Spring 2017


Bearden’s Odyssey: Poets Respond to the Art of Romare Bearden

Friday, March 31, 6:00pm

Borrowing from Romare Bearden’s aesthetic palette and inspired by his Odysseus series, Bearden’s Odyssey: Poets Respond to the Art of Romare Bearden (Northwestern University Press/TriQuarterly Books) gathers, for the first time, poems from 35 of the most revered African diaspora poets in the United States. Join award-winning editors and contributors Kwame Dawes, Matthew Shenoda, and Chris Abani for a reading and discussion of Romare Bearden’s power and influence in the contemporary artistic world. Book signing to follow.

This program was organized by Northwestern University Press.


Adrián Villar Rojas

Monday, April 3, 6PM

“The Argentinean artist Adrián Villar Rojas offers his audience a mash-up of the adolescent iconographies that have fascinated him since he was a teenager: that of sci-fi, with its robots and spaceships; that of the post-apocalyptic, derived from graphic novels and video games; and that of the prehistoric, with its dinosaurs and primitive tools.” –Arforum

This program was organized by the Department of Art Theory and Practice


Bisi Silva, Center for Contemporary Art, Lagos

Wednesday, April 5, 6:00PM

Bisi Silva is an independent curator and the founder/director of Centre for Contemporary Art, Lagos (CCA, Lagos) where she initiated an innovative art program created with the aims of filling a gap in Nigeria's educational system. She was recently one of the curators for the Dak’Art Biennale, Senegal. Silva's presentation will be followed by a conversation with Kathleen Bickford Berzock, Block Museum Associate Director of Curatorial Affairs.

Presented in partnership with the Northwestern Libraries and the Department of Art History with the support of the Buffett Institute for Global Studies and the Alice Kaplan Institute for the Humanities.


AfriSem Keynote: Cajetan Iheka

Friday, April 14, 4PM

What does Africa signify in the current moment, and how does it resonate with and trouble notions of African-ness?  Northwestern's AfriSem presented a dynamic conversation on contemporary modes of thinking on “Africa” and “Africanity.” Keynote speaker Cajetan Iheka (University of Alabama) is author of Naturalizing Africa: Ecological Violence, Agency, and Postcolonial Resistance in African Literature.



Marie Watt: Sewing Community

Thursday, April 20, 6PM

In Winter 2017, community members from Northwestern, Evanston, and beyond joined together with artist Marie Watt to lend their hands to sewing circles, embroidering words of equity, maternity, and empowerment. These stitches and conversations became part of a new work for the exhibition “If You Remember, I’ll Remember.” Community members joined us for the unveiling of this project and spoke with Watt about her community-based and participatory practice.


Open Engagement Open House

Friday, April 21, 10AM – 2PM

The Block Museum welcomed artists, scholars, practitioners, and advocates of socially engaged art from around the world visiting for the free Open Engagement national conference.   Curator Janet Dees introduced “If You Remember, I’ll Remember,” artist Samantha Hill shared her work on the American South, curator Susy Bielak described the partnerships involved in community-based practice, and professor Rebecca Zorach went behind-the-scenes with the exhibition “We Are Revolutionaries” 

The program was presented in conjunction with the conference Open Engagement 2017 – JUSTICE.


Reparations in the Native American and Japanese American Context

Wednesday, April 26, 6PM

What does it mean to be indebted—politically, economically, artistically, or ethically? Artist Kristine Aono, whose work was featured in the exhibition “If You Remember, I’ll Remember,” was be joined by Smith University’s Laura Fugikawa (Women and Gender Studies) as well as Northwestern’s Kelly Wisecup (English) to discuss the theory and complexity of reparations in American history.

Copresented by the Kaplan Institute for the Humanities and made possible in part by the support of the Harris Lecture Fund.


