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Northwestern remembers student Sasha Novozhenova

The following message was sent today from Teresa K. Woodruff, Dean of The Graduate School and Associate Provost for Graduate Education; Adrian Randolph, Dean of the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences; and Patricia Telles-Irvin, Vice President for Student Affairs, to the Northwestern community regarding the death of student Alexandra (Sasha) Novozhenova.

It is with great sadness that Dean Randolph, Dr. Telles-Irvin and I write to inform you that Alexandra (Sasha) Novozhenova, a third-year PhD student in the Department of Art History in the Weinberg College of Arts & Sciences, passed away on the evening of Jan. 29. She was found in her Rogers Park apartment by police, with no signs of foul play.

Sasha Novozhenova
Sasha Novozhenova, by Ekaterina Allenova for Art Guide

Those who knew Sasha describe her as a fierce presence and a sharp intellect. As an art critic, art historian and lecturer, she focused on the Soviet avant-garde, Socialist Realism and late Soviet art discourses and their post-Soviet aftermath. 

Before coming to Northwestern, Sasha won acclaim for “Artists' Private Collections,” a virtual "museum of contemporary art based on artists' private collections." In collaboration with artist Anastasia Ryabova, she also taught a course titled Introduction to the Profession-21st Century (2015–2016) at the Rodchenko School of Multimedia Art and Photography in Moscow. In addition, she was a contributor to many art journals in Russia, including the web journal Colta.ru.

At Northwestern, Sasha earned Honors for her Qualifying Paper on the “Time-into-Energy Paradox” in the work of Soviet avant-garde artist Gustav Klucis. She was embarking on a dissertation on what she called “energetics” — the energy unleashed by socialist enthusiasm — as a novel way to understand Socialist Realism as a continuation of the political energies of the avant-garde, rather than its demise. She also contributed key research, translation and a catalogue essay to the exhibition “Revolution Every Day,” marking the 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution at the University of Chicago Smart Museum in 2017. In fall 2018 she published in Russian, with Gleb Napreenko, the book “Episodes of Modernism: From Origins to Crisis” (NLO Press).

It is a great loss to the University — and to the scholarly community in Soviet art — that we will no longer benefit from Sasha’s contributions.

We also know that losing one member of our community affects us all. Please reach out to friends and colleagues and lend an ear or give of your time as we grieve this loss.

Northwestern is a caring community and a place of support for those in need. Please take care of yourselves and each other in the days ahead.

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