D. Denenge Duyst-Akpem is a space sculptor and award-winning teacher, artist, and writer whose practice and scholarship bridge disciplines of design, ritual, and ecology. She is Associate Professor, Adjunct, School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC), offering graduate and undergraduate courses, where she received a 2018 Marion Kryczka Excellence in Teaching Award and one of two inaugural Diversity Advisory Group 2016 Teaching Awards for Excellence in Diversity and Inclusion, and 2020-21 Visiting Artist-Associate Professor at Kentucky College of Art and Design (KyCAD). She is a 2020 LaBecque Laureate, 2016-17 Rebuild Foundation/U-Chicago Place Lab Fellow, 2014 NEH Institute Fellow, and founding member of Chicago Fashion Lyceum. Awards and grants include Illinois Arts Council and Red Bull Arts. She holds an MFA in Performance from SAIC and BA from Smith College.
As founder of Denenge Design and In The Luscious Garden, focused on holistic, conceptual approaches to human-centered design, Duyst-Akpem creates fantastical interactive environments and performances to interrogate, titillate, decolonize, and empower, inspired by Sun Ra and asking: “Who controls the future?” “Afro-Futurism: Pathways to Black Liberation”—now titled “Afrofuturity”–was an early multi-disciplinary offering in the field, and “Take Root Among The Stars: The Legacy of Octavia Butler, Surviving the 21st Century & Beyond” included urban foraging, a dynamic panel of Butler experts, and exhibition of survival “go” packs based on Butler’s prophetic Parable of the Sower.
Features include: AFRIFUTURI 02022020 monograph and The Camo Coat Collection runway and launch on February 2, 2020 at Blanc Gallery in historic Bronzeville, Chicago; Corpus Meum at the Arts Club of Chicago; High Priestess of the Intergalactic Federation, Special Envoy to Mars for Black Quantum Futurism: Temporal Deprogramming, ICA London, 2019 (originally commissioned for NASA/Blumberg Becoming Interplanetary/Decolonizing Mars, U.S. Library of Congress, 2018); Black Light Primal Nun ‘A’ Presents The Ramm Riff for Rammellzee: Racing for Thunder “No Guts, No Galaxy”, Red Bull Arts NY, 2018; La Fantaisie Ibeji experimental performance film; audience-interactive activation of Houston Conwill Rivers cosmogram with Nyugen E. Smith, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, 2018; and voice of Yetunde for animation The Golden Chain by Adebukola Bodunrin and Ezra Claytan Daniels (originally for Black Radical Imagination film series curated by Erin Christovale and Amir George), now part of the Whitney Museum permanent collection.
Duyst-Akpem has written on Afro-Futurism and the Osanyin Commemorative Portrait Series including: “Sister Moon: A Lunar Poetic in X Stanzas” for Kunsthaus Zürich Fly Me To The Moon exhibition catalogue; “Constructing Future Forms: Body, Garment, and Adornment in Afro-Futurism” for Kunstgewerbemuseum Berlin and Fluctuating Images Connecting Afro Futures. Fashion x Hair x Design exhibition magalog; “N’Vesting in the People: The Art of Jae Jarrell” essay about AFRICOBRA co-founder Jae Jarrell for catalogue produced by Kavi Gupta Gallery for the 58th Venice Biennale.
Selected features on Duyst-Akpem and her work include: The Seen, Sixty, Antennae: The Journal of Art and Nature, ARTNews, Newsweek, Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun Times, How We Get to Next with Afrofutures UK, Chicago Magazine, Fleeting Monuments for the Black Arts Movement (U-Minn Press, 2021), upcoming Vegetal Entanglements (MIT Press), Theaster Gates: How To Build a House Museum for AGO, Toronto, Fired Up! Ready to Go!: Finding Beauty, Demanding Equity: An African American Life in Art, The Collections of Peggy Cooper Cafritz, the latter titles listed as top two on Culture Type’s “18 Best Black Art Books of 2018”. Recent virtual exhibitions during the 2020 pandemic included Holographic High Priestess for Burning Man 2020, Brand New Mesh by Comm-Post (Veracruz, Mexico) and PS1/Center for Afrofuturist Studies (Iowa City, IA). Her monograph AFRIFUTURI 02022020 was featured as part of Kavi Gupta Editions Black Voices Initiative and is in the collection of the Joan Flasch Artists’ Book Collection + Archives and ARTEXTE, Montréal, among others.
CONTACT: denenge [at] denenge [dot] net