Artists as Cultivators
Artists As Cultivators examines how artists have fostered and sustained critical social dialogues over three centuries through their use of nature as a subject, theme, and material. Inspired by the PAFA’s founding as a space for “cultivation of the fine arts,” and the collection’s relationship to the nation’s founding, the exhibition presents paintings, drawings, prints, and sculpture that employ and examine nature and its relationship to American identity.
Mobilized as a symbol for Nationalist expansion and Progressive-era ideals in the 19th century, in the 20th and 21st, artists have grappled with the impacts of industrial expansion, environmental extraction, and suburban development. This exhibition explores how American artists have cultivated discourse, critique, and change by way of engagement with nature. The exhibition is organized into three sections:
Connectivity: Inspired by Dyani White Hawk’s immersive video installation RELATIVE (2023), this section examines connectedness across peoples, geographies, and ecologies.
Curae: The relationship between curatorial and organizational work is examined in this section, with works presenting how care informs the practice of curating. This section is anchored by a series of prints by curator and artist Ruth Fine.
Converge: This section contends with how nature or landscape becomes a symbol or myth for social dialogue, using Minerva Cuevas’s The End (2016) as a beginning.
Alongside this exhibition is PAFA’s contribution to (re)Focus, to be installed in the Richard C. von Hess Works on Paper gallery, which will highlight women and femme-identifying artists who use nature as a subject, theme, or material.
Image Credit: Rising Sun: Artists in an Uncertain America at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, March 23, 2023–December 31, 2023 in the Historic Landmark Building. Courtesy of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia. Photography by Constance Mensh.
Artwork: Dyani White Hawk - RELATIVE, 2023, Vinyl on mirror glass panels, 8-channel video, color, 6-minute loop, sound composition, stereo, 20-minute loop, 9 ft x 16 ft. Commissioned by PAFA for Rising Sun: Artists in
an Uncertain America, courtesy of the artist and Bockley Gallery. Photography: Constance Mensh