PHILADELPHIA (October 4, 2018) -- The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA) announces the addition of nine artworks to its permanent collection of American art, including works on paper, paintings and a monumental outdoor sculpture.
The sculpture, Hank Willis Thomas' All Power to All People (2017), was on view across from Philadelphia City Hall as part of Monument Lab 2017, a public art and history initiative based in Philadelphia. Monument Lab was presented with Mural Arts Philadelphia, for which PAFA was a key partner. Thomas' Afro pick sculpture, made of aluminum and stainless steel, stands eight feet tall and weighs close to 800 pounds. The artwork will be installed at PAFA in the near future.
Thomas, founder of the For Freedoms public art campaign, will be speaking at PAFA this spring. He also initiated the For Freedoms Town Hall: Art, Citizenship and Engagement, an event to be hosted by PAFA on Thursday, October 18 at 6 pm. Four of Philadelphia's cultural institutions will come together for an artist-led evening of talks that look at how art deepens public discussions of civic issues and core values.
Paul M. Farber, Artistic Director of Monument Lab, said: "Hank Willis Thomas' All Power to All People is a brilliant, meaningful contribution to the public art and history landscape of Philadelphia. Thomas's sculpture was both the talk of the town and a deeply important intervention into the ways we think about racial and gender justice in public monuments. Monument Lab is thrilled to see this monumental artwork have a permanent home at PAFA."
All Power to All People was selected as one of the top 50 outstanding public art projects by Americans for the Arts' Public Art Network Year in Review in 2018, Farber said. The sculpture is the latest in a number of public statues, monuments and studies of monuments from Philadelphia that PAFA has collected and preserved, including the recent acquisition of Walker Hancock's Maquette for the Pennsylvania Railroad War Memorial, which was on view as part of PAFA's summer exhibition, Infinite Spaces: Rediscovering PAFA's Permanent Collection.
"I am so pleased to add All Power to All People, which became such an iconic, Philadelphia public artwork during Monument Lab, to PAFA's collection," said PAFA Curator of Contemporary Art Jodi Throckmorton. "Hank Willis Thomas is one of the most exciting artists working today—it's an honor for PAFA to now have such an important work by him."
Dr. Brittany Webb, curator of the John Rhoden Collection at PAFA, assisted with the acquisition of the artwork. "It's rewarding to help ensure that Thomas' sculpture will have a home in Philadelphia," she said.
Also on the list of new purchases and gifts is a group of six 19th century etchings by artists Stephen Parrish, Charles Adam Platt, Theodore Robinson, Frank Weston Benson, Ernest David Roth and Julian Alden Weir, that will be included in an upcoming works on paper exhibition, Etch and Flow, to be on view at PAFA in 2019.
"The etchings are a great addition to our collection of works on paper, primarily by American Impressionist artists or artists involved in the etching revival of the 1800s," said Dr. Anna O. Marley, Curator of Historical American Art at PAFA.
Another highlight of the acquisitions are two works by Alice Kent Stoddard (1883–1976), a PAFA graduate and American painter of portraits, landscapes and seascapes. The works, Portrait of Man With a Book and Portrait of a Woman, will be included in a future exhibition at PAFA. Marley said: "Alice Stoddard was a prizewinning PAFA student who studied with painter William Merritt Chase (1849–1916)."
Brooke Davis Anderson, Edna S. Tuttleman Director of the Museum at PAFA said: "I, along with the Collections Committee, are so excited that these new additions to our permanent collection will be featured in upcoming exhibits and presentations, illustrating our commitment to put our collection on view and available to our public."
Growing and diversifying its permanent collection through gifts and purchases is a key focus of PAFA's mission. The purchases are made through collections endowments and dedicated collections funds, as well as gifts.
Founded in 1805, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts is America's first school and museum of fine arts. A recipient of the National Medal of Arts, PAFA offers undergraduate and graduate programs in the fine arts, innovative exhibitions of historic and contemporary American art, and a world-class collection of American art. PAFA’s esteemed alumni include Mary Cassatt, Njideka Akunyili Crosby, Thomas Eakins, William Glackens, Barkley L. Hendricks,Violet Oakley, Louis Kahn, David Lynch, and Henry Ossawa Tanner.