Our summer CURF intern, Alice Zhao, worked closely with Heather Moqtaderi, Assistant Director and Curator, on preparing for the upcoming exhibition No Ocean Between Us: Art of Asian Diasporas in Latin American & the Caribbean, 1940-Present. In this essay, Alice reflects on researching two artists of Afro-Chinese descent.
The Arthur Ross Gallery’s Winter 2022 exhibition No Ocean Between Us: Art of Asian Diasporas in Latin America & the Caribbean, 1940-Present, highlights contemporary artists of the Asian Diaspora in Latin America, and the vastly undocumented and overlooked history of Asian migration and indentured servitude in the region. As a Chinese national and a first-generation immigrant to the U.S., I am thrilled to work on an exhibition that brings visibility to artists who carry multiple cultural identities.
Two of the most well-known artists in our exhibition are the Afro-Chinese Cuban Wifredo Lam (1902-82) and the Afro-Chinese Jamaican Albert Chong (b. 1958). Lam’s mother was of African, Spanish, and Taíno descent. His father was the son a Chinese immigrant, and grew up during Cuba’s “coolie trade” following the country’s supposed abolition of slavery. At the time, Chinese coolies were obtained cheaply as indentured servants but in fact used as slaves on sugarcane plantations. Albert Chong was born to a family of Afro-Chinese Jamaican merchants, and both his parents had a Chinese father and an Afro-Jamaican mother.
Although both men are of Afro-Chinese descent, I was struck to learn that they are most known for African influence on their art. While No Ocean Between Us uses identity-based inclusion, the strategy seems paradoxical due to the difficulty of tracing Lam and Chong’s engagement with their Asian backgrounds. From a personal perspective, seeing both men acclaimed predominantly for their contributions to African art makes me feel slightly distanced from their statures, as their Chinese identities remain obscured. Why, for example, is Lam frequently labeled as an Afro-Cuban artist with no acknowledgment of his Chinese heritage? Was this caused by the inattention of art scholars, or did Lam and Chong purposefully sidestep their Chinese identities? Unearthing their Asian influence has become a crucially important task for me.
My research this summer provided me with more clarity. With regards to Lam’s borrowings from Chinese art, University of Maryland Professor Abigail McEwen mentioned that the tonality of ink wash painting, stylistic harmony, refinement, and spirituality in his work all reflect his familiarity with Chinese culture. Meanwhile, UCLA professor Sean Metzger argued that the integration of pre-modern Chinese elements into Lam’s style confines “Chineseness” to the realm of the traditional, and pointed out that “Chineseness” might also be exhibited through modern experiences of dislocation stemmed from Cuba’s coolie trade.
In historical terms, the Chinese ethnic identity often existed outside of Cuban and Jamaican societies’ frameworks of racial categorization. Lam’s generation of mixed-race Afro-Chinese Cubans were often classified as mestizo, pardo, or libre de color, all of which often signified only African heritage. Meanwhile, as Albert Chong mentioned in his interview, the terms that exist to determine Jamaica’s ethnic hybridity aimed solely to account for the decrease in whiteness instead of Afro-Chinese miscegenation. Individually, neither Lam nor Chong was taught Chinese, which presented an obvious obstacle to fully accessing the culture. There may well also have been danger in openly identifying as Chinese in their respective societies. In Lam’s Cuba, the importation of Chinese coolies burdened Chinese men with enduring tropes of being foreign, exotic, and bachelors. Still, I find myself wondering if Lam would have striven to better access his Chinese heritage had his father not passed away when he was young. Chong mentions that his experience of being Chinese in Jamaica consisted of being called names as a teenager, hearing the song “Black Chiney Men” (which denoted the racial tension between Chinese and Afro-Jamaicans), and witnessing the burning of Chinese businesses in Kingston. If there had been a flourishing Asian-American art community when Chong migrated to New York in the late 70s, I wonder if he would have chosen to be part of it.
Through learning about these artists as individuals, I have recognized my own earlier mistake in positioning Chong and Lam in a clear-cut category of Asian art. By doing so, I have unconsciously fallen into Western museums’ historical tendency to identify and distinguish art made by the “other”. As much as I desire the representation of Asian artists from these men, I have come to recognize that my desire might further constrain them from artistic acknowledgment beyond their identities.
Thus, instead of tracking down Lam and Chong’s “Chineseness”, there may be a better set of questions to pose: How can we curate this exhibition without making identity-based analyses the chief mode of engagement? How can we invite viewers to examine these extraordinary bodies of work through multifaceted lenses? Finally, by featuring these artists, how can we honor and bring visibility to the generations of communities that supported and paved the way for them? As a returning Gallery Intern at Arthur Ross this fall, I look forward to engaging with these questions and participating in discussions pertaining to the content of No Ocean Between Us.
The Arthur Ross Gallery & Penn Art Collection are delighted to announce that Lynn Dolby, University Art Collection Manager & Assistant Curator and Emily Zimmerman, Assistant Director/Assistant Curator at the Arthur Ross Gallery have been selected as one of 16 curatorial teams across the United States to be part of the Association of Art Museum Curators (AAMC) Curatorial Digital Leadership Initiative with Culture 24. The Curatorial Digital Leadership Initiative seeks to raise digital confidence in curators to become digital leaders in their institutions and arts communities. Over the course of the ten-month training period, teams of two curators from each institution will attend a series of workshops with Culture 24, offering peer to peer support, and an in-person convening in Philadelphia in October 2022. As part of the program, Lynn Dolby & Emily Zimmerman will develop a digital program in conjunction with the Arthur Ross Gallery’s 40th Anniversary Season. AAMC’s Curatorial Digital Leadership Initiative is generously supported by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, and brings together nonprofit art organizations located in the cities directly supported by the foundation: Akron, Ohio; Charlotte, North Carolina; Detroit, Michigan; Macon, Georgia; Miami, Florida; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; San Jose, California; and St. Paul, Minnesota. More information on the initiative is available here.
Lynn Dolby joined the Office of the Curator in August 2017 following her time as the Senior Director of Client Services at Atelier Art Services where she specialized and trained staff in complex art logistics. She managed many high-profile projects, most notably, the relocation of the Barnes Foundation Collection from Merion, PA to its new home on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway in downtown Philadelphia. Previously, Lynn served as the Registrar and a member of the Exhibitions Committee for the National Constitution Center, where she developed several exhibitions including, “Lincoln: The Constitution & The Civil War” and “9/11: A Nation Remembers.”
Lynn earned an M.A. in the History of Art from Tyler School of Art, Temple University and a B.A in the History of Art from Chestnut Hill College. She has additional studies in Exhibition Development and Visitor Evaluation and is a member of the Association for Registrars and Collections Specialists (ARCS).
Emily Zimmerman is a curator and writer based in Philadelphia, where she is currently the Assistant Director of the Arthur Ross Gallery at the University of Pennsylvania. From 2017-2022 she was the Director + Curator of the Jacob Lawrence Gallery at the University of Washington’s School of Art + Art History + Design, and prior to that she was the Associate Curator at the University of Washington’s Henry Art Gallery. She began her curatorial career as the Assistant Curator at the Experimental Media and Performing Art Center (EMPAC). Emily’s writing has appeared in BOMB and Contemporary Performance, and she has served on review panels for the National Endowment for the Arts, Creative Capital, New York State Council on the Arts, Artist Trust, 4Culture, and the Herb Alpert Awards, among others. Emily earned her MA from the Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard College and her BA from New York University.
About the University of Pennsylvania Art Collection
The University of Pennsylvania Art Collection includes over 8,000 artworks acquired during the past 250 years. The collection is displayed in buildings and outdoor spaces throughout the main campus, the Morris Arboretum, and the New Bolton Center. Diverse in scope, the collection includes painting, sculpture, works on paper, photography, and decorative arts. Penn’s Art Collection is intended for the enrichment of all, and its public installation enhances the daily experience of students, faculty, staff, and community members.
About the Arthur Ross Gallery
The Arthur Ross Gallery of the University of Pennsylvania is a resource for the entire University community, across schools and departments, as well as the local community and scholars around the world. We are a learning lab where people engage with important, and often rarely seen, art and artifacts from a diverse range of time periods, media, and cultures.
The Gallery was founded in 1983 with a gift from Arthur Ross to share his joy of art by bringing important works to campus to inspire new generations. The Arthur Ross Gallery is located in the landmark Fisher Fine Arts Library building designed by Frank Furness, in the center of Penn’s campus.
About AAMC & AAMC Foundation
Founded in 2001, the Association of Art Museum Curators (AAMC) & AAMC Foundation celebrate the curatorial narrative by supporting and promoting the work of art curators at all stages in their career through opportunities for networking, collaboration, professional development, and career advancement. With a network of over 1,500 members from over 500+ institutions around the globe, the organization is the leading organization and flagship voice for curators in the nonprofit sector. The organization ensures that the curatorial perspective on art, museums, and educational issues is furthered and advanced in critical issues within the art community.
From your perspective as the curator, could you please provide us with a brief overview of the timeline and processes for this exhibition?
Lynn Marsden-Atlass (University Curator and Executive Director of the Arthur Ross Gallery approached me in the late winter about the possibility of curating a show for the summer. I knew immediately that I wanted to do something with the Associated American Artists (AAA) prints in the University’s collection. I had been doing research into them since our Citizen Salon exhibition in 2018 & I got really excited about sharing these prints with visitors to the gallery.
The first step for me was going through our collections management database to get a handle on all the prints from AAA in the collection. Many of the prints were still in flat-file drawers, so it was a little bit of a treasure hunt!
Some of the pieces were already beautifully framed and were basically exhibition ready. But 29 pieces had never been framed or exhibited. So, the next step was working with the framer to determine which color mat to use after we settled on a classic black frame for most of the pieces. Dorothy Dehner’s superb Mirage: Red & Black was an exception – I chose to float, rather than mat, this piece so that viewers could see the delicate edges of the paper and the use of a white frame further emphasizes the illusion that the piece is floating.
When it came time to create the “branding” for the show in the print material, I was really inspired by the advertisements for AAA from the 30s and 40s that I found in issues of Life magazine from the time. In my research, I also found a sample book of wallpapers that the company published in the 1950s. I wanted the entry space in the gallery to feel domestic, since these were all prints intended for the home. And, because most of the prints in the show are black and white – I knew that that the gallery would need a pop of color. I included a portfolio from William Gropper in the show, which is bright orange and one of my favorite color combinations is orange and pink. So, I found a mid-century color called “Pink Flamingo” and we used that for the back wall of the gallery, the bench, and of course, the legs of the exhibition case that holds the Gropper portfolio. The research and writing component of the show was another part of the process. Our summer intern, rising sophomore, Zoe Vaz, dove right in. Zoe wrote some of the extended labels in the show and lent her voice for the audio tour. Because we’re such a small office, our interns get a lot of hands-on experience!
What surprised you in preparing for this exhibition?
It’s always fun and surprising for me to see artworks “in the real” after looking at them in our database, which usually has just a tiny thumbnail image. Even though we do have the dimensions listed, I find that I must see the pieces in person to get a real sense of them. The Dorothy Dehner that I mentioned earlier was much bigger than I thought and had such a presence! The colors were so vibrant.
What were some of the main curatorial messages you hoped “From Studio to Doorstep” would convey?
It’s rare, for most of us, to go into an exhibition, look at the art on the walls, and think of it as something within reach for our own lives. AAA published artwork that was affordably priced and attainable for consumers with a little disposable income. I really want visitors to the gallery to feel at home with the pieces I selected for the show and to imagine themselves living with them, imagine themselves as collectors.
I hope that visitors find the show to be visually beautiful and also take away the impact that this company had on the distribution of American Art and culture.
Which five/three of the pieces do you enjoy the most? Why?
It’s so hard to choose favorites. As an art historian, people often ask me what my favorite artwork is and figuring that out is impossible. It’s like asking what my favorite food is – I could never decide – it depends on the day.
But I do have such a soft-spot for Thomas Hart Benton. We have a few of his AAA pieces in the collection, but the one I included Goin’ Home, I think, is special. The piece comes with a quote from the artist who explains that he sketched this from life in the Smokey Mountains of North Carolina. I think we can all relate to what we are seeing. Even if we have not been in a horse-drawn carriage before, we know what it’s like to either be a sleepy child, or have a sleepy child, falling asleep on the way home. I love that the artist puts us in his shoes so that we can imagine the scene.
I also want to shout out the women artists in the show – Grace Albee, Alice Standish Buell, Dorothy Dehner, Ethel Magafan, Sarah Sears and Norma Morgan who was an African American painter and printmaker for making beautiful and important work.
The history of Associated American Artists, according to what you stated in the exhibition’s introduction, “the story of Associated American Artists… is a story about the marketing and distribution of culture,” and “a story of aspiration and accessibility.” Why is the story still relevant nearly a century later? How can the narrative of culture’s distribution be reinvented in the era of information explosion?
When considering why this show is relevant now, I like to see these pieces through the lens of the shared experience of a collective tragedy. These early pieces were published at a time when the country was coming out of the Stock Market Crash and the Great Depression. Likewise, we are all coming out of the shared experiences of the COVID-19 pandemic. The imagery in the early days stressed resilience, family, work, and home. These are all issues that are very top-of-mind today, ones that we are still exploring.
The one piece that comes to mind is the 1939 “New York World’s Fair: Trylon and Perisphere” by John Taylor Arms. This fair was the first one based on the future, asking visitors to imagine “the world of tomorrow” – truly aspirational! It’s the fair that inaugurated broadcast television. It’s interesting to see this rendering of these modernistic structures depicting a “city of the future” among these other images from AAA from the time that are very nostalgic. I’m also captivated by the popularity of people traveling to various countries to attend the fairs in person. People still travel, of course, but today, it’s like we bring the world to us by looking at our phones.
How does this exhibition establish connections with the space of the gallery and, more broadly, with Penn and even the Philadelphia community?
I’m excited that Mary Tasillo from Penn Libraries, Common Press will be leading the 12@12 program on July 13th to talk about the printmaking process. She was a natural connection to make to this show to bring the medium to life for our visitors. AAA operated a gallery in Philadelphia from the late 70s to early 80s, led by Margo Dolan, who is still a print dealer in the city. I know that my research into this topic will continue beyond the length of the exhibition!
What specifically do you want Penn students to get out of the show?
I always feel like the University’s fine art collection is one of Penn’s hidden gems, that is also all around us. Everyone knows the monumental sculptures, like Simone Leigh’s Brick House, Split Button, and LOVE. There are works of art in 116 locations on campus – in offices, hallways, and conference rooms. But, because we don’t have a fine art museum, many works are only on view when they are curated into an exhibition at the Arthur Ross Gallery. So, this is a rare opportunity to get up close to artworks that have never been exhibited before.
Lynn Smith Dolby is the University Art Collection Manager & Assistant Curator, University of Pennsylvania
Photography by Eric Sucar
The new exhibition features 37 Associated American Artists prints from the Penn Art Collection.
I understand you have family ties to the University of Pennsylvania
Yes, my father, Franklin Zimmerman, was the chairman of the Music Department at the University of Pennsylvania and taught musicology for 25 years. Many family members are UPenn alumni – many of my aunts and siblings, including two sisters that received graduate degrees in Architecture.
My family has closely identified with the University of Pennsylvania for some time. My great aunt, Francis Fitch, was an early female instructor at the university in the 1910s and 1920s, teaching dance and elocution (below is a Daily Pennsylvanian article from 1917 that mentions a dance performance with her students). Her husband, Carl Aldrich, graduated from the University of Pennsylvania Veterinary School in 1914, and the Dental School in 1919.
UPenn was a big part of my life growing up, I learned how to ride a bike on Locust Walk, and in high school I started seeing exhibitions at the Institute of Contemporary Art Philadelphia and Arthur Ross Gallery. After attending New York University for Art History and Anthropology, I interned at the ICA Philadelphia with John McInerney and Tanya Leighton, around the time of Ingrid Schaffner’s brilliant exhibition The Big Nothing.
What are some of your goals in working with the UPenn faculty, staff, and students and the Philadelphia community?
I have been interested in how university art galleries can be spaces for speculative thinking. Peter Schjeldahl, long-time art critic for the New Yorker, argued once that “The arts are a great laboratory of the absolutely free play of ideas and emotions that normal social life can’t accommodate.” A gallery can be a space for speculation about possible worlds; with each new exhibition there is an opportunity to create a vision that asserts what the world might look like. Once that vision exists, once it takes up space, it has consequences.
At the same time, university art galleries act as meeting places for multiple audiences: students, faculty, and staff across schools, as well as community members all sharing the same space. My curatorial work is rooted in engagement, beginning with artists and community, and building towards larger curatorial frameworks. Being from Philadelphia, I am incredibly invested in the art community here. I have loved Furness’ Fisher Fine Arts Building since I was a child and have gravitated towards it at significant moments in my life – I wrote my graduate school application for the Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard College here. My hope is to do programming that honors the Philadelphia arts community through collaborations and partnerships, and that honors this building and its history. It’s a tremendously exciting time to be at Penn, I’m so excited to collaborate with the faculty through programming.
What are some of your favorite exhibitions that you’ve seen in the past few years?
I am still haunted by two exhibitions I saw in Venice in 2017: Intuition at the Fortuny Museum and The Boat is Leaking, the Captain Lied at the Prada Foundation. Intuition was a revelation of exhibition design, a deeply moving experience of artwork in spaces rich in intuitive gestures. Appropriate to the exhibition’s venue (Mariano Fortuny was a fashion designer and lighting engineer), the exhibition’s lighting was done with extraordinary sensitivity that broke many of the lighting rules one would normally encounter in museums and galleries.
The Boat is Leaking. The Captain Lied was an exhibition that came about through a collaboration between writer and filmmaker Alexander Kluge, artist Thomas Demand, stage designer Anna Viebrock, and curator Udo Kittelmann. Taking place across multiple floors of the Prada Foundation in Venice, the exhibition reflected on truth, misinformation, and the public life when the phrase “alternative facts” had just arrived on the global stage. Within the exhibition, stage designer Anna Viebrock created a set of full-size models including a courtroom, a cinema, and a department store display, to reflect on the deep and pervasive issue of misinformation and the relationship between subjecthood, media, and architecture. The Boat is Leaking. The Captain Lied. upturned some of the standardized narratives surrounding such issues, creating a physical model of the experience of misinformation, and allowing for the nuances of an embodied understanding of the issue. What happens when you bring the wisdom of the body to bear on some of our most entangled societal issues? That question had stuck with me these past few years, its one I’m still digesting in my own curatorial practice.
The Arthur Ross Gallery at the University of Pennsylvania is pleased to announce that it has been certified by Working Artists and the Greater Economy (W.A.G.E.), based on its demonstrated history of and commitment to paying artist fees that are appropriate to the institution’s operating budget. The Arthur Ross Gallery is the 105th institution in the United States to receive the certification. Founded in 2008, Working Artists for the Greater Economy seeks to create “sustainable economic relationships between artists and the institutions that contract our labor, and to introduce mechanisms for self-regulation into the art field that collectively bring about a more equitable distribution of its economy.” W.A.G.E. certification offers recognition to institutions that pay artists fees that meet appropriate fee standards.
The Arthur Ross Gallery is delighted to join our colleagues at the Institute of Contemporary Art in W.A.G.E. certification, in advocating for artists fair pay, and for a more equitable, sustainable arts ecology. W.A.G.E. is part of a history of artists advocating for fair pay in the United States.
About the Arthur Ross Gallery
The Arthur Ross Gallery of the University of Pennsylvania advances scholarship, collaboration, and outreach through direct engagement with original art and artifacts. Presenting art from a wide range of media, periods, cultures, and traditions, the Gallery serves as a rich educational and cultural resource for students, faculty, scholars, artists, and the local and regional communities.
About Working Artists and the Greater Economy
Since its founding in 2008, W.A.G.E.’s work has developed in service of a single achievable goal—the regulated payment of artist fees in the nonprofit sector—but we emerge from a long tradition of artists organizing around the issue of remuneration for cultural work in the United States that dates back to the 1930s.
We see the contemporary fight for non-wage compensation as part of a wider struggle by all gig workers who supply content without payment standards or an effective means to organize. In the context of contemporary art, where the unpaid labor of artists supports a more than $60 billion-dollar industry, W.A.G.E.’s mission is to establish sustainable economic relationships between artists and the institutions that contract our labor, and to introduce mechanisms for self-regulation into the art field that collectively bring about a more equitable distribution of its economy.
Self-regulation is central to our approach because artist compensation has never been mandated at the city, state, or federal levels by government agencies or by the private foundations that provide financial support to nonprofits through the grant making process. In this context, and in the face of accelerated privatization, deregulation and defunding, we have concluded that the task of regulating the field has been left to us.
