This year’s $9.3 million in new Pew Center for Arts & Heritage grants promise to bring Philly plenty of provocative creations. The 2014 grantees include 12 Fellowships ($60,000 each), 35 Project Grants (up to $300,000 each) and two Advancement Grants ($500,000 each). Many of the projects will interpret Philly-centric themes – including Philadelphia school closings, the Great Migration’s impact on Philly, textile manufacturing history, and homelessness in Chinatown North/Callowhill – and create new experiences across town in spaces like City Hall Courtyard, the Morris Arboretum, and Eastern State Penitentiary.
Here are 10 projects I’m most excited about, (project descriptions in the words of Pew):
“Home – A Community-engaged Exhibition Planning Model” | Asian Arts Initiative – $60,000
Asian Arts Initiative will work with the homeless in its surrounding neighborhood to curate a contemporary art exhibition on the concept of home and homelessness, following a successful model from the Wing Luke Museum in Seattle.
“Prisons in the Age of Mass Incarceration” | Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site – $360,000
This will be the prison’s first exhibition to focus on the current state of incarceration in America. It will explore complex issues of crime and justice, and will question the responsibilities of individual citizens in shaping the country’s criminal justice system.
“a tactile bidding” | Fabric Workshop and Museum- $360,000
MacArthur Fellow and visual artist Ann Hamilton will create an ambitious new installation at an industrial site laden with textile manufacturing history. Separately, she will curate an exhibition of pre-existing textiles to explore how we use, live with, and experience fabrics in our daily lives.
“Awakening the Senses: New Interpretive Approaches at the Morris Arboretum” | Morris Arboretum of the University of Pennsylvania – $292,700
In an effort to deepen visitors’ interest in plants, the Morris Arboretum will develop mobile technology that provides instant access to video and audio clips, maps, activities, games, photographs, and oral histories—content that will run the gamut from the educational to the playful.
“Re-Place-ing Philadelphia” | Painted Bride Art Center – $334,680
Painted Bride Art Center will work with a group of award-winning artists to generate a new stream of performances and programs, based on each artist’s individual explorations of specific Philadelphia sites and neighborhoods: choreographer Reggie Wilson; Congolese dancer and choreographer Faustin Linyekula; and performance artist and director Marty Pottenger.
“Monument Lab: Creative Speculations for Philadelphia” Penn Institute for Urban Research: University of Pennsylvania – $72,000
The centerpiece of this project is a temporary monument by the late, award-winning artist and University of Pennsylvania professor Terry Adkins. The monument will be installed in City Hall’s central courtyard and complemented by a Center City storefront “lab,” where artists and curators will instigate concepts for a larger Philadelphia monument festival in 2016 or 2017.
“Restored Spaces – Neighborhood Hub with Cohabitation Strategies” | Philadelphia Mural Arts Advocates – $276,720
Restored Spaces will be led by curator Lucia Sanroman and Cohabitation Strategies (CohStra), an innovative European urban design and performance group that specializes in community-driven projects. CohStra members will take up residence in Philadelphia and will stage “cultural interventions,” such as a pop-up market or a staged public performance, all developed in response to the unique qualities of local neighborhoods.
“The Great Migration” | Scribe Video Center – $240,000
Scribe Video Center will explore the history and impact of the first wave of the Great Migration (1916–30) on Philadelphia. Selected artists will create site-specific installations, interactive games, and audio tours on the subject, using archival interviews and input from local community groups, for public debut in 2016, the Great Migration’s centennial.
“reFORM” | Temple Contemporary, Tyler School of Art – $360,000
Temple Contemporary will commission 2006 Pew Fellow and MacArthur Fellow Pepón Osorio to create a new installation that responds to recent Philadelphia public school closings. He will convert a Tyler School of Art classroom into a living exhibition and discussion space, displaying objects from a defunct public school classroom and hosting conversations with those directly affected by the closings.
“Invisible City: Philadelphia and the Vernacular Avant-garde” | University of the Arts – $71,880
Making the claim that Philadelphia artists played a central role in the birth of postmodernism, Invisible City will examine the city’s little-known avant-garde visual art community in the 1960s and 1970s. The exhibition will focus on a coterie of artists and area university faculty such as Italo Scanga, Ree Morton, and Rafael Ferrer, who went on to work internationally.