Madlener House
4 West Burton Place
Chicago, Illinois 60610
Telephone: 312.787.4071


Wynter-Wells School
MAY 03, 2018 - JUL 28, 2018

Artist Torkwase Dyson engages the Graham Foundation galleries as both a site of installation for her experimental sculptures and drawing practice, as well as an incubator for discussion. Through her use of abstraction, Dyson extends the art historical cannon to ask questions about what is at stake for the production of form in the context of geography as shaped by contemporary economic and political climates. Weaving together different modes of inquiry from art, architecture, geography, and other disciplines, the exhibition initiates dialogue about environmentalism, race, and spatiality in the Anthropocene era of global crisis.

The exhibition convenes Dyson’s pedagogical project: the Wynter-Wells Drawing School for Environmental Liberation—named for Jamaican writer and cultural theorist Sylvia Wynter and American Civil Rights leader Ida B. Wells. During the exhibition, talks and workshops with architects, artists, environmentalists, poets, and scholars, create opportunities for the public to directly engage in a collective investigation into how people move through space, how space is used, how use suggests new forms, how these forms are discovered through drawing, and how these drawn forms provide context for understanding and agency in the natural and designed landscapes. Participants and presenters at the Graham Foundation include Dionne Brand,  Jamal Cyrus, Zachary Fabri, Andres Luis Hernandez, Samuel Levi Jones, Christina Sharpe, Xaviera Simmons, Amanda Williams, and Nate Young, among others.

Torkwase Dyson is a 2018 Graham Foundation Fellow—a new program that provides support for the development and production of original and challenging works and the opportunity to present these projects in an exhibition at the Foundation’s Madlener House galleries in Chicago. The Fellowship program extends the legacy of the Foundation’s first awards, made in 1957, and continues the tradition of support to individuals to explore innovative perspectives on spatial practices in design culture. As a Graham Fellow, Dyson is in residence throughout the run of her exhibition.

Torkwase Dyson, born in Chicago, is an artist based in New York whose practice draws on her interest in abstraction, social architecture, and environmental justice. She began engaging social architecture through her project Studio South Zero (2014–ongoing), a mobile studio that relies on solar power and supports multidisciplinary artmaking. Recent solo exhibitions of Dyson’s work have been presented at the Drawing Center, New York City; Landmark Gallery, Texas Tech University, Lubbock; Eyebeam, Brooklyn; and the Meat Market Gallery, Washington, DC. Her work has also been included in exhibitions in New York at the Whitney Museum of American Art; the Studio Museum in Harlem; Martos Gallery; Postmasters Gallery; and We Buy Gold, Brooklyn as well as at the Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education, Philadelphia, and the National Museum of African Art, Washington DC. Dyson’s work has been supported by the Joan Mitchell Foundation; Nancy Graves Foundation; Nicholas School of the Environment, Duke University; and the Lower Manhattan Cultural Center. She is on the board of the Architectural League of New York and is a visiting critic at the Yale University School of Art. She is represented by Davidson Contemporary, New York; and Rhona Hoffman Gallery, Chicago.

The Graham Foundation presentation of Dyson's ongoing project, the Wynter-Wells School, builds upon Winter Term, curated by Claire Gilman at The Drawing Center in New York, February 2018. An earlier version of the project was presented at Texas Tech University College of Architecture in March 2017.

Concurrent with the Graham Foundation exhibition, Dyson’s work is also featured elsewhere in Chicago as a part of the multi-venue exhibition Out of Easy Reach curated by Allison M. Glenn. For more information click here.

Beyond Chicago, Dyson is currently showing in Philadelphia in the Institute of Contemporary Art exhibition, The Last Place They Thought Of, curated by Daniella Rose King, and in Between the Waters, at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City, organized by Elisabeth Sherman and Margaret Kross.

Wynter-Wells Drawing School for Environmental Liberation Workshops

Through cross-disciplinary collaboration, drawing exercises, and discussion, these workshops led by Torkwase Dyson in partnership with co-teachers ask participants to reconsider “the things the mind already knows,” a principle Dyson borrows from the artist Jasper Johns regarding innovation in approaching familiar objects or concepts.

Intimate afternoon workshop sessions will be followed by public evening presentations. No artistic experience is required for the workshops, though willingness to participate in both the discussions and artistic exercises is expected. Any specific instructions related to the workshop will be sent following confirmation of attendance. All workshops are free, but RSVP is required and space is limited.

Global Warming, Uneven Development, and New Geographies
With Amanda Williams
Wednesday, June 20

Nomadicity, Movement, and Improvisation
With Andres Luis Hernandez and Zachary Fabri
Saturday, June 29

Architecture and Liquidity
With Ron Henderson
Wednesday, July 11

Torkwase Dyson and the Wynter-Wells School is organized by Graham Foundation director Sarah Herda and deputy director of exhibitions and public programs Ellen Alderman. Production team: Ava Barrett, Alexandra Drexelius, Renata Cruz Lara Guerra, Tom Leinberger, Grace Lee, Junxi Lu, Zoe Kauder Nalebuff, Ron Konow, and Alexandra Small.

Special thanks to Andres Luis Hernandez, Soyini Madison, Beth McKeown, Dan Sullivan, and Navillus Woodworks.