Steffi Domike

As an artist/activist, I am inspired by events and situations in the life world. Growing up in Latin America deeply influenced me: I saw people living side by side in both extreme poverty and wasteful opulence and witnessed first hand as hopes for democracy were dashed by my own government’s interventions.

My adolescent years were spent in Santiago, Chile, where my father worked for the United Nations. Surrounded by a swirl of politics and social upheaval, I identified with and assumed myself to be part of the Chilean people’s struggles. At 12, in 1964, I “supported” Chile’s Socialist Presidential candidate Salvador Allende and was thrilled when he finally won in 1970. A short three years later I watched with shock and horror as my own government engineered the coup that killed him and his dream for an equitable society. This was a profoundly radicalizing and defining experience in my life.

Back in the States, I was determined to influence my own country, to move us away from such disastrous international policies. Lacking local US roots or community, I had the choice to live anywhere in the world, but chose to work here in the US, in what activists in the 1960s called the “belly of the beast.”

I moved to Pittsburgh and went to work in a steel plant, both for the job and for a community to share my ideas with. At that time the tools for organizing were telephones and mimeograph machines. My work has evolved: from radical polemics to rank and file organizing, from television propaganda to tactical media practice and performance.

With attorney Lisa Freeland I developed a board game that takes acritical look at the USA PATRIOT ACT, The Patriot Act Game, and have been developing my eco-art workthrough collaborations with Ann T. Rosenthal. My paid job is coordinating the Collaborative on Health and the Environment in Pennsylvania (CHE-Penn) where I have an opportunity to work with committed health professionals, health affected groups and environmental organizations to educate the public about the scientific research that demonstrates human health degradation due to environmental toxics.

Thus, my art production traces a parallel to my reflections on community as I continue to develop strategies for critical uses of new technologies.


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