The University of Virginia—designed by Thomas Jefferson and now recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site—was built and maintained by 4000 or more enslaved men, women, and children. UVA’s powerful new Memorial to Enslaved Laborers honors the lives, labors, and resistance of the enslaved people who lived and worked at UVA at some point between 1817 and 1865. This interview with members of the memorial’s design team will explore the history, form, and process behind the creation of the memorial. Panelists: Mabel Wilson, Meejin Yoon, Eric Höweler, and Eto Otitigbe, with U-M's Kristin Hass as the interviewer. 

This virtual event takes place Monday, February 8, 2021 4-5:30pm E.S.T. Click here to pre-register. 


About the Participants

Eric Höweler, AIA, LEED AP,  is an Associate Professor in Architecture at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design, where he teaches lecture courses and design studios with a focus on building technologies/integration since 2008. Höweler has published essays and articles in Perspecta, Archis, Thresholds, The Architect’s Newspaper, Architectural Lighting, and Praxis.

Höweler is Co-founding Principal of  Höweler + Yoon Architecture LLP, a research-driven, multidisciplinary design studio working between architecture, art, and media. HYA has a reputation for work that is technologically and formally innovative, and deeply informed by human experience and a sensitivity to tectonics. Höweler + Yoon’s work has been exhibited at the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, the 2006 Design Triennial at the Cooper Hewitt in New York, The Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston, and has been published and reviewed in publications including Architect, Architectural Record, Metropolitan, Domus, Interior Design magazine, Architectural Lighting, and I.D. Magazine, The New York Times, The Boston Globe, and The Financial Times.

Eto Otitigbe is a polymedia artist whose interdisciplinary practice investigates the intersections of race, power, and technology. With history as the foundation for exploration, Otitigbe sets alternative narratives into motion; creating spaces for people to experience a unique mixture of concepts. He is the Director of the Turnbull Townhouse Gallery in New York. Otitigbe lives and works in Brooklyn, NY where is an Assistant Professor and Head of Sculpture in the Art Department of Brooklyn College.

Otitigbe's work has been in national and international exhibitions such as Topophilia, as part of the Meetings Festival in Denmark; Bronx Calling: The Second AIM Biennial, organized by the Bronx Museum and Wave Hill. He has participated in residencies at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, The John L. Warfield Center for African and African American Studies, Austin, TX; 701 CCA, Columbia, SC; Center for Book Arts, New York, NY; and Luminary Center for the Arts, St. Louis, MO. Otitigbe received public commissions for FLOW at Randall’s Island Park and the Emerging Artist Fellowship at Socrates Sculpture Park. In 2015 Otitigbe was awarded a CEC Artslink Project Award for travel to Egypt.

Mabel O. Wilson is the Nancy and George Rupp Professor of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, a professor in African American and African diasporic studies, director of the Institute for Research in African American Studies, and co-director of the Global Africa Lab at Columbia University. She is trained in architecture and American studies, two fields that inform her work. Through her transdisciplinary practice Studio &, Wilson makes visible and legible the ways that anti-black racism shapes the built environment along with the ways that blackness creates spaces of imagination, refusal, and desire.

Wilson is the author of Begin with the Past: Building the National Museum of African American History and Culture (2016) and Negro Building: Black Americans in the World of Fairs and Museums (2012), co-editor of Race and Modern Architecture, and currently at work on a book entitled Building Race and Nation: Slavery and Dispossessions Influence on American Civic Architecture. Her scholarly essays have appeared in numerous journals and books on art and architecture, black studies, critical geography, urbanism, memory studies.

J. Meejin Yoon, AIA FAAR, is dean of AAP/Architecture, Art, Planning at Cornell University. She is co-founding principle of Höweler and Yoon Architecture; her projects and research investigate the intersections between architecture, technology, and the public realm. Prior to joining the faculty at AAP, Yoon was at MIT for 17 years and served as the head of the Department of Architecture from 2014–18.

Yoon's work has been exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art, the Smithsonian Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum in New York, the Vitra Design Museum in Germany, and the National Art Center in Japan. Publications by Yoon include Expanded Practice (Princeton Architectural Press, 2009), Public Works (MAP Book Publishers, 2008), and Absence (Printed Matter and the Whitney Museum of Art, 2003).

Kristin Hass is associate professor of American culture and faculty coordinator for the Humanities Collaboratory at the University of Michigan. She is the author of Carried to the Wall: American Memory and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial (1998) and Sacrificing Soldiers on the National Mall (2013). Her fields of study include visual culture, material culture, museum studies, memory, and 20th-century cultural history.

This is the first in a series of annual Art and Activism lectures as part of High Stakes Art, a project designed to enhance exhibitions and programming at the Institute for the Humanities Gallery. High Stakes Art is made possible by a generous grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Presented by the Institute for the Humanities and the U-M Arts Initiative.