- "Resistance Ceiling, record," 2019, by Jane Irish. Oil on linen, 72 x 101 inches. © Jane Irish. Collection of the artist, Philadelphia, PA, Courtesy of Locks Gallery and the artist.Important: By downloading this image, you are agreeing to the following permissions: Images are provided exclusively to the press, and only for purposes of publicity for the duration of an exhibition at the PMA. The Museum grants permission to use images only to the extent of its ownership rights relating to those images--the responsibility for any additional permissions remains solely with the party reproducing the images. In addition, the images must be accompanied by the credit line and any copyright information as it appears above, and the party reproducing the images must not distort or mutilate the images.
- "Thread Drawing 2015-5," 2015, by Mi-Kyoung Lee. Sewing threads, 10 x 10 feet. © Mi-Kyoung Lee. Private Collection. Image courtesy of the artist.Important: By downloading this image, you are agreeing to the following permissions: Images are provided exclusively to the press, and only for purposes of publicity for the duration of an exhibition at the PMA. The Museum grants permission to use images only to the extent of its ownership rights relating to those images--the responsibility for any additional permissions remains solely with the party reproducing the images. In addition, the images must be accompanied by the credit line and any copyright information as it appears above, and the party reproducing the images must not distort or mutilate the images.
- "Songlines: Cosmos," 2017, by Howardena Pindell. Mixed media on canvas, 59 x 83 inches. © Howardena Pindell. Private Collection. Image courtesy the artist and Garth Greenan Gallery, New York.Important: By downloading this image, you are agreeing to the following permissions: Images are provided exclusively to the press, and only for purposes of publicity for the duration of an exhibition at the PMA. The Museum grants permission to use images only to the extent of its ownership rights relating to those images--the responsibility for any additional permissions remains solely with the party reproducing the images. In addition, the images must be accompanied by the credit line and any copyright information as it appears above, and the party reproducing the images must not distort or mutilate the images.
- "Phoenix," 2020, by Jesse Krimes. Antique quilt, used clothing collected from incarcerated people, assorted textiles, 96 x 62 inches. Private collection. Photo by Andy Romer, courtesy Malin Gallery.
- "Do you know how hard it is to get a black man through high school?," 2019, by Roberto Lugo. Earthenware and acrylic paint, 66 x 32 x 32 inches (200-300 lbs.) © Roberto Lugo. Collection of the artist, Philadelphia, PA. Image courtesy of the artist and Wexler Gallery.
- "San Sebastián," 2012, by Kukuli Velarde. Clay, underglazes, glaze, casein paint, gold leaf, 38 x 18 x 18 inches © Kukuli Velarde. Collection of the artist. Image courtesy of the artist.
- "Blue Jays Looking at Blue," 2020, by Eileen Neff. Archival pigment on dibond, installed: 18 x 39 inches; image (blue): 18 x 18 inches; image (blue jays): 18 x 20 inches. Collection of the artist. Courtesy of the artist and Bridgette Mayer Gallery.
- "Window with Chain," 2019, by Micah Danges. Photograph printed on mesh, steel hardware. 88 x 58 inches. Collection of the artist. Photo courtesy of the artist.
- Video still of "Be Alarmed: The Black Americana Epic, Movement I—The Visions." Bonus Scene, SCENE V, "One year and seven days," 2014, by Tiona Nekkia McClodden. Single-channel video, TRT 10:05, HD 1920x1080, manipulated audio track. Collection of the artist. Image courtesy of the artist.
- "Kitchen Smells Like Us," 2020, by Jonathan Lyndon Chase. Spray paint, acrylic, oil pastel, chalk pastel, plastic, glitter, marker on muslin, 84.5 x 74 inches. Photo by Chase Barnes. Courtesy of the artist and Company Gallery, New York.
- "Flight (From the Camden series)," 2017, by Tim Portlock. Archival dibond print and visual effects software, 44 x 58.5 inches. © Tim Portlock. Collection of the artist, Philadelphia, PA. Courtesy of Locks Gallery and the artist.
- "Vapor Trail of Debris," 2014, by Hiro Sakaguchi. Acrylic on canvas. 54 x 68 inches. © Hiro Sakaguchi. Private collection, Philadelphia, PA. Image courtesy of the artist.
- "Murdered Animal," 2019, by Judith Schaechter. Stained glass lightbox, 28 x 28 x 3 inches. © Judith Schaechter. Private Collection. Image courtesy of the artist.
