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Charissa N. Terranova is a writer and educator. Terranova researches complex biological systems from a cultural purview, focusing on the history of evolutionary theory, biology, and biocentrism in art, architecture, and design. Professor of Art and Architectural History, she lectures and teaches seminars at the University of Texas at Dallas on modern and contemporary art and architecture, the history of biology in art and architecture, and media art and theory.

Terranova's next book, Organic Modernism: from the British Bauhaus to Cybernetics (Bloomsbury, 2024), breaks new ground in its study of "organicism," the holistic belief that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, in the unified transdisciplinary field of art, science, and design. It offers a history of organicist artists, scientists, and designers cooperating in various capacities from the Great Depression and WW II to postwar cybernetics and the global disaggregated collective. It follows the red thread of philosophical organicism within the modern architecture, British surrealism, biology, and socialism of the 1930s into the welfare state, biology-based art exhibitions, robotic art and design, cybernetics and ecological consciousness of exhibition curation during the late 1960s and early 70s. A sequel to Terranova's Art as Organism: Biology and the Evolution of the Digital Image (Bloomsbury, 2016), Organic Modernism reveals the biological roots of cybernetics in the British context. 


Over the last year, Terranova was busy writing essays in addition to the book. In fall 2022, she published "Bacterial Politics: Autonomy, Autopoiesis, Bioart" in Antennae: The Journal of Nature in Culture, the British journal for contemporary art and the natural sciences. Edited by Ken Rinaldo, this issue explores "microbial ecologies" in the art-and-science practices of several contemporary bioartists. Click here to find out more and download a free copy of this beautiful, innovative, and insightful journalTerranova also recently published "Hannah and Joe: Interspecies Art between Bird and Man" at Interalia Magazine and Leonardo Reviews. Other forthcoming essays include "Semblance of Mindful Intent: Agency and Feedback in the Artwork of Ian Ingram" (Beall Center for Art + Technology, UC Irvine) and "Curating the Cybernetic: The Brief Collaboration of György Kepes and Marshall McLuhan" in Against Crisis, Then and Now: McLuhan with Kepes and Tyrwhitt (Peter Lang, 2024), ed. Jaqueline McLeod Rogers.

She is coeditor with Meredith Tromble of Biotechne: Interthinking Art, Science, and Design, a book series on Bloomsbury Press. D'Arcy Wentworth Thompson's Generative Influences in Art, Design, and Architecture: From Forces to Forms (2021), an anthology Terranova coedited with Ellen K. Levy and her most recent book, explores how Scottish zoologist D'Arcy Wentworth Thompson's magnum opus On Growth and Form (1917) transformed creative processes across fields. She is author of Art as Organism: Biology and the Evolution of the Digital Image (Bloomsbury, 2022/IB Tauris, 2016) and Automotive Prosthetic: Technological Mediation and the Car in Conceptual Art (2014), and coeditor with Meredith Tromble of The Routledge Companion to Biology in Art and Architecture (2016). She also edited a two-volume issue of the journal Technoetic Arts on “complexism” (2016). 


Terranova organized The Visual Cultures of Race and Science (February 6-7, 2022) at the University of Texas at Dallas. Sponsored by the Ackerman Center for Holocaust Studies, UT Dallas School of Arts and Humanities, the Edith O'Donnell Institute of Art History, this symposium explored how the language and images of the natural sciences shaped and substantiated ideological and inaccurate ideas about "race." Speakers included Anna Arabindan-Kesson, Duana Fullwiley, Linda Kim, Eben Kirksey, and Terranova.

Inaugural director and curator of Centraltrak: The UT Dallas Artists Residency, Terranova regularly curates and writes art criticism. From September 2015 to February 2016, Terranova collaborated with Davidson College Professor of Biology David Wessner in the SciArt Center NYC's virtual residency program. As part of the residency, Terranova and Wessner co-curated in February 2016 Gut Instinct: Art, Design, and the Microbiome, an on-line exhibition about art, the gut-brain axis, and gastrointestinal microbiome. In the fall of 2015 at Gray Matters Gallery in Dallas, Texas she curated Chirality: Defiant Mirror Images, an exhibition about art and the scientific concept of "chirality," or non-superimposable mirror images.


Terranova holds an MA (2001) and PhD (2004) in architectural history and theory from Harvard University, an MA (1996) in art history from the University of Illinois at Chicago, and a BA (1992) in art history from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville.

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