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The Ruby is a catalyst for creativity and a home for making art at Duke University.
Date & Time
Friday, February 8 at 12:00 pm1:00 pm
Admission
Free; no RSVP required. Everyone welcome.
Venue
Ruby Lounge at the Rubenstein Arts Center
2020 Campus Drive
Durham, NC 27705 United States
Description

The Callascope is a device developed in Nimmi Ramanujam’s Biomedical Engineering lab at Duke to aid in the visualization of the cervix without the need for a speculum. In addition to its clinical utility screening for diseases such as cervical cancer, the device has become the inspiration for an art project, the Calla Campaign, in which it is being used to empower women through literal self-exploration. The campaign has organized artist-led workshops in which participants utilize creativity and art to explore the self. The workshops, in turn, provide raw material for an art exhibit, which will engage an even broader community on the important conversation of self-exploration for empowerment.

For this Ruby Friday presentation, four students involved in the project will tell the story of this unique, interdisciplinary exhibit: how a new medical device became the basis for an exhibit focused on self-exploration, what the primary material for the exhibit was and how it was collected, and how engagement with women in workshops and elsewhere has showed that self-exploration of the reproductive anatomy—both literal and symbolical—can be an empowering experience.

About Ruby Fridays

Ruby Fridays are casual art talks offered at noon most Fridays during the semester in the Rubenstein Arts Center’s Ruby Lounge. Speakers include Duke faculty and students who are creating or exhibiting work in the Ruby, visiting artists from far and wide, and local creatives. Learn about the amazing art being created on Duke’s campus, the behind-the-scenes aspect of the creative process, careers in the arts, and more. A free lunch is included!

About the Calla Campaign

Though movements like #MeToo have had incredibly positive results in unveiling the truth of women’s relationship with their sexual and reproductive rights, modern gynecological practices still utilize medical technologies—the Duckbill speculum, for example—that were invented by men in the 19th century, well before the first suffragettes began protesting for their right to vote. This is not to diminish the value of these tools—many lives have been saved by modern gynecological inventions. But outdated tools meant to distance one from the woman’s reproductive parts carry with them outdated perceptions that this sacred part of a woman’s body is somehow a site of shame and vulnerability. It is time for those perception to be made obsolete.

The Calla Campaign is an art project meant change the narrative and dispel the atmosphere of shame and invisibility regarding sexuality and reproductive health that has been created by these traditional approaches. Fittingly, the project is the direct outgrowth of a new technology, the Callascope—a device developed in Nimmi Ramanujam’s Biomedical Engineering lab at Duke to aid in the visualization of the cervix without the need for a speculum. What began as a tool to screen for diseases such as cervical cancer has become the basis for an art project in which it is being used to empower females through literal self-exploration. The ideal of self-exploration has been developed in community workshops where participants utilize creativity and art to explore the self. All of this “raw data” has served as the inspiration for an art exhibit, which will engage an even broader community on the important conversation of self-exploration for empowerment. Ultimately, this will help to shift the narrative about reproductive anatomy from silenced shame to beautiful exploration and acceptance.

This interdisciplinary art and technology project brings faculty and students together from across disciplinary fields—engineering, the humanities, documentary studies, and beyond—to tell the powerful stories of women who have had a wide range of experiences with their reproductive anatomy.

About the Speakers

Mercy Asiedu is a graduate student and researcher at the center for global women’s health technologies. She is getting her doctorate in biomedical engineering, and has been with the lab since 2014. She is also taking a certificate in global health. Mercy is the technical lead on the Callascope development and designed and optimized the device, created experimental testing methods and conducted human subject studies to determine feasibility of use of the Callascope. Mercy is also developing algorithms to automate diagnosis for cervical cancer screening. She is passionate about women’s health and global health.

Libby Dotson is an associate in research in the Center for Global Women’s Health Technologies at Duke University. She studied international comparative studies and environmental science as an undergraduate at Duke University where she graduated in May of 2018.

Kristel Black is a senior at Duke University. She is majoring in Sociology while minoring in Chemistry and Education on the pre-medical track. She has been volunteering with the Calla Campaign since July 2018. She is particularly interested in the intersectionality that exists when thinking about reproductive health care disparities.

Andrea Kim is a recent graduate from Duke, where she studied new media and documentary film. She is interested in theories of embodiment and the mediation of space. Throughout the years, she produced numerous short documentaries, including “The (In)visible Organ,” which explores how the Calla is not only a medical tool that tackles cervical cancer for women, but is also a symbolic tool for self-exploration of the body.  Her other video projects range from a historical documentary about public monuments to an experimental one about the process of creativity itself. She sees documentary as an opportunity to talk to people from diverse backgrounds, collaborate with peers, and develop her own voice through the production process. In the next few months, she will be working with the lab to produce an extended cut of “The (In)visible Organ.”

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