May 9, 2021, 3PM–4PM

Coffee & Conversation: Absent Bodies – Presence and Emptiness in Our Primary Focus Is To Be Successful

Jessica Vaughn, Empties. Photo by Constance Mensh.

In the final program for Jessica Vaughn: Our Primary Focus Is To Be Successful, visual artist Narendra Haynes and history of art graduate student Tim Hampshire will engage the audience in an open dialogue about the concept of embodiment through Vaughn’s work, as it relates to absence and emptiness.

How does Vaughn use materials to acknowledge the people who are no longer present? When she displays a vacant seat and empty boxes, who do we imagine interacting with these items we encounter daily? How does Vaughn’s critique of the workplace and office culture resonate with us now in a time when many people are working remotely or have been unable to work at all?

All are welcome to participate in this free virtual discussion, which will take place via Zoom. To register, click here.

Live captioning is provided by Caption Access. Please contact Natalie Sandstrom, Program Coordinator, at 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.

Narendra Haynes is a second-year MFA candidate in the Weitzman School of Design department at the University of Pennsylvania. His artistic practice is interdisciplinary in nature, combining painting and sculpture with his interests in digital culture, embodiment, phenomenology, and ecology.

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 spring 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 multi-year 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.