18:00 PM

Shelley Spector: Keep the Home Fires Burning

Joan Spain Gallery, Ruth and Raymond G. Perelman Building
March 7 -September 27, 2015

This Philadelphia Museum of Art presents an exhibition of new work by Shelley Spector. The Philadelphia-based artist creates a site specific installation consisting of sculptures from reclaimed wood and textiles, furniture parts and other recycled materials. Some of the free-standing works resemble trees, while others are suspended from the ceiling. Spector’s work explores ways in which basic symbols, motifs, and patterns are recorded in objects, passed from person to person, and transmitted. Embedded in the artist’s work are many allusions to symbols common to Pennsylvania German, Indian and Jewish folk art.

A lifelong resident of Philadelphia, Spector is an artist and mentor for emerging talent who attended the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and the University of the Arts, where she currently teaches. Her sculptures, paintings, and works on paper, notable for their innovative use of found materials, are represented in many private and public collections. She also heads SPECTOR projects, a program that presents unique concepts in the visual arts, including Artjaw.com, a blog about artists and creative professionals living in Philadelphia.

Keep the Home Fires Burning is the artist’s first solo museum show and represents new directions in scale, material and narrative. Central to the exhibition is a large embroidered Pennsylvania German “show towel,” from the Museum’s holdings that was designed by Frances Lichten (1889-1961). The work caught Spector’s attention when Dilys Blum, The Jack M. and Annette Y. Friedland Senior Curator of Costume and Textiles, invited her to conceive an exhibition in response to the Museum’s collection. Spector identified with Lichten’s use of imagery, her personal history and like-minded preoccupations. Lichten’s show towel is installed in the exhibition along with works by Spector dedicated to Lichten and partner Katherine Milhous. The title of the exhibition is a quote taken from a letter to Lichten from Milhous, and reflects the themes of the show.

Dilys Blum said: “Spector’s art draws upon universal human aspirations, involving hope, home, and connectedness. It bears strong affinities with work in our collection.”

The exhibition contains a participatory dimension that engages visitors. Spector will lead three workshops encouraging visitors to create decorative pincushions based on the traditional tomato-shaped craft form. They will have the option to take their pincushion home or contribute to the growing installation of needlework called Village.

Spector said: “I started collecting materials for this exhibition a year and a half ago, visiting nearby garage sales, flea markets and the Salvation Army. The material is, in a sense, random and the methods labor-intensive. It is in unifying various materials that I seek to create work that is personal. The more personal a work is the more universal the theme becomes, and I think these ideas will find community with visitors in the space.”

For the exhibition, Spector has produced a miniature book called Keep, in which she recorded her method of working using images captured on her iPhone. The book is available in the Museum shop.

Opening Celebration
Friday, March 6, 2015, 6:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.Enjoy live klezmer music and a playlist curated by the artist. The event is free, but please RSVP. For more details visit philamuseum.org/exhibitions/819.html


Sewing the Tomato Patch
Sunday, April 26, 2015 2:00 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.Sunday, May 17, 2015 2:00 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.Sunday, June 14, 2015 2:00 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.

Collaborate with Spector to create textile tomatoes that will become a part of the artwork in the show. This workshop is limited to 15 participants, ages 12 to adult. Paid reservations required. $20 ($15 members). For more details visit philamuseum.org/exhibitions/819.html

Dilys E. Blum, The Jack M. and Annette Y. Friedland Senior Curator of Costume and Textiles; and Laura Camerlengo, Exhibition Assistant in the Department of Costume and Textiles

Shelley Spector: Keep the Home Fires Burning is supported by The Pew Charitable Trusts.

Joan Spain Gallery, first floor, Perelman Building

Exhibition Hours
Tuesday through Sunday: 10:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m., Wednesdays and Fridays until 8:45 p.m.

General admission. Adults ($20), Seniors (65 & over):$18, Students (with valid ID): $14, Youth (13-18): $14, Children (12 & under): Free, Members (Join): Free

Related exhibitions

Spector’s exhibition coincides with other events across the region this season that celebrate folk art by Pennsylvania Germans.

Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library
A Colorful Folk: Pennsylvania Germans & the Art of Everyday Life March 1, 2015 to January 3, 2016Reflecting the colorful world of the Pennsylvania Germans through more than 125 examples of fraktur, textiles, and pottery, the exhibition highlights recent acquisitions and works from private and institutional collections. www.winterthur.org/colorfulfolkart

Free Library of Philadelphia
Quill & Brush: Pennsylvania German Fraktur and Material Culture March 2-July 17, 2015Hand-drawn and printed fraktur along with important manuscripts, ephemera, printed books, and artifacts highlight the breadth and depth of the Free Library’s renowned Pennsylvania German collection.

Word & Image: Contemporary Artists Connect to FrakturMarch 2-June 14, 2015This exhibition focuses upon seven contemporary artists who combine images with text. Work by Marian Bantjes (Canada), Anthony Campuzano (United States), Imran Qureshi (Pakistan), Elaine Reichek (United States), Bob and Roberta Smith (England), and Gert and Uwe Tobias (Romania/Germany) will be on view. www.freelibrary.org/framingfraktur

McNeil Center for Early American Studies, University of Pennsylvania
Fraktur and the Everyday Lives of Germans in Pennsylvania and the Atlantic World, 1683-1850March 5-8, 2015A three day conference, collaboratively organized by the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Free Library of Philadelphia, and the McNeil Center for Early American Studies at the University of Pennsylvania, with participation of the German Society of Pennsylvania, brings together an international group of scholars to discusss the historical and cultural contexts in which fraktur were created. The topics to be addressed range from patterns of migration, education, and religious practices to music, farming and medicine. The conference is supported by a Generous Academic Program Grant from the Terra Foundation for American Art and the Center for American Art at The Philadelphia Museum of Art.

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