Photos - Top row - Elizabeth, Maria, Robin. Bottom row - Annabelle, Nyah
Artist Elizabeth Walker (pictured top left) is the co-founder and co-director of The ART of infertility. With a degree in photography from the Art Institute of Pittsburgh, she works as a communications specialist for the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Cardiovascular Consortium. After her own infertility diagnosis, the focus of her artwork shifted using a variety of mediums to express her experiences with infertility. She also began documenting the lives of others with infertility through portraits and interviews, in order to allow them healing through sharing their stories, and, to share those stories with medical practitioners and legislators, advocating for improvements to the care of those with the disease.
Maria Novotny, PhD, (pictured top middle) is a co-founder and co-director of The ART of Infertility and an assistant professor of English at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee where she teaches in the PhD Program in Public Rhetoric and Community Engagement. Her dissertation, “The ART of Infertility: A Community Project Rhetorically Conceiving Failed Fertility”, overviews her collaboration with The ART of Infertility and features the stories of three infertile women who created pieces of art for the project. The findings of her research document how art, an extension of multimodal-making, is used as a rhetorical practice to navigate (and advocate after receiving) an infertility diagnosis. Broadly, her research advocates for curated exhibits of patient artwork as a method to facilitate more effective, patient-centered communication in healthcare settings. To read more about Maria's research with The ART of Infertility, visit her website.
Elizabeth and Maria began their work together after meeting in May of 2014 in Washington, D.C., where they were both lobbying for infertility legislation on Capitol Hill. Discovering they were both peer-led infertility support group leaders, they decided to meet monthly for dinners to be a support to each other and began discussing their shared interest in documenting and archiving the narratives of those with infertility. Those dinners quickly turned to ART of Infertility project meetings and they have been collaborating since.
Robin Silbergleid, PhD (pictured top right) is the author of the recently-released poetry collection The Baby Book and the memoir Texas Girl both of which address issues of infertility, pregnancy loss, and single parenting. She has also written two chapbooks Pas de Deux and Frida Kahlo, My Sister; her poems, essays, and scholarship can be found in a number of venues, online and in print. Born and raised in Illinois, she holds both a PhD in English and an MFA in Creative Writing from Indiana University. She is currently an associate professor of English and Director of Creative Writing at Michigan State University. Robin frequently presents ART of Infertility writing workshops, conferences, and serves as a faculty advisor to interns. She lives in East Lansing, Michigan with her two children (and two cats).
Annabelle Ahlers (pictured bottom left) is an intern with The ART of Infertility. "I became interested in this work as I began to see infertility effect those in my life. As infertility is not something we are taught to talk around or have an informed conversation on I had no idea what to say, or how to support them emotionally. I had only heard about infertility in movies never had seen it in real life. After these experiences, I began to explore more about infertility and that is what led me to discover the Art of Infertility and decide to contribute to the project. Through this research my goal is to better support those in my life and future clients in a therapeutic setting."
Nyah Tolentino (pictured bottom right) is a third-year majoring in Biomedical Sciences with a minor in Public Health & Equity at Marquette University. She is currently completing her Public Health Research Capstone Project with Dr. Maria Novotny and Elizabeth Walker as her community collaborators. “My goal with my capstone project is to highlight the lack of fertility education and get young adults to act proactively on their own fertile health” she says. “I was inspired by The ART of Infertility’s mission and want to help contribute towards increased infertility awareness, advocacy, and education”. Nyah will be attending Physician Assistant school in May 2022 with an aspiration to become an infertility specialist one day.
Elizabeth, Maria, Robin, Annabelle, and Nyah work with a large network of artists, writers, and volunteers who help make the project possible. If you'd like to join in the ART of IF's mission, please email email@example.com or call Elizabeth at (517) 262-3662.