Unless you’ve been through an identical experience it can be difficult to understand what it’s really like for those who are struggling to build their families. But what if there was a place where people could communicate their personal stories of infertility in ways that others could truly understand?
The ART of Infertility, founded in 2014, curates innovative and emotionally provoking art exhibits to portray the realities, pains and joys of living with infertility. Today we hear from its founders, Elizabeth Walker and Maria Novotny, who share their personal struggles with infertility, and how they created this innovative organization.
Elizabeth shares how creating art allowed her to see and feel tangible progress, something she lacked during her own journey. On the other hand, Maria began to focus her PHD research on the rhetoric surrounding infertility. The two collaborated on their ideas and created The ART of Infertility project to engage people with infertility through a combination of art and oral history.
Guests: Elizabeth Walker and Maria Novotny, Co-founder and Co-director of The ART of Infertility
Host: Lissa Kline, VP of Member & Provider Services at Progyny
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Lissa oversees the Patient Care Advocates and the Provider Relations Team. She worked at Columbia University Medical Center for several years in the division of Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility. Involved in Patient Services and the Donor Egg Program, she loved working with patients while they underwent fertility treatment. Lissa graduated with a Master of Science in Social Work from Columbia University.
With a degree in photography from the Art Institute of Pittsburgh, Elizabeth works in imaging and communications for the University of Michigan Medical School’s Department of Pathology where she also serves on the department’s Diversity, Equity & Inclusion committee and the Patients and Families Advisory Council. After her own infertility diagnosis, the focus of her artwork shifted using a variety of mediums to express her experiences with infertility. She also began documenting the lives of others with infertility through portraits and interviews, in order to allow them healing through sharing their stories, and, to share those stories with medical practitioners and legislators, advocating for improvements to the care of those with the disease.
Maria teaches professional writing at the University of Wisconsin. Her dissertation, “The ART of Infertility: A Community Project Rhetorically Conceiving Failed Fertility,” overviews her collaboration with The ART of Infertility and features the stories of three infertile women who created pieces of art for the project. The findings of her research document how art, an extension of multimodal-making, is used as a rhetorical practice to navigate an infertility diagnosis. Broadly, her research advocates for curated exhibits of patient artwork as a method to facilitate more effective, patient-centered communication in healthcare settings.
Music From This Episode:
Artist: Rest You Sleeping Giant
Track: End of Winter
Track: Wants To Know
Artist: Steve Combs
Track: A Vital Piece of Music for All Your Soundtrack Needs
Artist: Philipp Weigl
Track: Western Shores
Artist: Brylie Christopher Oxley
Track: Heavenly Motion
Artist: how the night came
Artist: TRG Banks
Track: Christmas Lights
Artist: Mise Darling
Track: No One
Artist: Nathaniel Wyvern
Track: Sanctuary Of The Sky Gods