To that end, W.A.G.E. currently operates two connected programs, W.A.G.E. Certification and WAGENCY, and is currently developing a series of contracts for non-unionized freelance workers whose labor facilitates the conception, fabrication, production, exhibition and circulation of art.
Sunny Xiaoyang Hua is a rising junior majoring in English literature and minoring in French & Francophone Studies. Sunny was born and raised in Nanjing, China, and she holds a steadfast belief in the power of arts and letters. Sunny is working at the Arthur Ross Gallery as the gallery’s summer intern! She looks forward to engaging closely with different aspects of managing exhibitions, marketing, and digital outreach.
Sunny is motivated by her commitment to local communities through the exchange of cultures. At Penn, Sunny worked as a vice president for the Wharton China Association, where she aimed to build a supportive and inclusive Chinese-speaking community. Outside of school, Sunny worked continuously with the NGO organization Project Nous, bringing liberal arts education to high schoolers from underprivileged cities in China. Sunny hosted viewing sessions and seminars on modern Chinese films and global film history.
Sunny is a plant lover, and she takes care of 7 plants (for now). She enjoys yoga, hiking, and film photography. Her favorite book is Bleak House by Charles Dickens.
For Immediate Release
May 2, 2022
Arthur Ross Gallery, University of Pennsylvania
Sara Stewart, Associate Director of Development and Marketing
Summer Exhibition of Penn Art Collection Prints at the Arthur Ross Gallery
June 18 – August 21, 2022
The Arthur Ross Gallery at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, PA is pleased to announce From Studio to Doorstep: Associated American Artists Prints, 1934 – 2000, an exhibition of artwork drawn from the University of Pennsylvania Art Collection and the 11th in a series of collaborative exhibitions between the Penn Art Collection and the Arthur Ross Gallery. From Studio to Doorstep features prints produced by Associated American Artists (AAA), a company founded in New York in 1934 with the intention of revolutionizing the art market. Instead of focusing on the elite collector class commonly associated with museums and galleries, AAA sought to cultivate members of the burgeoning American middle-class with prints priced at $5 each. For participating artists, AAA offered economic security as artists were paid in advance for their designs, rather than having to wait for sales to materialize. AAA sold their prints through mail-order catalogues and, for a time, at local department stores. The story of Associated American Artists spans over 6 decades and is a story of aspiration and accessibility. the exhibition explores themes about the marketing and distribution of culture, about what it means to be “middle-class” and to have a well-appointed home.
From Studio to Doorstep is on view at
the Arthur Ross Gallery from June 18 – August 21, 2022.
The Penn Art Collection is comprised of over 8000 artworks in 116 locations on campus, built though the generosity of donations from the time of Ben Franklin to today. The collection is particularly strong in 20th century prints and photography. The Penn Art Collection has a large collection of prints produced by Associated American Artists, 38 of which will be included in this exhibition including those by renowned American Regionalist artists, Thomas Hart Benton and John Steuart Curry.
Opening Reception Events Friday, June 17, 2022:
12:00 PM: Virtual Tour with Lynn Smith Dolby, Collections Manager and Assistant Curator, University of Pennsylvania Art Collections
5:30 – 7:00 PM: Opening Reception (in-person)
July 13, 2022 at 12:00 PM
August 3, 2022 at 12:00 PM
FREE TO STUDENTS AND THE PUBLIC
Click here to schedule your free timed visit http://www.arthurrossgallery.org/visit/schedule-your-visit/
GALLERY HOURS: Tues – Fri: 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM
Weekends: 12:00 – 5:00 PM
VISIT US ON FACEBOOK, TWITTER, AND INSTAGRAM
For our February Object Share, please enjoy an exclusive look at 𝘎𝘰𝘥 𝘊𝘰𝘮𝘱𝘭𝘦𝘹: 𝘋𝘪𝘧𝘧𝘦𝘳𝘦𝘯𝘵 𝘗𝘩𝘪𝘭𝘢𝘥𝘦𝘭𝘱𝘩𝘪𝘢, a special exhibition at the Arthur Ross Gallery guest curated by celebrated contemporary artist and activist Roberto Lugo. Our gracious guide is Lynn Marsden-Atlass, the Executive Director of the Arthur Ross Gallery and Curator of the University of Pennsylvania Art Collection. We hope you enjoy Lynn’s insight and the behind-the-scenes details of Roberto’s curatorial process.
For Immediate Release
Arthur Ross Gallery, University of Pennsylvania
Sara Stewart, Assistant Director of Development and Marketing
International Arts & Artists: 202.338.0680
GROUNDBREAKING EXHIBITION HIGHLIGHTS THE CULTURAL IMPACT OF ASIAN IMMIGRATION TO THE AMERICAS AND THE CARIBBEAN
January 29 – May 23, 2022
The Arthur Ross Gallery at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, PA is pleased to announce No Ocean Between Us: Art of Asian Diasporas in Latin America & The Caribbean, 1945–Present, an exhibition that explores Asian migration to Latin America and the Caribbean and its influence on modern and contemporary art. No Ocean Between Us is on view at the Arthur Ross Gallery from January 29 through May 23, 2022.
Inspired by the permanent collection of the AMA | Art Museum of the Americas of the Organization of American States, No Ocean Between Us: Art of Asian Diasporas in Latin America & The Caribbean, 1945–Present features more than 30 important works by Latin American and Caribbean artists of Asian heritage. The exhibition demonstrates how this work emerged from cross-directional global dialogues between the artists, their Asian cultural heritages, their Latin American or Caribbean identities, and their interaction with major artistic movements.
Included in the exhibition are paintings, works on paper, sculptures, videos, and mixed media works by artists from Brazil, Cuba, Guyana, Jamaica, Mexico, Panama, Peru, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago. Showcasing the work of influential artists such as Wifredo Lam, Manabu Mabe, and Tomie Ohtake, among many others, No Ocean Between Us demonstrates their vital but often overlooked contributions to the creative landscape.
Asian migration to the Americas resulted from labor shortages stemming from the United Kingdom’s abolition of its slave trade in 1807. The British, Spanish, and Dutch colonizers in the Caribbean, along with newly independent countries such as Peru and Brazil, brought workers from India, China, Indonesia, and Japan to meet the rising demand for labor. While most of these workers ultimately returned to their countries of origin, many settled in their new homelands, setting in motion the rich and complex histories of assimilation and exchange on view in this singular exhibition.
No Ocean Between Us has been made possible in part by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities: Exploring the Human Endeavor. The exhibition was graciously supported by the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation.
Adriana Ospina is the Director of the OAS AMA | Art Museum of the Americas. She began at the AMA in 2008 as Educational Program Manager, and in 2014 was appointed Permanent Collection Curator. She also oversees AMA’s Archives of Modern and Contemporary Art of the Americas. Ospina is a Colombian art historian and holds an MA in art history from George Mason University.
Scheduled US tour dates for No Ocean Between Us: Art of Asian Diasporas in Latin America & The Caribbean, 1945–Present are as follows: Kalamazoo Institute of Arts, Kalamazoo, MI (October 24, 2020 – January 17, 2021); San Antonio Museum of Art, San Antonio, TX (February 12 – May 9, 2021); Art Museum of the Americas of the Organization of the American States, Washington, DC (June 5 – September 3, 2021); and the Arthur Ross Gallery, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA (January 29, 2022 – May 23, 2022).
No Ocean Between Us: Art of Asian Diasporas in Latin America & The Caribbean, 1945–Present was developed and organized for tour by International Arts & Artists, Washington, DC, in collaboration with the Art Museum of the Americas of the Organization of American States, Washington, DC.
International Arts & Artists in Washington, DC, is a nonprofit arts service organization dedicated to increasing cross-cultural understanding and exposure to the arts internationally, through exhibitions, programs and services to artists, arts institutions and the public. Visit ArtsandArtists.org
The OAS AMA | Art Museum of the Americas is the oldest museum of modern and contemporary Latin American and Caribbean Art in the United States. It is part of the Organization of American States (OAS), an international public organization whose aim is to promote democracy, peace, justice, and solidarity among its 35 member countries. AMA’s origins date back to the Visual Arts Unit of the Pan-American Union (now the OAS), and in the mid-twentieth century grew as one of the first catalysts for modern art in Latin America and the Caribbean. Today, AMA’s permanent collection has more than 2,000 works complementing and documenting this international focus.
Programs will be held at the Arthur Ross Gallery with limited attendance and live-streamed due to COVID-19 guidelines.
Friday, January 28, 2022 at 5:30 pm: Opening lecture, No Ocean Between Us: An Exhibition About Inclusiveness Across Ethnic Identities and Geographic Backgrounds by Adriana Ospina, Director, Art Museum of the Americas*
ID: 931 4218 9595
Wednesday, February 2 at noon: 12@12, Catherine Bartch, Associate Director, Center for Latin American and Latinx Studies
ID 969 6208 0301
Thursday, February 10 at 5:30 pm: PennYo concert
ID: 987 9977 8148
Pass Code: 975668
Tuesday, February 22 at 5:30 pm: Pan-Asian Dance Troupe performance
ID 945 5515 4002
Wednesday, March 2 at noon: 12@12, Lynn Marsden-Atlass, Executive Director and University Curator
ID: 919 0260 8308
Thursday, March 24 at 5:30 pm: Asian Diaspora and Migration to the Americas and the Caribbean: A Panel Discussion with Fernando Chang-Muy and Rupa Pillai. Moderated by Lynn Marsden-Atlass with Fernando Chang-Muy, Thomas O’Boyle Lecturer in Law, and School of Social Policy and Practice, and Rupa Pillai, Senior Lecturer, Asian American Studies Program
ID: 980 0422 3313
Wednesday, April 6 at noon: 12@12, Siyuan (Alice) Zhao
ID: 918 1001 8024
Thursday, April 7 at 5:30 pm: Migration and Empires in Latin America and the Caribbean: How to Explain the Large Presence of Asians in the Americas by Evelyn Hu-DeHart, Professor of History, American Studies and Ethnic Studies, Brown University
ID: 968 6202 5168
Wednesday, May 4 at noon: 12 @ 12, Fariha Khan, Co-Director, Asian American Studies Program
ID: 959 8902 7126
FREE TO STUDENTS AND THE PUBLIC
Click here to schedule your free timed visit http://www.arthurrossgallery.org/visit/schedule-your-visit/
GALLERY HOURS: Tues – Fri: 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM
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Roberto Lugo grew up in a North Philadelphia neighborhood better known for poverty and crime than for pottery. Yet the 40-year-old artist’s ceramics, featuring the faces of his personal heroes, put a modern spin on classic teapots. Correspondent Serena Altschul talks with Lugo, whose work is on display at some of the country’s leading museums and galleries, about how he is shaping his passion to inspire others. “CBS Sunday Morning” features stories on the arts, music, nature, entertainment, sports, history, science and Americana, and highlights unique human accomplishments and achievements. Check local listings for CBS Sunday Morning broadcast times. Subscribe to the “CBS Sunday Morning” YouTube channel: http://bit.ly/20gXwJT Get more of “CBS Sunday Morning”: http://cbsn.ws/1PlMmAz Follow “CBS Sunday Morning” on Instagram: http://bit.ly/23XunIh Like “CBS Sunday Morning” on Facebook: https://bit.ly/3sRgLPG Follow “CBS Sunday Morning” on Twitter: http://bit.ly/1RquoQb Subscribe to our newsletter: http://cbsn.ws/1RqHw7T Download the CBS News app: http://cbsn.ws/1Xb1WC8 Try Paramount+ free: https://bit.ly/2OiW1kZ
The guest curator Roberto Lugo has covered the walls of the Arthur Ross Gallery with the art of graffiti as part of the new exhibition ‘God Complex: Different Philadelphia’ on view through Dec. 19.
Article by Louisa Shepard
September 11 – December 19, 2021
The Office of the Curator received a 2019 Grant Award from The Sachs Program for Arts Innovation to invite Roberto Lugo to curate an exhibition drawn from the Penn Art Collection. Working virtually on the project during the pandemic, Lugo’s installation God Complex: Different Philadelphia will open at the Arthur Ross Gallery on September 11, 2021.
Roberto Lugo is a Philadelphia-based artist, ceramicist, social activist, poet, and educator. Lugo utilizes classical pottery forms in conjunction with portraiture and surface design reminiscent of his North Philadelphia upbringing and Hip-Hop culture to highlight themes of poverty, inequality, and racial injustice. Roberto Lugo’s works are multicultural mashups; traditional European and Asian ceramic techniques reimagined with a 21st-century street sensibility. Awarded a 2019 Pew Fellowship and the 2019 Rome Prize, Lugo’s work resides in the permanent collections of the Brooklyn Museum, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and The High Museum of Art among others. The artist’s work is currently on view at the Currier Museum of Art in a solo exhibition titled Roberto Lugo: Te traigo mi le lo lai – I bring you my joy, as well as in New Grit (Art & Philly Now) at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
Support for God Complex: Different Philadelphia has been provided by The Sachs Program for Arts Innovation, University of Pennsylvania. Additional support for the exhibition is provided by the Arthur Ross Gallery Exhibition Fund, J & AR Foundation, Bill and Kathie Hohns, the Patron’s Circle, and the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts.
To offer a safe and enjoyable experience, face masks are required at all times inside our building. We recommend advance registration www.arthurrossgallery.org, but walk-ins are allowed. We take these precautions seriously so that you can confidently visit our space to enjoy this remarkable exhibition.
Artist Talk: Roberto Lugo, God Complex: Different Philadelphia
Friday, September 10 | 12:00 – 1:00 PM
Register on ArthurRossGallery.org for ZOOM webinar
Opening Reception (in-person)
Friday, September 10 | 5:30 – 7:00 PM
Friday, October 8 | 1:30 PM
Coffee and Conversation
A Conversation with Roberto Lugo and Jennifer Zwilling
Thursday, October 14 | 5:30 PM
Thursday, October 21 | 5:30 PM
Moderator: Levi Bentley
Writing Workshop with Levi Bentley
Saturday, November 13 | 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM
This program is limited to 20 peopleRegistration required email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Community, Connection, and Celebration
Thursday, December 2 | 5:30 – 7 pm
12 @ 12 First Wednesday of each month at 12:00 PM
October 6 Lynn Dolby
November 3 Lynn Marsden-Atlass
December 1 TBD
Arthur Ross Gallery
University of Pennsylvania
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Our summer intern, Alice Zhao, interviewed Lara Yeager-Crasselt, curator at the Leiden Collection, to talk about her current show An Inner World and its multifaceted significance to the discourse on Seventeenth Century Dutch Art, to the gallery, and to our current moment. Lara Yeager-Crasselt curated the show in collaboration with Heather Moqtaderi, the assistant director of the Arthur Ross Gallery.
Q: How did you come to select the paintings in this exhibition and how did your original ideas or vision evolve as you began the curating process?
A: I had first curated an earlier iteration of An Inner World back in 2017 for the Clark Art Institute. At that point I was working at the Clark and not at The Leiden Collection where I am now, but I was really looking to do a small loan show with works from The Leiden Collection and works that were available at the Clark at the time. This would turn out to be Gerrit Dou’s Girl at a Window, currently on view in the exhibition at the Arthur Ross Gallery. I knew that the show was going to be for a small focus gallery within the Clark’s permanent collection, and so big paintings or those that were filled with boisterous figures and themes, didn’t feel like the right fit to me.
Something that I have always loved about Dutch art is the sense of quiet and reflection that you have while looking at it. There is a sense that you are alone with the artwork when you’re looking at these scenes of an individual figure or scenes of everyday life. You really get pulled into the paintings, wondering not only what was going on, but what the artist was thinking. As I began to pull ideas together around works from the Clark and The Leiden Collection, these particular paintings formed my concept of “an inner world”.
Why did artists depict scenes in which not much seems to happen? These works invite viewers to consider quiet moments and to convey the stillness of both the mind and body. That was how the theme took shape for the Clark exhibition, and later I expanded it at the Arthur Ross Gallery with my co-curator Heather Moqtaderi. It was a great opportunity to return to the theme of the exhibition and consider what other works from The Leiden Collection relate to “an inner world” and allow us to explore it in different ways. An important aspect of the Ross Gallery exhibition was to introduce a section on candlelight and artificial illumination. In addition to the paintings, nine rare books were added to the show as well.
Q: Has the interpretation of the paintings and texts in this exhibition gone through any changes in recent years?
A: That is really a good question. Yes they have, and I think that is a reflection of how the scholarship itself has changed. For example, many 17th-century paintings of genre scenes were traditionally interpreted in a symbolic way, which means by looking at each of the different paintings, you could almost add up the different elements depicted in them into a greater moralizing message, which is still true to a certain extent. Dominicus van Tol’s Boy with a Mouse Trap by Candlelight is a good instance of that kind of interpretation. I think what has happened in recent years, and even the last couple of decades, is that there is a stronger interest in the cultural, intellectual, and political context of how and when these works were created.Moving away from primarily considering the iconographic meanings of these works, to considering, for instance, what was happening in the city of Leiden in this period? What kinds of intellectual and social contexts were artists and patrons responding to, interested in, or motivated by? One important development in the scholarship on paintings by Gerrit Dou and his contemporaries has been to look at the art market and the economic contexts in which they worked. This has come through with Dou’s use of the niche motif, where we see those figures leaning out of the windowsill; recent scholars have discussed the motif as a way to be savvy in the marketplace, as a kind of branding. You see Dou’s pupils doing the same thing.
I think it is more robust how we can understand these works now through many different lenses and frameworks, versus where scholarship was decades ago. I think that it is all for the better. Since the theme of this exhibition is broad, it can be considered in different ways. I hope that when visitors go to see the show, they can explore and think about these works not just from one point of view, but from many.
Q: Since you noted the changes in scholarship of Dutch paintings in this exhibition, have you witnessed changes to the curatorial practice of 17th-century Dutch art during your time as an art historian and curator?
A: The moment we are in right now is, I think, a moment of great change in the field of Dutch art. Other contexts of the Dutch 17th century that have been overlooked, or have not been part of the canon and curatorial narrative, are now being considered more deeply and inclusively. What I mean is that we refer to this period as the Dutch Golden Age; as a period of great prosperity, wealth, and an incredible outpouring of art and creativity. This is true, but what is happening now, both in the academic and museum worlds is a kind of reckoning with the other side of this story. That is to understand that the wealth and the prosperity at that time was also the result of Dutch colonial enterprises. The Dutch East and West Indies, for example, also had a dark side to it – the exploitation of peoples. So recognizing and including that history of exploitation and colonialism in exhibitions is happening now more broadly. I think curators and scholars are talking about this much more openly and recognizing the importance of acknowledging this aspect of the Dutch 17th century. And I think we will see this continue to develop and become an important part of how we understand this period going forward. This a positive change for exhibitions and scholars.
Q: Are there any unresolved questions or puzzles about the work in this exhibition?
A: That is a good, tough question. I mean, the short answer is yes. There is always more to explore and learn about these works. For example, for Gabriel Metsu’s painting of Woman Reading a Book by a Window, some of the ideas explored in the show and in the catalog essays are new ideas and perspectives that expand the scholarship of this work of art. With Metsu’s painting, scholars have tended to think more traditionally about where this work fit into the artist’s career, the subject matter it depicts, and the significance of that iconography. By including Woman Reading a Book by a Window in this show, I raised the question of women as intellectuals in 17th-century Leiden. What were they learning? Were they learning? The very acquisition of knowledge and education for women is the thesis of the dissertation on view in the exhibition written by Anna Maria van Schurman, the first Dutch woman to attend university. I really encourage visitors to make these connections and to consider what women’s lives were like then. The male artist was elevating the idea of knowledge as an allegory in this work. Yet I would like to also think that Metsu knew of Anna Maria van Schurman and other women who were being educated in this period, that he was bringing that all to bear on this painting. Extremely large, this painting by Metsu is a major work. Who was it painted for? Where was it intended to be hung? Another painting that requires more research is Pieter van Slingelandt’s Portrait of a Man, which has never been exhibited publicly. Surely there is more research to be done. One day could we possibly identify the sitter? These are questions for scholars and others to investigate further.
Q: From your perspective, how is An Inner World relevant to the world we live in today?
A: I think that the show can be experienced and thought of in many different ways, based on people’s own personal experiences. As an art historian, I love to share the history of art objects, which have survived for 400 years. Why do they matter to us today? Why should we care about them? I think if we treat them as objects that have had lives of their own, that have had great meaning and significance to the artists and the Dutch people of the 17th century, we have the opportunity to consider aspects of their culture, identity, spirituality and secular lives in new ways.
