A Conversation about Liberation, Beauty, and Energies in Art Making: Torkwase Dyson with D. Soyini Madison: Block Museum - Northwestern University
Skip to main content

A Conversation about Liberation, Beauty, and Energies in Art Making: Torkwase Dyson with D. Soyini Madison

headshots of speakers Torkwase Dyson and D. Soyini Madison
Artist Talks
6:00 PM-7:30 PM

Event Details

Date & Time:

Wed May 10, 2023
6:00 PM-7:30 PM


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


Open to the public


Co-presented with the Block Museum of Art, this event is the spring keynote of the Kaplan Humanities Institute's 2022-2023 Dialogue, ENERGIES: A year-long conversation about energies—personal, collective, planetary—from different humanistic perspectives.

As so many living species lose their lives as well as gain new life due to the complex, contradictory, multiple forces and forms of energy—too much or too little energy—we ask, What does art have to do with the urgences of energy? How can art matter when bodies, in all living forms, are on the line because of the scarcity or abundance of energy? and, finally, Where is energy located, or made relevant, in abstract art and in beauty? We will begin to open these questions through a discussion of “art making” with its processes and intentions for more “livable geographies.” Art lives alongside notions of beauty, making representation and the intermix of energy and beauty compelling work for the artist, especially if that artist is ‘energized’ in their work by creating work that is liberatory.     


Tickets are free for this event; public welcome! RSVPs are not required, but appreciated, as they help us anticipate attendance numbers.


About the Speakers

torkwase_dyson_010_2.width-720.jpgTorkwase Dyson works in painting, drawing, and sculpture. Dyson combines expressive mark-making and geometric abstraction to explore the continuity between ecology, infrastructure, and architecture. Dyson deconstructs, distills, and interrogates the built environment, exploring how individuals—particularly Black and Brown people—negotiate, negate, and transform systems and spatial order. With an emphasis on the ways black and brown bodies perceive and negotiate space as information, Dyson looks to spatial liberation strategies from historical and contemporary perspectives, seeking to uncover new understandings of the potential for more livable geographies. Torkwase Dyson employs abstract shapes and forms as a means of exploring the intersections of environmental liberation, movement, and architecture. Within her practice, she has developed a unique vocabulary of abstract lines, forms, shapes, and edges informed by her theory of Black Compositional Thought. This term considers how waterways, objects, and geographies are composed and inhabited by black bodies, and how the properties of energy, space, and scale can form networks of liberation.

d.soyini-madison.jpgD. Soyini Madison is professor emeritus in the Department of Performance Studies at Northwestern. Madison focuses on the artistry and poetics of fieldwork methods as embodied in ethnographic techniques and practices. Her publications and staged performances engage the intersections of labor activism, political economy of human rights, water democracy, and indigenous performance tactics. Madison’s recent books include Critical Ethnography: Method, Ethics, and Performance (3rd edition) and PerformED Ethnography and Communication: Improvisation and Embodied Experience. Her performed ethnographies include: “Is it a Human Being or a Girl?,” “Water Rites,” and “Labor Rites.” Her most recent performance work, “Seahorse and Bellymouth,” takes a turn into the allegorical when the ocean life of a Seahorse must overcome the gluttonous appetite of the monster known as BellyMouth. 

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