Andrea Polli is an environmental artist working at the intersection of art, science and technology. Her interdisciplinary research has been presented as public artworks, media installations, community projects, performances, broadcasts, mobile and geolocative media, publications, and through the curation and organization of public exhibitions and events. She creates artworks designed to raise awareness of environmental issues. Often these works express scientific data obtained through her collaborations with scientists and engineers and have taken the form of sound art, vehicle-based works, public light works, mobile media experiences, and bio-art and design. Polli holds an MFA in Time Arts from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and a PhD in practice-led research from the University of Plymouth in the UK.
She has created and presented public artworks at 25 locations including a wind-powered light work covering the Rachel Carson bridge in Pittsburgh, a permanent light work for the University of Utah and building-scale works presented in the cities of San Jose California, Charlotte North Carolina, Detroit, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Hagen Germany and Zagreb Croatia. She has had over 20 solo exhibitions including at the Parco Arte Vivente Museum in Turin Italy, and her work has been presented in over 125 group exhibitions including in Paris, Berlin, Copenhagen, New York City, Chicago and Hong Kong. In addition to ten keynotes, since 2009 she has given over 200 professional presentations of her art and research.
Her artwork and research has received major support from The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), The National Science Foundation (NSF) and Fulbright among others, including support for two over $1.5 million projects: the NEA and Intel-supported ISEA2012: Machine Wilderness Symposium for which she served as Artistic Director, and a 5-year NSF Division of Chemistry project titled Sustainable Energy Pathways in Engineering and Technology (SEPTET) for which she was a Co-Principal Investigator.
She co-edited the book Far Field: Digital Culture, Climate Change and the Poles published on Intellect Press and authored Hack the Grid published by the Carnegie Museum of Art, and has written and published eight book chapters and entries, 20 journal articles and conference papers, and several short editorial essays, curatorial statements.
Andrea Polli is a Professor with appointments in the College of Fine Arts and School of Engineering at the University of New Mexico (UNM). She holds the Mesa Del Sol Endowed Chair of Digital Media and directs the Social Media Workgroup, a lab at the University's Center for Advanced Research Computing. As an educator, Polli has created student-centered professional development, theory, practice and field-based courses and experiences for practicing artists, engineers and makers.
She helped to develop and implement the first new media program at Robert Morris College and the first web design program at Columbia College Chicago, where she was voted 2000/2001 Teacher of the Year in recognition of her work connecting students to the wider community through collaborative projects. She later helped to design and direct the Integrated Media Arts (IMA) Master of Fine Arts Program at Hunter College/CUNY where she developed courses in teaching, pedagogy, theory and practice. As Director of the IMA MFA, she helped to develop interdisciplinary social-issue focused thesis guidelines and procedures and chaired 18 thesis committees.
From 2009-2010 she served as the Director of the Interdisciplinary Film and Digital Media Program and as the 2010 Director of ARTSLab at UNM during which time her assignment did not include teaching. Despite this, she continued to work with students. In 2009, she created a research laboratory of students who would not only work at a high level of media art and technology, but would approach that work with a critical awareness. Since the inception, The Social Media Workgroup (SMW) has provided jobs and experience in digital media innovation to over 20 interdisciplinary students and has provided college credit and professional portfolio development to many others. The SMW has produced professional media projects locally, nationally in California, Philadelphia, Illinois and New York City and in Italy, Hong Kong and Australia. SMW's institutional collaborations include working with 516ARTS and the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee among many other partners on ISEA2012 and with UNM’s Center for Advanced Research Computing (CARC) where the group maintains a workspace and gallery.
Polli continues to be committed to connecting students to the wider community through collaborative projects, and has created many opportunities for students in and out of courses peaking with the ISEA2012: Machine Wilderness Symposium that drew over 100 artists and 400 participants from 37 countries. Students in her courses and in others at UNM along with student groups nationally and internationally participated in the symposium. In addition to presenting a five-day smartphone performance work, undergraduate students in her lab created extensive video documentation for the symposium.
Polli's work with science, technology and media has been presented widely in over 100 presentations, exhibitions and performances internationally, and has been recognized by numerous grants, residencies and awards including a NYFA Artist's Fellowship, the Fulbright Specialist Award and the UNESCO Digital Arts Award. From 2006-2009 she was co-chair of the Leonardo Education Forum, an affiliate of the MIT Press and the College Art Association of America (CAA) that promotes the advancement of research and academic scholarship at the intersections of art, science, and technology and from 2004-2008 she was co-chair of the New York Society for Acoustic Ecology, a multi-disciplinary group exploring the urban sound environment and a chapter of the American and World Forums for Acoustic Ecology, for which she served on the board for many years. She has served on review and curatorial boards for SIGGRAPH, SIGCHI, The Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, the Electronic Music Foundation, the National Science Foundation and others.