Because we’ve been living through this global pandemic, we have all retreated into our own inner worlds and we haven’t had as much social interaction. Because we have not been out and about, we have had more time to reflect on ourselves, our lives, the changes around us, and how things are different. I think the stillness and quiet of an inner world is something we all can relate to now.
I think we could all do a little better if we stopped every once in a while and thought about what we are doing and why. For me, it is very meaningful and beautiful to stop, and actually just look at what is going on around you. Even just looking out the window, stopping and watching things, and paying attention to the people and places and things around you, I think it can make you more of a reflective person, and maybe a more caring and thoughtful person. I think the exhibition, An Inner World, asks you to stop, look closely, and pause to think about connections between the paintings and the books, and the world around you. Those are ideas that are relevant, no matter if you’re in the 17th century or in our own century. I think there is a strong connection that that can be made between now and then.
Q: That is beautiful. I remember you mentioned encoded motifs of life and death in these paintings during your virtual tour of the exhibition, and I think that that vulnerability of life has also really touched us in the past year too.
A: Yes, exactly. That’s a really good point. Seventeenth-century Dutch artists and people were very aware of the fragility of life and these so-called vanitas motifs. You are right. We have a heightened sense of the fragility of life now because of the pandemic.
Q: What do you hope for Penn students to take away from this exhibition?
A: So many different things. I’m really thrilled to be able to share these paintings with students. I think these objects, which were so meticulously and carefully made and cared for and prized for so long, raise complex ideas and questions that we can all ask ourselves. I hope that it is a joyful, fun experience to be in the gallery, spending time with the rare books and with the paintings, and to make those associations between them. As Penn students, you are in a special moment in your lives, and you are all in your own inner worlds, right? As students, you are part of this larger university community, and you are able to learn and think every day, which is so wonderful to have the chance to see these works and learn more about these ideas. I hope it inspires people to learn more, to visit museums, and to carry that interest after university. Maybe students will have that spark “oh, I want to look at that painting again”.
Broad Street Review
June 29, 2021
After the past year, we’re finding that life’s accelerating pace can create unexpected challenges. To counter the rush, Philadelphia baroque ensemble Filament looked to a previous age for a timely reminder of the balm found in contemplation. Playing in the University of Pennsylvania’s Arthur Ross Gallery, the trio created an eloquent concert inspired by and in conversation with the “tender, witty, and richly colored world” of the 17th-century Dutch genre painters working in and around the city of Leyden, featured in the current exhibition there, An Inner World (here’s the BSR review).
Leyden was a cosmopolitan city, and in researching this concert, Filament members found that musicians moved regularly between Holland and England, so Music for an Inner World has a similar geography. Some composers are familiar, while some are unfamiliar even to early music devotees, and the repertoire explores how this era’s sophisticated polyphonic music existed alongside more rustic works with a popular appeal.
Acuity and intimacy
Surrounded by the exhibition’s deep red walls, the three musicians play a rich 50-minute concert that allows each to shine. It begins and concludes with two elegant works created for the cognoscenti, three-movement suites by English composer William Lawes (1602-1645). The opener is a soulful work in G minor, and the closing suite in D Major features solo sections that bring forward the voice of the gamba (a precursor of the cello that often plays the background continuo), which Elena Smith realizes with her customary acuity and beauty.
After the first work comes Onder een Linde Groen (Under the Linden Tree), a series of variations for solo harpsichord by Jan Peterszoon Sweelink (1562-1621), the program’s most noted composer. In ensembles of this time the harpsichord (like the gamba) is often a continuo instrument, so it’s a pleasure to hear it highlighted by a keyboard player as accomplished, sensitive, and interesting as John Walthausen. He handles runs and ornaments with easy grace, playing here on the virginal, a smaller harpsichord so-called because it was the preferred instrument of Elizabeth I. It was developed to be played in the home (as opposed to a salon), and these musicians found it had the perfect intimacy of tone for their concert.
Fireworks and dances
From two less familiar Dutch musicians come two compositions that feature fireworks for the violin, the Sonata in E minor from 12 Speelstukken by David Petersen (1650-1737) and Nasce la Pena Mia (My Torment Begins), a madrigal arranged for instruments by Johan Schop (1590-1667). Both have demanding violin passages that require virtuosic musicianship grounded in dexterous technique. As he does throughout the concert, Evan Few rises to the challenge with delight, never allowing his fiery ornamentation to impede the music’s forward motion.
The concert’s penultimate work is the highlight of this program: a set of three pieces titled The Manuscript of Suzanne van Soldt (1599). This anonymous work is an especially precious document, enormously expensive at the time—a keyboard anthology gathered for a Dutch girl (living in London) learning to play the harpsichord. Likely compiled by her teacher, the rare notebook includes music she and her audience would have known, including country dances and psalm tunes.
From the collection’s 33 works, Filament chose three pieces, beginning with “Almand Brun Smeedlyn” and concluding with “Brande Champagne,” a dancelike piece where each instrument plays the same theme and then goes into a jaunty variation, juxtaposing music appreciated by differing societal strata. Between these two is “Als Ein Hert Geyacht (Psalm 42, after Claude Goudimel),” a reflective keyboard solo. In the notated section and in his moving, elegant improvisation, Walthausen gives the work the breathing room that illuminates the theme of both the exhibition and this concert.
Music for the home
Filament’s carefully researched repertoire matches the exquisite attention to detail seen in the exhibition’s works. The trio discovered that public music was not a feature of daily life in the Netherlands, since Calvinism looked unfavorably on gatherings, and so music was primarily made in the kind of domestic settings that these 10 paintings portray.
The sensitive visual and aurally crisp recording is by Alex Kruchoski. All three instruments are equally matched audio-wise, especially important in repertoire from this period. The recording also reflects another (more recent) time: it was shot in May, so the players follow the mask mandate. And like many events recorded in museums or galleries, the paintings are rendered opaque (here slightly blackened) due to rights and reproduction issues.
The trio plays with a fervor and delight that make early music seem current, and their easy, joyful communication allows the musical intricacies to be clearly heard and followed. Early Music America (the American journal of record in the field) tapped Filament as one of its 2021 Emerging Artists. Their award presentation is a 15-minute concert on the journal’s website recorded in Philadelphia’s beautiful Gloria Dei “Old Swedes” Church, one of the ensemble’s favorite venues.
The recording of Music for an Inner World is available to stream for free through July 25, 2021 on the Arthur Ross website, and the painting exhibition An Inner World runs through the same date.
Image description: Filament musicians Elena Smith, John Walthausen, and Evan Few, playing the gamba, the harpsichord, and the violin in the red-walled Arthur Ross Gallery.
The Broad Street Review
June 28, 2021
A soap bubble floats upward. A candle glows. A keg is tapped. A page is turned. These quiet occupations are the stuff of An Inner World: Seventeenth-Century Dutch Genre Painting, now on view at Arthur Ross Gallery.
Though conceived before the pandemic, the exhibition speaks eloquently to a public emerging from months of solitude. Four hundred years ago, Dutch fijnschilders—fine painters working in the vicinity of Leiden—considered their surroundings, painting people engaged in commonplace tasks, often sheathed in darkness. Called genre paintings, the examples here are generally small, laden with symbolism, and invite close, unhurried consideration.
We seem to have interrupted a captivating story in Pieter Cornelisz van Slingelandt’s Portrait of a man reading a book(1668). The reader looks up, finger curled under a page to hold his place. Willem van Mieris takes us into a cave to observe a Hermit Praying in the Wilderness (1707). The ragged man kneels before a crucifix with clasped hands. A skull at his elbow mirrors his own balding pate, a sign of life’s transience. Beyond the entrance, a bright landscape promises release.
Art in the everyday
Genre works depict people indoors, alone and in pairs, conversing, lost in thought, fetching wine, checking mousetraps, while the subset known as niche paintings portray individuals at their windows, watching, playing, and remembering. Whatever the occupation, the surroundings provide clues for the viewer. All of this is rendered in brushwork so exquisite that the very atmosphere in the room, in the cellar, or on the street is palpable.
Gerrit Dou (1613-1675) and his students are central to genre painting. The exhibition includes remarkable examples on loan from The Leiden Collection and The Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute. Exceptional volumes from the University of Pennsylvania’s Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books, and Manuscripts provide helpful context for the intellectual life of the period. (Arthur Ross Gallery is part of Penn.)
The charming Children at a Window Blowing Bubbles (1660) by Dou student and nephew Dominicus van Tol (c. 1635-1676) illustrates techniques used by both artists in niche paintings to pierce the threshold of the canvas, giving the illusion of a third dimension that extends the scene toward viewers. In Children at a Window, the subjects are framed by a stone arch. A striped drape is pulled to one side and gathered outside the window. The wall beneath the opening is decorated with a sculpted relief, and a potted plant stands to one side. The boy’s arm extends out to catch a breeze, in his hand a small wand laden with soapy liquid.
Arranged in a row with van Tol’s work are Dou’s Girl at a Window (1655), depicting a kitchen maid dangling a pewter flagon, and Public Notary (c. 1653) in which Dou student Gabriel Metsu (1629-67) portrays a man holding folded papers and seals toward the viewer, as if offering his services.
Two ways to visit
So similar are van Tol’s and Dou’s styles and settings, the bubble blowers, maid, and notary could occupy rooms in the same building. This grouping and another by the same trio, of candlelit scenes, beautifully illustrate technique and themes in genre paintings. It’s easy to see how the works of Dou and van Tol were often confused, as Caroline Van Cauwenberge, Leiden Collection curatorial associate, explained in an edition of 12@12, a monthly gallery talk.
An Inner World is based on an earlier exhibition by Lara Yeager-Crasselt, curator of The Leiden Collection, who cocurated this exhibition with Heather Gibson Moqtaderi, Arthur Ross assistant director and curator.
Since the project was first proposed in 2018, An Inner World evolved in accordance with pandemic-necessitated conditions. For viewers sequestered in their own inner worlds, curators and gallery staff developed virtual programming that remains available on the gallery website; an additional virtual program will take place on July 7. Now that the gallery has reopened, virtual and in-person visitors can take a mobile tour.
The artists’ minds
Printed materials establish the intellectual and cultural environment of the Netherlands in the 17th century. Leiden was the country’s second largest city, a center of learning, science, medicine, and art. It is where Dou was born, and became the first student of another Leiden native, Rembrandt van Rijn (1606-1669).
The University of Leiden dates to 1575, and the intellectual atmosphere is visible in representations of alchemists and alchemy, a pseudoscience then viewed with a mixture of awe and skepticism. Depictions in An Inner Worldare respectful of those attempting to transform base metals into gold and silver. In Jacob Toorenvliet’s Alchemist (1684), an experimenter and his assistant work amid reference papers and laboratory tools.
Goessen van Wreeswyk’s book Silver River or King’s Fountain (1684), delineates the medicinal properties of extracts made from salts and metals. Volumes of Cesare Ripa’s 1593 work Incologia (1764-7) combine text and images documenting morality, knowledge, and other abstract concepts. Ripa’s work was a reference for artists in search of allegorical symbols.
Serene and engrossing, An Inner World is just the thing for those ready to emerge from their own interior spaces and view art in a calm, controlled atmosphere.
Image description: The painting Children at a Window Blowing Bubbles, painted around 1660 by Dominicus van Tol. It shows two children, one older and one younger, blowing bubbles with a soapy solution and narrow straws.
Image description: The painting Boy with a Mousetrap by Candlelight, painted around 1664 by Dominicus van Tol. It shows a smiling boy perhaps 10 years old holding a candle and a wooden mousetrap in what might be a dark cellar.
Alice is a rising senior double majoring in Art History and Political Science, and is interested in the connection between art and politics. As a summer intern at the Arthur Ross Gallery, she is looking forward to conducting outreach to local organizations, participating in research, and learning about the physical process of art installation.
Outside of Penn, she has served as an art teacher to Philadelphian youth ranging from pre-K to middle school. Last summer, she worked at the Netter Center and taught students at the Lea Elementary School in West Philadelphia.
In her free time, Alice enjoys visiting thrift stores and flea markets. She loves fashion and cherishes it as a form of self-expression.
The Arthur Ross Gallery is proud to announce a gift of $125,000 from Susan T. Marx, CW’66, to endow the Susan T. Marx Distinguished Lecture Series in perpetuity. Established in 2015, the Marx lectures feature significant art world leaders and artists who address timely issues in the arts.
“Thanks to this thoughtful support, the Susan T. Marx Distinguished Lecture Series will continue to enrich our campus as globally prominent museum leaders, artists, and scholars share their knowledge and perspectives,” said Penn President Amy Gutmann. “We are grateful to Susan Marx for enabling us to continue inviting the Penn and greater Philadelphia communities to our fantastic Arthur Ross Gallery to explore the cross-disciplinary and cross-cultural connections made possible through art.”
Through this annual lecture series, Marx and the Arthur Ross Gallery seek to inspire Penn students across disciplines to develop an interest in or a passion for art. The lectures will be presented at the Arthur Ross Gallery, University of Pennsylvania, or virtually. It is hoped that the lecture series will continue to bring prominence to the Arthur Ross Gallery and the University.
“On behalf of the Arthur Ross Gallery, I am delighted to celebrate this transformative gift that will continue to bring exceptional artists and museum professionals to campus for years to come. I graciously thank Susan Marx for her passion and vision, and I am honored to make the Arthur Ross Gallery the permanent home for the Susan T. Marx Distinguished Lecture Series,” said Lynn Marsden-Atlass, Arthur Ross Gallery Executive Director.
Marx is the CEO of S.T. Marx + Associates, a development consulting company focused on private sector grant seeking for non-profit organizations. After working at a variety of agencies which included the Legal Aid Society and Recording for the Blind, she founded the company in 1980. Since that time, her company has raised millions of dollars from foundations, corporations, and individuals for the benefit of social service, health, education, and arts organizations.
“Because of the success of its first five years, I have decided to endow the annual Lecture Series at the Arthur Ross Gallery,” said Marx. “While a student at Penn, my exposure to art inspired my passion and my lifelong avocation as a sculptor and stone carver. When we initiated the series, our goal was to share aspects of the art world with students, the University at large, and the outside community.”
The Gallery has welcomed acclaimed artists throughout the years. In the Fall of 2016, Dr. Johnnetta B. Cole inaugurated the Susan T. Marx Distinguished Lecture. Subsequent speakers have included David C. Driskell, Jaume Plensa, Liliana Porter, and most recently, William Kentridge.
“We succeeded in attracting working artists of international renown, a
Museum Director and an Art Historian for a growing and appreciative audience,”
added Marx. “I am thrilled to be able to endow our Lecture Series at the
Arthur Ross Gallery. Giving to something you love is a wonderful pleasure. I
feel privileged to be able to ensure its continuance for future
Marx is a cum laude graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and attended the New York University School of Law.
In 2008, Marx received the Alumni Award of Merit from the University of Pennsylvania for her outstanding service – the highest honor bestowed by Penn Alumni.
Marx also served as President of the Penn Club of New York (from 2012– 2018). She spearheaded a year-long celebration of the Club’s 20th Anniversary, with a successful membership drive, revitalization of programming and member benefits, and a renewed sense of community.
She currently serves on the Arthur Ross Gallery Advisory Board and on the Directors Council of The University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology.
Marx is a member of the Trustees’ Council of Penn Women (TCPW) at the University of Pennsylvania. She has been the Council’s Fundraising Committee Chair and has co-chaired its Grants Committee. This Committee considers myriad requests and awards grants, which have made a lasting impact on student initiatives, faculty retention, and the quality of life on campus. She currently serves as the Co-Chair of TCPW’s Emerita Committee. She also served on the Advisory Board of the Field Center for Children’s Policy, Practice and Research at the University of Pennsylvania.
She served as a long-time member of the Board of Women in Development, New York, and facilitated its strategic planning retreat. Marx also served on the Board of Transfair, USA, an organization that works toward community empowerment for farmers and consumers in developing regions through fair trade product certification. In her spare time, Marx is an avid sculptor and stone carver.
For more information, please contact Sara Stewart (email@example.com) at the Arthur Ross Gallery.
By Heather Moqtaderi, Assistant Director & Curator
How have you adapted this past year? How are you doing? I’m sorry that I can’t literally hear you, but please know that I wish you the best. In the following paragraphs, I offer brief observations on how artworks from the exhibition Re-materialize can help us visualize healthy attitudes about ourselves in the new year.
Under the conditions of COVID-19 social distancing, the past nine months have been a period of radical self-reflection. We have spent unprecedented amounts of time alone with our thoughts, with limited opportunities for healthy in-person socialization. Amidst all of this, I opened Re-materialize, featuring four artists that I admire deeply: El Anatsui, Shari Mendelson, Jackie Milad, and Alison Saar. This was an exhibition that I curated to be experienced in-person, offering opportunity for close looking at materiality through the lens of each artist. Due to the pandemic, the exhibition opened with no celebration, no in-person programming, and very limited in-person visitation. After a brief period of mourning for the experience I had envisioned, I made the best of it by quickly adapting to the digital world and creating virtual opportunities to learn about the artists and artworks. This virtual lens on materiality led me to develop new perspectives on these works based on the conditions of the past year. Below, I highlight four artworks from Re-materialize that offer object lessons on how we can offer ourselves healing, flexibility and growth.
Be Flexible, Mend and Move On
El Anatsui is beloved for creating monumental sculptures made from tiny pieces of metal. Anatsui uses aluminum sourced from discarded items such as cassava graters, printing plates, or in the case of Sacred Moon, bottle caps. In each sculpture, these tiny scraps of aluminum are hammered, crimped or folded, and then stitched together with copper wire. It was a thrill to install Anatsui’s work because he invites each gallery to install his sculptures in a way that is unique to their space. Anatsui creates these works with the understanding that they will wear and age over time. When Anatsui’s sculptures arrived for the Re-materialize installation, they were accompanied by a spool of copper wire. The instructions were simple: if a piece fell off, re-attach it. This is a useful attitude that we can extend to our own lives. Imagine yourself as a body made up of a dizzying multiplicity of tiny elements. (Okay, that’s actually true!) Your structural integrity is strong with its own unique character, but you are also flexible. As you find yourself in different spaces and situations, know that you can be flexible while still retaining your essential character. When little pieces detach along the way, just twist on some fresh wire and move on.
Re-contextualize the Static into Something New
Jackie Milad’s mixed media collages are abstract, but I have come to understand them as portraits. Imagine yourself not as you would appear in a photograph, but as a collage of symbols, textures, and feelings. These elements are tenderly mended together to create the “you” that is inside, peering out at the world. In Re-materialize, two of Milad’s collages on paper hung one-above-the-other: Little Buildings and Little Walls and Arches. These titles suggest the hardness or rigidity of architecture, but the collaged elements are soft and sensual. At the top left of Little Buildings and Little Walls hangs a gold crescent moon, crowning a face defined by torn-paper eyes and unsmiling, hand-drawn pink lips. There is a pattern of golden drops that could be tears or rain, painted on a torn bit of paper that has been salvaged from another work on paper. Milad often repurposes older artworks, cutting or tearing them apart and incorporating them into newer pieces. She isn’t precious about preserving older works of art, but I think of it as an act of love to re-contextualize them in this way – to allow static works to be revived and reinvented. Is there something about yourself that has become static? Sometimes we work hard to achieve things in our lives and preserve them simply because we invested that effort. Milad’s collages are a visualization of honoring past efforts by taking them apart to create something new.
Acknowledge the Past and Move Forward
Alison Saar has often alluded to folklore and mythology throughout her prolific artistic output. In Janus, Saar brings together the double-faced Roman god Janus with nkisi n’kondi power figures of the African Congo. Janus, who looks both backward and forward, is traditionally associated with beginnings, transitions, and endings. Nkisi n’kondi are a type of “power figure” used in religious practice to cure illness or amend wrongdoing, and the nails are driven to activate the spirits. What can we make of this powerful “Janus” sculpture of a woman’s head looking in two directions, with one of the faces being punctured in the manner of nkisi n’kondi? From a social perspective, I think about how this past year has shed light on how the history of racism in our country has created an inequitable present. While looking at the past can be painful, it is a necessary part of transitioning to a better, equitable future. Let’s activate our ability to create a better future by acknowledging the past. Acknowledge any privilege that you have and use it to foster a more equitable future.