- Installation image of "In My Little Corner of the World, Anyone Would Love You," 2016, by Sharon Hayes. Performers left to right - Jeannine Betu Kayembe and Karle Surkan. 5-Channel HD video, color, sound, installation. Dimensions variable. Courtesy of the artist and Tanya Leighton Gallery, Berlin. Photo by Andy Keate at Studio Voltaire, London.
- "Red Apartment," 2016, by Becky Suss. Oil on canvas, 84 x 60 x 1 3/8 inches. Private Collection, Summit, NJ. © Becky Suss. Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York.
- "Sweetmeat, Epergne," 2013, by Doug Bucci. 3D printed stainless steel, nylon, biocompatible resin, silicone, and 18k gold, 16 1/2 x 21 1/2 x 21 1/2 inches. © Doug Bucci. Image courtesy of Ken Yanoviak.
- "Burning window," 2020, by Alex Da Corte. Neon, vinyl siding, laminate, plywood, house paint, foam, velvet, hardware. 72 x 72 x 6 inches. Image courtesy of the artist, Matthew Marks Gallery, Sadie Coles HQ, London.
- Performance still of "The Garden of Forking Paths," 2017, by Nichole Canuso, as performed by Nichole Canuso Dance Company at Bok Building, Philadelphia. Photo by Katie Raines, courtesy of the artist.
First Exhibition in New Modern and Contemporary Galleries Champions Artists Connected to Philadelphia
May 7–August 22, 2021
For artists who live, work, or spend time in our city, Philadelphia is a vibrant place where they can build creative networks that extend across the country and, in some instances, around the world. New Grit: Art & Philly Now will take the pulse of the city’s contemporary art scene through a close look at 25 artists whose work represents a wide range of perspectives. Inaugurating a new set of galleries that have been created during the soon-to-be completed renovation of the museum’s landmark Main Building through the Core Project phase of the Facilities Master Plan, New Grit embodies the museum’s commitment to the artists and artistic culture of this remarkable city. At a time marked by transformation and change within the city and by profound cultural shifts across the globe, it will examine in new and striking ways how artists tackle the complexities of being and belonging, connectedness and community in our 21st-century world. Invoking a term with close ties to Philadelphia—where grit has come to signify the deeply rooted resilience and bold sprit of this ever-changing city—the exhibition articulates a new chapter in the story of the city being told by artists of today.
This exhibition in the new Daniel W. Dietrich II Galleries will present the expansive vision of artists who are engaged in diverse practices and use many different media such as ceramics, glass, installation, painting, photography, sculpture, fiber, and video. Comprising eight new galleries and the adjacent corridor space, New Grit will also include five new commissions. As the exhibition was planned over a multi-year period and finalized during the trials and transformations of 2020, it will reflect on the recent past through works that amplify some of the most urgent issues of our time. These include Black Lives Matter, immigration, incarceration, and re-entry. With additional works that explore memory, depict street scenes, and enact social and cultural exchange, the exhibition will explore a range of compelling narratives that speak to our sociopolitical context.
This will be the first exhibition in the new range of galleries comprising 10,000-square-feet that will be used primarily for the presentation of modern and contemporary art. They are scheduled to be unveiled in May 2021. New Grit will also offer a compelling dialogue with a new installation in another suite of new galleries that will be dedicated to the display of 18th- and 19th-century American art from the museum’s collection. Given the prominent role that this city played in the development of American art during this period, a key focus will be on art produced in Philadelphia at that time. An important component of Frank Gehry’s design for the museum’s Core Project, these galleries will represent the most significant expansion of exhibition space in the museum’s Main Building since 1928.
The works presented in New Grit will offer interdisciplinary and intergenerational perspectives on the spatial, social, and political dimensions of place. Evoking ideas of infinity, of history and time, a section called Cosmos will feature works by Howardena Pindell (b. 1943, Philadelphia), Jane Irish (b. 1955, Pittsfield, Massachusetts), and Mi-Kyoung Lee (b. 1970, Geoje City, South Korea). Another section, Crossing Boundaries, will focus on selfhood, incarceration and imagining freedom, and ruminations on the status of confederate monuments, featuring works by Jesse Krimes (b. 1982, Lancaster, Pennsylvania), Roberto Lugo (b. 1981, Philadelphia), and Wilmer Wilson IV (b. 1989, Richmond, Virginia). In Encounter & Exchange, Mohamed Bourouissa (b. 1978, Blida, Algeria), Kukuli Velarde (b. 1962, Lima, Peru), and Daniel Traub (b. 1971, Philadelphia) will examine both the immediate context and international dimensions of cultural encounters through images of the street: its passersby, processions, and urban cowboys. Another grouping will include a new commission by David Hartt (b. 1967, Montreal, Canada) and a collaborative installation of works by Eileen Neff (b. 1945, Philadelphia) and Micah Danges (b. 1979, Morgantown, West Virginia). This section, (Un)Natural Histories, will blur the real and the artificial with works that examine historical narratives and bring both abstraction and traditional landscape imagery to bear on depictions of the natural world. In The Epic & the Everyday, Tiona Nekkia McClodden (b. 1981, Blytheville, Arkansas), Jonathan Lyndon Chase (b. 1989, Philadelphia), and Ken Lum (b. 1956, Vancouver, Canada), offer works that chronicle the emotional and experiential depths of biography and daily life, both real and fictionalized.
