Rising Sun: Artists in an Uncertain America

Exhibition Info
Historic Landmark Building
Curated by
Dejay Duckett, Vice President of Curatorial Services (AAMP); Judith Tannenbaum, Project Curator (PAFA); Mekhala Singhal, Curatorial Fellow (PAFA); Michael K. Wilson, Curatorial Fellow (AAMP)

Curatorial Contributions by:
Jodi Throckmorton, Originating Curator (PAFA); Juan Omar Rodriguez, Curatorial Fellow (PAFA)
20 artists respond to the critical question: Is the sun rising or setting on the experiment of American democracy?

Purchase a Joint Ticket to Rising Sun: Artists in an Uncertain America and enjoy the entire exhibition at both PAFA and the African American Museum in Philadelphia for a reduced price. Discover ticket options, collaborative programming and much more at RisingSunPhilly.org.

Rising Sun: Artists in an Uncertain America is on view until December 31, 2023 at PAFA and March 3, 2024 at AAMP.


Two historic museums come together for a transformative exhibition of contemporary art. Join the African American Museum in Philadelphia and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts for Rising Sun: Artists in an Uncertain America, an exhibition of new works examining the provocative and timely question: “Is the sun rising or setting on the experiment of American democracy?”

Installations by 20 celebrated artists explore themes of equality, free speech, and other tenets of democracy. In a time when perspectives in the U.S. are radically disparate, we invite you to explore how art inspires us to reflect on, challenge, and expand our own lived experiences.

Artists include:

Shiva Ahmadi, John Akomfrah CBE, La Vaughn Belle, Tiffany Chung, Lenka Clayton, Petah Coyne, Martha Jackson Jarvis, Demetrius Oliver, Eamon Ore-Giron, Alison Saar, Dread Scott, Rose B. Simpson, Sheida Soleimani, Renée Stout, Mark Thomas Gibson, Dyani White Hawk, Hank Willis Thomas, Deborah Willis, Wilmer Wilson IV, and Saya Woolfalk.

Please note that due to the scale of the exhibition, Rising Sun: Artists in an Uncertain America, artwork from the collection has been removed temporarily from the galleries of the Historic Landmark Building. Consider seeing  works from the permanent collection on tour through the traveling exhibition, Making American Artists (schedule here.) 

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The exhibition title is inspired by the profound words of Benjamin Franklin and poetic lyrics from James Weldon Johnson. Franklin pondered whether the sun was rising or setting on the country’s future during its formative years, and Johnson encouraged us to face “the rising sun of our new day begun” in his lyrics from Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing, also known as the Black National Anthem.


In conjunction with this exhibition, PAFA is de-installing its historic art collection from the 19th century Historic Landmark Building, to entirely devote the galleries to Rising Sun.

About the African American Museum in Philadelphia

Founded in 1976 in celebration of the nation's Bicentennial, the African American Museum in Philadelphia (AAMP) is the first institution funded and built by a major municipality to preserve, interpret and exhibit the heritage of African Americans. Throughout its evolution, the museum has objectively interpreted and presented the achievements and aspirations of African Americans from pre-colonial times to the current day. The museum is committed to telling the story of African Americans in all its permutations: family life, the Civil Rights movement, arts and entertainment, sports, medicine, architecture, politics, religion, law and technology. The AAMP currently houses four galleries and an auditorium, each of which offer exhibitions anchored by one of three dominant themes: the African Diaspora, the Philadelphia Story, and the Contemporary Narrative. Learn more at aampmuseum.org.

Exhibition Support

Pew logo
William Penn Foundation logo  NEA logo


 Major support for Rising Sun: Artists in an Uncertain America is provided by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage. Leadership support is provided by the William Penn Foundation. Generous support is provided by the National Endowment for the Arts, Julie Jensen Bryan and Robert Bryan, Emily and Mike Cavanagh, Ro and Martin King, Vesna Todorović Sacks and Howard J. Sacks, and Dorothy and Ken Woodcock. Additional support is provided by Marianne Dean, the Lau Longsworth Charitable Fund, Dr. J. Brien and Maggie Murphy, Sandy Norcross, an anonymous donor, and donors to the PAFA Special Exhibitions Fund.

 Donor list as of March 14, 2023