Men Shoveling Chairs by Circle of Rogier van der Weyden

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Critical Issues Lecture Series

Operations and teaching are online. Current and prospective students: please visit our COVID-19 Updates pages. Faculty and staff are available via email.
Submitted on December 21, 2020 - 10:56am
Detail of Who’s teaching to hang dry? by SoiL Thorton
SoiL Thornton, Who’s teaching to hang dry? (All rights and 1 left, intro to seven deadly sins), 2020 (Detail). Courtesy of Morán Morán.


The 2021 Critical Issues Lecture Series takes place on Friday afternoons during winter quarter. It is organized by the School of Art + Art History + Design in collaboration with the Henry Art Gallery. The general public is invited to join degree-seeking individuals studying fine art in order to share ideas and raise questions about contemporary art. In addition to the public lectures, undergraduate and graduate students enrolled in ART 361/561 interface with the speakers in additional sessions.

This year's lectures are supported by The Dale and Leslie Chihuly Foundation and individual donors.

Lectures are free and open to the public. They are held online via Zoom. Automatic Speech Recognition (ASR) will be enabled.

Schedule + Registration Links

Dates link to the Zoom entry for each lecture. It is necessary to complete a brief registration form for the lectures in advance, but this is not required for the seminar discussions.

Name links go to speaker information farther down in this news post.

Note that all times are PST (Seattle time).

*Seminar discussions.


January 15 – Skawennati

Skawennati makes art that addresses history, the future, and change from her perspective as an urban Kanien’kehá:ka woman and as a cyberpunk avatar. Her work has been widely presented in both group exhibitions and solo shows and is included in public and private collections, such as the National Gallery of Canada and the Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal. She was honoured to receive the 2019 Salt Spring National Art Prize Jurors’ Choice Award and a 2020 Smithsonian Artist Research Fellowship. She’s represented by ELLEPHANT.

Born in Kahnawà:ke Mohawk Territory, Skawennati holds a BFA from Concordia University in Montreal, where she resides. She is Co-Director of Aboriginal Territories in Cyberspace (AbTeC), a research-creation network. Their projects include the Skins workshops on Aboriginal Storytelling and Digital Media as well as the Initiative for Indigenous Futures (IIF).

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January 22 – Sung Tieu

Born in 1987 in Hai Duong, Vietnam, and moved to Germany at a young age, Sung Tieu is one among young Vietnamese diaspora artists in Europe whose family experienced the transition after the fall of Soviet Block and Berlin Wall in the late 1980s. Her practice explores the vast and evolving protection and control industries, still rooted in the logic of the Cold War, used to restrict and mould subjects in subsequently globalized capitalism. Informed by her own experience of cultural collision and displacement, her work critically investigates the art-historical legacies of late Modernism.

Using diverse artistic mediums ranging from installation, sound, video, text, sculpture, photography, performance to public interventions, her practice navigates the diasporic experiences of temporal slippage and spatial uncertainty. Within her exhibitions, a sense of dislocation is evoked through a combination of sonic, visual, and textual elements; at the same time, her extensive research on sonic weaponry and sound as medium accentuates the work, demystifying and highlighting their material mechanics. Although based in research, her exhibitions deliberately resist any singular discursive rendering, and instead give rise to layered narrative readings.

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January 22 – Maria Nordman

Information available soon.

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January 29 – SoiL Thornton

SoiL Thornton (b. 1990) lives and works in Brooklyn, NY. They graduated from Cooper Union in 2012. Thornton’s work has shown nationally and abroad, including solo exhibitions at Albright–Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY; Stuart Shave/Modern Art, London, UK; Essex Street, New York, NY; and Karma, New York, NY. Recent group exhibitions include: Whitney Biennial 2017, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY; Crossroads: Carnegie Museum of Art’s Collection, 1945 to Now, Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburg, PA (2018); and Dirty Protest: Selections from the Hammer Contemporary Collection, Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, CA (2019). Thornton’s work is in the permanent collection of Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY; Birmingham Museum of Art, Birmingham, AL; Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas, TX; Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, CA; Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University, Durham, NC; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, NY; University of Chicago Booth School of Business, Chicago, IL; and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY, among others.

