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Deem Symposium | Designing for Dignity 02: A Convening of Possibilities

May 18, 202410:00 am - 6:00 pm

English and Spanish CART captioning and American Sign Language (ASL) provided

Please note: The Friday, May 17, event does not take place at the MCA. For Friday tickets, RSVP through Eventbrite.

A person stands in front of a digital sign that reads DESIGNING FOR DIGNITY.

Photo credit: Brian Crawford.

About the Event

This spring, Deem presents its second live symposium: Designing for Dignity 02: A Convening of Possibilities. In continuation with last year’s inaugural gathering, this hybrid in-person/online event ise co-hosted by the MCA on May 17, 18, and 19, 2024. Deem expands on the guiding premise of dignity as the intrinsic lens for liberatory design practices with two days of presentations and conversations, as well as interactive workshops and on-site experiences happening both at the museum and throughout the city of Chicago. This year’s program brings together innovative and acclaimed artists, designers, scholars, and organizers to reflect on a range of design-related topics, disciplines, methodologies, and agendas.

Deem is again organizing a three-day Reference Room at the MCA to provide a public gathering space in which anyone can encounter and experience reading materials that have inspired our five print issues. Literature in the form of books, articles, and essays reflect thoughtlines in our research, specific mentions from our pages, and recommendations from our contributors. We hope to create context and access to educational tools around Deem’s processes and beliefs, as well as a haven for reflection and repose. The Reference Room is open to any visitor from 10 am to 5 pm on May 17, 10 am to 6 pm on May 18, and 11:30 am to 5 pm on May 19 at the MCA.

With the exception of Englewood Arts Collective’s activation (which happens concurrently with the program at the MCA on May 18), on-site workshops are separate from general Symposium ticketing. You can register for them individually through Eventbrite. Participation is limited to 20 guests per workshop.

English and Spanish CART captioning and American Sign Language (ASL) are provided.

ASL provided.



6—7:30 pm | Ontologies of Beauty

Artist and designer Norman Teague and International Interior Design Association Executive Vice President and CEO Cheryl S. Durst exchange ideas around ontologies of beauty within the design industry, and how to build practical and theoretical frameworks for more liberated aesthetic languages. This intimate conversation to kickoff our program is moderated by Deem cofounder Marquise Stillwell and takes place at Blanc Gallery 4445 South King Drive Chicago, IL.

Please note: The Friday, May 17, event does not take place at the MCA. For Friday tickets, RSVP through Eventbrite.


10 am | Doors Open

10:15 am | Opening Remarks 

10:30 am | Keynote: Designing Rest As a Practice

Tricia Hersey—the visionary founder of The Nap Ministry—an organization that uplifts rest as a form of resistance—shares an immersive daydreaming activation while exploring the power of designing rest as a practice of love, liberation, and community care.

11:30 am | Healing Modalities

Writer, entrepreneur, and philanthropic innovator Rachel Cargle, multidisciplinary artist, curator, and educator Andrea Yarbrough, and multidisciplinary artist and author Jezz Chung speak on designing for and through healing, and the vital modalities of restoration and transformation, with moderation from curator and arts administrator Marguerite Wynter.

12:30 pm | Lunch

1:30 pm | Gaming for the Future

How can video games inspire positive change in a world facing uncertain futures? Creative technologist, artist, and educator Ami Mehta explores how game design, storytelling, and social impact can intersect to address issues across representation, climate change, cultural preservation, and community collaboration.

2:30 pm | Interdisciplinarity & Community Building

Independent curator, gallerist, and space-shifter Ciera Alyse McKissick shares how she has built platforms, connections, and partnerships that center the needs of artists and communities. Expanding on the intersections of interdisciplinary art practices, journalism, and public engagement, she illustrates how her various projects have helped shape the ways that audiences interact with, view, and experience art in unconventional ways.

3:30 pm | Coffee Break

4 pm | Place-Based Sound

Frankie Knuckles Foundation Founder, President, and Executive Director Frederick Dunson, DJ, producer, remixer, and music publisher DJ Lady D, and designer and curator Joseph Henry examine the dynamic relationship between sound and spatial practices, with particular attention to Chicago’s music culture history, with moderation from Deem cofounder and creative director Nu Goteh.

