Night of Ideas [La Nuit des idées]

Date: 03 Mar 2023, 6:15pm - 9:30pm (GMT-08:00) Pacific Time (US & Canada)

Night of Ideas, Villa Albertine’s flagship nocturnal marathon of philosophical debates and performances is returning to more than 20 cities in 2023, including Seattle for the first time ever!  The event invites leaders, activists, artists, and academics to engage in a debate around a central question that addresses major contemporary global issues.

Check out the Night of Ideas across the US! Check out the Night of Ideas across the US!

The Alliance Française de Seattle invites you to Seattle's first Night of Ideas around the theme: "More Transformative Spaces?"

Transformative, liminal spaces build bridges across disciplines, generations, various identity discourses and representations of who we are and how we see ourselves in the world. They trigger change and transformation, representing a dynamic, performative “in-betweenness”, across modes of artistic creativity, activism, urbanism, societal behaviors, and global citizenry.

This event invites AF members, Seattleites and the larger community to an engaging discussion about the role of artistic creation in transforming public and private space. Moreover, given that March celebrates Women’s History Month, our guest speakers are inspiring women artists, activists and academics whose voices need to be heard on the topic of space and creativity, especially because historically, women were not empowered to transform public space through their art or other forms of expression. In addition, we will explore the history of the Good Shepherd Center and highlight the role of Historic Seattle in creating a thriving home for the arts, social activism and multilingual education, in order to show how civic activism can transform cityscapes toward a more resilient and equitable form of urbanism, preservation and multilingual inclusivity.

We invite our guest speakers and our audience to explore the role of transformative, liminal spaces in their daily lives and creative process. During three hours of installations, transmedia presentations, and panel discussions, we will address questions about architectural transformations and reuse; storytelling and dance; poetry and image; music composition, and the intersection between scholarly work and artistic creation.


6:15pm Doors Open

6:15pm – 9:30pm Gallery spaces open in rooms 204, 207, 209. 

6:45pm – 7:45pm Discussion, Part 1 “More Transformative Spaces?” (room 202 – capacity: 50 people)

  • Introduction by Historic Seattle
  • Artists’ Presentations by Shin Yu Pai, Maya Smith, Claire Renaut, Tonya Lockyer

7:45pm – 8pm Break

8pm – 9pm Discussion, Part 2 “More Transformative Spaces?” (room 202 – capacity: 50 people)

  • Panel discussion with Shin Yu Pai, Maya Smith, Claire Renaut, Tonya Lockyer
  • Moderated by Otilia Baraboi

9pm – 9:30pm Meet and Greet with the Artists & Speakers

9:30pm End of event.

Event held in English.

This is a free event taking place at our Seattle location. To help us cover the costs, you can make a donation here. Suggested donation: $10 - $30.

Please RSVP below to help us anticipate our logistical needs.



Tap into your imagination and join us for a fun collaborative project that will be exhibited during the Night of Ideas! Explore the theme of the event by writing a short poem (3-4 lines) using at least two out of the following words: déjà vuinconnuflâneurterraintour, façadepirouetteje ne sais quoi [in French or English!].


Guest Speakers

Shin Yu Pai: Writer, Poet, and Visual Artist

Shin Yu Pai is the author of 11 books, including most recently Virga (Empty Bowl, 2021). She is the recipient of awards from the City of Seattle’s Office of Arts & Culture, 4Culture, and The Awesome Foundation. She is a 2022 Artist Trust Fellow, a Hope Corps grantee, and was shortlisted in 2014 for a Stranger Genius Award in Literature. From 2015 to 2017, Shin Yu served as the fourth Poet Laureate for The City of Redmond. Her personal essays have appeared in Atlas Obscura,Tricycle Magazine, YES! Magazine, NYTimes, Zocalo Public Square, Seattle Met, ParentMap, Seattle’s Child, International Examiner, and South Seattle Emerald. She has been published throughout the U.S., Japan, China, Taiwan, the UK, and Canada.

Shin Yu is the writer, host, and producer of The Blue Suit, a podcast on Asian American stories for KUOW Public Radio, Seattle’s NPR affiliate station. The Blue Suit launched in July 2022 and is currently in production for a second season, which will begin releasing episodes in May 2023. New books are forthcoming in 2023 from Empty Bowl Press and Blue Cactus Press.

The Seattle Office of Arts & Culture (ARTS), in partnership with the Seattle City of Literature, has selected Shin Yu Pai as the incoming 2023-2024 Seattle Civic Poet.


Maya Angela Smith: Sociolinguist, Associate Professor of French, Visual Artist and Songwriter

Maya Angela Smith is a sociolinguist and associate professor in the French and Italian Studies department at the University of Washington. She is Associate Dean for Equity, Justice, and Inclusion in the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Washington. Her qualitative research on multilingualism analyzes attitudes about language in multicultural contexts.

She is particularly interested in how language is expressed through different types of cultural production such as literature, music, and art. This focus allows her to mix her scholarly and creative interests, because in addition to being a scholar, she is a visual artist who has shown her work in New York City, Paris, Liverpool, Oakland, Houston, and Seattle as well as an aspiring songwriter who is currently completing a certificate in songwriting from Berklee College of Music.


Claire Renaut: Fiber and Textile Artist

Claire Renaut is a Seattle-based artist. She is recognized for her intricate textile pieces created from newspaper spun into yarn. French German, raised in Paris, Renaut formally trained at ESMOD in Paris as a fashion designer before immigrating to the United States in 1998. There she received a Master’s in Textile from Philadelphia University and studied in Japan at Kyoto's Kawashima School of Textile.

For more than a decade she has focused on spinning the humble, short-lived medium of the daily paper into new forms. Renaut has extended on the traditional Japanese Shifu technique of spinning thinly cut paper.  She then knit, wrap, or weave it.

Some of Renaut’s work has been influenced by her French-German upbringing which brought a lifelong questioning on what immigration and adaptation means. In a time of great technology change, she takes pleasure in using hands-on traditional methods. Her work has been shown in the US and in Europe.


Tonya Lockyer: Award-winning Choreographer, Writer, Cultural Producer, and Performing Artist

Tonya Lockyer was named “one of the key cultural change-makers in the Northwest” by The Seattle Times for her work creating and facilitating transformative cultural processes. This former artistic and executive director of Velocity Dance Center (2011-2018) is an artist, cultural producer, writer, curator, and educator with a history of working in the cultural sector, higher education, arts and social justice not-for-profits. Her work has been featured on NPR, presented by TEDx, and exhibited by prestigious institutions like the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

She has a track record demonstrating how the arts can mobilize people and communities, inform civic and cultural dialogue, and inspire transformative experiences and new ways of being in the world.

Thank you to our partners & sponsors for their support!

 Partial funding by Seattle Office of Arts & Culture.

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