PHILADELPHIA, PA (November 19, 2018) -- The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA) is proud to present Zanele Muholi & The Women's Mobile Museum, one of four culminating exhibitions of a year-long artist residency connecting acclaimed South African photographer Zanele Muholi and the Philadelphia Photo Arts Center (PPAC) with ten Philadelphia women.
The exhibition, which also features new works created in Philadelphia by Muholi and South African teaching artist Lindeka Qampi, challenges the social and economic barriers of the art world while supporting emerging artists and reaching new audiences. The artists took their projects on the road this past fall in a multi-neighborhood traveling exhibition throughout Philadelphia that asks the question: Who is art for?
There are four exhibitions of their work—two at local community centers, one at PAFA and one at PPAC. The exhibition will be on view at PAFA from December 22, 2018—March 31, 2019, in the Richard C. Von Hess Foundation Works on Paper Gallery.
"The upcoming exhibition opening at PAFA is produced in concert with our colleagues at Philadelphia Photo Arts Center," said Brooke Davis Anderson, Edna S. Tuttleman Director of the Museum. "At PAFA, we always welcome collaboration and partnership and are especially pleased when we can highlight in Center City this city's artistic richness and creative imagination."
The ten female poets, photographers, painters, and digital artists have collaborated with each other, Muholi and Qampi to create art reflective of their individual and collective experiences. The PPAC apprenticeship has provided the artists with funding, access to previously unavailable tools and resources, exhibition opportunities, and formal training.
"The Women's Mobile Museum apprenticeship is meant to support women artists who have been unable to access an artistic career because of social and economic inequalities, so having the exhibition at one of Philadelphia's most prestigious art museums and collections is not only an incredible opportunity but also a powerful intervention," said Lori Waselchuk, Exhibitions and Programs Coordinator at PPAC. "Zanele Muholi and the Women's Mobile Museum artists are really thrilled by this opportunity."
Each artist has a different skill-set and style; and collectively, their work tells a greater story of marginalization, discrimination, and lack of representation. Through self-portraiture and candid photography, the photographs tell stories of love, loss, discrimination, freedom, and insecurity.
"The Women's Mobile Museum coming to PAFA is exciting because the show is a big step in breaking down the barriers of the art world," said Nzinga Simmons, curatorial fellow. "I think the sophistication of the work produced by these emerging artists is a testament to the necessity to break down these barriers and widen the scope of representation in art museums."
The Philadelphia artists are:
- Afaq: an artist, activist, and educator whose body of self-portraiture seeks to challenge, confront, return, and respond to the Western gaze.
- Shasta Bady: an aspiring scientist, visual artist, and sporadic papermaker whose project "As Above, So Below" is a study of public transportation—SEPTA—and its architectural spaces, portraits of passengers, and continuous movement.
- Davelle Barnes: a meme curator, a film ethnographer, a social poet, and former Army Sergeant whose project "Unsat" is a visual critique of the racist, body-shaming rules and regulations she experienced during her time in the Army.
- Tash Billington: an artist specializing in visual art, spoken word and engaging with community members. Her project "Philly Natives" pays homage to those who have overcome obstacles such as poverty, violence, racism, classism, over-incarceration and the public school-to-prison pipeline.
- Iris Maldonado: a Reiki practitioner, poet, and photographer. Maldonado uses self-portraits to explore womanhood, relationships, family bonds, and emotional abuse. Her goal is to awaken a consciousness, asking women to take a good look at themselves and see their own value and strength to reject the negative messages of an abuser.
- Danielle Morris: a self-taught photographer who mainly works in street and self-portraiture. In her project "Larchwood," she explores Black memory and the nostalgic components of her childhood that have shaped her life.
- Shana Roberts: a multi-disciplined artist who continuously explores and discovers new ways to express herself. Her project "Black Incandescence" is a record of Black turmoil and resilience that emphasizes a stark societal juxtaposition and the state of constant worry and unease Black people in America experience.
- Carrie Anne Shimborski: an abstract painter, Master Doodler, and an emerging photographer. Her works are part of her poetic archive of her family and home.
- Muffy Ashley Torres: a multifaceted and self-taught artist whose project "Fundacíon Fuerte" explores gentrification and resistance, based on the loss of her family home in the Kensington neighborhood.
- Andrea Walls: uses the mediums of poetry, photography and digital collage as tools for resistance. In "North from Here: A Series of Disembodied Portraits," she responds to the global experience of forced displacement of both wild and human populations.
To learn more about the Women's Mobile Museum, Zanele Muholi and the artists, visit the Philadelphia Photo Arts Center website.
About the Philadelphia Photo Arts Center. The Philadelphia Photo Arts Center is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization that fosters the study, practice, and appreciation of contemporary photography across Greater Philadelphia. By bridging the gap to education, exhibitions, and high-end digital equipment, PPAC creates a more vibrant and inclusive photography community. For more info, visit www.philaphotoarts.org.
Major support for the WOMEN'S MOBILE MUSEUM has been provided by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage, with additional support from by the William Penn Foundation and the VIA Art Fund.
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 Hendricks,Violet Oakley, Louis Kahn, David Lynch, and Henry Ossawa Tanner.