5 pm | Endnote: Decolonizing Design

In her talk, “Decolonizing Design: Designing for Liberatory Joy,” Dr. Dori Tunstall closes the day by addressing two aspects of decolonizing design: putting Indigenous first and dismantling the racist bias in the European modernist project in design.

6 pm | Closing Remarks

About the Presenters

Norman Teague. Photo credit: Tony Smith.

Norman Teague has emerged as a pivotal and indispensable voice in the realm of American Design. His prominence is not merely a product of his creative output but is rooted in a nuanced approach that delicately balances design as a social practice deeply embedded in the historical and contemporary fabric of his community—the vibrant Black South Side of Chicago. At the core of Teague’s philosophy is a commitment to mentorship and ethical production, which coalesce with the bespoke studio creation of experimental and meticulously crafted furniture and objects. These creations resonate with a profound African grammar, articulating design infused with a distinctive “Black intent.”



Headshot photo of a black female-presenting person.

Cheryl Durst. Photo credit: Jason Wambsgans.

Cheryl S. Durst, an exceptional communicator, innovator, and leader, has spurred progress, driven change, and encouraged the expansion of the interior design industry. As the Executive Vice President and CEO of the International Interior Design Association (IIDA), Durst is committed to achieving broad recognition for the value of design and its significant role in society. With 15,000 members across 58 countries, Cheryl oversees the strategic direction of IIDA, setting an agenda that leads the industry in creating community, advancing advocacy, and continuing decades of work toward equity. In 2016 she was inducted into the Interior Design Hall of Fame as the recipient of its first Leadership Award, and is also the first African American woman to ever be inducted. She hosts the monthly podcast The Skill Set, which focuses on the intangible skills that make us good at what we do.



Image of a Black person with long black hair, silver earrings, and a silk flowery teal shirt.

Tricia Hersey. Photo credit: Charlie Watts.

Tricia Hersey
is a multidisciplinary artist, theologian, and the New York Times bestselling author of Rest is Resistance: A Manifesto (2022). She is a Chicago-native and founder of The Nap Ministry, the originator of the ‘rest as resistance’ and ‘rest as reparations’ frameworks, and creates sacred spaces where the liberatory, restorative, and disruptive power of rest can take hold. Hersey’s work is seeded within the soils of Black radical thought, somatics, Afrofuturism, womanism, and Black liberation theology.



Rachel Cargle is an Akron, OH-born writer, entrepreneur, and philanthropic innovator. Her work and book with Penguin Random House—A Renaissance of Our Own: A Memoir & Manifesto on Reimagining (2023)—center the reimagining of womanhood, solidarity, and self and how we are in relationship with ourselves and one another. In 2018, she founded The Loveland Foundation, Inc., a non-profit offering free therapy to Black women and girls. Her umbrella company, The Loveland Group, houses a collection of social ventures including The Great Unlearn, a self-paced, donation-based learning community; The Great Unlearn for Young Learners, an online learning space for young folks; and Elizabeth’s Bookshop & Writing Centre, an innovative literacy space designed to amplify, celebrate, and honor the work of writers who are often excluded from traditional cultural, social, and academic canons. She lives and loves in Brooklyn, New York.



Photo of a Black person with black dreadlocks in an updo hairstyle, wearing a black turtleneck shirt.

Andrea Yarbrough. Photo by: Marcus Yarbrough.

Andrea Yarbrough is a multi-disciplinary artist, curator, and educator born and raised on the south side of Chicago. She leads the collaborative placekeeping initiative, in c/o: Black women, pushing forward a Black womanist praxis of erecting sites of care by elevating the importance of witnessing and cooperative building as forms of care work. Her practice transforms everyday materials into art objects, exhuming the invisibility of understudied histories. She is a worker-owner with Cooperation Racine, where she provides creative consultancy services and supports the development of a cooperatively owned and operated art center in West Englewood, Chicago.



Photo of a person with long black hair parted in the center, with black tattoos on medium-light skin, wearing a red and lilac outfit.

Jezz Chung headshot 2024. Photo credit: Mary Kang.

Jezz Chung is a multidisciplinary artist whose work explores personal and collective change. Their debut book, This Way to Change (2024) is a guide to changing yourself to change the world. Their neurodivergent, queer, and Korean American experiences shape their work and their commitment to building safer, freer futures. They’ve been recognized internationally for their work and named a Logo TV Pride honoree and a Made of Millions mental health advocate. Chung is a writer, director, and performer with the experimental theater company The New York Neo-Futurists and host of the podcast Dreaming Different for Deem Audio. They currently reside in Brooklyn.



