Rising Sun Exhibition Program

Screening: Art of Survival

Event Information
Rhoden Arts Center
Samuel M.V. Hamilton Building
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Advance registration is required.

General Public
Lori Waselchuk

Graphic for the Art of Survival screening with stills of the participants in the project making art.

The World Premiere at PAFA will feature a screening of Art of Survival, a discussion with artists and participants from the Kensington Storefront and a performance by Ursula Rucker and Miles Orion Butler.

Art of Survival is an intimate short documentary about a place and a spirit. From 2017 until early 2020, the Kensington Storefront studio offered people in Kensington a free cup of coffee, a snack and a chance to express themselves by drawing, painting, weaving or joining in a musical performance. There were no preconditions, no expectations—just the agreement to treat each other with civility and respect. 

Gradually, a remarkable community formed, including artists, volunteers, peer counselors, student nurses, and a stream of people from the neighborhood and from the street. Recorded over many months, Art of Survival brings viewers into this unique community, introduces them to a set of compelling characters, and provides a sharp contrast to the bleak vision that dominates media portrayals of Kensington and its many problems. 

Featured Artists: Caledonia “Swoon” Curry, Ursula Rucker, Kathryn Pannepacker, Lisa Kelley, Ashley Flynn, John C. Zerbe

Running time: 28 minutes. Produced by Hidden River Films; Produced by Tony Heriza; Cinematography by James Wasserman; Editing by Valerie Keller.

*** Please bring a new pair of socks, which will be given to someone in need.

Please join us for a reception at 6:00 PM.

Presented in partnership with Hidden River Films and Mural Arts Philadelphia

Photo of Ursula Rucker performing with a pink background.

Poet, recording artist, songwriter, activist and revolutionary Ma’at Mama, Ursula Rucker is a certified veteran of the global music and poetry scene. A skilled writer and dynamic performer, Rucker’s rich and textured voice is one of the world’s great, living instruments. 

Born and raised in Philadelphia, Rucker began to share her poetic gifts in her 20s, performing at open mics in the city before two standout recorded performances announced to the world that Rucker was an emerging force to be reckoned with.

In 1994, Rucker broke out performing a memorable lead vocal for “Supernatural”, the classic House tune by DJ King Britt side-project, Firefly. The song remains a dancefloor classic today. That same year, Rucker would record a jaw-dropping performance on The Roots “The Unlocking”, the closer from their ground-breaking full length Do You Want More?!!!??! Today, Rucker enjoys a standing as a respected poet, writer and vocalist.

For nearly 3 decades, Rucker has used her fiery prose and invigorating imagery to excite and inspire listeners around the world. In addition to her performance on HBO’s Def Poetry Jam, Rucker has established herself as a top-tier recording artist. Her solo albums are brimming with power and wide-ranging musical diversity, including Supa Sista (2001), Silver Or Lead (2003), Ma’at Mama (2006), Ruckus Soundsysdom (2008), She Said (2010), and No Stranger Here, her 2011 collaboration with Shubha Mudgal and Business Class Refugees. Rucker has built an equally impressive catalog as a collaborator, working with everyone from The Roots, 4Hero, Jazzanova, Louie Vega, Doodlebug of Digable Planets; and many more. A versatile artist, Rucker can be heard on dancefloors across the world, as the voice of many House and Dance music classics. Rucker currently has over 300 tracks on the Beatport charts and was selected as a Top vocalist of 2020 by the popular Dance music site Traxsource. 

In 2013, Philadelphia’s Mural Arts Program commissioned the artist Jetsonorama to create You Go Girl, a massive, building-sized portrait of Rucker and in 2021, her new mural entitled “We Still Here”, also by Jetsonorama, was dedicated in her own Germantown neighborhood.  She has toured with her live performance memoir, My Father’s Daughter, which she describes as “90 minutes of self-truth and discovery.” She is a recipient of the prestigious fellowship award from The Pew Center for Arts & Change. In 2020, she released big/small poems for pockets, a chapbook of haikus. In 2021, Ursula collaborated with artist Vince Fraser on his exhibit Ase Afro Frequencies which debuted at Artechouse Miami. 

At the close of 2022, Ursula had the distinct honor of being selected for the Philadelphia Cultural Treasures Fellowship, recognizing her continued commitment to the advancement of art, and artist advocacy, and an endorsement from her community that her legacy is essential to the cultural fabric of Philadelphia. 

Whether she’s on the stage, in print, or on record, Ursula Rucker is an artistic force of nature. 

photo: Steve Weinik/MAP