Jess Parris Westbrook (she/her) holds queer, feminist, and transdisciplinarity worldviews and studies forces at play in social landscapes, educational environments, and learning scenarios. She uses art and design methods to negotiate, translate, and organize the joys and struggles of complexity, information, and understanding.
Westbrook is an Associate Professor in the School of Design, College of Computing and Digital Media (CDM) at DePaul University (2016) where she has taught courses across the curriculum areas including UxD/HCI, Graphic Design, Games, and Digital Communication Media Arts. Her educational philosophy integrates creativity, critical technical practice, project-based learning, self-determined learning, and progress theory. Prior to joining DePaul’s School of Design, Westbrook was a tenured Associate Professor of Contemporary Practices and Art and Technology Studies at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC), Chicago, IL (2010-2016) where she also served as the Director of Technology Initiatives developing curriculum, courses, and technology workshops, while managing over 30 instructors and graduate teaching assistants in the Wired program. Her first TT academic appointment was at The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga where she held a joint appointment as an Assistant Professor in both Graphic Design and Photography and Media Art. She spent her earliest career phase in web development and interactive design coding sites for Verio/NTT DOCOMO from its Baltimore/DC metro area office.
Westbrook continues to expand her experience and toolkit(s) and is currently focused on earning a PhD (ABD 2020-21) incorporating brand new modes and directions. Her completed PhD coursework intersects leadership, educational research, and learning sciences. Her developing dissertation research involves complexity, capability, personal-learning environments and networks, affinity, knowledge-building, and learning-futures. more: www.jessparriswestbrook.com
Westbrook currently Co-Directs Divergent Design Lab, an award-winning lab located in the College of Computing and Digital Media at DePaul University in the Chicago Loop. Initially founded/named in 2016 by Westbrook and Treebridge, Divergent Design Lab is an ever-evolving collective engaged in emerging questions and transdisciplinary research practices. Divergent Design Lab considers experience, vulnerability, identity, and exploitation through intersectional, critical technical, and social psychology paradigms. Current considerations: Reality is highly malleable. Design can (re)shape reality, and designers and technologists are responsible for doing so ethically. One of our current research threads involves the continued development of our linguistic manipulation models based on our Sorry prototype (born in 2015). Another research thread involves human and artificial creativity. more: www.divergentdesignlab.org
Westbrook currently Co-Directs Channel TWo (CH2), an award-winning Chicago-based studio. CH2 produces information experiences and critical playware. CH2 is interested in luck, levels, systems, and trespassing through the contexts of landscape, interactivity, data, and augmented reality. CH2 projects have been exhibited/screened in museums and galleries, nationally and internationally, and have been featured in Leonardo MIT Press Journals, Motherboard Vice, The Creators Project, Art Papers, The Intercept, and Media-N. CH2 work is included in permanent collections at the Rose Goldsen Archive of New Media Art at Cornell University, and The Kinsey Institute. CH2 apps have been distributed through The App Store and Google Play. Awards and commissions include a 2019 Media Archeology Lab (MAL) Residency at the University of Colorado, the 2017-18 AIGA DEC Research Grant for coding education, a 2015 National Science Foundation Subaward for creative computation research, the 2014 SPACES R+D Award for AR (augmented reality) creative research, a 2013 Sony Digital Media Academy Award for 3D and VR (virtual reality) equipment, a 2012 Rhizome.org Commission through the New Museum to launch the ARRAY Project and listserv, a 2011 Turbulence Net Art Commission through New Radio and Performing Arts, Inc., and a 2009 Terminal Net Art Commission.
Way back in the 20th century Westbrook studied photography and early forms of digital media. In 1998 she received an MFA in Photography from Tyler School of Art and Architecture, Graphic Arts and Design, Temple University, Philadelphia, PA. In graduate school she held an RA/TA position (digital prepress for offset printing and film recording), won a university project completion grant, and worked as a photographer for the Department of Radiology at Einstein Medical Center in Philadelphia creating medical case studies for physicians. In 1996 she received a BFA in Photography from the University of Central Florida, Orlando, FL where she worked as a photographer and darkroom technician for the UCF Office of Instructional Resources and a digital editor at the Kodak Digital Imaging Processing Lab in the UCF Research Park. Westbrook grew up in Orlando, FL immersed in all things simulacra, simulation, and spectacle.
select research presentations: AERA, AIGA, CAA, Center for Cognition and Neuroethics Mind and Brain Conference, Commiserate Chicago MADD Center University of Chicago, Dark Side of Digital UWM Center for 21st Century Studies and Center for Information Policy Research, DiGRA, DrupalCon, FATE, FemTechNet, GLI.TC/H, HASTAC, IEEE VIS, ISEA, ITI Think Tank, MACAA, Mobility Shifts at The New School, New Media Caucus, New Security Paradigms Workshop (NSPW), Northwestern University Ordinary Media Symposium, Processing Chicago, School of the Art Institute of Chicago Here and Now Series, SPE, University of Wisconsin Chazen Museum of Art, University of Chicago Alternate Realities and Virtual Worlds Series
select art/design exhibitions/screenings: Activatar iOS January feature 2018 on iTunes; Apexart, New York, NY; Arebyte, London, United Kingdom; The Banff Centre, Banff, Alberta, CA; Block Museum, Evanston, IL; BronxArtSpace, New York, NY; Butler Museum of American Art, Youngstown, OH; Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, PA; Contemporary Art Museum (CAM), Raleigh, NC; Design Gallery, San Francisco State University, San Francisco, CA; Digital Arts Entertainment Lab (DAEL) Georgia State University, Atlanta, GA; Gallery 400, Chicago, IL; Gene Siskel Film Center, Chicago, IL; Hyde Park Art Center, Chicago, IL; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC; Hunter Museum of American Art, Chattanooga, TN; Institute of Contemporary Art, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA; Miller Gallery, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA; MOCAD, Detroit, MI; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, IL; SPACES, Cleveland, OH; TypeForce 8, Chicago, IL; Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art, Chicago, IL
Design, Interactive Media, Education
AERA (American Educational Research Association), SREE (Society for Research on Educational Effectiveness)