Photo of Marguerite Wynter.

Marguerite Wynter. Photo credit: Steven Karl Metzer.

Marguerite Wynter is a curator and arts administrator whose work focuses on the intersection of community and public engagement. She currently serves as Director of Partnerships & Engagement at Now + There, directing collaborative and community-based programs with local and international organizations. She previously served as the Manager of Public Programs and Partnerships at the Chicago Architecture Biennial and has held curatorial roles in performance and public practice at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago and 80WSE Gallery.



Marquise Stillwell. Photo credit: Dario Calmese.

Marquise Stillwell is a designer and a catalyst for building communities and products across design, art,
and culture. His career spans across two decades, and his curiosity for people and spaces developed into
a passion for designing systems to make environments better for all people. In 2009, Marquise founded
Openbox — a design research and planning studio based in New York City that works at the intersection
of people, cities, and planet. Within Openbox, he later co-founded Opendox, a film company that tells
lesser-known narratives around art, science, nature, and politics. Marquise has executive produced The
New Bauhaus and most recently co-directed This World Is Not My Own, which premiered at SXSW and
Hot Docs. Along with Deem Journal, he has also co-founded Urban Ocean Lab, a think tank for the future
of coastal cities. Most recently, he acquired Stae, a go-to open-source data hub that allows people to
visualize and leverage open city data in a meaningful way. Additionally, Marquise serves as a board
member for the Center for Architecture and the Public Housing Community Fund as well as on advisory
boards for Creative Capital, Riverkeeper, and Black Girls Shred. He is also a member of the High Line
Advisory Committee, a fellow at Urban Design Forum, and was a Founding Board Member and Co-Chair
at The Lowline, the first underground park.

Photo of Ami Mehta.

Ami Mehta. Photo credit: Kylie Currie.

Ami Mehta is a creative technologist, artist, and educator whose work spans game design, virtual reality, installation, and performance. As an Adjunct Professor at NYU’s Interactive Telecommunications and Interactive Media Arts Programs, Ami teaches virtual production techniques while facilitating learning about critical-making and ethics. Her practice explores questions related to privacy, self-identity, and representation in online social spaces and virtual worlds. She is passionate about developing culturally-rooted speculative designs and immersive experiences, and has received support from Epic Games, The British Council, and NEW INC for her projects with Antariksha Studio, a transmedia collective based out of Goa, India. She has collaborated on exhibitions and public programs for MoMA, the Venice Biennale, ONX Studio, BFI London Film Festival, and The New Museum, among others.



Photo of Ciera McKissick.

Ciera McKissick. Photo credit: Zakkiyyah Najeebah Dumas ONeal.

Ciera Alyse McKissick is an independent, curator, event producer, writer, and the founder of AMFM—Art Museum Fashion Life—an organization whose mission is to provide a platform for emerging artists. McKissick created AMFM, originally a web magazine, as an independent study project in 2009 at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she studied Journalism and Mass Communications. Her work since then has involved supporting and uplifting the work and practice of Black and brown artists through writing, exhibitions, partnerships, and activations in collaboration with local arts organizations and institutions. Ultimately, she seeks to stimulate community engagement that’s driven by inclusivity, accessibility, intention, and care. She recently completed a Curatorial Fellowship with The Luminary (2023) and was a participant in the Independent Curators International’s Chicago Curatorial Seminar in 2022. Currently, she is also the Public Programs Manager at the Hyde Park Art Center.



Photo of Frederick Dunson.

Frederick Dunson. Photo credit: Ernest Collins.

Frederick Dunson was born on Chicago’s West Side and worked for the Office of the Clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County for nearly 34 years before he became the Founder, President, and Executive Director of the Frankie Knuckles Foundation, which honors his late best friend and business partner, the Grammy Award-winning DJ, producer, and remixer Frankie Knuckles. Founded in December 2014, the Frankie Knuckles Foundation is a nonprofit educational and cultural organization dedicated to the advancement of Frankie Knuckles’ mission as the global ambassador of House music through media, conservation, and public events continuing and supporting the causes he advocated. Dunson also serves on the Board of the Empowerment Center for Better Living and is a member of the West Central Association of the West Loop.