Give Yourself Permission to Be More Than One Thing
Shari Mendelson looks closely at ancient objects as inspiration for her contemporary sculptures. In Crouching Sphinx, Mendelson offers an art object that is both sculpture and vessel, and as a sphinx, a hybrid woman and lion. Mythology is full of hybrid creatures, and Mendelson delights in bringing them to life in her menagerie of sculptural forms. The sphinx itself is a mythological creature that has shapeshifted between cultures. The Greek sphinx is generally presented with a female head on the body of a lion, but the Egyptian sphinx is typically male. The sphinx was adopted in western European neoclassical art, leading to an even more diverse interpretation of the hybrid form in sculpture and decorative art. Mendelson’s sculpture offers a visualization that we can apply to our own self-identity. I think we all feel pressure at times to conform to a fixed or expected identity. In this year of pandemic-induced radical self-reflection, let Mendelson’s sphinx remind you that you don’t need to be one thing in all situations or conform to others’ expectations. Be who you are, wherever you are. If you are a bit of a hybrid, then you are in good company.
The Philadelphia Inquirer reported on the recent installation of Simone Leigh’s Brick House at The University of Pennsylvania. A gift from Penn alumni Glenn and Amanda Fuhrman.
September 19 – December 20, 2020
Arthur Ross Gallery of the University of Pennsylvania is pleased to present Re-materialize featuring artists who have built their practices using materials sourced from discarded packaging, personal items, and architectural elements. Works by the Ghanaian-Nigerian artist El Anatsui reflect his career-long interest in the changeability of material culture and the unfixed nature of art. Brooklyn-based sculptor Shari Mendelson creates vessels that glow with the delicate iridescence of glass artifacts from the ancient world, despite the fact that they are made from discarded plastic bottles. Recent pieces by the California-based artist Alison Saar narrate the neglected history of Southern Black communities through experimental printmaking on vintage textile fragments and handkerchiefs. Jackie Milad, a Baltimore-based artist, incorporates elements from earlier works and found graphics into collaged canvases richly laden with symbols relating to her Egyptian and Honduran heritage.
RELATED EVENTS (Virtual)
Use this link for all events: https://upenn.zoom.us/j/99578241978
Conversation with Shari Mendelson
Friday, October 9 at 12pm
Conversation with Jackie Milad
Friday, October 16 at 12pm
Re-assemble: Sound performance by June Lopez
Friday, October 23 at 12pm
Rematerializing Care: A Conversation with Dr. Roksana Filipowska
Friday, October 30 at 12pm
Arthur Ross Gallery
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With $4 million raised, the COVID-19 Arts Aid PHL Fund has been distributed to 467 arts and culture groups in the Greater Philadelphia region. #ArtsAidPHL
TO DO AT HOME
Every semester Arthur Ross Gallery invites 4th – 6th grade students and their teachers for our Engaging Minds through Art program. At each session, our amazing artist-educator leads a tour and discussion of the exhibition followed by a hands-on art making activity. We are looking forward to sharing art with visitors of all ages in person again. During the COVID-19 pandemic, we want to share this program online and hope you enjoy this print-making activity at home.
During the recent Frankenthaler on Paper exhibition, artist educator Sarah Wagner-Bloom led tours and discussions of the exhibition. Students learned about printmaking processes, discussed their reactions to Frankenthaler’s work, and expressed their own ideas about line, shape, color and process in print.
Here’s Sarah Wagner-Bloom!
After looking at some of Frankenthaler’s work, we discussed the artworks and gave definitions of Abstract Expressionism and Color Field painting. We talked about how color plays the role of the subject in her artwork, and how that portrays a feeling or emotion. When planning and creating your own print, try to convey a feeling or emotion through color. At the gallery, each student used their printing plate to create two different compositions representing different emotions through color.
What is a Print?
A print is a work of art that is made in a specific way. First, an artist puts ink, paint or pigment on a surface like wood, metal, or Styrofoam. This surface is called a matrix or base. Next, they press fabric or paper to the surface of the print to soak up the ink. When they pull the paper or fabric up, they have a print.
We will use a style called relief printing for this project. The print we make will be similar to a woodcut, where lines are carved out of wood to create the positive space. Instead of carving wood, we will use a pencil to make indentations in Styrofoam.
Helen Frankenthaler developed her prints with professional print studios over months and years, but you don’t need a lot of time or special equipment to get started.
You can sketch, plan, and proof a print with materials that you might have around the house: Styrofoam, paper, markers or paint and water. You can use an old washcloth or regular paper towels at home.
The key to choosing your printing plate material is making sure that the material doesn’t absorb water so you can easily transfer markers or paint to paper. Things that would work perfectly as a plate are Styrofoam egg carton tops or take out containers.
The materials you will need are:
- Styrofoam plate
- Markers and/or watercolor paint
- Brushes for paint
- Water cup
- Paper towel or washcloth
The first step of this project is to get inspired by Helen Frankenthaler’s prints and paintings from the exhibit, Frankenthaler on Paper! This exhibit is a unique view of the artist’s work since it showcases original pieces by the artist. Frankenthaler was known for large scale paintings and prints, but these are smaller and show a more painterly style. Look at “Freefall” and “Sunshine after Rain”. Notice how she combined colors and materials, and you can too at home.
by Suzanne L. Seesman
As an Administrative Assistant, my work life is all about preparation – scheduling meetings, organizing documents, and setting up for events. In late February, I added several bottles of hand sanitizer and alcohol wipes to the Arthur Ross Gallery supply order. The list included the usual items too: bamboo paper towels for our education program, sparkling water for the upcoming opening of Re-Materialize. While it seems slightly delusional now, at that time, it was reasonable to think that these supplies would help us care for each other, our community, and gallery visitors during programming as usual. Things changed quickly. It is now clear that bubbly water and a few extra bottles of hand sanitizer won’t cut it and that sharing paper towels is out of the question.
When cultural events were suddenly canceled en masse, and institutional routines put on hold, administrative minds went into question mode. What should we do? When will we know? How should we plan? What supplies will be needed? In the intervening weeks, more serious pandemic concerns have put these logistical questions in perspective. Those of us lucky enough to be working from home are finding temporary ways to connect and making tentative plans for the future. Over a month into stay at home orders, there are still few answers, but one thing has become clear. Things have changed and we will need to adapt. Some mental health professionals suggest attending to three r’s – relationships, routines and resilience in the meantime.
Like many art workers the world round, I am also an artist and a huge art nerd. My virtual and physical home spaces are full of art. Since the classification of COVID-19 as a pandemic, I have seen artists share all kinds of resources from recipes and make-at-home mask designs, to studio demos, and pdf libraries. Galleries and museums have offered resources too. Some have put together educational programs and others have offered content as therapeutic reprieve.
Especially in times of confusion and loss, my go-to is art that grapples with ambiguity – the kind that conceives the inconceivable. It goes by many labels – conceptual, contemporary, social, performative – and it is, perhaps, the kind of art that irritates the anti-art crowd most. Regardless of label, it is a kind of art that involves adapting and inventing routines and challenges us to see habits – social, political, personal – for what they are: changeable, adaptable, and anything but inevitable.
Each week of the stay at home order so far has brought a constellation of artists to mind. The first weeks of social distancing evoked Tehching Hsieh and Linda Montano tied at the waist duringArt/Life One Year Performance 1983-1984 (Rope Piece) and Lanka Clayton and her son in The Distance I Can Be From My Son series 2013. These artists and their practices helped me accept the radical closeness and appreciate small distances of the new close proximity my partner, 19-month-old child, and I were experiencing together. As Instagram memes turned to losing track of time, sleep, and schedules, On Kawara’s work came to mind. On our new regular neighborhood walks I pick wildflowers, and think “I Got Up…” Increasing coverage of strained healthcare systems globally and of the acute effects of preexisting inequity in the U.S. system bring Simone Leigh’s work to mind. Leigh’s Waiting Room and Free People’s Medical Clinic, highlight histories of mutual aid and realize new forms of care that operate against business as usual. Focused on knowledge held by and mobilized for Black women in the United States, her work recognizes and realizes possibilities beyond those bounds.
I understand why some people have a desire to get back to business as usual. These are unsettling and stressful times full of all kinds of loss and uncertainty. Given that a return to normalcy seems unlikely, I find solace and motivation in works that always already demonstrated how much can be gained (or the very least understood) by creating forms of resilience that don’t fit the mold. If so many artists have made a habit of this, we can too. As I adapt new routines and rethink what is needed, exhibitions, artists, and projects, remind me that there are many ways to organize our days, our work, our relationships, our lives. Here are a few closer to home examples – one for each week of social distancing in Philly so far. The first is only a click away!
- Camae Ayewa/Moor Mother’s Poem for Marian Anderson part of Arthur Ross Gallery’s Citizen Salon organized by Heather Moqtaderi.
- Karyn Olivier: Everything That’s Alive Moves at the ICA Philadelphia
- Kristen Neville Taylor’s Instagram Earth Day posts
- People’s Paper Co-op collaboration with The Philadelphia Community Bail Fund
- Artist Josh Graupera’s Blockadia project
- Art at Home with Spiral Q
As many of you may know, our Frankenthaler On Paper exhibit officially came to a close at the end of last month. Thank you to everyone who visited the gallery and here is a look back on the exhibit! Special thanks to the Helen Frankenthaler Foundation.
On March 23 Angelica Maier was to present a lecture Paths of Subtle Resistance: The Careers of Grace Hartigan, Joan Mitchell, and Martha Jackson at the Arthur Ross Gallery in coordination with the exhibition Frankenthaler on Paper. Due to COVID-19 this live event was cancelled. We are so grateful to Angelica for creating this revised content instead. Please enjoy these audio and image excepts here online.
by Cameron Hayes
Life has changed significantly as a
college student in the wake of the Coronavirus pandemic. Classes are now
entirely virtual and campus resources are no longer as easy to access.
As my first week of virtual class comes to a close, I have had the
opportunity to understand what my semester will look like for the next
Professors spent much of their lecture
time trying to explain the adjustments that are being made to the course
overall, and how to use the technology platforms we are meeting on.
Additionally, some professors offered words of advice or condolences to
those of us who are second semester seniors without a proper end to our
time at Penn.
Lecture content has stayed relatively the
same, however there are new obstacles that students are facing.
Oftentimes the internet connection fails and you miss part of the point
the professor was making for the class, or trying to type notes on your
computer while simultaneously having the slides shown on the exact same
screen. Many students might not even have proper high speed internet
available to them at home in order to join the virtual lectures.
Another hurdle students face is lecture
attendance. I am lucky to live on the East coast, therefore having very
little effect on my class meeting times. However, students who are
located on the West coast or in different countries around the world
must join lectures during times they would be having a meal or otherwise
preoccupied. If joining the life lecture is incompatible with their
time zone, they must create their own schedule and watch the lectures on
their own. For students both attending live lectures or watching the
recorded versions, taking a college course in your bedroom or living
room or kitchen is not ideal. As a member of a family of six, I must try
to find ways to keep out the noises from around my house and stay
focused on the content I was previously learning in a classroom
I can no longer visit the library in
search of material for my research papers, or grab lunch with my friends
who, in reality, live across the country and the globe. I can no longer
go into the office to work on my projects for the Arthur Ross Gallery.
In many ways it is hard not to feel chained to a seat in front of your
computer during this time, because technology is what is keeping the
academic and social parts of my life alive.
The many challenges students are facing
at this time of uncertainty are the challenges people are facing
universally. Businesses must find ways to coordinate online
functionality if they are capable, elementary and high school educators
must try to keep their students up to date on the curriculum, and
everyone must keep themselves healthy and isolated.
While online learning has not been an
easy task, it is important to remember how lucky I am to be home and
safe with my family, as well as keep up with my coursework in order to
maintain a sense of normalcy in this unconventional time.
As we navigate through this difficult time, we thought that we would share with you a 12@12 we had a couple of weeks ago on March 4, 2020 with Mary Tasillo on the exhibition Frankenthaler on Paper. Thank you Mary for sharing your notes!
I’d like to talk a bit about process. The premise is: printmaking doesn’t matter. That’s not my premise — but a premise of the art world that’s still prevalent today, even as artists’ approach to medium has completely opened up. We’re very fortunate at Penn to have spaces like Arthur Ross Gallery that include print and works on paper amongst their curation.
Search the library catalog here at Penn, and you will find many monographs on Frankenthaler’s painting, filled with oil paintings on canvas, but little attention given to her paintings on paper and to her prints.
A story – noting that my background is in book arts and printmaking. Several years ago I attended a conference of the College Book Arts Association, where we were joined by an art historian presenting on the work on Nancy Spero – a 20th century painter who worked on paper. The speaker told us, “you book artists don’t understand how far off the map of art history you are. I’m working on an artist who paints on paper instead of canvas, and that’s beyond the pale. So imagine where your print and book work stands in relation to that.”
This exhibit demonstrates a controversial fact: work on paper is art!
My focus today is primarily on Frankenthaler’s prints – though her explosive, gestural painting and pouring of stains of color across canvas certainly is represented in paintings on paper here – and informed my interest in her work as a student at Bennington College, Frankenthaler’s alma mater. It is worth thinking how the landscape at Bennington College informed Frankenthaler’s work: certainly much has been written about her mentors there and their interest in Cubism, but also for someone who grew up in New York City, the extended time working in the foothills of the Vermont mountains must have shifted her idea of possible landscapes.
Helen Frankenthaler considered her working in painting primary. The marriage of gesture and emotion, and the ability to translate that into form through the artist’s action, were paramount. So imagine the challenges of throwing up a bunch of slow process (printmaking!) in between the artist and the final product. And imagine the difference between working alone in the studio, and the collaboration with master printer and technicians necessary in the print shop.
Frankenthaler’s prints span a range of techniques, from lithography to etching to monotype to woodcut. When she began making prints in 1960, printmaking was less of an artistic medium unto itself than it was a method of reproduction. An artist would work with a master printmaker, who would work to translate the artist’s drawing or painting to the print medium. Thus, lithography, which could accept a range of painterly marks as well as photomechanical reproduction, was widely used. (An artist could draw directly onto a stone; the master printer would then acid etch the image into the stone and print from it.)
Frankenthaler was reluctant to join her fellow artists in the print studio – she was of Robert Rauschenberg’s early school of thought that “the second half of the 20th century is no time to begin drawing on rocks” – but she was eventually persuaded to come and try a project at Universal Limited Art Editions. Her approach to printmaking was unique. She’d start by drawing on stones, Universal would print from them, but then she would take the proofs and spend several days, or perhaps months, looking at them, cutting them up, drawing on them and reassembling them in different ways. “This is probably the most complicated form of printmaking,” notes master printer Ken Tyler, who worked with Frankenthaler at Tyler Graphics. Presumably from their stones must be edited, remade, added; they couldn’t be cut up and reassembled like the proofs.
When asked about decision making in her work, Frankenthaler “It’s a matter of how you resolve your doubts.” While she was interested in work looking like it arrived in one grand moment, certainly Frankenthaler labored over these doubts.
Frankenthaler comments: “I often feel at the end of an edition we should go to the Waldorf or the Mayo Clinic.”
Art marking is hard work.
Frankenthaler continued to make prints — it gave her an arena to challenge herself through the constraints of a medium with which she was not facile.
Arguably, Universal Limited Art Editions and Frankenthaler are the first to seriously attempt woodcut as fine art print in the US in 1973 (very few painters have taken on woodcut). Her approach to the woodcut was unique — sawing pieces of wood into unique shapes, which would be inked up and registered together into a composition. This process was inspired by Edvard Munch’s working process. (East & Beyond, 1973, and what eventually become Savage Breeze, 1974)
Frankenthaler notes that making “a fluid shape out of cut wood is so foreign to me…. I struggle to transcend it.” She notes that it was the medium she enjoyed the least. However, those struggles bore real fruit. If gesture was a struggle, her focus on getting the grain of the wood, the scale, and the colors right in relationship to one another demonstrated a command of balance. “Scale is the whole thing,” she remarked. She describes herself as impatient in her approach. “It’s very hard to be a perfectionist and fantastically thorough at once. It’s also exhausting. And I do it.”
(Her take on printmaking seems to soften over time – as time goes on, she is more likely to mention the rewards as well.)
I see the woodcut as containing the same kind of dialogue with material that the sculptor must have. “You force something on it and it gives you an answer back“ – and back and forth, until you arrive at a unified form.
Frankenthaler’s insistence that the hand of the artist be present in the work forced her into a more intimate relationship to the technical parts of printmaking than she professed interest in – and some technical understanding is, in fact, required to really be able to push the form in the way that she did when working at Tyler Graphics, where both she and the shop continued to push experimentation with the form in new ways. (Essence Mulberry, 1977, is their first collaboration.)
She mixed her own inks (not a given in the artist and master printer relationship), selected custom papers, and eventually began painting directly onto woodblocks to communicate her vision to the shop. She manipulated the surface of the block in unusual ways, roughing up the surface of the block in a technique she called “guzzying.” Consider the many layers of printing that went into simply building a color field – 8, 22, 54 …. This layering, and attention to pulling out the wood grain, has informed much of what I admire in contemporary printmaking.
Following the University of Pennsylvania’s response to the Coronavirus, the Arthur Ross Gallery will be closed until further notice. Please note that all activities through April 16 are canceled:
Object(ive), March 20, Canceled
Angelica Maier lecture, March 23, Canceled
Yoga with Anisha at noon on March 13, 20 and 27, Canceled
Re-materialize Opening Reception, April 16 – Postponed until April 25
Our next student spotlight is sophomore Emma Lien! Emma is pursuing a duel degree from the College of Arts and Sciences, where she is majoring in Art History, and The Wharton School, where she is concentrating in Finance.
The intersection between art and business has guided much of Emma’s work experience. Last summer, she interned at Sotheby’s in the Contemporary Art department. Over the course of the summer, Emma conducted research on artworks for auction and private salves, and she assisted in coordinating proposals. Emma also interned at Gagosian Gallery Hong Kong two summer ago, where she coordinated and managed their VIP guest list and created purchasing templates for their upcoming Takashi Murakami exhibition.
On campus, Emma has been a student docent at the Arthur Ross Gallery since her freshman year. In addition, Emma is a member of the Institute of Contemporary Art’s Student Board, where she sits on the professional development and outreach committee. She is also a student tutor in the First Generation Investors club, and she teaches local school children the principles of making safe and valuable investments. Before she came to Penn, Emma was a teen volunteer at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, where she worked with children in their art studio.
Outside of school, Emma loves cooking, traveling, and of course visiting museums and galleries! We can’t wait to see what Emma does next.
This week we are highlighting Brooke Krancer, one of our current student docents! Brooke is a senior in the College of Arts and Sciences majoring in History and minoring in Art History.
During her time at Penn, Brooke has developed a passion for research. She has been involved with the Penn & Slavery Project since 2017, and she conducts historical research on the University’s ties to slavery. She also interned at the Morgan Library and Museum last summer, where she worked on researching and compiling data for the digitization of historical manuscripts. Brooke also served as the marketing intern for the Museum of the American Revolution during the 2019 academic year, and she enjoyed interacting with the museum guests for press-related tasks.
Aside from her love for history, Brooke has gotten involved in the arts on campus too. She serves as a docent for the Arthur Ross Gallery, and also sits on the student board of the ICA Philadelphia. Two summer ago, she interned for the Architectural Archives of the University of Pennsylvania. And if that wasn’t enough, Brooke was the social media director for the Daily Pennsylvanian in 2018!
After graduation, Brooke is looking forward to pursuing a Master’s or PhD in Art History or Curatorial Studies. We can’t wait to see what she does!
July 18, 2019
Meet Miranda Ribeiro-Vecino! A rising senior at Penn and Philadelphia native, Miranda is working at the Arthur Ross Gallery as the gallery’s summer intern!
On campus, Miranda is majoring in fine arts and philosophy; two disciplines that she says go “hand-in-hand” in her creative endeavors. Outside of her studies, she has worked at the Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts as a special collections assistant where she handled rare texts and manuscripts hundreds of years old, and as the scholarship director of Penn for Immigrant Rights, a student-run immigrant advocacy group.
She also served as the station manager of WQHS Radio, Penn’s student radio station, where she chaired its Board of Directors. She also hosted her own weekly radio show where she and her co-host talked about contemporary topics like women’s issues and politics and shared the world their old, high-school playlists.
During these warm summer months, Miranda is looking forward to listening to music new and old, catching up on her summer reading, practicing yoga, and visiting the Whitney Biennial.
Over the course of four Saturdays in February, we hosted a Creative Writing Workshop series facilitated by Philadelphia-based writer Julian Shendelman. For each workshop, Julian followed a different theme relating to the exhibition Citizen Salon: Place; People, Birds and Beasts; Sky; Body and Spirit. Julian led participants in conversation on related readings that moved into an independent writing exercise, followed by a facilitated group workshop session.
