Alicia Chester


Screen Shot 2016-08-02 at 12.30.50 PMEducation: BFA, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, 2003; MA, Visual and Critical Studies, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, 2010.

Biography: Alicia Chester is a fifth-year Ph.D. student in the Graduate Program in Visual and Cultural Studies at the University of Rochester. Alicia is an artist, writer, and educator with a background in photography, film, video, and installation. Her work has been exhibited in such venues as the Chicago Cultural Center, the Koehnline Museum of Art, the University of Michigan, and Artcite in Windsor, Ontario. She was the Collections Research Fellow at the Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago, from 2011 to 2012, and she was previously a member of the InVisible Culture editorial board and an art critic for the online publication ArtSlant. Alicia was a coeditor of and contributing author to Theorizing Visual Studies: Writing Through the Discipline (Routledge, 2012), an anthology directed by James Elkins.

Entitled “The Permanent Cloud and the Passing Storm: A Genealogy of Memory Between Photographic Media and Psychology,” Alicia’s research project for the Mellon Digital Humanities Fellowship traces the history of photography through psychiatric and medical imaging, from nineteenth-century portraits of psychiatric patients created for taxonomic and diagnostic purposes to current brain imaging technologies. This project is related to Alicia’s broader interest in seeking historical correlations among psychological and media technologies and discourses, especially concerning memory, as well as her interest in the mutual aesthetic and technological influence of artistic and vernacular photographic practices.

“…the Photographer catches in a moment the permanent cloud, or the passing storm or sunshine of the soul, and thus enables the metaphysician to witness and trace out the connexion between the visible and the invisible in one important branch of his researches into the Philosophy of the human mind.”

–Hugh W. Diamond, “On the Application of Photography to the Physiognomic and Mental Phenomena of Insanity” (1856), in The Face of Madness: Hugh W. Diamond and the Origin of Psychiatric Photography, ed. Sander L. Gilman (New York: Brunner/Mazel, 1976), 20.