Art, Publics, Politics: Legacies of the Wall of Respect

Friday, April 28 10AM

Saturday, April 29 9:30AM

In 1967, the Organization of Black American Culture painted a huge mural “guerrilla-style” on the wall of a decaying building on the South Side of Chicago. They called it the Wall of Respect. On the 50th anniversary of the project, scholars, artists, and participants convened to commemorate and mark the legacy of this act, which inspired a community mural movement that continues to resonate to this day.

Presented in partnership with the Department of Art History


Poetry of Witness

Wednesday, May 3, 5:30-7:30

All experience levels were welcome to a poetry discussion and creative writing workshop with the works of If You Remember, I’ll Remember, an exhibition at the Block Museum of Art. Together, participants read and discussed poems that repurposed found text to weave documentary works of witness through collage, juxtaposition, and response. After engaging with the exhibition, participants composed original poems that reframed individual experience through historical texts and materials.

This workshop was led by Maggie Queeney. Maggie Queeney is the Library Coordinator at the Poetry Foundation. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Syracuse University. Her work has appeared, or is shortly forthcoming, in Poet Lore, Poetry Northwest, Copper Nickel, Southern Poetry Review, Conjunctions, and The Southeast Review, among others. She reads and writes in Chicago.

This event was held in conjunction with the Evanston Literary Festival.


Department of Art Theory and Practice MFA Thesis Exhibition

Thursday, May 4, 6-9PM

The Block celebrated the opening of Northwestern University’s Art Theory and Practice MFA Thesis Exhibition.

This event was organized by the Department of Art Theory and Practice and the Block Museum, Northwestern University.


The Pulse Armed with a Pen: An Unknown History of the Human Heartbeat

Wednesday, May 10, 7PM

Segal Visitors Center (1841 Sheridan Road)

Transdisciplinary artist and “citizen-scientist” Dario Robleto was featured in the exhibition “If You Remember, I’ll Remember” and serves as Artist in Residence in Neuroaesthetics at the University of Houston’s Cullen College of Engineering. In a performative lecture that is part storytelling, part original research, and part rare-sound archive, Robleto expanded on his research into the human heartbeat.

Presented in partnership with the McCormick School of Engineering


Pedro Reyes

Wednesday, May 17, 6PM

Pedro Reyes’s works integrate elements of theater, psychology and activism and take on a variety of forms, from penetrable sculptures to puppet productions. Reyes discussed his work as MIT’s inagural Dasha Zhukova Distinguished Visiting Artist, including the project Disarm (2012), where 6,700 destroyed weapons were transformed into musical instruments.

Presented in partnership with the McCormick School of Engineering


Ordinary Media: Always-On Formats, Genres, Aesthetics

Thursday, May 18

Ordinary Media was a research workshop that investigates the ways in which digital technologies come to suffuse and saturate everyday experience. A day of new media screenings and talks culminated in a keynote from Shaka Mcglotten (SUNY Purchase), author of Virtual Intimacies: Media, Affect, and Queer Sociality. More at https://sites.northwestern.edu/ordinary/


The Block Collects: Lovis Corinth

Wedesday May 24, 4PM

Curatorial Assistant Linnea Hodge (WCAS, Art History 2017), lead an informal, afternoon gallery discussion of the works of Lovis Corinth (German, 1858‒1925).

A display of late self-portraits from the Block Museum collection showed an artist intensely examining or perhaps even resisting his own mortality. Corinth was among the best-known artists working in late nineteenth and early twentieth-century Germany and an influential member of the Berlin Secession, a group of artists formed to challenge the official artists’ association.


Alessandra Russo

Wednesday, May 24, 5PM

Alessandra Russo (Columbia University) is a leading scholar of Latin American colonial art, visual culture, and literary studies. She is author of the books The Untranslatable Image (2014) and El realismo circular (2005), and co-editor of Images Take Flight (2015; best book award in “theory of art” and Grand Prix du Jury at FILAF, 2016), an exhibition catalog on Mexican indigenous feather painting.

This program was organized by the Department of Art History