Interviews and News
Percussionist Pablo Batista (2000) was profiled by WRTI, which lauds him as “one of most versatile and hardworking players in Latin jazz and modern jazz, and in R&B and funk circles.” Batista explains, “I believe that my success as a musician came as a result of my intensive study and practice…In order to succeed in this art form, you have to develop discipline in all aspects of your life, both as an artist and as a professional.”
Multimedia artist Rasheedah Phillips (2017) spoke with The Philadelphia Inquirer about how she considers time as a central concern in her Afrofuturist art practice. “Time has a history,” Phillips says. “And our notion of the future has a history…A lot of my work and research is around clarifying and uprooting those ties and connections, because it has very present-day implications.” Phillips is a contributor to the new anthology Black Futures, featuring the work of Black creatives in the US and abroad.
Hmong folk artist Pang Xiong Sirirathasuk Sikoun (1996) was commemorated in a segment on NPR. Pang passed away on December 22, 2020, at the age of 76. Her son, Chakawarn Sirirathasuk, recalls, “one of the things that she always wanted us to preserve is our traditional culture...It doesn't matter…where you go or who you become, but always remember your traditional, your old culture.” Read the Center’s obituary.
Commissions and Accolades
Multimedia artist Tiona Nekkia McClodden (2016) was awarded an Artistic Production grant from VIA Art Fund for Play Me Home, a three-channel film and video work accompanied by sculptural works. The Fund’s president, Bridgitt Evans, noted that grantees’ “ambitious projects—so many of which were paused, retooled, or freshly reconceived during the course of 2020—are now poised to debut with renewed relevance in a changed world.” Read more from Artforum.
Black Mothers, co-produced by documentary filmmaker David Felix Sutcliffe (2017), received an award from the International Documentary Association (IDA) through its Pare Lorentz Documentary Fund. The IDA describes the film as “the journey of two women working to disrupt the cycle of racist police violence within our country’s judicial system.” Read more about the award and its recipients at Variety.
Visual artists Muhsana Ali (2002) and Karyn Olivier (2019) are among four finalists for a public art memorial commissioned by the City of Philadelphia and the Bethel Burying Ground Historic Site Memorial Committee. The project will “recognize and celebrate the over 5,000 African Americans buried at the historic Bethel Burying Ground, located beneath Weccacoe Playground in Queen Village,” according to the Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy (OACCE). Learn more about the project and how to participate in the selection process at the OACCE website.
Visual artist Ken Lum (2018) co-founded Monument Lab in 2012 to explore public art, space, and memory in Philadelphia. Initial project support was provided by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage. The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that with a recent grant of $4 million from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Monument Lab will expand nationally. In Philadelphia, Monument Lab will release an augmented-reality app called OverTime, created in collaboration with poet Ursula Rucker (2018).
Interdisciplinary artist and musician Camae Ayewa (2017), also known as Moor Mother, was highlighted in NPR's list of the best music of 2020. Ayewa’s Circuit City is described as “futuristic fire music, a free-jazz musical about housing, public/private ownership and technology. In her music, there is limitless possibility.”
Harpist Mary Lattimore (2014) will participate in Liminal States, a performance series presented by Bowerbird. This “series of late night, live streamed concerts [is] intended to be listened to as you fall asleep,” Bowerbird explains. Lattimore’s performance will stream on Thursday, March 25. Her latest album, Silver Ladders, is described as a “gorgeous, meditative collection” in The New Yorker’s list of the best music of 2020.
Theater artist Geoff Sobelle (2006) and multimedia artist and musician Pamela Z created Times3, a soundscape of Times Square that reflects on the site’s past, present, and future. Times3 premiered at Prototype, an opera and musical theater festival that has shifted to virtual platforms this year. Read more from WHYY and The New York Times.
Exhibitions and Other New Works
Painter Jonathan Lyndon Chase (2019) is profiled in Cultured Magazine’s annual Young Artists issue. Chase’s latest exhibition, Big Wash at The Fabric Workshop and Museum, is described as “a paean to the laundromat, where the quiet intimacy of domestic life and the rich intensity of the urban landscape converge to magical effect…As restless as it is confident, Chase’s practice promises greatness.” WHYY interviewed Chase about the show.
Trapeta B. Mayson (2002), poet laureate of Philadelphia, founded Healing Verse Philly Poetry Line, a toll-free number people can call to listen to a short poem by a Philadelphia area writer, including works by Yolanda Wisher (2015) and Airea D. Matthews (2020). Read more from The Philadelphia Inquirer.
Ceramist Roberto Lugo (2019) showed work in Design Miami’s Podium America(s) exhibition, including a teapot featuring a portrait of Kamala Harris, which was highlighted by Vogue. Design Miami observes of Lugo’s practice that “by portraying important writers, intellectuals, musicians, hip hop artists, and other figures from these groups, he expands their representation in art, elevating them to spaces historically inaccessible to people of color.”
Visual artist Melanie Bilenker (2010) creates miniatures and jewelry from resin, gold, silver, and her own hair. Bilenker’s work is on display in HomeWork at Sienna Patti Contemporary Gallery in Lennox, Massachusetts, and was recently featured in Vogue.
Filmmaker Glen Holsten (1997) created a four-part series titled Beyond the Bullet: Gunshot Violence Survivors Speak, which follows a support group for paralyzed gunshot survivors. The series emerged from Holsten’s work on a forthcoming documentary film of the same subject. An opinion piece for The Philadelphia Inquirer characterizes the project as “a sobering triumph of spirit, but also a stark reminder of victims who are still falling through the cracks.”