Apr 21, 2021, 6:30PM–7:30PM

In Conversation: David Hartt and Zoë Ryan

David Hartt (l): photo by Braxton Black. Zoë Ryan (r): photo by Clare Britt.

Taking ICA’s current exhibition Jessica Vaughn: Our Primary Focus Is To Be Successful as a starting point, David Hartt, Carrafiell Assistant Professor in Fine Arts at the Weitzman School of Design, and Zoë Ryan, Daniel W. Dietrich, II Director at ICA, will discuss the ways in which the built environment both frames and opens up entrenched social rules and modes of human behavior for reexamination and discovery.

This program is free and open to the public. It will be conducted virtually via Zoom. To register, click here.

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.


David Hartt’s multidisciplinary work in photography, sculpture, installation, and digital film considers the history of social and cultural ideals in relation to the built environment. He is interested in how place and architecture function as a proxy for the human condition, and the narratives and belief systems they reveal. Past projects include a forgotten Puerto Rican housing project (in the forest, 2017) and the post-war black American experience as reflected in the headquarters of the Johnson Publishing Company in downtown Chicago (Stray Light, 2013).

In 2018, Hartt created a site-responsive, multimedia installation to activate Beth Sholom Synagogue, a Frank Lloyd Wright-designed National Historic Landmark in Philadelphia. Hartt is the Carrafiell Assistant Professor in Fine Arts at the Weitzman School of Design at the University of Pennsylvania, and holds a MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Zoë Ryan is the Daniel W. Dietrich, II Director at the Institute of Contemporary Art at the University of Pennsylvania. From 2006-2020, she was the John H. Bryan Chair and Curator of Architecture and Design at the Art Institute of Chicago. Her research explores the socio-political impact of the arts on society. Her exhibitions include: In a Cloud, in a Wall, in a Chair: Six Modernists in Mexico at Midcentury (2019) and Making Place: The Architecture of David Adjaye (2015). In 2014, Ryan was the curator of the second Istanbul Design Biennial, The Future Is Not What It Used To Be. Ryan is a member of the Design Trust International Advisory Council, Hong Kong and on the Executive Committee of the International Confederation of Architecture Museums.


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.

This project is supported in part by the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts, Martos Gallery, and the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation. Additional support has been provided by Danielle Mandelbaum Anderman, Dorothy & Martin Bandier, Julie & Lawrence Bernstein, Cheri & Steven Friedman, Kirk Kirkpatrick, Josephine Magliocco, Patricia & Howard Silverstein, and Meredith & Bryan Verona.