Julian encouraged participants to identify artworks in the exhibition that they connected with and use those artworks as points of departure for writing. The following written works were submitted by participants in the Creative Writing Workshop series. We thank these writers for sharing their creative work with us, along with their Saturday afternoons!
Inspired by: Frank Eckmair, Public Landing, 1965
16 February 2019
We are the boats rudderless, desolate, sage
All solo in dark waters
Pondering the pier, colored by callous clouds
Bobbing, united in shared sorrow
Simpering, voiceless, choiceless
we are unsure how the pier will take us
Wanly welcoming or indifferent or plain bewildered
that we are savage strangers
not the savant of Rain Man
Until sun vanquishes cloud and lights the pier suffusing it with knowing
Navneet Bhullar is a Penn physician and disability activist who spends part of the year in India running an NGO. She is still plucking greedily from the candy shop that is life, but also dabbles in writing and taking kids to the great outdoors to save the planet. She is exploring different genres to write in.
Inspired by: Frank Eckmair, Public Landing, 1965
2 February 2019
The DLR runs slow these days; tugging along the crooked tracks and ferrying frequent flyers home and back again. But me, with one foot I alight the train before city airport with its florescent guiding signs to Customs, Baggage and the Delta SkyLounge. Red caps, ginger beer and first-time childhood travelers fill out the over-caffeinated space. Out here, past the track color fades into a black and while linograph as my young feet, splintered and rough, hang off the birch-lined pier. Fog rolls back and up pop the heads of personal row boats like vaquita whales before their next descent. Cold northern winds caress them in a mother’s embrace, elegantly rocking them in the foreground of this marbled seascape. Behind them larger commercial vessels will angle along the shoreline soon, causing a cascading wave to steal this little row boat’s oar. I could kick it off balance right now with the heel of my foot. But I come here to watch the natural world, not disturb it.
Sophia Latorre-Zengierski is a writer, editor and marketer based in Princeton, NJ. After spending five years in academic publishing, she is pursing a graduate degree at the University of Pennsylvania. Her work has appeared in SevenSeas Media, Clash by Night, the Penn Review, and the F-Word magazine.
Inspired by: Mabel Dwight, Night Work, 1931.
2 February 2019
With Dusk Comes Relief
She spends her days alone, the blinds closed, the dog at bay. If a superhero, her power is to pick up the inner vibrations of an entire city. The tickings and undulations of others have paved highways into the mountain curvatures of her body. She is swallowed up by the moving plates of the metropolitan; the tremors and hums of the city engulf her like a cartoon character falling through the sidewalk. She fills her nights with an incandescent light bulb tucked into a lamp over her drafting table. Thoughts come most easily when the rest of the neighborhood has abandoned movement for the day. Even still, her mind is a mansion of rooms behind closed doors, and in it she can never find what she goes looking for.
Out on the street, a delivery boy rings the doorbell and waits. He holds her dinner in his right hand and presses himself into the doorway with his left arm extended. He imagines the floor dropping away and presses harder into the door frame with the imagined grip of a rock climber.
Her body continues to pump and wheeze and rotate oxygen, but she feels betrayed by her hair, her teeth, and her fingertips, which are all in good health. It is somewhere inside, below the golden mane and the flossed teeth, somewhere deeper, that is mildewed. Her tissue soft, if she tried now to cut out the rot it would only grow back, healthy and attached, like a baby at the breast. She once watched a movie about ultramarathon runners who compete in the desert. She feels a sort of kinship with these runners, who know discomfort like she does, and she wonders when she will feel the accomplishment in her marathon. Often her heart beats so fast, too fast, blood pumping in circles, chasing its tail.
No one answers the door. The delivery boy presses his ear to the glass and a familiar cold sting greets it. When she answers, he notices only her hair blown back by the swing of the door and thinks nothing of the tired under her eyes. She accepts as her dinner the plastic bag telling her to “Have a nice day,” and closes the delivery boy out with the night.
Last week she removed all mirrors but one from her apartment. It is all she needs to see where to part her hair.
Sophie Davis is a birth doula residing in Philadelphia. She grew up in Brooklyn in a three-generational all-female household. Sixteen years ago, she began writing stories on a typewriter, and today she uses a ten-year-old MacBook Pro that she refuses to replace.
Inspired by: Clayton Pond, The Bathroom in My Studio on Broome Street, 1971
The closet door is open, but it’s pitch dark inside. I quietly pull out Daddy’s shoe shine kit, an old wooden box with a metal foot rest on top that once belonged to grandpop, and stand on it. ‘Click-clack’ the overhead light says to me as I pull on the chain made up of tiny gold balls. Followed by ‘hummm’. The light flickers and suddenly the closet is so bright, like God is shining a spotlight on just this one tiny room. I pull the cold, brass handle and very, very quietly close the door. Shhhh. Click.
I walk between the racks two-high on either side. My hands dragging along the bottom row of perfectly pressed pants folded over thick wood hangers printed with names like Mally’s Suits and Boyd’s Men’s Store. I touch a bunch of the hangers and then I put my fingers to my nose to get a whiff of the fresh cedar. In my head I hear Daddy’s voice: Don’t touch. I run my hands along the opposite rack filled with Mama’s skirts. So many different patterns and textures—paisley, plaid, chocolate brown suede—each carefully hung by two small metal clips. At the end, hung way up high, is the white fluffy bear Mama sometimes wears when she and Daddy go to Atlantic City. I press my face into the furriness, like I always do just before Mama and Daddy go out, leaving me and Michael to spend the night with grandmom Lillian in her house dress and smelling like Aqua Net and Virginia Slims cigarettes.
I flop down on the hard floor, legs outstretched and leaning up against the wall. It’s dead quiet, except for that never-ending hum. I can see myself in the big mirror now. I really like my new overalls with all the pockets and the yellow shirt with red elephants that Mama sewed for me. Ever since Mama cut my hair short grownups keep calling me a boy—even though I have my ears pierced. I was so scared the day I got them done. It was just Mama and me at the piercing place in the shopping mall. I chose real gold lady bugs, because that’s what Mama sometimes calls me. I got to sit on her lap the whole time the piercing lady was using the special gun to shoot the ladybugs into my ears. It hurt a little, but it was over pretty fast. Daddy said I look like Michael with earrings. Michael. He’s probably making another model airplane. He’s always in his room with the door closed, but I can tell from the smell. Stupid hobby. Building toys you can’t even play with.
I look at myself in the mirror really close up. So close I can see my breath. I raise my eyebrows, one at a time. Taught myself to do that. Michael can wiggle his ears, so he’s not impressed, but I think it’s pretty neat. I crawl under Mama’s skirts and then behind them and pull my knees into my chest, breathing in the familiar smells of Bounce dryer sheets, pressed powder and Mary Kay lipstick.
Fern Glazer is a Philadelphia-based writer and co-owner of Little Warrior, an integrated creative agency. When she’s not helping brands and nonprofits tell their most compelling stories, she’s working on telling her own.
Emma K. Levin
Inspired by: Humberto Chugchilan, Ecuador Painting, ca. 1950
Your feet strike the black pavement as you walk up the driveway. The gray gravel no longer remains, and change has taken place. Familiarity is common when the birds crow long. The sun does not hesitate in the sky; you have been up this driveway countless times.
You are amazed by how the window never seems to fog nor do the edges curl. Heaven is present here if only as a visitor.
Mom salutes from the garage door, so you slow your gait. Head to the ground, you are not hungry quite yet. The grass matches mom’s wave. The sparrows descend into the field and bugs spring out of supper’s way.
Ticks lie in waiting, and cats silently slink through the four-foot-tall jungle. The edges glow like a filter.
The white porch should be stripped and washed. The blue stucco shouts drama, but the copper roof, well you wouldn’t know it was ever there.
Your feet grow tired as you approach the crack in the home’s foundation. A split where you drove dad’s truck into the side at a young 15. The memories may overwhelm you, but as you walk from the outside in, you know there’s always room for more.
Emma K. Levin is a young, female writer from Southern New Jersey, however, she insists she’s a Philly native. She graduated from Drew University in 2016 with a major in English and minors in creative writing and theatre arts. She does in fact, live in Center City and work in University City. During her lunch breaks, she edits her short stories and thinks often about her cat.
Lynn Smith Dolby, University Art Collections Manager, joined us on Wednesday, March 6th for a 12@12 talk on Associated American Artists. Lynn noted that the Associated American Artists was established in 1934 by Reeves Lewenthal who sought to market “art for the people” rather than “art for the wealthy”, through an efficient system of production and distribution. By 1944 AAA handled 107 artists, sold 62,374 prints, 1,736 paintings and netted an income of more than $1 million per month. For over six decades, AAA was responsible for tirelessly promoting American art with the goal of bringing it into every American home.
The Daily Pennsylvanian covered the hack-a-thon we had on March 13, 2019
A Junior at Penn, Harry Galiano is study Fine Arts with a minor in Architecture.
Aside from participating in the Arthur Ross Gallery’s Student Advisory Board and Student Docent program since 2017, Harry is involved in a myriad of art-related endeavors on and off campus. Nearly all of these endeavors are philanthropic in some capacity.
On campus, Harry is a private art instructor for a Penn professor.
Off campus, Harry currently holds internships at both Mural Arts and 40th Street AIR. As an intern at Mural Arts, he assists multiple departments such as Porchlight rehabilitative programming. As an intern for 40th Street AIR, Harry currently helps five Philadelphia artists develop community outreach programs.
Harry is a fellow at Philadelphia’s Crane Arts; in this role, he leads community programming and the production of an exhibition.
Finally, he has been a volunteer artist and art instructor for Art(is)4Kids since early 2017.
He was formerly the Museum Education Intern at the Philadelphia Museum of Art for the Summer 2018 term.
For today’s 12@12 talk, our Assistant Director, Heather Moqtaderi, highlighted comments from select participants (citizen curators) who voted for artworks in our current crowd-sourced exhibition, Citizen Salon. Moqtaderi focused on the artworks installed on the two walls that face each other at the center of the gallery’s west wall. Hanging on one wall, viewers find three artworks by male artists who are heavily featured within the canon of art history, each depicting a female subject’s face. On the opposite wall hang three artworks by female artists – all accomplished but not recognized in the “textbook” sense. Moqtaderi spoke about how these two walls form “a sort of conversation between the male gaze and the perspective of woman artists.”
Below, you’ll find the comments that Moqtaderi included in today’s 12@12 talk. The phrases that Moqtaderi referenced are bolded, and each citizen curator’s name is listed below. Enjoy these comments! For more citizen curator commentary, you can also listen to citizen curator voices through our audio guide.
Man Ray, Julie
“I had no idea Man Ray made lithographs so I would love to see one of these in person.” -Rachel Wetzel
“I choose this work because it’s interesting. Her eyes are captivating and they draw you in. You don’t know if she’s sad, watchful, or lost. She’s mysterious. Also, I haven’t seen much lithography work by Man Ray before, so I think it’s a great opportunity to display and discuss an important part of his career.” -Tina Smith
“I have always loved Man Ray’s photography and this painting has a similar impact on me as a portrait – the woman’s eyes are piercing and focused; the placement of the hands says a lot about what women are – and aren’t – allowed to show of themselves in society, which is still resonant today. She’s also classically beautiful. It’s a distinct portrait of a woman which is unexpectedly revealing, especially to be painted by a man.”
“The figure ‘Julie’ in the piece emerges from the background of flat, abstract, black space into a simplified form to give the viewer the expression of a woman who is shielding herself with her hands. The figure is mysterious and delicate yet holds a lot of power in her eyes. We share the same name.” -Julie Heffernan
Henri Matisse, Etude pour la Vierge, Tête voilée
“As someone who studies 19th century European painting, I don’t spend enough time with works on paper. This drawing has become iconic, even in its simplicity of form and subject, the work is instantly recognizable. I love that Matisse, who is known for his colorful paintings, has somewhat of a different identity with his works on paper, but we know exactly who he is in both media.” -Emma Lasry
“This work stood out to me as I was struck by the way that Matisse was able to capture so much with so few, and such simply drawn lines. There is a stark simplicity to the black line on the white paper where most of the paper shows through. However, despite the bareness of the medium, the intricate expression of his muse is apparent. She gazes sideways with her head tilted down. Her lips are pursed and almost seem to give the viewer a small smile. The quickness of the medium actually adds to her expression in my opinion, as it seems that the artist has managed to capture one fleeting moment.”
Luis Arenal Bastar, Mujer de Taxco
“This is such a powerful image, and so skillfully executed in the way the artist uses the color of the paper to serve as highlights on the cheek, nose, eyebrow, and ear. Undoubtedly, the current political situation makes this image feel urgently relevant today.”
“The negative space and the side angle view are appealing. The history of the printmakers engagement with political print organizations was something I was unaware of and so I thought presenting this (hopefully with the caption) might inspire others to learn more about those histories. Finally, the fact that the artist was self-taught seems like an important component of this exhibit’s populist framework.” -Daniel Tucker
Linda Plotkin, Morning
“I love that the concept was art for the people. The wealthy have overtaken the art market and it feels sometimes that we have Christie’s auctions for millions or Home Goods sofa art. This celebrates the in between.” -Joanne Murray
“When first looking at the piece I thought it was depicting a cityscape with two towers. Only the second look made me realize it was a breakfast table. I found this contrast interesting, especially with the somber and dramatic black and white shading. The breakfast table, usually a intimate happy place, takes on a new grand scale of drama and tragedy.” -Ali AlYousefi
Mabel Dwight, Night Work
“The light and shadows in a monochromatic palette.” -Casey Boss
“I just like the look of it – almost colorless, tranquil, interesting somewhat antique details.” -Ed Deegan
“I find this scene compelling, I want to look deeper, see what’s going on in the same way a Magritte draws one in. It’s welcoming and mysterious at the same time. I also don’t know the artist and would like to see the work of a female artist who is not a household name these days on display.” -Luise Moskowitz
“I am often drawn to early 20th century artwork, especially art that explores urban life at the time. I liked the strong lines and shadows of this piece, which give this nighttime landscape dynamic energy despite the absence of color and barely visible human presence. When I clicked, I wasn’t surprised to see the artwork dated 1931, but I was happy to see that it was created by a woman! Female artists often get left out of the conversation when we talk about modernist artists, especially artists of urban landscapes. I really hope Citizen Salon takes that into consideration for the exhibition: it’s wonderful to invite the public into the selection process, but we non-specialists are likely to choose what is familiar, and what is familiar is usually the work of celebrated men.” -Sara Davis
P J Crooke, Reminiscing
“I chose this work because of the moment it captures. I love that the work is centered around the moment shared by these two women in conversation but creates a dreamy and strange environment far beyond the realities of the two subjects. I also love the interior and exterior details: the portraits hanging on the wall and the countryside seen through the window.” -Lauren Altman
“The symmetry is visually compelling, with a narrative that seems squarely in the middle of the tale. The beginning and end exist in some other plane where shadows can exist as light in shadow.” -Bob Gutowski
“I am drawn to this painting because it is an interior domestic scene with a surreal element to it!” -Hannah Declercqo
Engaging citizen curators
An innovative Arthur Ross Gallery exhibition features 50 Penn art collection works chosen by crowdsourcing.
Philadelphia Inquirer by Edith Newhall
Crowdsourced show at Penn
A Sophomore at Penn, Reese is majoring in Art History and minoring in Psychology and Fine Arts.
Aside from being a Student Board member at the Arthur Ross Gallery, Reese is currently a graphic illustrator for both 34th Street Magazine and Penn Appétit Magazine. She also helps organize arts events at Penn as a member of the SPEC Art Collective.
Reese is involved in a number of philanthropic endeavors on campus. She educates students on civic engagement in nearby schools through The Upstander Initiative and mentors a local middle school student weekly through Big Brother Big Sisters.
She worked as an intern last summer at the Sean Kelly Gallery in New York and is proficient in Hebrew.
Faye Anderson is director of All That Philly Jazz, a place-based public history project that is documenting Philadelphia’s golden age of jazz. The places include Geno’s Empty Foxhole, which was located in the basement of the parish hall of St. Mary’s Church at Penn.
At our Citizen Salon exhibition, Faye experienced a rush of emotions upon seeing the portrait of Marian Anderson. Robert Savon Pious captured the contralto’s grace and determination to navigate racial obstacles on her journey from the stage of South Philly’s Union Baptist Church to the world stage at New York’s Metropolitan Opera. Faye thought that on her shoulders stand those who were inspired by her act of resistance at the Lincoln Memorial. They became the leaders and foot soldiers of the Civil Rights Movement.
Faye is also involved in the fight to save Abolition Hall, an Underground Railroad site that is at risk of degradation by a proposed townhouse development. The landmark is located on the Corson Homestead, the ancestral home of Penn alumni Hiram Corson (1828) and Joseph Kirby Corson (1863). After the Civil War, the purpose-built structure was converted into a studio where Thomas Hovenden painted “The Last Moments of John Brown.”
The Philadelphia Area Consortium of Special Collections Libraries–of which Penn is a member–recently launched “Chronicling Resistance, Enabling Resistance.” This project explores how to connect archival materials to current social change narratives. Faye is curating news and information about a singular place of resistance at Abolition Hall Deserves Better. She invites the Penn community to contribute to the crowdsourced project.
A Senior at Penn, Alex is majoring in Philosophy and minoring in Gender, Sexuality, & Women’s Studies, Law & Society, and History of Art. She hails from Washington, D.C.
Alex is the current Co-Chair of the Student Advisory Board of the Arthur Ross Gallery. She boasts an impressive research background, having worked as a research assistant at Penn’s Law School, Medical School, and Philosophy Department. Outside of Penn, she has held research assistant roles at The Brookings Institution in D.C. and the Legal Aid Society in New York.
On campus, Alex is the President of the Penn Debate Society. In addition, she is the President of the American Parliamentary Debate Association, overseeing all operations of the nation’s oldest collegiate debate league (comprised of over 100 schools, including the Ivy League).
Alex is currently the 3rd-best debater in the nation. She is also a classically trained pianist.
A Senior at Penn, Caroline is majoring in Visual Studies and minoring in Art History. She hails from Arlington, VA.
Caroline is the current Co-Chair of the Student Advisory Board of the Arthur Ross Gallery. This past summer, she was as an editor and researcher for Dr. Ian Verstegen (Assistant Head of the Visual Studies Department at Penn), assisting with two of his books. Prior to this, she interned in Fundraising and Outreach at the Opera del Santa Croce (Florence, Italy) and at Christie’s (New York). Caroline hopes to eventually get a PhD and be a curator in Renaissance drawings. She cares deeply about getting people to interact with art.
For this reason, most of her extracurriculars at Penn are focused on making art accessible and interesting to the Penn community. On campus, Caroline is the Director of the SPEC Art Collective, a PennArts Leader, a member of the ICA’s Student Board, and a member of the Clio Society. She is currently writing her Visual Studies thesis on Auguste Rodin’s experimental “Assemblage” process works and how they demonstrate his fascination with specifically fragmentary works of ancient art and with Michelangelo’s non-finito or unfinished works of art.
A Senior at Penn, Yasmin is majoring in Art History and minoring in Journalistic Writing. She hails from London, U.K.
Aside from working as a docent at the Arthur Ross Gallery, Yasmin is currently a campus representative for Rent the Runway. She has already held a number of internships in both the fashion industry and the art industry. Last summer, she was a Buying Intern at Bergdorf Goodman in New York. Prior to this, she interned at the Lisson Gallery, the FLAG Art Foundation, and Christie’s.
Yasmin carries her passion for art to her activities on campus. Currently, she is the Chair of the SPEC Art Collective. Some events she’s hosted in this role include a trip to Phillip Johnson’s glass house in Connecticut, two annual “Careers in the Arts” speakers panels, and a docent tour of the Anselm Kiefer shows at the Barnes. She even curated an exhibition at the Fox Art Gallery called “Art in Translation.” Prior to this, she was the Programming Chair of the ICA Student Board.
Yasmin is proficient in French and enjoys cooking, reading novels, attending the theatre, and (of course) visiting galleries.
uring a recent installment of 12@12 (a twelve-minute gallery talk at 12 pm), Mary Tasillo of the Common Press responded to our current exhibitiovn “William Kentridge: Universal Archive”:
I’d like to talk about paper and process – as both a papermaker and a printmaker. Right now we’re surrounded by linoleum cut prints based on ink drawings. One of the things I love about relief printmaking is the transformation that happens as you go from one medium to another – from an initial drawing, file, or photograph – to a dimensional, somewhat sculptural process such as carving into a block – back to the primarily 2D result of a print. What changes in the character of a line through those transitions?