Animation, the virtual, and the surreal will collide in Imagined Worlds, gathering paintings, works in stained glass, and digital renderings by, respectively, Hiro Sakaguchi (b. 1965, Nagano, Japan), Judith Schaechter (b. 1961, Gainesville, Florida), and Tim Portlock (b. 1969, Chicago). The narratives in the section of the exhibition titled Memory & Belonging will explore how personal histories contend with social, familial, and political conditions of acceptance and connection. A five-channel video installation by Sharon Hayes (b. 1970, Baltimore), paintings by Becky Suss (b. 1980, Philadelphia), and a commissioned lightbox and video installation by Michelle Angela Ortiz (b. 1978, Philadelphia) will be featured in this gallery.
A gallery called Inside Out will pair works by two artists investigating analogous messages related to overindulgence, consumption, and memory, yet situate the spectator at opposite spatial perspectives. A commission by Doug Bucci (b. 1971, Philadelphia)—his largest realized work to date—will place us within a sterile interior that simultaneously reflects on the artist’s childhood hospital stay, his lifelong struggle with diabetes, and 18th-century dining rituals. Conjoining this installation will be a suite of brightly colored windows made of vinyl siding and neon by Alex Da Corte (b. 1980, Camden, New Jersey) whose imagery touch on the familiar and macabre.
Finally, two of the five commissioned works will be presented in the exhibition’s Movement section: a mural by Odili Donald Odita (b. 1966, Enugu, Nigeria) and an interactive dance performance by Nichole Canuso (b. 1973, Philadelphia). Extending along the light-filled hallway which connects these new galleries to the new Forum, Odita’s wall painting will unfold in a procession of color, taking as its point of departure the recent Black Lives Matter protests that converged on the museum’s steps. Canuso’s project will take four participants at a time along a choreographed route through the exhibition itself, in which stories and cues heard in headphones will bring them into view of dancers throughout the space (Specific dates and ticket information for this performance will be announced closer to the exhibition opening).
Organized by a cross-departmental curatorial team—the first of its kind for a large-scale contemporary project at the museum—the exhibition will take the new gallery spaces as an opportunity to reimagine curatorial work in the form of collaboration and a blending of expertise. Informed by a lively and productive exchange between curators specializing in photography, craft, contemporary art, design, and textiles, this interdisciplinary exhibition will amplify the range and interconnectedness of Philadelphia as a creative crossroads.
“Philly is not just a physical place. As a catalyst for creativity, it offers a network for artists, and a hub of contemporary arts that extends its influence from here to abroad,” said Erica Battle, the John Alchin and Hal Marryatt Associate Curator of Contemporary Art, who led the interdisciplinary team of curators as they engaged artists working in, around, and in relation to Philadelphia.
“An artist of Philadelphia is an artist of an inter-connected world; we wanted to expand upon definitions of the ‘local’ to encompass both veterans of the scene and artists from elsewhere who cite the city’s energy as a creative influence. New Grit affirms that our city has been, and will continue to be, a site for the exchange of ideas, civic engagement, and boundless imagination. It is truly a critical time to support artists of our city, and to amplify Philly itself as a source of resilience and inspiration.”
New Grit: Art & Philly Now Curatorial Team
Elisabeth Agro, Nancy M. McNeil Curator of American Modern and Contemporary Crafts and Decorative Arts; Peter Barberie, Brodsky Curator of Photographs, Alfred Stieglitz Center; Erica F. Battle, John Alchin and Hal Marryatt Associate Curator of Contemporary Art (Team Lead); Dilys Blum, Jack M. and Annette Y. Friedland Senior Curator of Costume and Textiles; Kathryn B. Hiesinger, J. Mahlon Buck, Jr. Family Senior Curator of European Decorative Arts after 1700; with curatorial assistance by Tally de Orellana, former Daniel W. Dietrich II Fellow in Contemporary Art, and Charlotte Lowrey, Coordinator of Curatorial Initiatives, Contemporary Art. The exhibition benefited from the research contributions by Michelle Millar Fisher, former Louis C. Madeira IV Assistant Curator of European Decorative Arts and Emily Schreiner, former Zoë and Dean Pappas Curator of Education, Public Programs.
