Exhibition Conversation: Interstellar Aesthetics and Acts of Translation in Art and Science: Block Museum - Northwestern University
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Exhibition Conversation: Interstellar Aesthetics and Acts of Translation in Art and Science

multicolored spots of light on black background
Artwork on the right: Dario Robleto, Survival Does Not Lie in the Heavens, 2012. Image courtesy of artist.
6:00 PM-7:30 PM

Event Details

Date & Time:

Wed February 22, 2023
6:00 PM-7:30 PM


The Block Museum of Art
40 Arts Circle Drive
Evanston, IL 60208


Open to the public


The breathtaking images produced by the Hubble and James Webb space telescopes are no ordinary snapshots. To produce these sublime cosmic vistas, astronomers filter raw data into colors and configurations that guide the viewer’s understanding, making creative decisions in the service of scientific communication. In this dialogue on “interstellar aesthetics,artist Dario Robleto will join Elizabeth Kessler, exhibition catalogue contributor and Lecturer in American Studies, Stanford University, and Shane Larson, Northwestern Research Professor of Physics and Astronomy and Associate Director, Center for Interdisciplinary Exploration and Research in Astrophysics (CIERA), to consider how astronomers and artists translate data into images, and how these translations shape the meaning of the cosmos in the public imagination.


Programs are open to all, on a first-come first-served basis. RSVPs not required, but appreciated.



Presented in partnership with Northwestern's Center for Interdisciplinary Exploration and Research in Astrophysics





The Block Museum of Art acknowledges support from the Illinois Arts Council Agency. 






 About Program Participants

dario-robleto-1-med-by-kevin-frady-copy.pngDario Robleto was born in San Antonio, Texas in 1972 and received his BFA from the University of Texas at San Antonio in 1997. He lives and works in Houston, TX.

The artist has had numerous solo exhibitions since 1997, most recently at the Spencer Museum of Art, Lawrence, KS (2021); the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University (2019); the McNay Museum, San Antonio, TX (2018); Menil Collection, Houston, TX (2014); the Baltimore Museum of Art (2014); the New Orleans Museum of Art (2012); and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Denver (2011). His work has been profiled in numerous publications and media including Radiolab, Krista Tippet's On Being, and the New York Times. In 2008 a 10-year survey exhibition, Alloy of Love, was organized by the Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery at Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs, New York. Accompanied by a major monograph, Alloy of Love traveled to the Frye Art Museum in Seattle, Washington.

Robleto's full bio


bethkessler_photo.jpegElizabeth A. Kessler’s scholarship focuses on 20th and 21st century American visual culture, in particular the place of aesthetics, images, and media in astronomy. She earned a Ph.D from the University of Chicago, and she has been awarded the SHOT-NASA History of Space Technology Fellowship, as well as fellowships from Stanford University and the Smithsonian Institution National Air and Space Museum. Her book, Picturing the Cosmos: Hubble Space Telescope Images and the Astronomical Sublime, on the aesthetics of deep space images, was published in 2012 by University of Minnesota Press. Currently, she is Advanced Lecturer in American Studies at Stanford University. 


shanelarson_photo.jpegShane Larson is a research professor of physics at Northwestern University, where he is the Associate Director of CIERA (Center for Interdisciplinary Exploration and Research in Astrophysics). He works in the field of gravitational wave astrophysics, specializing in studies of compact stars, binaries, and the galaxy with both the ground-based LIGO project, and future space-based observatory LISA. He grew up in Eastern Oregon, and was formerly a tenured associate professor of physics at Utah State University. He is an award winning teacher, and a Fellow of the American Physical Society. He contributes regularly to a public science blog at writescience.wordpress.com, and tweets with the handle @sciencejedi.



Contact The Block Museum of Art for more information: (847) 491-4000 or email us at block-museum@northwestern.edu