What is remarkable about this exhibit is that these prints retain so carefully that gestural quality of the brush painting – a result of the painstaking detail with which the drawings were transferred and carved.
So…why not just make a brush painting? Why make a print at all? Certainly making a print, the process of creating copies for an edition, has implications for value and distribution – the potential for a wider reach.
As Kentridge explained in 2010, “at the other side of the press is a version of your drawing that is different to the marks originally made. A separation, as if some other hand had made the print.”
Clearly Kentridge is interested in transformation – much like the shifts that take place across a series of coffee pots, morphing into a human figure. A transformation from a quick, loose capturing of the moment to a meticulous and slow process of codifying those images by carving them into a block. We discuss a “vocabulary” of images, of everyday objects. A visual lexicon that reflects the idea of the dictionary pages onto which these images are printed. Also, we have multiplicity – here we can view the same bird, or the same tree, displayed on its own, or seen as part of a larger composition – allowing for repetition and driving home this idea of a visual language. The matrix of the linoleum block like the matrix that casts the letter “e” in metal in a system of moveable type or the typewriter key striking the page.
Coming back to those dictionary pages. Once you create a linoleum block, your matrix, your print can exist on multiple substrates. We tend to think about paper as neutral – but it needn’t be, and as a papermaker, I’d argue that it never is.
Some examples, beyond the found pages of the dictionary, from the world of contemporary hand papermakers: the Combat Paper Project has facilitated art-making workshops with veterans for the last decade, in which veterans are invited to transform their uniforms into paper pulp, make sheets of paper from the pulp, and create works of art from the sheets. The People’s Paper Co-op and Re-entry Project, here in North Philadelphia, facilitates handmade paper art at criminal record expungement clinics where participants are invited to pulp their just-expunged criminal records and transform them into paper that holds their personal stories. Here, taking meaningful materials through a physical transformation is a vehicle for emotional transformation – and anyone holding that piece of paper in their hands connects to that transformation.
William Kentridge is no stranger to the breadth of possibility that lies within paper, having collaborated with Dieu Donne Papermill in New York, which has really pushed handmade paper as an art medium unto itself. In a few of editions, making use of the watermark (the image one might see in the corner of a sheet of resume paper when holding it up to the light) as a drawing medium – the entirety of the piece held within the sheet of handmade paper.
If Kentridge is interested in the metamorphosis of his work through process, surely it must delight him to see the dance of meaning when his imagery becomes juxtaposed with various pages of the dictionary. How do we view the bird, when the word “visitation” crops up in the background, versus when layered over words such as “exodus”? One reading, a pleasant encounter with nature – the other coming closer to the idea of “extinct.” Thus printing on the dictionary pages gives us the potential for endless readings, based on chance encounters between surface and substrate. And the more gestural the image, the more subject it is to the influence of the page.
The nature of the paper has other implications for the life of the work. You’ll notice throughout the exhibition labels that the dictionary pages are continually marked as “non-archival” — and the label for “If you have no eye” also specifies the “archival tape” piecing things together. It’s a bit funny for an exhibition named “Universal Archive.” The found pages are not pH neutral, and will continue to yellow and deteriorate over time. Much like Kentridge’s collection of everyday items, plants, and mammals will deteriorate or be tossed away over time. This is in contrast to the typical notion of archive, preserved for all time – but in line, once again, with changes and shifts, and with the ongoing construction and deconstruction taking place in the collaged prints, such as the cats, where the pages making up the prints have been both torn apart and pieced together. The shape of the dictionary pages follows the shape of the cat, using the substrate, the page, to reinforce the form and sense of movement.
So as you view this exhibition, I ask you to consider process – the print and the substrate? How does Kentridge use the multiple? And how would the work change with a different substrate – either with a plain background, or with found paper of a different nature?
A Junior at Penn, Morgan is majoring in Art History and Architecture. She hails from New York City.
Aside from working as a docent at the Arthur Ross Gallery, Morgan is currently a brand strategist for Felix Coffee Co. in New York, as well as the owner of an online gallery called Empty Wall Committee (which will launch in the next few weeks). She formerly interned at Sasha Bikoff Interior Design and at CNN on the Digital Labs team, both in New York.
On campus, Morgan is a member of the Wharton Undergraduate Real Estate Club. She is fluent in English, Hebrew, Farsi, and Spanish–and she’s in the process of learning Italian!
A Junior at Penn, Luiza is majoring in Art History and minoring in English and Fine Art. She hails from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Aside from working as a docent at the Arthur Ross Gallery, Luiza has been involved in the Philadelphia Museum of Art in multiple capacities. She previously held two different internships at the PMA: she was the Contemporary Art Department Curatorial Intern, then she interned in the museum’s prestigious Museum Studies Summer Program. Currently, she volunteers at the PMA–doing textile and costume work for the exhibit Fabulous Fashion: From Dior’s New Look to Now.
Luiza carries her passion for costume and fashion design to her campus activities. At Penn, she is involved in the Penn Fashion Collective and several performing arts groups. You can find Luiza at rehearsal for Penn Singers or Penn Players, and even crafting professional-level costumes for the sketch comedy group Bloomers.
The Arthur Ross Gallery of the University of Pennsylvania is pleased to present William Kentridge:
Universal Archive (August 25 â€“ November 11, 2018).
Born and raised in Johannesburg, South Africa, William Kentridge (b. 1955) is foremost a political artist, who has witnessed the social conditions of apartheid and the aftermath of a post-apartheid world. For Universal Archive, Kentridge revisits personal iconographyâ€”coffee pots, typewriters, trees, cats, nudes, and other imageryâ€”presenting a thematic lexicon that appears in art and stage productions throughout his career. Based on ink sketches, the linocut prints shift from identifiable subject matter to deconstructed abstract marks on dictionary and encyclopedia pages. They are the result of the artistâ€™s experimentation, play, and gesture, serving as a metaphor of the interaction between rational and creative processes.
Thursday, September 27, 6:00 PM
Film screening: William Kentridgeâ€™s 10 Drawings for Projection, 1989-2011
ONE NIGHT ONLY, courtesy of Marian Goodman Gallery, New York
Â Tuesday, October 2, 4:30 PM
Print demonstration: Discover the process of creating a linocut with Mary Tasillo, Common Press Studio Manager
Location: Meet at the Ross to walk to the Common Press
RSVP required, contact: firstname.lastname@example.org. Space is limited.
Â Tuesday, October 16, 5:30 PM
Concert: South African jazz with McCoy Mrubata and Paul Hanmer, in collaboration with Carol Ann Muller, Professor, Music Department
Â Friday, October 26, 1:30 PM
A conversation based on Universal Archive led by Ross Graduate Lecturer in Fine Arts
Â Wednesday, November 7, 6:00 PM
Lecture: William Kentridgeâ€™s Triumphs and Laments by Carlos Basualdo, Keith L. and Katherine Sachs Curator of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia Museum of Art and Curator at Large, MAXXI (Museo nazionale delle arti del XXI secolo) Rome, Italy.Â Light refreshments
12 @ 12
FIRST WEDNESDAY OF EACH MONTH AT NOON
October 3 â€“ Lynn Marsden-Atlass
November 7 â€“ Mary Tasillo, Common Press Studio Manager
Join us for an inspiring gallery talk in 12-minutes flat!
William Kentridge: Universal Archive is organized for tour by the Gund Gallery at Kenyon College and is made possible, in part, by contributions from Alva Greenberg â€™74, the Gund Gallery Board of Directors, and Ohio Arts Council.
Additional support for the exhibition is provided by the J & AR Foundation, Bill and Kathie Hohns, the Patronâ€™s Circle of the Arthur Ross Gallery, the Dolfinger-McMahon Foundation, the Philadelphia Cultural Fund, and the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts
Arthur Ross Gallery
University of Pennsylvania
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To reserve a group tour please contact us at email@example.com or 215-898-2083.Â
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University City Review by Tim Legnani
For immediate release
An exhibition opening in January at the University of Pennsylvaniaâ€™s Arthur Ross Gallery will feature 30 prints by French Impressionist and Post-Impressionist artists, chosen from the collection of the galleryâ€™s founder Arthur Ross.
The exhibition, â€œImpressions in Ink: Prints from The Arthur Ross Collection,â€ opens Jan. 13 and runs through March 25. All the works will be lent from The Arthur Ross Collection at Yale University Art Gallery. Artists include Paul CÃ©zanne, Edgar Degas, Paul Gauguin, Edouard Manet, Matisse, Pissarro, Auguste Renoir and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec.
The exhibition is curated by Lynn Marsden-Atlass, Arthur Ross Gallery executive director and University Curator. A national symposium on19th-century print making related to the exhibition will be held on March 15.
Additional support is provided by J & AR Foundation, the Patronâ€™s Circle of the Arthur Ross Gallery, the Dolfinger-McMahon Foundation, the Philadelphia Cultural Fund and the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts.
35TH Anniversary Symposium: Impressions in Ink
Thursday, March 15 | 1:30-6 p.m.
AndrÃ© Dombrowski, Associate Professor, History of Art, University of Pennsylvania
Lynn Marsden-Atlass, Arthur Ross Gallery Executive Director and University Curator, University of Pennsylvania
Suzanne Boorsch, The Robert L. Solley Curator of Prints and Drawings, Yale University Art Gallery
S. Hollis Clayson, Bergen Evans Professor in the Humanities, Northwestern University
Darcy Grimaldo Grigsby, Professor, Art History, University of California, Berkeley
Jeremy Melius, Assistant Professor, Art and Art History, Tufts University
To register, contact Meg Pendoley: firstname.lastname@example.orgÂ 215.898.2083
Thursday, Jan. 25 | 5:30 p.m.
A conversation with Pennâ€™s Kaja Silverman, Sachs Professor in Contemporary Art, and photographer/artist Clifford Ross
Tuesday, Jan. 30 and Friday, March 16 |1:00 – 2:00 p.m.
Art Reset discussion with Penn alumna Lauren Altman, MFA â€˜18
Saturday, Feb. 10 | 12:00 â€“ 3:00 p.m.
Printmaker pop-up market
“First Wednesdays,” Feb. 7 and March 7|12:00 p.m.
12 @ 12: Join us for an inspiring gallery talk in 12-minutes flat!
The Arthur Ross Gallery
The Arthur Ross Gallery is located at 220 S. 34th St., Philadelphia (in Pennâ€™s Fisher Fine Arts Library building), and is free and open to the public.
Hours: Weekdays 10:00 a.m. â€“ 5:00 p.m.; Weekends 12:00 p.m. â€“ 5:00 p.m. Closed Mondays.
Additional information is available atÂ arthurrossgallery.orgÂ orÂ 215.898.2083.
Penn Senior Corey Loftus studies History of Art and is currently writing her Honors Thesis on Anni Albers’ textiles commissioned by two synagogues. Corey loves being a docent at ARG because she not only gets to see Penn students at the gallery, but also meets visitors from all walks of life. On her last tour, she spoke with a Temple student who saw the photos from our current exhibition, A View of One’s Own, at the American Academy in Rome. She also notes that being surrounded by art is a perfect way to spend a Sunday.
As for her art bucket list? After a visit to Storm King Art Center, she says her dream piece of art to own would be a monumental sculpture in a vast landscape or, perhaps a textile from Anni Albers.
Briana Haggerty is pictured above giving a tour of our current exhibition, A View of One’s Own, over Homecoming Weekend. She particularly liked giving tours this weekend because our Gallery Director, Lynn Marsden-Atlass (also pictured above; far right) came to the gallery to give her input and perspective on the show. Briana’s favorite aspect of docenting is the diversity of shows present in the gallery during the year. From Abbas, to Paul Strand, to our current exhibition featuring three women photographers, Esther Boise Van Deman, Georgina Masson, and Jeannette Montgomery Barron, she has enjoyed the chance to learn about photography from very distinct points of view.
A Senior at Penn, Briana studies Visual Studies and Computer Science. She is currently writing her Senior Thesis about representation systems in society and physiology. As a Junior, she studied abroad in Santiago, where she gained a love for light artists after viewing a light exhibition. She was able to see works by one of her favorite artists, Olafur Eliasson.
Ali Harwood has been a docent with us at the gallery for three years and loves the ability to deeply understand exhibits by interacting with gallery viewers. As a senior in Visual Studies with interests in Medieval art, Ali would own a fifth-century amulet of the Holy Rider if she could buy any piece for her personal collection. The contemporary artist David Lynch also fascinates her.
Her advice to students who don’t know much about art? Come to the student events! They are the most approachable and enjoyable way to interact with the art for those who have never seen it before.
History of Art Senior, Andrew Park sat down with us to talk about art and life as a docent at Arthur Ross Gallery. Andrew is excited to be a docent and talk to students about the current exhibition. He wants to give new visitors guidance when viewing the exhibition and share his love of art with the student body.
After graduation, Andrew wants to go ultimately go to grad school, but not without traveling to France and Germany first. He is currently writing his Honors Thesis on Robert Rauschenberg and is fascinated by American and European Modernism.
The Arthur Ross Gallery offers the unique opportunity to have a free tour of the gallery led by a trained student docent every Saturday and Sunday at 1 pm. Make sure to stop by!
The Arthur Ross Gallery offers the unique opportunity to have a free tour of the gallery led by a trained student docent every Saturday and Sunday at 1 pm! We are sitting down with each of our docents for a quick chat.
This week we talked to Cordelia Mikita, a senior at Penn studying History of Art. Cordelia comes from Boston, but transferred from the University of St Andrews to study at Penn. Her love of art stems from her time abroad in Rome. After graduation, she plans to work in a museum-related position and enjoys studying post-war European art. At the top of her bucket list is hiking Machu Picchu!
A New Exhibition Compares Photographic Perspectives on Rome
The Arthur Ross Gallery of the University of Pennsylvania is pleased to present A View of Oneâ€™s Ownâ€”Three Women Photographers in Rome: Esther Boise Van Deman, Georgina Masson, Jeannette Montgomery Barron (August 11 â€“ December 10, 2017). Organized last fall by the American Academy in Rome (AAR), the exhibition features photographs by American women in Rome from three different generations, documenting the Eternal City and its urban transformation over more than a century, from the Belle Ã‰poque to today. The photographs also tracks the emergence of photography as an independent mediumâ€”evolving from a documentary aid to a vehicle for subjective, even gendered expression in the digital age. The Arthur Ross Gallery is the exclusive U.S. venue for this exhibition.
ARGâ€™s Director Lynn Marsden-Atlass says: â€œThe Arthur Ross Gallery is very pleased to collaborate with the American Academy in Rome to present for the first time in the U.S. these rare and insightful photographs by three groundbreaking women photographers.â€
Drawn from the Photographic Archive of the American Academy in Rome, A View of Oneâ€™s Own features three American protagonists: archaeologist Esther Boise Van Deman, who photographed Rome and its surroundings in the early 1900s; Georgina Masson, author of the classic guidebook,Â The Companion Guide to Rome, that has shaped foreignersâ€™ experiences of Rome since the 1950s; and contemporary photographer Jeannette Montgomery Barron, whose images capture glimpses of Rome as seen by an American living abroad in the Eternal City, folding them into a wandering, meditative reverie. Seen in succession against a photographic landscape of Rome defined for the most part by men, these images posit another way of seeing the cityâ€™s history. Taken by female flÃ¢neurs, empirical observations of bricks and mortar progressively dissolve into pure, evanescent experience.
â€œThe work of these three photographers reflects different periods in the evolution of the modern city of Rome and the history of photography itself,â€ said Mark Robbins, President of the American Academy in Rome. â€œThe presentation at the Arthur Ross Gallery of the University of Pennsylvania brings these images to new audiences and underscores the continuing impact of the city of Rome in our conception of the past and the future.â€
A View of Oneâ€™s Own is curated by Lindsay Harris, Peter Benson Miller, and Angela Piga, and is accompanied by a comprehensive, fully illustrated catalogue, published by AAR, with essays by Robbins, AndrÃ© Aciman, and the curators. At the Arthur Ross Gallery, the exhibition was organized by Lynn Marsden-Atlass, and will be accompanied by a variety of related programming:
Wednesday, September 6 @ 5:30 PM
LECTURE: â€œA View of Oneâ€™s Own: Women, Walking, and Photography in Romeâ€ by Peter Benson Miller, Andrew Heiskell Arts Director,
American Academy in Rome
Wednesday, October 4 @ 5:30 PM
LECTURE: â€œWatching the Light in Romeâ€ by Dean Frederick Steiner, University of Pennsylvania School of Design and
Paley Professor (1998 AAR Fellow)
Friday, October 20 @ 12:00 PM
CONCERT: Daedalus Quartet Beethoven Quartets Quartet no. 6 in Bb major, Op. 18 no. 6 and Quartet no. 7 in F major, Op. 59 no. 1
Wednesday, October 25 @ 5:30 PM
CONVERSATION: Kaja Silverman and Clifford Ross
Join us for an exciting evening with Kaja Silverman, Sachs Professor in Contemporary Art, and photographer/artist Clifford Ross.
Wednesdays, October 11 and November 8 @ 2:00 PM
ART RESET with Lauren Altman, MFA â€˜18
Coffee and conversation
Wednesday, October 18 @ 6:30 PM
FILM SCREENING: â€œLouis Kahnâ€™s Tiger Cityâ€ Talk back with Sundaram Tagore
Monday, November 1, 2017 @ 5:30 PM
ARTIST TALK with Jeannette Montgomery Barron
Every First Wednesday, September 6, October 4, November 1 and December 6 @ 12:00 PM
12 @ 12: A Tasty Art Nugget in 12 Minutes Flat!
The exhibition is made possible in part by Richard Baron and Adi Shamir Baron.
Additional support is provided by Mrs. Arthur Ross, the Patronâ€™s Circle of the Arthur Ross Gallery, the Provostâ€™s Interdisciplinary Arts Fund, the Dolfinger-McMahon Foundation, the Philadelphia Cultural Fund, and the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts.
THE ARTHUR ROSS GALLERY OF THE UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA
AMERICAN ACADEMY IN ROME / THE ROME PRIZE
Founded in 1894, the American Academy in Rome is a leading international center for independent study and advanced research in the arts and humanities. A not-for-profit, privately funded institution, AAR annually offers the Rome Prize Fellowship and Italian Fellowships to a select group of artists and scholars, after an application process that begins each fall. The winners, selected by independent juries through a national competition process, are invited to Rome the following year to pursue their work in an atmosphere conducive to intellectual and artistic experimentation and interdisciplinary exchange. Fellowships are offered in the following categories: Literature, Music Composition, Visual Arts, Architecture, Landscape Architecture, Design, and Historic Preservation and Conservation, as well as Ancient, Medieval, Renaissance and Early Modern, and Modern Italian Studies. To date, AAR has fueled critical thinking, research, and work for over 1,700 artists and scholars who are leaders in their fields and whose rich and significant output continues to fill museums, concert halls, libraries, and universities across the U.S., and around the world.
In addition to the Rome Prize winners and Italian Fellows, AAR also invites a select group of Residents, Affiliated Fellows, and Visiting Artists and Scholars to work within this exceptional community in Rome.
To learn more about the Rome Prize, Italian Fellowship or programs at the American Academy in Rome, please visit: www.aarome.org.
The Arthur Ross Gallery is located at 220 South 34th Street, Philadelphia (located in the Fisher Fine Arts Library Building), and is free and open to the public.
HOURS: Weekdays 10:00am â€“ 5:00pm; Weekends 12:00pm â€“ 5:00pm. Closed Mondays. Visit us on Facebook and Twitter.Â To reserve a group tour please contact us at email@example.com or 215-898-3617.Â
Additional information is available atÂ arthurrossgallery.orgÂ orÂ 215.898.2083
Pennâ€™s Arthur Ross Gallery presents â€˜Landscape / Soundscapeâ€™ Sight/sound synergy
It is my pleasure to announce the appointment of Heather Gibson Moqtaderi as Assistant Director and Associate Curator of the Arthur Ross Gallery. Since 2011 Heather has been the Associate Curator & Collections Manager, Office of the Curator, where among other responsibilities, she researched two important gifts to the University Collection and co-curated The Myron A. and Anne Jaffe Portenar Collection, Courtly Treasurers: The Thomas W. Evans Collection, Surgeon Dentist to Napoleon III, and curated the current exhibition, Landscape/Soundscape, at the Arthur Ross Gallery. Â Recent exhibitions Heather independently curated were Duality at the Delaware Art Museum, Perception Shift at Stockton College, and Patterns of Consumption at Temple University. Since 2010 Heather serves as adjunct Associate Professor at Drexel University and in 2011 as instructor at Temple University. Previously she was a research assistant at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and Collections Manager for the Irvin and Anita Schorsch Collection. Heather received her M.A. in Early American Culture from the University of Delaware/Winterthur Museum, and a B.A. from the University of Delaware. In 2011 she was a Royal Oak Scholar at the Attingham Summer School in England, and is a member of several professional organizations.
