Professor Andrea Wollensak awarded Fulbright U.S. Scholar award
Professor of Art Andrea Wollensak has been awarded a Fulbright U.S. Scholar award to the Eesti Kunstiakadeemia or Estonian Academy of Arts (EKA) in Tallinn, Estonia. She’s only the second scholar to be awarded a Fulbright to EKA in the past 10 years.
Wollensak’s project, “Creative Integration Strategies: Strengthening Community Through Digital Storytelling,” builds on her decades-long career in social impact design. As a result of her award, she will be a fulltime visiting professor with EKA for the next five months. While there, Wollensak will focus particularly on utilizing interactive design for digital storytelling.
“The project will use multifaceted design thinking strategies—such as experience mapping, concept generation, prototyping and evaluation—in both teaching and research to create a collaborative framework with the Tallinn community that explores listening and connecting community,” Wollensak explained.
“My research project is an extension of my creative work with community partners resulting in place-based public narratives and installation works. This experience in Estonia will broaden the direction of my research by engaging with NGOs that employ successful community engagement infrastructure. It will shape the direction of my teaching and research.”
This project follows on the heels of a residency with the Anchorage Museum from 2021 to 2023. The resulting work, Water Stories, similarly brought together voices from the community, projected video, digital audio, and local community artists’ works, in this case Alaskan poets Erin Hollowell and Jen Stever. The project chronicled and highlighted the populace’s relationship to their changing environment.
Speaking specifically about her planned work in Estonia, Wollensak said, “We have the Estonia Refugee Council as a community partner, and that’s exciting. What’s nice is I am essentially dovetailing the course research and work, my own research, and my creative work as well. We’re going to be focusing on 14- to 18-year-old Ukrainian refugees. Through a design thinking process and human-centered interaction, we hope to bridge gaps between what the Refugee Council provides for services and what’s missing.”
EKA is equally excited by their partnership. “We believe that Andrea is exceptionally well-positioned to advocate for the impact of design within the social sector and support not only the Department of Interaction Design but also the Estonian Refugee Council and other departmental collaborators in the public sector, including the Innovation Unit of the Government Office of Estonia and Ministry of Social Affairs,” EKA wrote in a statement welcoming Wollensak to their institution.
Wollensak, who joined Connecticut College in 1993, has also held visiting faculty/visiting critic positions at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden, Nova Scotia College of Art and Design in Halifax, Concordia University in Montreal, Rhode Island School of Design, SUNY Purchase, Maine College of Art, University of Texas at Austin, and University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth. She is also a member of the Advisory Council of the Winterhouse Institute and the Advisory Board for Digital Media Connecticut.