Press Releases

Songs for Ritual and Remembrance

June 5, 2023


Songs for Ritual and Remembrance 

May 16, 2023 

Songs for Ritual and Remembrance 
June 17 – September 17, 2023 

PHILADELPHIA, PA (April 25, 2023) – The Arthur Ross Gallery at the University of Pennsylvania is pleased to announce the gallery’s summer exhibition, Songs for Ritual and Remembrance, on view from June 17 – September 17, 2023. Songs for Ritual and Remembrance presents the work of four artists that uplift suppressed historic narratives, honor embodied forms of knowledge, and center community memory through ritual and storytelling. The exhibition will bring together the work of Adebunmi Gbadebo, Ken Lum, Guadalupe Maravilla, and a new commission by Mary Ann Peters. Spanning works on paper, sculpture, and installation each of the works meditate on a social fabric revealing the imbalances of power that shape cultural memory. 

Gbadebo’s work engages with the histories held in materials, specifically those of her enslaved ancestors at the True Blue plantation in Fort Motte, South Carolina.  In her paper pieces, Gbadebo uses indigo and rice, both of which were produced at True Blue, as well as Black human hair, which itself carries a history through time and DNA. Gbadebo’s ceramic vessels are crafted from clay made from the soil on which her ancestors once labored. “The making of the work has been a practice of healing and a practice of care for their memories and what remains of their physical bodies—it’s in the soil,” Gbadebo says. 

For Songs for Ritual and Remembrance, Peters has created a newly commissioned site-specific installation in her Impossible Monument series, which offers monuments to individuals that are unlikely to be memorialized. Responding to the architecture of the Arthur Ross Gallery, the piece offers a rare account of the 19-century Syrian silk workers who successfully negotiated with the French government to increase their wages and better their working conditions. A Lebanese American artist based in Seattle, Peters has been making studio work, installations, and public art projects for more than 30 years. 

Maravilla’s Disease Thrower #16 is created from objects that the artist collected by retracing his migration route to the United States, which Maravilla combines with gongs intended to create space for meditation and recovery. Maravilla’s autobiographical and transdisciplinary practice explores the systemic abuse of immigrants. 

Lum, the University of Pennsylvania’s Marilyn Jordan Taylor Presidential Professor and Chair of Fine Arts, is known for his conceptual and representational art. Songs for Ritual and Remembrance includes a letterpress print from his Necrology series, which creates nuanced portraits of fictionalized characters based on fragments of real 19th-century obituaries.  

Curated by Emily Zimmerman, Assistant Director of the Arthur Ross Gallery, Songs for Ritual and Remembrance will offer a series of programs focused on storytelling, music, and embodied healing after the prolonged period of illness, stress, and confinement brought on by the pandemic. 

Related Programming

Opening Reception 
Friday, June 16th from 5 – 7:30 PM

12@12 with Emily Zimmerman 
Wednesday, July 5, at 12:00 PM

12@12: On Ritual 
Wednesday, August 2, at 12:00 PM 

12@12 with Dr. Jasmine Henry
Wednesday, September 6, at 12:00 PM

Daedalus Quartet 
Thursday, September 7, 5:30 PM

An evening-length program that includes Bartok’s first quartet, with music of Erwin Schulhoff, Florence Price, and William Grant Still.  
Praised by The New Yorker as “a fresh and vital young participant in what is a golden age of American string quartets,” the Daedalus Quartet has established itself as a leader among the new generation of string ensembles. Since winning the top prize in the Banff International String Quartet Competition in 2001, the Daedalus Quartet has impressed critics and listeners alike with the security, technical finish, interpretive unity, and sheer gusto of its performances. The New York Times has praised the Daedalus Quartet’s “insightful and vibrant” Haydn, the “impressive intensity” of their Beethoven, their “luminous” Berg, and the “riveting focus” of their Dutilleux. The Washington Post in turn has acclaimed their performance of Mendelssohn for its “rockets of blistering virtuosity,” while the Houston Chronicle has described the “silvery beauty” of their Schubert and the “magic that hushed the audience” when they played Ravel, the Boston Globe the “finesse and fury” of their Shostakovich, the Toronto Globe and Mail the “thrilling revelation” of their Hindemith, and the Cincinnati Enquirer the “tremendous emotional power” of their Brahms. 

Movement & Mindfulness with Rasaq Lawal 
Saturday, September 9, 12:00 PM 

Soundbath with Guadalupe Maravilla’s “Disease Thrower #16”
Tuesday, September 12, at 1 pm and 3 pm

Listening Beyond Words: A Workshop with the Penn Medicine Listening Lab led by Aaron Levy and Teya Sepinuck 
Wednesday, September 13, 6:00 PM

As human beings, we will all undergo a wide variety of experiences related to illness, caregiving, and our own vulnerability. Feeling deeply heard can allay some of the profound alienation, fear, loss, and loneliness that often accompanies illness, and itself contribute to the healing process. A compassionate listener can often hear both what has and has not been explicitly said, and help us understand our own life experiences in a new way. This experiential workshop, led by Aaron Levy, and Teya Sepinuck, will engage some of the powerful audio stories contributed by patients, caregivers, staff and clinicians to the Penn Medicine Listening Lab. We will also work in dyads to share our own stories and listen deeply to one another. In so doing, we will lay the groundwork for a practice of hearing what might be beyond words. 

Image credit: Guadalupe Maravilla, Disease Thrower #16, 2021. Gong, steel, wood, cotton, glue mixture, plastic, loofah, and objects collected from a ritual of retracing the artist’s original migration route. 98 x 96 x 52 ins. Courtesy of the Artist and PPOW Gallery.