Minor White (American, 1908-1976)
Minor White was an American photographer whose art was guided by spirituality and philosophy. White’s grandfather, an amateur photographer, gifted him his first camera when he was seven years old. However, White did not initially plan on pursuing photography. He first began a career in botany and then turned to writing after college. It wasn’t until 1937 that White decided to delve into photography. Years of teaching and writing about photography in Oregon culminated with White’s inclusion in a Museum of Modern Art exhibition and his first one-man show at the Portland Art Museum. Shortly after these events, however, he was drafted into the United States Army to fight in WWII. After he returned, White befriended eminent photographers like Alfred Stieglitz, Edward Steichen, and Ansel Adams. They inspired him to delve further into symbolic and controversial photography. In a time when homosexuality was unacceptable, White was able to express his closeted sexuality through brave and suggestive portraits of men. Navigation Markers exemplifies White’s later photography, with its emotive abstraction of nature.
Christopher Sean Powell (American, b. 1976)
Christopher “Pow Pow” Powell is a self-taught rhythm scholar, producer, and sound designer in living in Philadelphia. Since 1999, he has recorded and performed with influential artists like the Sun Ra Arkestra, Yoko Ono, and The Boredoms. He currently performs with the experimental Philadelphia-based band Man Man. Powell’s musical skills are complemented by his technical prowess—in recent months, he has been creating custom-made synthesizers for instrument company Critter and Guitari.
For his piece created in response to White’s “Navigation Markers”, Powell reimagined his own past compositions written during trips to Nova Scotia. He used a custom-built polyrhythm sample player for the composition. In his own words, the sample player was elemental in providing “rhythmic motion and urgency” while expressing the expansive terrain and “spatial depth” of Minor White’s photography. When paired with Navigation Markers, Powell’s piece artfully complements the photograph’s dark abstraction and almost unsettling ambiguity.
Elliot Erwitt (French, b. 1928)
Elliott Erwitt is a French photographer who immigrated to the U.S. at age 10. As a college student, Erwitt exchanged janitorial work for film classes at New School for Social Research. Right after finishing his education, he was drafted into the army. This opened up countless doors for Erwitt—he met famous photographers like Roy Striker and Edward Steichen while working as a photographer’s assistant in the army. After the war, Erwitt grew to develop his trademark humorous and ironic style. Some of his most notable photographs are humanistic, depicting compelling snapshots of urban life. Erwitt has also done extensive commercial work in advertising. His many awards and honors include the Centenary Medial and Honorary Fellowship by the Royal Photographic Society in 2002. Erwitt’s Mies van der Rohe is a gleaming cityscape shot that captures the iconic Chicago Federal Center, designed by Mies van der Rohe.
Olivia Block (American, b. 1970)
Olivia Block is an accomplished American media artist and composer. For the past 20 years, she has combined field recordings, chamber instruments, and electronic textures to create soundscapes. Block has exhibited her sound art through multimedia installations and performances around the world. She has also found success in the music industry, with her 2013 EP Karren appearing on the “Best of 2014” lists by The Wire, Pitchfork, and Artforum. For her contribution to Landscape / Soundscape, Block focused on the “unsettling sense of distance” in Erwitt’s photo. In the artist’s words, “The looming Miew van der Rohe building and the tiny human figure remind me of the paradoxical isolation inherent in city life, where people are abundant, but social relations are often distant.” Block utilized bustling city sounds and made them feel “far away from the listener by burying them underneath atmospheres of noise.” Block took sound recordings from the very area where the photograph was taken. Her piece, therefore, works closely with Erwitt’s photograph to transport the listener into a new and isolating city scene.
hundreds of exhibitions and is featured in over 150 permanent museum collections around the world. Cloud, New Mexico demonstrates Gibson’s captivating and high
contrast style of black and white photography.
Eliot Porter was born in Chicago in 1901. He developed a love for nature photography after being gifted a camera as a child. Even though he went on to begin a career in chemical engineering, he never let go of his love for photography. Porter continued to photograph the birds and landscapes of the northeast, growing his portfolio and eventually meeting leading artists like Alfred Stieglitz. In 1938, Stieglitz offered Porter the chance to exhibit his photography at the important “An American Place” gallery. This one-man black and white photography exhibition catapulted Porter’s artistic clout and led him to drop his medical career. He set himself apart through his use of color photography, a medium that was looked down on but allowed him to more accurately capture nature. During the 1940s and 1950s, his work flowed between art museums and science museums. Porter’s vivid depictions of varied landscapes and ecosystems, ranging from China to the Galapagos, set him apart as an influential color photographer. He spent his life crafting meticulous dye color transfer prints of his work and continued his passion of photographing birds until his health failed him.
Clouds Forming over Mt. Baker demonstrates Porter’s meticulous dye color transfer technique. The photograph captures the Coleman Glacier, a popular route up to Mt. Baker, crowned by noctilucent water ice clouds. It was taken in 1983 during Porter’s journey to the Pacific Northwest and has since been used to document the glacier’s dramatic retreat since the beginning of the century.
Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith
Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith’s composition was written to accompany Clouds Forming over Mt. Baker. Smith is an American composer, producer, and performer signed to the label Western Vinyl. She grew up on Orcas Island, Washington, and therefore has a close relationship to the landscape depicted in Porter’s photograph:
“My first reaction to the photo was to compose something ominous but after a few listens, I realized that is not the Mt. Baker I know. I grew up on Orcas Island and on certain days I could see Mt. Baker from my house. I often would stare out and imagine what it would be like to hike to the top. I would allow myself to first see and feel achievability before my thoughts were filled with practicalities of that action. I wanted to compose something that would allow the viewer to luxuriate in that feeling of achievability and wanderlust before practicality seeps in.”
Smith accomplishes this feeling of wanderlust and aspiration through a composition that delicately overlays sounds from a Prophet 5 and Buchla Music Easel.
The Arthur Ross Gallery’s newest exhibition, titled Landscape / Soundscape, consists of a paired collaboration between landscape photographs from Penn’s Univerity Art Collection and commissioned soundscape compositions. Our first Artists Spotlight of the exhibition features the collaboration between photographer Andrew Moore and audio-visual artist Michael Roy Barker.
Michael Roy Barker is an American audio-visual artist and sound artist who resides in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He uses a variety of electronics, homemade instruments, vocals, and processed audio from found video to create his sound art. Barker wrote that when he first saw Moore’s Imagination Station, “the immense layers of decay that exist in Detroit by evidence of this photograph was awe-inspiring.” He created layers in his own piece to mimic these. Barker literally incorporated the photograph into his sound by converting the image and digital data of the photograph into audio. He further described the process: “This audio was then manipulated and processed through software and the synthesizer to create the sound that you hear. I also used hydrophone field recordings, electromagnetic field recordings via an Elektrosluch, an Axidraw plotter, and a Eurorack synthesizer…” Overall, Barker’s piece speaks to the layered decay that draws the eye in Moore’s photograph.
Landscape/Soundscape Exhibition Pairs Landscape Photography with Soundscapes
January 14 â€“ March 26, 2017 at the Arthur Ross Gallery
PHILADELPHIA, October 25, 2016 â€“ Some photographers capture landscapes so vividly that the images visually convey a sense of sound. In the same regard, sound artists have the capacity to create audio works that evoke a sense of place. The exhibition Landscape / Soundscape explores this desire to unite image and sound through compelling pairings of photography and soundscapes. Within the context of the exhibition,Â landscapeÂ is used in its broadest sense, from sweeping natural landscapes to cityscapes to abstractions. Likewise, the correspondingÂ soundscapesÂ are commissioned from a broad spectrum of sound artists and musicians, from those working with field recordings and electronics to noted instrumental performers.
Photographs in the exhibition represent a range of landscapes, from expansive natural vistas to cityscapes. The following photographers are included: Lucien Clergue, Elliott Erwitt, Ralph Gibson, Clarence John Laughlin, Erica Lennard, Andrew Moore, Eliot Porter, Karen Riedener, Jerry Uelsmann, and Minor White. In tandem with Landscape / Soundscape, a juried selection of student projects will be presented on the Galleryâ€™s digital interactive kiosk.
A diverse selection of accomplished sound artists from throughout the United States and UK were invited to create soundscapes in response to photographs from Pennâ€™s University Art Collection. These sound artists include: Sarah Angliss, Michael Roy Barker, Olivia Block, Nadia Botello, La Cosa Preziosa (Susanna Caprara), Marinna Guzy, Eugene Lew, Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe, Christopher Sean Powell and Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith.
Heather Gibson Moqtaderi, Associate Curator and Collections Manager at Pennâ€™s University Art Collection, has curated Landscape / Soundscape along with Eugene Lew, Director of Sound & Music Technology and Lecturer in Electronic Music & Recording at the University of Pennsylvania. The exhibition opens at the Arthur Ross Gallery onÂ Saturday, January 14, 2017.Â The Gallery is located at 220 South 34th Street, Philadelphia, and is free and open to the public. HOURS: WeekdaysÂ 10:00am â€“ 5:00pm; WeekendsÂ 12:00pm â€“ 5:00pm. Closed Mondays. Visit us on Facebook, Twitter & Instagram.
To reserve a group tour please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 215.898.3617
Additional information is available atÂ arthurrossgallery.orgÂ orÂ 215.898.2083
Wednesday, February 1st, 6:30pm:Â Dissolution, a multi-media performance by sound artist Olivia Block
Wednesday, February 8th, 5:30pm: Andrew Moore photography lecture and performance by Michael Roy Barker
Monday, March 13th, 6:30pm Daedelus Quartet performs Fred Lerdalhâ€™s Chaconne and Beethovenâ€™s Kreutzer Sonata
Wednesday, March 15th, 5:30pm: Performance by Philly beat-maker Christopher â€œPow Powâ€ Powell
Every First Wednesday, February 1st and March 1st, 12:00pm: 12@12 : A Tasty Art Nugget in 12 Minutes Flat!
“Our work finds inspiration from the collective history, memory, and narratives of the communities that have been marginalized and systematically oppressed. This creative process manifests itself in the cross-sectional spaces where art intervention, activism, and community engagement merges. These collaborations speak on issues of race, class, and the void of power in these communities of color…“- Ernel Martinez
Ernel Martinez was born in Belize. He was raised in South Central Los Angeles and Detroit. His introduction to the art world came in the form of graffiti. He studied art at Pratt Institute and attainted his BFA from the Kutztown University. In 2004, he received his MFA from the University of Pennsylvania. In 2003, Ernel began making public art in the city of Philadelphia, as well as working with various non-profits and social services to provide art to disenfranchised youth. His artistic practice focuses on creative methods to give urban communities the tools to tell their stories through art making. He uses their stories as a framework to produce social practice artwork to engage and build dialogue. His work with Keir Johnston, Dreamland Deferred: Legacy of Silence (2013) is on display in the gallery (pictured above). Amber Art performed the powerful piece Push/Pull: The Weight in the gallery (detail pictured below) on December 2, 2016, which referenced the race riots and bombings in Tulsa, OK in 1921. The sculpture created by the performance is now on view in the gallery as well.
About Terry, Martinez says, “Amber Art look to evoke a cultural and social dialog around historical inequities of the missing black voice, especially in creative institutions, by focusing on the significant historical sites. Our creative collaborations have been incredibly influenced by Terry’s work. Our use of history, research, mix-media, and collaborations comes directly from my time spent studying under Terry Adkins here at Penn.”
“My work is an ongoing treatise on marginality. I try to perceive materials, images, and bodily states that are designated marginal or “thin,” and fasten them together to make them accrue presence. I frequently aggregate thin things into film-like layers that then cover a target body.” – Wilmer Wilson IV
Wilmer Wilson IV is recognized internationally for his interdisciplinary investigations of the naturalized logics of cultural meaning. His work aggregates everyday objects into layers of skin or film, which then cover a body and augment its identification. He received his BFA from Howard University in 2012, and his MFA from the University of Pennsylvania in 2015. In 2012 he was commissioned to complete a suite of three public performances, collectively titled “Henry ‘Box’ Brown: FOREVER”, for the 5×5 Public Art Project in Washington, DC. Wilson completed a fellowship at the American Academy in Rome in 2014 and a residency at NLS Kingston in 2013. His work has recently been included in IDENTIFY: Performance Art as Portraiture at the National Portrait Gallery(2015), Performing Portraiture at the Museum of Fine Arts Boston (2015), and State of the Art at Crystal Bridges Museum of Art (2014). His work is in public and private collections internationally. His works THE WESTERN UNION (2016), OMEGA FIRE MINISTRIES INTERNATIONAL (2016), and Left For Dead (2016) are currently on view in the gallery as part of Darkwater Revival: After Terry Adkins.
About Terry, Wilson has said, “In the short time I was around Terry he imparted a sense of time that expands in the moment of making. This might seem like a paradox because the moment of making is also one of intense condensation. But he made it imperative to keep in sight both these concentrated jewels of thought and the airiness of time in tandem. Whenever my work feels to thin or too dense, I think of him.”
Article in The Philadelphia Inquirer, November 13, 2016
By Edith Newhall
“I create sculptural works hovering between comfortable semblance and cold sovereignty, consisting of structures that flirt with the likeness to historical artifacts, utilitarian fixtures, Modern furniture, architecture, or mechanisms of display. Their anthropomorphic scale suggests the potential for human intervention, but they remain amalgams deliberately elusive to classification, performing parallel to language but remaining outside of it. These works become sites for projection: as facsimiles of archetypal objects, impostors of icons, or signs that reiterate the logic of their own presentation.”- Sarah Tortora
Sarah Tortora (b.1988; New Haven, CT) is a sculptor currently working between Connecticut and Vermont. She received an MFA from the University of Pennsylvania in 2013 and attended residencies at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, the MacDowell Colony, and Yaddo shortly thereafter. In 2016, Sarah mounted solo exhibitions at GRIN Gallery (Providence, RI), Reynolds Fine Art (New Haven, CT), and CAS Arts Center (Livingston Manor, NY). She is currently the 2015-2016 Alice C. Cole ’42 Fellow in Studio Art at Wellesley College. Her works Ascendant (2014), In the First Place (2014-15), Septum (2015), Untitled (shroud) (2014), Untitled (-un) (2015) are on view now as a part of our current exhibition, Darkwater Revival: After Terry Adkins.
She says about Terry, “my conversations with Terry were always rooted in his confidence toward the boundless potential of the present rather than its quantifiable statistics. I strive to possess a similar generosity of openness that Terry extended toward the world, with the understanding that artifacts of the past are anything but fixed, and bear ever-expansive possibilities for the future.”
“Harmonic Spheres is a video that was done in collaboration with Blanche Bruce [Terry Adkins’ alter ego doppelganger] that depicts the back of a person’s head shrouded in fog. In the video, the camera slowly pans across the head to the accompaniment of an original musical score. The video plays on a monitor that hangs from the ceiling, and was inspired by the Pythagorean theorem Harmony of the Spheres that describes the inaudible sound celestial bodies make as they move throughout the universe.” -Demetrius Oliver
Demetrius Oliver received his BFA from the Rhode Island School of Design, his MFA from the University of Pennsylvania, and attended the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture. His work has been exhibited widely, with solo exhibitions at the Print Center, Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston; The High Line, Inman Gallery, D’Amelio Terras, and P.S. 1/MoMA. Group exhibitions include Mass MoCA, The Renaissance Society, The Studio Museum of Harlem, Marian Boesky Gallery, Roberts & Tilton, Acme, and Tracy Williams Ltd.
Oliver’s video collaboration with Blanche Bruce, Harmonic Spheres (2007) is on view in the gallery as part of our current show, Darkwater Revival: After Terry Adkins.
“Through my social practice projects, geometric drawings, text paintings, prints and photographs, I am drawing lines of flight and connecting dots across geographical space and time to answer a pervasive question – who am I and what is my place in the world? My work borrows from materials found in historical archives, memoirs, rituals, and documentary photographs. I connect the aesthetics and theoretical concerns of new media, the conceptual art movement, minimalism, Suprematism, Islamic geometric art and the Black experience. My upbringing as a first-generation Black American Muslim informs my work in many respects and I seek to make critical contributions to conversations on the status of Black America, American society, politics, culture, and Islam in the 21st century. Through my research, community collaborations, creative investigations and rigorous experimentation I gain a greater understanding of the universe that we exist in, and mark my place in the world as an African American Muslim woman artist. My approach to working with materials and ideas is part of a larger theoretical project that poses critical questions about process, power, representation and the construction of communal narratives. Through the experience of looking at/ participating in my work, I am inviting my audiences to challenge traditional boundaries of race, nationhood, and religion and create wholly new constructions that broaden our collective imaginations.” – Nsenga Knight
Knight was born and raised in the East Flatbush neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York and currently resides in Durham, North Carolina. She has exhibited work at Berman Museum of Art, Smack Mellon, Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Art, Amistad Gallery at the University of Pennsylvania, the New Museum for Contemporary Art, PS1 MoMA among others. She was most recently a recipient of the Southern Constellations Fellowship in 2014, and was also been awarded with the Leeway Foundation Art and Change Grant, Finishing Funds from the Philadelphia Independent Film and Video Association, and Brooklyn Arts Council grants. Knight earned a Masters of Fine Arts degree at the University of Pennsylvania and a Bachelor of Arts in Film Production at Howard University. Her works Make Safe, Make Space (2014) and X Speaks (2015) are currently on view in the gallery as part of Darkwater Revival: After Terry Adkins.
“I have been exercising/exorcising my preoccupations in a variety of methods, cross‐referenced and cross‐fertilized. A collage of procedures: A video of a drawing, a drawing of a text, a woodcarving of a photograph. Seeking in these collisions the emancipatory desires of my predecessors.” – Jamal Cyrus In his work Houston‐based artist Jamal Cyrus produces revisionist approaches to American history through the appropriation and reinterpretation of charged political paraphernalia and cultural objects. Focusing on the formulation of Black identity through periods of political and cultural activism, such as the Civil Rights and the Black Power movements, and their consequent appropriation by mainstream culture. In his 2D, 3D, and time-based work, Cyrus creates his own alternative accounts of these histories, causing the viewer to acknowledge the subjectivity of interpreting past events. He has had solo exhibitions in Texas and New York and participated in group exhibitions nationally and internationally. Cyrus is also a founding member of the artist collective Otabenga Jones and Associates. Cyrus’s works, For Contralto (Marian), 2016; For Bass (Paul) 2016; and Raisin, 2016 are on view now in the gallery as part of the current show.
“Energy, faith, and words populate my contemplative life, and I then work through those contemplations materially in the studio. I like to help a thought find its physical expression. I hope to concentrate energy and make the object vital.” – Jessica Slaven on her artistic process.
Jessica Slaven is an artist and writer whose studio is in Mount Vernon, NY. She holds an MFA in Sculpture from the University of Pennsylvania and a BFA inSculpture from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and attended Universität der Künste Berlin. She co-owns and operates the recording studio Oktaven Audio in Mount Vernon, and is a practitioner of Ashtanga Yoga. Her colorful works Eeceit (2014), Er,Er,Er (2015), HELL TOUPÉE (2015), and Spectralism (2015) are on view in the gallery as part of our current show, Darkwater Revival: After Terry Adkins.
About Adkins, Slaven says, “Terry’s practice was catholic – writing, objects, music, performance, print, video, sound, everything. His intention, or meditation, simply had to find the right form. I moved from the city to Westchester County in 2009 and I’ll often disembark from the MNR suburban rail at the Harlem/125 Street station. One day I noticed the large relief panel sculpture with sunbursts and sphinxes on the train overpass, and to my delight learned that it’s Terry’s 1999 Harlem Encore. It gives me great comfort and encouragement to pass through that sculpture a few times a week. Doing so makes me feel connected to Terry, and there are a lot of taxis under the overpass, which reminds me of his stories from his early days in NY, when one of his everythings was driving a cab. Sculptors do everything, but sometimes, especially early on, we have to do a lot of other things in order to be sculptors. Terry helped me find more ease and acceptance with this.”