About the Artists
New Grit: Art & Philly Now has been made possible with support from John Alchin and Hal Marryatt and through the museum’s endowment, with the Daniel W. Dietrich II Fund for Excellence in Contemporary Art, the Laura and William C. Buck Endowment for Exhibitions, the Lois G. and Julian A. Brodsky Installation and Exhibition Fund, the Gloria and Jack Drosdick Fund for Special Exhibitions, the Harriet and Ronald Lassin Fund for Special Exhibitions, the Kathleen C. and John J. F. Sherrerd Fund for Exhibitions, and by additional contributions from the museum’s Contemporary Art Committee, Eduardo Ardiles and Joseph Ujobai, Robert and Julie Jensen Bryan, Emily and Mike Cavanagh, Jaimie and David Field, Julia and David Fleischner, Arthur M. Kaplan and R. Duane Perry, Susan and James Meyer, Mitchell and Hilarie Morgan Family Foundation, Katherine Sachs, Sarena Snider, Karen Goodman Tarte, Harriet and Larry Weiss, and other generous donors.
Additional support for the construction of these new galleries was provided by the Daniel W. Dietrich II Foundation, Jane and Leonard Korman, Mitchell and Hilarie Morgan Family Foundation, Lynne and Harold Honickman, Jaimie and David Field, Marie and Joseph Field, and other generous donors.
Credits as of March 26, 2021
In Conversation: Artist Odili Donald Odita
Wednesday, March 24, 5:00–6:00 p.m.
Irma and Herbert Barness Endowed Lecture
Artist Odili Donald Odita discusses his new mural, Walls of Change, which will be included in New Grit: Art & Philly Now. This bold and dynamic abstract wall painting weaves together the history of the museum’s architectural and social history, including its original design, the new Frank Gehry–designed spaces, through its role as a site for the Black Lives Matter protests last summer.
Odili Donald Odita (born 1966 in Enugu, Nigeria) is an abstract painter whose work explores how color can imbue meaning and trigger profound social and political connotations. He is currently a professor of painting at the Tyler School of Art and Architecture in Philadelphia.
In the Artist’s Voice: Kukuli Velarde
Wednesday, April 21, 5:00–6:00 p.m.
Artist Kukuli Velarde creates embroidered banners and decorated clay figures that evoke ritual procession and a mix of cultural influences (from the pre-Columbian to Catholicism) and reflect her contemporary perspective. In this virtual talk, Velarde considers the influences on this body of work, titled Corpus, as well as her multimedia artistic practice with curator Elisabeth Agro. Q&A to follow.
Registration ends at noon the day before the program; a link will be sent to registrants prior to the program.
Velarde’s work will be on view in New Grit: Art & Philly Now.
Kukuli Velarde is a multimedia artist who works in drawing, painting, and sculpture. She lives and works in Philadelphia.
Elisabeth Agro is the Nancy M. McNeil Curator of American Modern and Contemporary Crafts and Decorative Arts. She is one of the curators of the upcoming exhibition New Grit: Art & Philly Now.
Shifting Borders of the Americas
Thursday, April 29, 12:00–1:00 p.m
Rose Susan Hirschhorn Behrend Lecture
Trace how art of former colonies of land now part of Latin America—which includes many national identities that have changed over time—has come to be classified as “art of the Americas.” Professor Mey-Yen Moriuchi of La Salle University, curator Cesáreo Moreno of the National Museum of Mexican Art, and Philadelphia-based artist Michelle Angela Ortiz discuss how these histories are displayed in the museum and their relationship to the US raise ongoing questions about the fixity of borders.
Registration ends at noon the day before the program; a link will be sent to registrants prior to the program.
Panelist & moderator: Mey-Yen Moriuchi, Associate Professor, Art History at La Salle University, Philadelphia
Cesáreo Moreno, Chief Curator and Visual Arts Director, National Museum of Mexican Art, Chicago
Michelle Angela Ortiz, Philadelphia-based artist who will present a new commission as part of the upcoming exhibition New Grit: Art & Philly Now
Further programming to be confirmed.
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