“Belonging” can mean “an affinity for a place or situation”, and it can indicate ownership of an object. That is, the word could describe a feeling of being welcomed and meshing with one’s community or it may refer to one's possessions. In this interdisciplinary exhibition, material objects evoke thoughts and emotions connected to place, identity, and otherness. Arnold’s rugs utilize tactile, symbolic imagery, to tell the interwoven, tangled struggles associated with social reform. With complex layers and dynamic compositions, Lee’s artworks play the game of hide and seek and double entendre through a childlike lens to speak to the influence that cultural images can have on one’s self-identity. Cycling among human impulses–such as accumulation, abundance, and absence—McGehean’s constructed worlds culminate in vibrating and poetic clusters of familiar objects from an unfamiliar time that is just out of reach.
Using simplified forms, familiar symbols, and nostalgic references based on their critique of contemporary culture, the artists invite the viewers to explore their own sense of belonging and pose questions about their process of self-discovery.
The roots of the exhibition grew a year ago when McCammon admired McGehean’s playful collages and Arnold’s striking rugs that she had watched develop through studying and working at PAFA. She eventually came across the multi-media works of PAFA artist-in-residence, Lee, and the dots connected. McCammon began to organize an exhibition, which was to open in Spring 2020. The pandemic squashed the opportunity. With the new year of 2021, the project was resurrected, discovering new works creating by the artists within the past year and finding new common threads among them. For McCammon, the sharing of the work of three female artists exploring their personal histories through an interdisciplinary lens felt even more fitting as we celebrate Women’s History Month through March.
Tabitha Arnold is an artist and political organizer in Philadelphia. Since receiving her BFA from Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art in 2017, she has explored the places where fiber art intersects with contemporary storytelling. In 2020, her touch-sensitive interactive tapestry, "Our Sutured City," was highlighted in the international ALT.CTRL showcase at Game Developers Conference.
Arnold has exhibited work in group shows around the US, including the Woodmere Museum in Philadelphia, the Baltimore Theatre Project, and Bunker Projects in Pittsburgh. She is the 2021 Artist-in-Residence at the Glen Foerd estate.
Doah Lee is an interdisciplinary visual artist based in Philadelphia. She was born and raised in Seoul, South Korea. She earned her MFA from the University of Pennsylvania and her BFA with a concentration in Painting and Printmaking at the School of Art Institute of Chicago. In her artwork, she explores and utilizes cultural symbols through repetition in a practice that mediates on cultural translation, immigration, otherness, and femininity in focusing more specifically on the issues of self-identification. She is interested in how the ways children speak, listen, see, and draw reveal their developing identities. She investigates how their relationships, as well as socio-political and cultural pressures, become influencing points in the development of those identities. Her artwork has been featured in exhibitions in Virginia, Chicago, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Los Angeles, and Seoul, South Korea. She has been a resident-artist at the Vermont Studio Center and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. She is a curator and co-director of the artist-run exhibition space, FJORD Gallery and currently teaches at Haverford School and Fleisher Art Memorial.
Julia McGehean is a multi-disciplinary artist based in Philadelphia, PA. She earned her BFA in sculpture and painting from the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in May of 2018, and works full time in a university library. McGehean combines processes of photo-based printmaking, objects, and painting into mixed media assemblages. Since graduation, she has shown around the city of Philadelphia, VAE Gallery in North Carolina, Volkswagen Headquarters in Virginia, Lancaster Museum of Art in Pennsylvania, and received the VSA Emerging Young Artist Award.