Apr 11, 2021, 3PM–4PM

Coffee and Conversation – Something That Could Be Anything: Minimalism, Diversity, and Social Critique in the Modern American Workplace

Jessica Vaughn: Our Primary Focus Is To Be Successful, 2021. Installation view, Institute of Contemporary Art, University of Pennsylvania. Photo by: Constance Mensh.

In this open conversation, we explore how Jessica Vaughn uses the languages of sculpture and painting in tandem to engage with tangled histories of workspace culture in America. Taking as our starting points the foundation of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in 1965 and the minimalist sculpture movement of the same period, we will pose questions about Vaughn’s work in relation to these historical moments. How did the federal government’s diversity initiatives of the 1970s reinforce the status quo? How does Vaughn’s work bring into focus race and gender within the white male-dominated minimalist movement? What does it mean to make and view art that critiques its own sources?

The program will take place via Zoom, click here to register.

Live captioning will be provided for this program by Caption Access. Please contact Natalie Sandstrom, Program Coordinator, at nsand@ica.upenn.edu with any questions.


Tim Hampshire is a first-year MA candidate in the History of Art department at the University of Pennsylvania. His research examines Greco-Roman Antiquity, specifically artifacts that signify the cultural exchange between merchants who traveled along the Silk Road during early civilization.

Amrita Stützle is an Austrian born artist and educator with a focus in lens-based media. Her practice dissects contemporary and historical aspects of her identity, exploring themes of femininity, labor, and power. She received her BFA in Art Photography from Syracuse University and is currently pursuing her MFA at the University of Pennsylvania.

Coffee & Conversation

Coffee & Conversation are discussions led by graduate students from the University of Pennsylvania’s History of Art and Weitzman School of Design departments. For the fall exhibition season, this iteration will involve the students working in tandem. Through their unique perspectives as practitioners and researchers, they offer different approaches to consider the various facets that go into the formation of an exhibition and the artist’s process, creating entry points along the way for the audience to be involved in the conversation on a personal level.


Support for Jessica Vaughn: Our Primary Focus Is To Be Successful has been provided by the Inchworm Fund. The Inchworm Fund is an endowment created to respond to ICA’s spirit of exploration, supporting artists and curators in their quest to uncover the unknown through multiyear research, exhibition, publication, and conversation. In naming the fund, visionary Philadelphia patron Daniel W. Dietrich, II wished to attract fellow contributors, encouraging ICA to reach and expand toward new possibilities.

Programming at ICA has been made possible in part by the Emily and Jerry Spiegel Fund to Support Contemporary Culture and Visual Arts and the Lise Spiegel Wilks and Jeffrey Wilks Family Foundation, and by Hilarie L. & Mitchell Morgan.