Artist Elizabeth Walker (pictured 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 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 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).
Elena Castro is an intern with The ART of Infertility. She's in her third year at University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee working towards her degree in social work. Elena says, "I am personally interested in helping everyone and anyone reach their full potential in life and I hope I can put that interest into action with my career one day as well. I chose this service-learning opportunity because I knew very little about IVF and Egg donation but I knew enough that I was very interested in learning more. Already, I have been touched by some of the incredible stories of people's journeys with embryo donation. Seeing how strong and resilient these people are has given me even more hope in the future of humanity, as well as the future of family making and what a family looks like."
Kyra Conners is an intern with The ART of Infertility. She is a third-year social work major at University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee. "I have a passion for human rights and comprehensive sex education. I enjoy reading, hammocking, and going to concerts – only in a Covid-free world, though. My ideal occupation is to be a sex-therapist, which is why I felt working with the ART of Infertility was an important step for me to take to try and understand how it impacts peoples’ relationships with themselves and one-another. I have already learned so many things that I will carry with me for the rest of my life – both professional and personal."
Elizabeth, Maria, Robin, Elena, and Kyra 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 or call Elizabeth at (517) 262-3662.