At the Limits of Life and Empathy: Dario Robleto and Malcolm MacIver: Block Museum - Northwestern University
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At the Limits of Life and Empathy: Dario Robleto and Malcolm MacIver

graphic with speakers' headshots on the left and photo of an artwork consisting of various butterflies in a glass case on the right
Artwork on the right: Dario Robleto, American Seabed, 2014. Image courtesy of artist.
4:00 PM-5:30 PM

Event Details

Date & Time:

Wed April 12, 2023
4:00 PM-5:30 PM


Ford Motor Company Engineering Design Center (Northwestern University), the Hive
2133 Sheridan Road
Evanston, IL 60208


Open to the public


Northwestern Professor of Biomedical and Mechanical Engineering Malcolm MacIver researches the relationship between sense perception, cognition, and evolution. This dialogue between the scientist and Dario Robleto will explore how art and science both contemplate—and seek to overcome—the physical and temporal limits of human life. The discussion will touch on the question of how art might provide a model for long-term thinking, especially in times of societal and ecological transformation.

Programs are open to all, on a first-come first-served basis. RSVPs are not required, but appreciated, as they help us anticipate attendance numbers.

The Block acknowledges with gratitude its partnership with Northwestern University’s Robert R. McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science, whose leadership support has made possible this exhibition, the associated publication, and the Artist-at-Large residency of Dario Robleto (2018-2023). Major support is also provided by the National Endowment for the Arts. Generous support is contributed by the Dorothy J. Speidel Fund, the Bernstein Family Contemporary Art Fund, the Illinois Arts Council Agency, and the Alumnae of Northwestern University.









man in front of a glass case, arms raised, as if speaking to a group of peopleDario 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


headshot of man in glasses and blue suitMalcolm MacIver is a professor of neuroscience and engineering. He holds a PhD in neuroscience, an MA in Philosophy, and a BSc in Computer Science.

His academic research focuses on the evolution of our ability to plan and its mechanistic basis, starting with water-to-land transition 340 million years ago. He is particularly interested in how understanding the biology of planning could be applied to help us overcome existential crises such as climate change. He uses diverse approaches, including computer modeling, bio-inspired robotics, behavioral and neural interventions with animals, and paleontology. 

His non-academic work is art, either in the form of interactive installations or through consulting for major studio movies and TV series, that pursue novel approaches to consciousness and care.


Watch the Dialogue



Contact The Block Museum of Art for more information: (847) 491-4000 or email us at