This semester, Dana Karwas will begin her tenure as the director of the Yale Center for Collaborative Arts and Media, an interdisciplinary arts research center that studies the intersection of arts and technology.

Karwas, an experienced artist and architect, comes to Yale from her position as Industry Assistant Professor of Integrated Digital Media at New York University. She officially assumed the position at the CCAM on Jan. 14.

“[Karwas’] breadth of knowledge across art, design and technology and her track record of interdisciplinary collaborations with scholars, entrepreneurs and artists prepare her to lead the CCAM in its next phase of development,” said Kate Krier, assistant dean for the arts.

As director, Karwas hopes to increase research, resources and tools to support Yale artists and the greater community. Karwas said her priority is to “put [the CCAM] on the map as an art and tech center.” She told the News that she enjoyed meeting with other faculty about the future of CCAM.

Karwas graduated from the University of Kansas School of Architecture and Design before enrolling in NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts in 2005, where she studied in the Interactive Telecommunications Program, or ITP. Karwas explained that the ITP inspired her to combine her knowledge from her undergraduate architecture experience with various art forms and technologies.

Her passion for mixed media art continued after graduation, when she started a production company that used technology to help artists enhance their work. She began teaching an interactive art class for architects titled “Modern Mobile Scenario”  at the Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation and brought the class to NYU soon after. Karwas was also instrumental in the establishment of the Integrated Digital Media program at the NYU Tandon School of Engineering, which she described as an “interactive arts program within an engineering school.”

“Coming from an engineering school, coming from an architecture school, coming from an art school, I kind of have this 10,000-foot view of the space that occupies a very specific place in academia,” Karwas said.

In addition to her success as a teacher, Karwas is also an accomplished mixed media artist. She worked as media director of Maya Lin’s fifth memorial, “What is Missing?” and uses technology to create her own art. She said that she is particularly interested in using art to convey “perception beyond what our eyes can see.”

Karwas spent two years working on a piece that she hoped would express what it felt like to experience the destructive 2011 Tōhoku earthquake in Japan. She graphed the seismic data, programmed animations of the earthquake’s movement and created a virtual reality apparatus to inform the final product — an oil painting.

Karwas hopes to bring her passion for artistic exploration to the CCAM.

“It’s studying how to extend an experience by analyzing it, but then working through a process to get back to a physical output,” she explained.

Although Karwas has not studied or worked at Yale before, she is familiar with both the College and the city of New Haven. One of her family members was a singer in the Whiffenpoofs and is on the Whiffenpoof board. She said that she was excited to move her family to a city she already loved.

The CCAM opened in 2017.

Lindsay Daugherty |

Correction, Jan. 24: A previous version of this article identified Karwas’s Columbia course as “Interactive Art for Architects.” In fact, the course was titled “Modern Mobile Scenario” and was designed to be an interactive art class for architects.