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A Conversation with Award-Winning Writer Mary Dickson at the Utah Museum of Fine Arts

SALT LAKE CITY, UT.- Award-winning writer Mary Dickson will participate in a post-film discussion of The Andromeda Strain on Wednesday, September 9 at 6 pm at the Utah Museum of Fine Arts. The film is free and open to the public. A post-film discussion with Dickson and the Museum audience will be facilitated by Jill Dawsey, Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art, in the Katherine W. and Ezekiel R. Dumke, Jr. Auditorium. The Andromeda Strain is presented as part of the UMFA’s Desert Secrets film series.

Based on Michael Crichton’s 1969 novel, The Andromeda Strain is an old-school sci-fi flick that follows a team of scientists as they investigate the mysterious organism that killed the population of a small New Mexico town after a U.S. Army satellite fell to Earth. The film combines nuclear fears with early 1970s paranoia, utilizing an elaborate set to convey the power of technology and caution against an overarching, seemingly unstable government. The Andromeda Strain was directed by Robert Wise (1971) and contains some adult content.

After the film, Dickson and Dawsey will engage questions and comments from the Museum audience. Attendees will have the opportunity to explore ideas surrounding atomic testing in the desert, and examine the ways in which The Andromeda Strain reflects subjects investigated by artists in the UMFA’s Desert Secrets exhibition.

Mary Dickson’s acclaimed play, “Exposed,” about the human toll of nuclear testing was produced by Plan B Theatre in 2007. It was nominated as the Best New American Play Produced Outside New York by the American Theater Critics Association. A new production opens at the Space In Between Theatre in St. George September 10-26. Dickson has written a multitude of award-winning plays and articles about nuclear testing and other complex subjects for over 25 years. Her essay “Downwinders All” appears alongside written works by Barbara Kingsolver and Terry Tempest-Williams in the anthology Learning to Glow: A Nuclear Reader, and her extended essay, “Living and Dying with Fallout,” received the Best Article of the Year award after appearing in the June 2005 issue of the journal Dialogue. Dickson has received a variety of writing awards including those from the Society of Professional Journalists, the Associated Press, National Broadcasters Association, and the National Association of Women Journalists.

An expert film critic, Dickson wrote award-winning reviews for Salt Lake City Weekly for over ten years and has examined films for KSL-Radio Movie Show and Fox-TV. She currently works as Director of Creative Services for KUED, is the on-air host of KUED’s “Contact” series, and team-teaches a course on Media Literacy for the University of Utah Honors program.

The Andromeda Strain is presented as part of a film series inspired by the exhibition Desert Secrets: Photography from the Permanent Collection, which explores the barren and surreal terrain of the Southwestern landscape through contemporary photographs. The featured artists use traditional photographic techniques as well as newer imaging technologies to confront themes of nuclear testing, clandestine military operations, conspiracy theories, and the inherent mystery of the desert landscape itself.

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