â€œMy work is concerned with historic and current negotiations of power and privilege regarding race, gender, and class â€“ ideas I refract through multiple lenses, including the systemic, the interpersonal, and the self. These layered thought processes are reflected in my varied approach to making, both in concept and in form, and result in work marked by fragile impermanence. Formally, I am interested in the absence of image, anti-icons, and the repeated and shifting the use of common materials, which I transform into works imbued with mystery. I use sugar, graphite, air, and ash as pigment and subject matter, as well as discarded, found, and assembled objects and a variety of print and photographic processes, to create overlapping and self-enveloping images and objects that evoke visceral reactions and curiosity.â€ â€“ Matt Neff
Matt Neff is an artist, printer, and educator living in Philadelphia. Neff teaches and runs the Common Press at the University of Pennsylvania. He holds an MFA from the University of Pennsylvania, and aÂ BFA in studio art and aÂ BA in Art History from Indiana University.
Neff had a close teacher-student and work relationship with Adkins. He has said about his time with Adkins, â€œMy experiences studying with and working for Terry Adkins over many years had an immeasurable impact on my way of working. His way of reconsidering and combining objects with different histories to rewrite underrepresented histories.Â Of celebrating the overlooked and discarded and continually re-evaluating his own approach. His process was poetic, patient, and rigorous, and I feel fortunate to have been a part of it.â€
Tameka Jenean Norris, with herself and her communities as a subject, uses painting, video, photography, music, performance, installation, project-based art, context art, confession, the internet, and institutional critique to explore the internal drives and external influences that shape identity. Her practice critiques the invisibility of blackness in cultural forms built upon the appropriation of popular and sacred black expressions and idioms.
Norris (b. 1979) received her undergraduate degree from UCLA and then received her MFA from Yale University School of Art in 2012. Her Purple Painting (2011), a single-channel video with sound, is featured in the Arthur Ross Gallery’s current exhibition, Darkwater Revival: After Terry Adkins.
In a discussion about Terry she explained his influence in her artistic practice: “I have always admired and strive to switch between mediums as swiftly and gracefully as Terry did in his work. Adkins was always willing to change things up and even improvise in live performance and object installation spaces. Our collaborations together constantly pushed me out of my comfort zone and kept me on my toes.”
We sat down with Dejay B. Duckett, Associate Director and Associate Curator of the Arthur Ross Gallery, to talk about her current show Darkwater Revival: After Terry Adkins and its multifaceted significance to her personally, to the gallery, and to the campus environment. Dejáy curated the show in collaboration with Demetrius Oliver, an artist and Penn Alumnus.
Q: What was your experience curating the show on Penn’s campus? How did the campus environment influence the way you went about curating the show?
A: For this particular show, I think the campus environment had everything to do with this show especially since it is about Terry, how he approached his teaching, and how he approached his work. That all happened right here. This is where all the magic happened, right on Penn’s campus. His office was a floor above my office here in the Duhring Wing, so there is this inescapable connection with the show and the University. In my essay that I wrote for the catalog, I called Terry the unofficial University Shaman because he had that presence and his work was infused with so much. Aside from of course the Darkwater exhibition that he did in 2002 at the Arthur Ross Gallery, he did an exhibition at the Amistad Gallery which is in the Du Bois College House, his Philadelphia Negro Revisited is over in Africana Studies, the show right now over at the ICA called The Freedom Principle has a few pieces of Terry’s in it, so it’s kind of a Terry moment on campus right now, which is exciting!
Q: What was your method or goal when you began to envision the show? How did these ideas evolve as you began the curating process?
A: Since the show was about Terry, it all came about because I got a chance to watch his creative process, and even though it was an artistic process, it influenced my curatorial process. For him, when he was dealing with objects and materials, it was important that he was led by the materials and that was called “potential disclosure.” He felt like an object or a raw material had the potential to become part of one of his recitals; it would take on a new history. The disclosure part meant that the object had to have its time, its gestation period, and then it would be ready to be used in a whole different context. In 2002, I had just come to Penn the year before, I had curated maybe one or two exhibitions before I got here so Darkwater 2002 had a huge impact on me. I think I came to realize that impact as I was doing this exhibition. I realized that I was being led by the process rather than myself leading the process—that’s a huge difference. I think that every curator has to find their way in balancing research and intuition in kind of the same way that the artist does. We all do the homework and the research on the artist for the exhibition, the pieces in the exhibition, but ultimately you have to listen to that inner voice, look for those connections, and for those things that will start to emerge in a way that you may not have envisioned when you first started on the journey. It’s a real test of one’s powers of observation and curiosity, that’s where everything starts, I think for the artistic and the curatorial process. So I was looking at Darkwater 2002 as my inspiration and I got interested in why Terry did what he did and how that came together, and the journey of some of the pieces in that exhibition after it closed. How his process inspired other artists the same way that Du Bois inspired Terry. There are so many levels it’s like an onion, just layers upon layer and I hope that when people come to the exhibition they can take the time to let that unfold. Walk through the exhibition and feel and see these connections between the artists and between the artists and Terry.
Q: Terry Adkins had a powerful presence in the art world but also at Penn as a mentor and professor. Many people across Penn’s campus and beyond were very sad to hear of his passing. How can memory influence or manipulate the way we view art?
A: Take for an example Sean Riley’s work. I mean, I think artists working in whatever medium or material, have a reverence for it because they don’t want it to be overworked or overwrought, they don’t want the process to become tortured. And when one has that reverence for the material the way that Terry did in his process of “potential disclosure” you can be patient, and infuse that material with those memories with that new context, and it will emerge. In Sean’s pieces, he said that’s what really influenced him about Terry, is that Terry could put something in the studio for years and let it sit and then decide it’s ready, put it with another piece, and then boom, it comes together. So once the process starts it’s quick. Once Sean gathered this denim that he inherited from his dad, that immediately struck me because I am very drawn to fiber. Sometimes I don’t even realize it. When I finally put the show together and I walked into the gallery I realized, wow, there’s a lot of fiber. I’m just really drawn to it. But Sean took that inherited denim down to the weft. Each individual strand, each piece to me is like a neuron. Each string is a memory of his father. And I think memory affects the artist that way but also, what I bring to it having lost my father exactly 10 years ago, that piece had a really strong impact on me as the viewer, as the curator. I think we all bring that to a work of art. Upon entering a museum, or a gallery, half of the experience is what the artist has created and the other half is what we are bringing to that piece. That’s when you get that jolt experiencing a work of art, that’s what you’re bringing to the piece. I see that over and over with the artists in this exhibition. The pieces come from the artist’s own memory or a collective memory, like with Ernel [Martinez], and the memory of a trauma in Tulsa, Oklahoma in 1921. So they’re dealing with the trauma of a community, of a communal memory, and putting their own bodies into that memory and then documenting it. So, yeah, memory is huge.
Q: What can we glean from the show with regard to the social injustice and turbulence that is prevalent in our society today?
A: Social justice was really prominent in Terry’s work from the very beginning. Especially being active in the 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s. Some of his work was more overtly political than others of his pieces, but I think they all dealt with moments or people in history that have been overlooked. He created these abstract portraits so that people wouldn’t just go in and say “Oh, this is a picture of Jimi Hendrix, okay now we learn about Jimi Hendrix” but since the piece was abstract the audience really had to come in and investigate the work and really spend time with it, and really invest themselves in the pieces. They aren’t casual pieces that you can just casually look at. In the School of Aaron Douglas and a lot of the Harlem Renaissance painters, it was really important to do artwork that would uplift the black race, because of the social injustice of the time. That was key to put this truth, our truth, out there for the world to see, and that had its positive and negative effects. Later down the road, black artists were expected to stay in this certain kind of representative mode that had been passed down for thirty or so years.
But Terry had Martin Puryear as one of his instructors at Fisk—just a beautiful, amazing sculptor—and he talked to him about being able to do work that addressed social issues in a way that was not exactly representative that made people investigate a little deeper, and I really appreciated that about Terry. One of the first interactions I had with Terry, he walked into the gallery and he said “Oh this place is really cool, it’s not your usual white box,” and he looked up and he said, “Wow, the ceiling in here. It reminds me of a slave ship.” Ultimately, in Darkwater he took a boat from the Florida Everglades and we hung it from the ceiling to visually express that. It was subtle. Terry’s work was very subtle, but sometimes it was right there. He could work on both ends of the spectrum. I see that in some of the work in the exhibition. With Tameka Norris, her work is one of the three video pieces in the exhibition, and her work can really make the viewer uncomfortable. She’s reverting back to a time when she was not self-aware, as a child. You know as a four-year-old you don’t care what people think about what you’re doing. So, she’s kind of recast herself as a younger self; she’s in a costume or in a disguise. And how do we feel about that? Why are we uncomfortable with that? And she is relishing in our discomfort, and I think that’s an interesting social experiment right there. So you’ll see it within the exhibition.
Nsenga [Knight]’s pieces definitely make this social justice space. In her Malcolm X speeches, [Malcolm X Speaks] that very much go back to Terry, his Blanche Bruce, his alter ego doppelganger. He did a lot of work dealing with social issues and he attributed the work to Blanche Bruce, and that was one of Nsenga’s heroes. Her other piece in the show [Make Safe, Make Space] was done right after Ferguson. The piece that you see downstairs is the end result. She gathered a group of people together and talked about feeling safe or not feeling safe, the black body, and not knowing where that safe space is. She gleaned these phrases as people were talking through the trauma. So that was the most recent, ripped from the headlines, social justice issue in the exhibition.
Q: How can a show like this, with artists working with a diverse array of media, convey artistic or community unity?
A: Well, the 2002 exhibition was called Darkwater Recital and Four Dominions: Terry Adkins after W.E.B Du Bois. The four dominions were music and text, performance, sculpture, and documents. I wanted to make sure that all four of those were represented in this exhibition, but it was so hard, because over the last 15 years he had a lot of students. So, I had to bring together a group that would work cohesively, but you don’t really know until the work is all together in the same physical space, how they will dialogue together, especially since the artists were working with such an array of media. It’s a leap of faith in a way, because I really thought that Terry’s disc prints would really speak to Demetrius’s harmonic spheres, you know they both have that celestial vibe. I thought Wilmer [Wilson IV] and Ivanco [Talevski], both dealing with skin, metaphorical and physical, would be really interesting on the far ends of the gallery so they could vibe together. I also wanted Wilmer [Wilson IV] in the back so people would have to travel back there, they would see the sparkle, and how those would undulate, but they would have to move back there before they could really understand what was happening with the piece. Jessica Slaven’s work is all on paper, and she is the only colorist, her pieces are intensely saturated with color, but they have a fabric feel to them. Again, back to textiles. But all of these pieces really speak to each other and that’s really what I had in mind. A little tidbit from Terry’s biography, he was a practicing Catholic but his dad was the pastor at Alfred Street Baptist Church in Alexandria, VA and I actually have friends that go there. It’s a hugely influential church and it’s a place where Terry’s background touched mine a little bit so I wanted the exhibition to feel like a revival. I didn’t want it to be morbid, even though it is remembering him, I wanted there to be joy there, an almost camp meeting feel to it. Hence we have Sermonesque in the middle of the room addressing the room from that pulpit and there’s a call and response happening. So I think that the pieces really did come together, it knit those artists together and it knit us with the School of Design because they are a part of this, too, in their connection to Terry. This was to help fill that void [after the loss of Terry] and that is how it brought the Penn community together, and that is really exciting.
Q: What do you hope that Penn students specifically will take away from the show?
A: When I talked to all of these artists and went on their studio visits, one thing most of them said was “I came in thinking I was a painter or a sculptor but I left doing something completely different that I didn’t think I would be able to do” and Terry and the School of Design really encouraged that. You don’t focus on one specific area; you have to go in a lot of different directions and learn a lot of new things. I think the work really represents that. So, as a Penn student, no matter what discipline you are in, you can come in and even if you stay in one discipline, you become open to so many different perspectives. You can just combine disciplines in a way that you didn’t think was possible, and it makes your major or area of study even richer.
Ms. Duckett has nearly twenty years of experience in museums, non-profit art centers, city-run spaces, and commercial galleries. Before accepting her current position, she served as the Gallery Coordinator for Nexus Contemporary Art Center in Atlanta (now The Contemporary). She has also served as Associate Curator for The City of Atlanta’s Bureau of Cultural Affairs, City Gallery East. In 2000, she curated Women on the Verge at the African American Museum in Philadelphia. Ms. Duckett earned her B.A. in 1994 in Art History from Spelman College, Atlanta GA. In 2001, she earned her M.A. in Museum Studies from Seton Hall University, South Orange, NJ.
Arthur Ross Gallery Presents
Darkwater Revival: After Terry Adkins
New exhibition pays homage to late artist and professor with 10 artists from the University of Pennsylvania Community who were deeply impacted by his work and their relationship with him.
Philadelphia, (July 15, 2016) â€“ The Arthur Ross Gallery at the University of Pennsylvania is pleased to present Darkwater Revival: After Terry Adkins, an homage to the distinguished artist, musician, and University of Pennsylvania professor whose untimely death in 2014 was a huge loss to the artistic community.
The exhibition, which opens on Saturday, August 27th and runs through December 11th, 2016, explores Adkins legacy not only asÂ an artist, but as a professor, colleague and mentor, and is highlighted by the works of 10 artists and former students from the Penn Community who have been deeply impacted by Terryâ€™s work and by their relationship with him.
Darkwater Revival will feature many of Adkins original works from Darkwater: A Recital in Four Dominions, Terry Adkins after W.E.B. Du Bois, his homage to Du Bois, 100 years after the publication of the Philadelphia Negro (published by University of Penn in 1899). The exhibition was a site-specific collaboration with the Arthur Ross Gallery, and combined sculptural elements with archival documents, artifacts, and prints and performance to create a recital in which Adkins was composer, conductor, and performer. Darkwater Revival follows in Adkinsâ€™ footsteps, honoring the artist in much the same way, reflecting on Terryâ€™s creative process, his intuitive and thoughtful approach to art-making, all highlighted by the recent works of his former students and collaborators Jamal Cyrus, Nsenga Knight, Ernel Martinez, Matt Neff, Tameka Norris, Sean Riley, Jessica Slaven, Ivanco Talevski, Sarah Tortora and Wilmer Wilson.
Darkwater Revival: After Terry Adkins is curated by DejÃ¡y B. Duckett, Associate Director and Associate Curator of Pennâ€™s Arthur Ross Gallery who curated Darkwater Revival with Adkins in 2002 and Demetrius Oliver, the New York-based artist 2004 graduate of Pennâ€™s School of Design who studied under Adkins.
Terry Adkins joined the Penn faculty in 2000, and was known for using biographical information of often-overlooked historical figures in addition to the music and found materials that inspired his work. His art is in the collections of the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, part of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington; the Studio Museum in Harlem; the Metropolitan Museum of Art; the Museum of Modern Art in New York; and the Tate Modern in London. He was featured in the 2014 Whitney Biennial, and also the 2015 Venice Biennale.
Adds Demetrious Oliver: â€œHis work, steeped in abstraction, left an indelible impression on me, it was his uncompromising principles and artistic stance that continues to challenge me today.â€
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During Darkwater Revival three artists will present performances in the Arthur Ross Gallery:
Thursday, September 8, 2016
5:30 â€“ 8:00 PM (opening reception)
Performance conceived by Terry Adkins, performed by
Matthew Clayton, Harmonic Spheres
Thursday, September 29, 2016
Sean Riley, Insoluble
Friday, December 2, 2016
Ernel Martinez and Keir Johnston, Martyrsâ€™ Day
The Arthur Ross Gallery is located at 220 South 34th Street, Philadelphia (located in the Fisher Fine Arts Library Building), and is free and open to the public.
HOURS: Weekdays 10:00am â€“ 5:00pm; Weekends 12:00pm â€“ 5:00pm. Closed Mondays. Visit us on Facebook and Twitter.Â To reserve a group tour please contact us at email@example.com or 215-898-3617.Â
Additional information is available at ArthurRossGallery.org or 215-898-2083
This week we are honoring Ben Behrend, current senior in the College, and our first ever chair of the Arthur Ross Gallery Student Board! Ben is a Philadelphia native studying History and Spanish. On campus, he serves as a board member of Quadramics Theatre Company and gives tours to prospective students. We sat down with Ben to pick his brain about being the first chair of the Arthur Ross Gallery Student Board:
April 8 – July 31, 2016
Expanding the Audience for Art in the Nineteenth Century at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts will open to the public on Friday, April 8, 2016 at the Arthur Ross Gallery, University of Pennsylvania. The exhibition is the culmination of a synergistic collaboration between Professor Michael Leja and students in a curatorial seminar in the Department of the History of Art, the museum and staff of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, and the Arthur Ross Gallery. This groundbreaking exhibition will remain on view at the Arthur Ross Gallery through July 31, 2016.
Throughout the nineteenth century artists strived to increase the audience for art by incorporating new media, new venues, and new voices. As the oldest museum and art school in the country, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts bore witness to such efforts. This exhibition includes 19th century prints, photographs, paintings, architectural drawings, institutional ephemera, and gift books that reveal its remarkable influence. Works by seminal artists such as Benjamin West, Thomas Eakins, John Sartain, Cecilia Beaux, Maxfield Parrish, Alice Barber Stephens, Henry Ossawa Tanner, Yasuo Kuniyoshi will be included.
The 13 students in Dr. Lejaâ€™s seminar researched and selected works of art relevant to the exhibition theme, working collaboratively with Anna Marley, PAFA Curator of Historical American Art, and Hoang Tran, Archives Coordinator. The exhibition catalogue reflects their scholarship on this important century that defined American Art.
Dr. Leja and his curatorial seminar students have worked on all aspects of the exhibition in collaboration with the Arthur Ross Gallery. They are:
Haely Chang, M.A. candidate, History of Art, University of Pennsylvania
Anne Cross, Ph.D. candidate, History of Art, University of Delaware
Lee Ann Custer, Ph.D. candidate, History of Art, University of Pennsylvania
Tara Giangrande, B.A., Swarthmore College
Kirsten Gill, M.A. candidate, History of Art, University of Pennsylvania
Julia Griffith, M.S., Historic Preservation, University of Pennsylvania
Olivia Horn, B.A., University of Pennsylvania
Jeffrey Katzin, Ph.D. candidate, History of Art, University of Pennsylvania
Ramey Mize, L.P.S., University of Pennsylvania
Shahzeen Nasim, B.A., Haverford College
Andres de los Rios, B.A., University of Pennsylvania
Serena Qiu, Ph.D. candidate, History of Art, University of Pennsylvania
Jill Vaum, Ph.D. candidate, History of Art, University of Pennsylvania
Related Events and Programs
ThursdayÂ April 7, 5:00 â€“ 7:30 pm, Arthur Ross Gallery
Opening Reception and Curatorial Discussions
ThursdayÂ April 14, 5:30 pm, Arthur Ross Gallery
Lecture: Anna O. Marley, PAFA Curator of Historical American Art
Thursday, April 21, 5:30 pm, Arthur Ross Gallery
A Conversation with Hoang Tran, PAFA Archives CoordinatorÂ
Please join us for a public conversation between Hoang Tran, Archives Coordinator at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, and Haely Chang, Tara Giangrande, and Annie Cross, curatorial seminar students. They will discuss their research, and ways in which archival materials informed their curatorial decisions.
Monday, April 25 at 12:00 pm Arthur Ross Gallery and Morgan Print Room
During the nineteenth century new media and imaging technologies emerged, including various forms of printmaking. Kayla Romberger, artist and printmaking instructor at Penn, will lead a printmaking demonstration, and guests will receive unique prints of admission tickets to the exhibition. (This event will require guests to RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org and will be capped at 15 people.)
Wednesday, May 4, 12pm, Arthur Ross Gallery
12@12: Ramey Mize, L.P.S., and Jeff Katzin, Ph.D. Student, University of Pennsylvania
Â Wednesday, June 1, 12pm, Arthur Ross Gallery
12@12: Lee Ann Custer, Ph.D. Candidate, University of Pennsylvania
Wednesday, July 6, 12pm, Arthur Ross Gallery
12@12: Arthur Ross Gallery staff
Additional support for the exhibition is provided by the Arthur Ross Exhibition Fund, Mrs. Arthur Ross, Mr. George Gillespie, the Hohns Family ESCAPE Program, the Patronâ€™s Circle of the Arthur Ross Gallery, Campaign for Community at the University of Pennsylvania, Connelly Foundation, Dolfinger-McMahon Foundation, the Philadelphia Cultural Fund, and the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts.
The Gallery is located at 220 South 34th Street, Philadelphia (located in the Fisher Fine Arts Library Building), and is free and open to the public.
HOURS: Weekdays 10:00am â€“ 5:00pm; Weekends 12:00pm â€“ 5:00pm. Closed Mondays. Visit us on Facebook and Twitter. To reserve a group tour please contact us at email@example.com or 215-898-3617.
Additional information is available at ArthurRossGallery.org or 215-898-2083