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February 5 – Hồng-Ân Trương

Hồng-Ân Trương uses photography, sound, video, and performance to examine histories of war and immigrant and refugee narratives through a decolonial framework. By interrogating archival materials, she examines the production of knowledge through structures of time and memory. Her interdisciplinary projects are premised on the concept that aesthetic battles are also political and ideological battles.

Her work has been shown at venues in the US and abroad including Center for Photography (NY), Nhà Sàn (Hanoi), the Irish Museum of Modern Art (Dublin, Ireland), and the Minneapolis Institute of Art (MN). Her collaborative work with Hương Ngô was exhibited in Being: New Photography 2018 at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. She was a 2019-2020 Guggenheim Foundation Fellow in Fine Art and was the Capp Street Project Artist-in-Residence at the Wattis Institute at the California College of the Arts in San Francisco in 2020.

She received her MFA from the University of California, Irvine and was a fellow in the Whitney Independent Study Program. Hồng-Ân is based in Durham, North Carolina where she is an activist and an Associate Professor of Art at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

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February 12 – Ariel René Jackson

Ariel René Jackson’s film-based multidisciplinary practice considers land and landscape as sites of internal representation. Themes of loss and transformation are embedded in their interest and application of sculpture, video, and performance by way of performative and sculptural acts, utilizing repurposed imagery or objects.

In rural Louisiana, Jackson’s familial farming legacy sustains her regard for rural landscapes. Generations of Black farmers have fostered Jackson’s sense of inheritance, witnessing oral testaments and patternistic rituals in light of economic, environmental, and societal challenges. Exploring concepts of how culture is learned, Jackson modifies familial and antique farming, household, and educational tools and furniture, considering each object’s purpose before translation to a writing utensil, size expansion, or embedment within topsoil.

Throughout Jackson’s recent work, she explores oral testaments and local histories, through repurposed meteorological tools and site specific performances. In “Bentonville Forecast: In the Square” (2019) Jackson walks with a black weather balloon around a confederate flag in the middle of Bentonville, Arkansas. This action is choreographed by stitched conversations between generations of Black women, addressing the statue’s impact on their lives. Leaning towards cyclical narrative as opposed to linear, Jackson is invested in weaving poetic letters that avoid passive storytelling and embrace active testimonials. Visual, oral, and aural elements extend outward coalescing to make visceral, notions of belonging explored through a myriad of processes.

Ariel René Jackson (b. 1991) was born and raised in Louisiana. They currently live in Austin, TX where they completed their MFA at The University of Texas at Austin in 2019. Jackson is an alum of the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture (2019) and completed an exchange program at the Royal College of Art in 2018. Their work has been shown at various galleries and institutions such as the SculptureCenter (2019); CUE Art Foundation (2018); Contemporary Art Center, New Orleans (2018); Depaul Art Museum (2018); Studio Museum in Harlem (2016), and RISD Museum (2017).

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February 19 – Eva Barto

Eva Barto graduated from the School of Fine Arts (Paris, 2013) and attended the post-graduate program at Ensba (Lyon, 2014). Future solo shows in 2021-2022 include Kunstverein Nuremberg, KunstlerHaus Stuttgart, MACRO (Roma, IT) and Plateau (Frac Ile de France, Paris, FR). Her work has been presented at Marcelle Alix (Paris, 2015), Centre Pompidou (Paris, 2016), Biennale de Rennes (2016), Kadist Art Foundation (Paris, 2016), Van Gelder Gallery (Amsterdam, 2016), Fondation d’Entreprise Ricard (Paris, 2017,2019) and Wattis Art Center (San Francisco, 2017). In 2016 she created the Buttonwood.Press editorial project. She is the founder of the Rights for Art Workers collective La Buse and co-hosts the art economy radio program ForTune on * Duuu Radio. Since 2019, she teaches at The School of Fine Art in Lyon.

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