The Future Heart in Poetry and Medicine: Dario Robleto, Doris Taylor, Adrian Matejka: Block Museum - Northwestern University
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The Future Heart in Poetry and Medicine: Dario Robleto, Doris Taylor, Adrian Matejka

graphic with speakers' headshots and an image of various illustrations of hearts
Artwork: Dario Robleto, film still from "The Boundary of Life is Quietly Crossed," 2019. Image courtesy of artist.
6:00 PM-7:30 PM

Event Details

Date & Time:

Wed May 24, 2023
6:00 PM-7:30 PM


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


Open to the public


Who can claim knowledge of the human heart? Can poetry, art, and medicine each contribute to our understanding of this historically and biologically complex organ? Inspired by astonishing advances in biomedical engineering, this cross-disciplinary conversation contemplates the possibility of a “future heart” distinct from anything we’ve known before. Artist Dario Robleto joins Doris Taylor, director of regenerative medicine research at The Texas Heart Institute Center for Cardiovascular Care, and Adrian Matejka, poet and editor of Poetry magazine, to speculate on possibilities for the “future heart” across disciplines, and why the literal, poetic, and philosophical heartbeat continues to inspire.

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.




About the Speakers:

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


blond-haired woman with glasses, a red sweater, and blue patterned scarfDr. Doris Taylor has imagined changing the world for people with disease since she lost her father to cancer when she was 6 – in her words, so that “no one else ever had to feel that loss.” Then her family moved to Mississippi, and her mom pointed out how ordinary people were doing extraordinary things to change the world for the better. Watching her single mom stand up for justice for everyone, compounded by bullying of her twin brother even by teachers because he had cerebral palsy, primed her to spend her life speaking up and speaking out to make a difference in the world.

Today Taylor is working to cure the number one killer of humans – heart disease. Her current goal is to bioengineer personalized replacement human hearts on demand. And to find a solution for the predominant type of heart failure that preferentially has affected women – with no treatment available.  She is equally committed to making those therapies available fairly, equitably, and as soon as they are shown to be safe and effective.

Taylor is recognized as a pioneer and a global thought leader in regenerative medicine. She is credited with the first functional scientific repair of injured heart with stem cells in 1998. She and her group further transformed the field of organ transplantation science in 2008 by developing a unique cell removal (decellularization) method that makes un-transplantable organs into usable scaffold frameworks for building new organs with stem cells. This was so revolutionary it was recognized as one of the “Top 10 Research Advances” by the American Heart Association and Taylor was nominated as one of “100 most influential people in the world” by Time magazine.  Next, she turned to disease prevention and has begun to develop “cellular signatures” of heart disease and aging that appear to differ by sex, race, and ethnicity. She has published close to 200 scientific papers, edited multiple books, trained dozens of fellows and more students, and received over 23 patents.


man in dark suit with hands in pockets in front of a grey backdropAdrian Matejka was born in Germany as part of a military family. He grew up in Indianapolis, Indiana and is a graduate of Indiana University Bloomington and the MFA program at Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

He is the author of The Devil’s Garden (Alice James Books, 2003) which won the New York / New England Award and Mixology (Penguin, 2009), a winner of the 2008 National Poetry Series. His third collection, The Big Smoke (Penguin, 2013), was awarded the 2014 Anisfield-Wolf Book Award. The Big Smoke was also a finalist for the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, the National Book Award, and the Pulitzer Prize in poetry. His next collection, Map to the Stars, was published by Penguin in 2017. 

His mixed media collaboration with Nicholas Galanin and Kevin Neireiter inspired by Funkadelic, Standing on the Verge & Maggot Brain (Third Man Books), was published in 2021. His most recent collection of poems, Somebody Else Sold the World (Penguin, 2021), was a finalist for the UNT 2022 Rilke Prize and the 2022 Indiana Authors Award. His first graphic novel Last On His Feet:Jack Johnson and the Battle of the Century was published in February 2023 by Liveright. 

Among Matejka’s other honors are the Eugene and Marilyn Glick Indiana Authors Award, the Julia Peterkin Award, and fellowships from the Academy of American Poets, the Guggenheim Foundation, the Lannan Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Rockefeller Foundation, and a Simon Fellowship from United States Artists. He served as Poet Laureate of the state of Indiana in 2018-19. He currently lives in Chicago and is Editor of Poetry magazine.



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.








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