Photo of Darlene Jackson aka DJ Lady D.

Darlene Jackson aka DJ Lady D. Photo credit: Lori Sapio.

Darlene Jackson, aka DJ Lady D, is hailed as “Chicago’s House Music Queen” by Chicago Magazine. She has toured the world as an international DJ, producer, and remixer and, in 2004, she became a music publisher when she launched her independent record label and brand, D’lectable. She is well-known for her charismatic sets of house, techno, and disco; her appearances at ARC, SXSW, Lollapalooza, Burning Man, and Chosen Few; and for fan-filled, influencer, charity, and celebrity events. Her music career has been a featured subject in print, television, audio, and film media, including in several music documentaries, and she has also collaborated and worked with numerous media outlets. You can hear DJ Lady D on the radio on the fourth Friday of every month on Vocalo.org 91.1 FM-Chicago.



Photo of Joseph Henry surrounded by cacti.

Joseph Henry. Photo credit: Taran Wilkhu.

Joseph Henry is a designer and curator whose practice creates new public infrastructures through culture-at-large to unlock public imagination and is currently the 2024 ArtLab Loeb Fellow at Harvard University. Henry co-curated the British Pavilion at the 2023 Venice Architecture Biennale alongside Jayden Ali, Meneesha Kellay, and Sumitra Upham. Their pavilion, “Dancing Before the Moon,” explored the need for architecture to look beyond buildings and economic structures and towards everyday social practices, customs, and traditions to meaningfully reflect how people use and occupy space. He is a trustee of UD Music, a charity that empowers and harnesses opportunities for young people through Black music culture. Previously, Henry worked for the Mayor of London in the Culture & Creative Industries Unit as the Making Space for Culture Manager. In 2019, he co-founded the social enterprise platform Sound Advice, alongside Pooja Agrawal, to explore new forms of spatial practice through music and in 2020 they published the book NOW YOU KNOW.



Nu Goteh. Photo credit: GL Askew II.

Nu Goteh is a designer, strategist, creative director, social practitioner and  Liberian-born refugee currently residing in Los Angeles. His singular and multifaceted resume combines 12+ years of brand experience across industries with a Masters Degree in strategic design and management focused on solving human-centered problems. Nu is currently co-founder & creative director of Deem Journal and the strategy and design studio Room for Magic.



Photo of Dr. Elizabeth Dori Tunstall.

Dr. Elizabeth Dori Tunstall. Photo credit: Samuel Engelking.

Dr. Elizabeth “Dori” Tunstall is a distinguished and celebrated design anthropologist, author, organizational design leader, consultant, and coach. As the author of Decolonizing Design: A Cultural Justice Guidebook (2023), she is a path-breaker of progressive approaches challenging conventional design paradigms that exclude and harm Indigenous cultures in order to actively decolonize while championing diversity, equity, and inclusivity practices in communities and organizations. Tunstall made history as the first Black and Black female Dean of a Design Faculty anywhere at OCAD University in Toronto, Canada and her accomplishments have been recognized with numerous awards—most recently the 2023 SEGD Excellence in Design Education Award. Dori’s profound commitment to making an expansive impact beyond academia has recently led her to establish Dori Tunstall, Inc., a firm dedicated to decolonizing and diversifying institutional processes for companies and organizations through corporate education, executive coaching, and strategic consulting.


Lead support for the 2023-24 season of MCA Talks is made possible by The Richard and Mary L. Gray Lecture Series through a generous gift to the Chicago Contemporary Campaign.

Generous support is provided by The Antje B. and John J. Jelinek Endowed Lecture and Symposium on Contemporary Art; the Kristina Barr Lectures, which were established through a generous gift by The Barr Fund to the Chicago Contemporary Campaign; The Gloria Brackstone Solow and Eugene A. Solow, MD, Memorial Lecture Series; and the Allen M. Turner Tribute Fund, honoring his past leadership as Chair of the Board of Trustees.

This symposium is part of Art Design Chicago, a citywide collaboration initiated by the Terra Foundation for American Art that highlights the city’s artistic heritage and creative communities. It is funded by the Terra Foundation for American Art.

Art Design Chicago and Terra logo.