Graduate Student Talk: Elena Sobrino

February 8, 2023
Event Types
Talk / Lecture
MIT Community
: In a dark room, a large hanging sculpture made of glass, algae, and water hung from above that resembles a spider, across from a table lit to display scientific documents. Adjacent is a two-channel video.

Gilberto Esparza, Plantas autofotosinthéticas [Autophotosynthetic Plants], 2013–14. Installation view: Symbionts: Contemporary Artists and the Biosphere, MIT List Visual Arts Center, Cambridge, 2022. Courtesy the artist. Photo: Dario Lasagni

MIT List Visual Arts Center, 20 Ames Street, Wiesner Building (Building E15), Cambridge, MA 02139
Day & Time
Free, but registration required.

Elena Sobrino

Join Elena Sobrino, a PhD candidate in the History, Anthropology, Science, Technology and Society program at MIT for a conversation exploring the work of Gilberto Esparza in Symbionts: Contemporary Artists and the Biosphere.

​In this talk, Elena will discuss emergent environmentalist strategies in Flint, Michigan, a postindustrial city in the American Midwest responding to an ongoing toxic water crisis. For many residents, addressing the environmental injustice of the Flint water crisis involves reversing depictions of Flint as an empty, blighted, and toxic place. Consequently, residents ascribe value to techniques of urban gardening and recycling that render processes of remediation, restoration, and renewal highly visible. These reflections offer a new context in which to consider the water purification cycle presented in Gilberto Esparza's Plantas autofotosinthéticas [Autophotosynthetic Plants].

This will be a hybrid event with a live video that can be streamed here at 5:30 PM. 

About the Speaker

Elena Sobrino is an anthropologist who studies environmental politics in postindustrial communities. As a PhD candidate in the History, Anthropology, Science, Technology and Society program at MIT, Elena is currently working on a project that explores how familial language and sentiments shape the pursuit of environmental and racial justice in Flint, Michigan, a community confronting a toxic water crisis that poses long-term threats to public health and infrastructure. Before coming to MIT, Elena worked in local crisis management during the Flint water crisis. As assistant director of information and planning with the American Red Cross, she distributed bottled water and filters, worked in volunteer intake, compiled reports and briefings, and served as a field worker with the Centers for Disease Control to gather information about water access and mental health in Flint households. Elena graduated with a BA in cultural anthropology and music from the University of Michigan-Flint.

Graduate Student Talks

MIT graduate students explore current exhibitions at the List Center through the lens of their own research, background, and interests. Join us for this interdisciplinary lecture series where we dive into how art and research are overlapping on MIT’s campus.