Prof. Joelle Dietrick Mural Project to Explore Human Impact on the Natural World

Joelle Dietrick Mural on Wall

Joelle Dietrick. Chasing the Sun (Dickinson). 2021. Mockup for the mural. Digital print on paper. 7.5 x 4 in.

North Carolina-based artist Joelle Dietrick grew up 25 miles from Three Mile Island, the power plant that is the site of the most large-scale U.S. nuclear disaster in history. She will return to the area to paint a mural on the Dickinson College Goodyear Project Wall from Sept. 28 - Oct. 3.

A 2019 PBS documentary marked the 40th anniversary of the partial meltdown of the plant’s second reactor. Dietrick recalls then-Pennsylvania Governor Dick Thornburg debating whether to mandate the evacuation of 200,000 people in the region, beyond the tens of thousands of people who evacuated immediately.

The mural will include an extinct plant from Pennsylvania (Elodea schweinitzii Casp. / Schweinitz’s waterweed) and a net-positive house in the same time zone (Chapel Hill, North Carolina) by Arielle Condoret Schecher. The concentric circles in the composition reference her young daughter’s reaction to Dietrick’s three-country Fulbright to Germany, Chile and Hong Kong: never a great sleeper and slowly processing the idea of time zones, her daughter asked “if I were to travel at the same rate as the sun, would I ever need to sleep?”

The question stuck with Dietrick, evoking thoughts about our innate curiosity about the world, the internet’s escalation of that wonder, and its cultivation of excessive longing for other places. 

Dietrick, who is Davidson College’s Keiser Family Assistant Professor of Art and Digital Studies, lived in the area until she pursued a BFA in painting at Penn State University and worked at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. After living her first 18 years in the house designed and built by her father, a high school woodshop teacher at East Pennsboro high school, Dietrick lived in California, Europe, the Middle East, East Asia and South America.

Dietrick’s work focused on the experiences of female expatriates until the 2008 recession, when she refocused on the relationship between individuals and home. Now, in the wake of COVID upheaval, she extends that focus to the impact of our homes on the natural world.

About Joelle Dietrick

Dietrick is an artist and scholar who focuses on feminist technology, automated systems and their unintended consequences. By creating artworks with fragmented infrastructure, randomly rearranged by code, she captures upheaval in a state of hopeful transition. Selected exhibitions include MOCA Jacksonville, Transitio_MX in Mexico City, TINA B in Prague, MCA Chicago, MCA San Diego, Long March Space Beijing, and Soho20 New York. She has attended residencies at the Künstlerhaus Salzburg, Anderson Ranch, VCCA, Banff, and MacDowell, and received grants from the NEA, UC Berkeley, Florida State University, the Mellon Foundation, the DAAD, and the Fulbright Program. Based in North Carolina, Dietrick is an Assistant Professor of Art and Digital Studies at Davidson College.

The Goodyear Project Wall, Department of Art & Art History, Dickinson College

The Goodyear Project Wall is located outside of the Goodyear Gallery and is dedicated to large-scale public art projects that are collaborative in nature. Past projects include 2013 Paul Manlove's collaboration with a group of fourteen students and faculty and 2018 Deirdre Murphy’s mural about the Conodoguinet Creek Watershed and threatened regional birds.