I started making experimental videos in Seattle in the mid 90’s. My work at that time was produced through the community media center and focused on creating ambient visuals for queer performance events I produced. In 1998, I moved from Seattle to Olympia, Washington to study electronic media production and performance studies. I worked for media services and the television studio at Evergreen and taught people video and sound editing. My senior thesis project was a multi-channel sound, video and sculptural installation called Four Faced Colossus. It was semi-autobiographical and explored themes of oppression and resistance. You can view my animation here and my documentaries here
In 2002, I entered the Arts Administration graduate program at the University of Oregon focusing on representation and accessibility issues in the arts–particularly public art and international theatres of resistance. My thesis work explored the nature of empowerment by analyzing the work of Foucault, feminist interpretations of his work and texts from international theatres of resistance to develop a model for approaching empowerment in arts programs.
From 2002 to 20012, I worked in digital media production and management. My projects included working as a user interface designer and tester with a firm that developed interactive educational websites at the University of Oregon, a documentarian position with theatrical designer extraordinaire Michael Curry and several positions managing technical/media projects in the healthcare at OHSU.
After 10 years in media production and management, I decided to switch tracks a bit. I really enjoyed the cognitive psychology involved in testing websites and online tools with users. I had also gotten involved in union work as an investigatory steward in conflicts between employees and their managers where discipline was imminent. These two facets of my work were fascinating to me, so I decided to go back to school to study in psychology. In 2015, I completed a post-bac degree focusing on adolescent and young adult development, disability studies and positive youth development. I started working at PSU’s Regional Research Institute for Human Services (RRI) as an intern in 2013 and received a direct appointment as a senior research assistant in January 2016. In this role, I contributed to the process of developing, implementing and testing interventions in child/youth/young adult mental health with a focus on positive youth development.
One of my favorite projects while working at RRI was the Early Assessment and Support Alliance (EASA) Center for Excellence. EASA began in Oregon and is now being implemented across the U.S. The goal of the program is to identify individuals with the first signs of psychosis as soon as possible in order to minimize the negative impact on their lives through person-centered, multi-disciplinary treatment and support. In September 2015, I led a study on the educational and vocational experiences of young adults in the EASA program and recent graduates. In early 2016, I led a film project with EASA’s Young Adult Leadership Council entitled In Our Own Words, Sounds and Visions. And we recently completed a short animation project called What Is/Isn’t Psychosis? with University of Maryland Medical School as part of SAMHSA’s tecnical assistance network. I also worked on a set of tools for self-advocacy with members of the young adult leadership council and Pat Deegan who is an internationally recognized innovator in the peer movement.
I am currently a research associate with REKNEW Projects at the Institute for Development and Disability at OHSU. We collaborate with neuroscientists, computer scientists and electrical engineers across the country to develop online tools and assistive devices to folks with complex communication needs. When I describe our work, I often say “You know, like Stephen Hawking…” to bring the work out of academia and into something most folks have heard of. I consult on user interface design and testing for our devices and websites, help out with grant writing and regulatory reporting and manage all of our video data and media needs. You can check out some informative videos about our work here and here.
Outside of work and video projects, I design knitwear and beaded jewelry. I hand dye, card and spin my own yarn and knit and crochet garments. I am super passionate about fashion, design and hand crafting beautiful pieces of wearable art work. I sold my jewelry in galleries and did a lot of custom work in Seattle in the 90’s and hope to return to that type of work when I retire from my social justice work. I also recently started doing 1/6 scale photography and storytelling. Please follow me on Instagram @marybwoolencraft for my knitwear and @cliques.of.pdx for my photography.