Award for Distinguished Service to the Arts through Lawyers for the Creative Arts.