Year in Review: The Art That Resonated in 2022

14 Dec 2022


Jayson Musson as “Jay” with “Ollie,” a large gray rabbit puppet with unkempt fur, ping-pong ball eyes, and a bulbous nose. Jay has medium skin, black hair fringed with gray in an afro, a black beard, and wears an orange velvet suit.

Jayson Musson as “Jay” with “Ollie.” Jayson Musson, in collaboration with The Fabric Workshop and Museum, Philadelphia, His History of Art, 2022. Photo by Carlos Avendaño.

In 2022, artists and cultural institutions in Philadelphia embraced imagination, adaptation, and renewal as they offered resonant cultural experiences that reflected varied perspectives and stories.

The Center awarded $9.5 million in 2022 Project grants and Fellowships, supporting 30 Philadelphia organizations and 12 individual artists. Funded events reached more than 300,000 attendees this year, and grantees garnered numerous awards and over 4,000 pieces of media coverage in regional, national, and international outlets.

Additionally, we’re pleased to be partnering in a regional collaboration to support BIPOC artists and organizations through Philadelphia’s Cultural Treasures. Part of a national funding initiative created by the Ford Foundation, the program awarded more than $7 million in 2022 for 12 artist fellowships and 16 general operating grants for organizations.


Coming Together Through Music

The Center’s first collaborative Project grant supported Curtis Institute of Music and Drexel University Westphal College in presenting the citywide public art and music project Rehearsing Philadelphia by composer Ari Benjamin Meyers. “The project emphasizes how music is community-building—which Meyers and other participating artists said feels even more significant now, during a pandemic, during a war,” reported The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Meyers spoke to us about the nuances of connecting strangers through music.

Composer Ari Benjamin Meyers on "Rehearsing Philadelphia"

Ari Benjamin Meyers. Filmed at Cherry Street Pier on April 7, 2022.

See more from Ari Benjamin Meyers.>>


Revisiting History


Jayson Musson, in collaboration with The Fabric Workshop and Museum, Jayson Musson: His History of Art, 2022, installation view, Philadelphia, PA. Photo by Carlos Avendaño.

Jayson Musson: His History of Art, extended through the end of the year at The Fabric Workshop and Museum, offers a comedic interrogation of the entrenched Western, male-dominated artistic canon. The New York Times reviewed the exhibition, noting that it “draws on sitcoms, kids’ educational TV, performance art, and art history lectures to create something both wacky and profound.”



POOL: A Social History of Segregation, installation view, 2022, Fairmount Water Works. Photo by GreenTreks, courtesy of the Fairmount Water Works Interpretive Center.

POOL: A Social History of Segregation explores the history and present-day implications of segregated swimming pools in a multidisciplinary exhibition at Fairmount Water Works. “The immersive presentation uses public swimming pools as a lens through which to ponder social justice and public health,” wrote The Guardian. The exhibition won a Making an Impact Award from the Mid-Atlantic Association of Museums. It will reopen in spring of 2023, and an online version of the exhibition is available on the POOL website.



Photo of a 1943 protest against the Philadelphia Transportation Company. Courtesy of The Historical Society of Philadelphia.

Chronicling Resistance at the Free Library reveals what eight local activists, cultural organizers, and artists unearthed when they dug deeply into the archives of the Philadelphia Area Consortium of Special Collections Libraries. The exhibition seeks to counter the systemic erasure of Black, Brown, and LGBTQ+ people from the historical record. It is on view at the Parkway Central Library through January 31, 2023.


Premiering New Performance Works


Performance photo: Choreographer Bill T. Jones stands in the middle of rows of dancers, each in their own spotlight. His mouth is open, arms raised above his head, and his left foot hovers above the ground, mid-motion.

Bill T. Jones, creator, director, and choreographer of Deep Blue Sea, accompanied by a group of community dancers during a performance in New York. Photo by Maria Baranova. 

Created by choreographer Bill T. Jones and presented in the round with artists and audiences together onstage, Deep Blue Sea at The Mann Center for the Performing Arts involved 60 Philadelphians in the performance. The Philadelphia Inquirer observed, “Jones is the convener of at least a half dozen art forms and genres in Deep Blue Sea, all brought together in a venue of great intimacy that’s new to Fairmount Park.”


Josephine Decker on creating art about pregnancy, birth, and early motherhood

Josephine Decker. Filmed at Rigby Mansion on August 29, 2022.

When Pig Iron Theatre Company’s The Path of Pins or the Path of Needles premiered, director and filmmaker Josephine Decker spoke to us about the work’s unconventional structure and how she drew on her own experiences with pregnancy and motherhood to develop the piece.

See more from Josephine Decker.>>


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Todd Lawson, Janice Amaya, and Maribel Martinez in Mushroom at People’s Light, 2022, Malvern, PA. Photo by Mark Garvin.

Written by Eisa Davis, the locally inspired, bilingual play Mushroom premiered at People’s Light, exploring the intersecting lives of immigrant families in Kennett Square, PA, the mushroom capital of the world.



Philadelphia Theatre Company, The Tattooed Lady, 2022, Suzanne Roberts Theater, Philadelphia, PA. Photo by Johanna Austin.  

Philadelphia Theatre Company premiered the rock musical The Tattooed Lady, with music and lyrics by Max Vernon, and book by Vernon and Erin Courtney. The show told a story of the hidden past of a former sideshow performer, social taboos, and women’s bodily autonomy.



Theatre Horizon, TOWN, 2022, Norristown, PA. Photo by John C. Hawthorne.

Norristown was the star of Theatre Horizon’s community-centric play TOWN, written by Michael John Garcés with original music by ILL DOOTS. Inspired by stories from more than 130 local residents and featuring a cast of roughly 60 community members and professional actors, the play celebrated and interrogated small-town American life.


Making a Mark Around the World

Exhibitions that premiered in Philadelphia with support from the Center reached national and international audiences as they traveled to new venues.


The Barnes Foundation, Suzanne Valadon: Model, Painter, Rebel, 2021, installation view, Philadelphia, PA. Image © The Barnes Foundation.

The Barnes Foundation’s Suzanne Valadon: Model, Painter, Rebel, a monographic exhibition on the French impressionist, traveled to Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek in Copenhagen. In the exhibition, “you encounter one of the most exciting transformations in art history,” The Washington Post reported.



Maternity Care Coalition, Designing Motherhood: Things That Make and Break Our Births, 2021, installation view, Center for Architecture and Design, Philadelphia, PA. Photo by Constance Mensh.

Following installations at the Mütter Museum and the Center for Architecture and Design, presented by the Maternity Care Coalition, Designing Motherhood: Things that Make and Break Our Births toured to Boston’s MassArt Art Museum. The companion book that surveys the history of designs that have shaped the many elements of birth and maternity over the past 100 years is available from MIT Press.



Ulysses Jenkins, Ulysses Jenkins: Without Your Interpretation, 2021, installation view, Institute of Contemporary Art, University of Pennsylvania. Photo by Constance Mensh.

The Institute of Contemporary Art’s Ulysses Jenkins: Without Your Interpretation, a retrospective on the pioneering video artist that restaged two of his major performance works, toured to the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles. The New York Times said Jenkins’ work “acidly critiques the cloying simplifications of mass media, yet beams with the excitement of holding the means of production.”


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Alex Da Corte, ROY G BIV, 2022, installation view, the Whitney Biennial, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, New York. Photo courtesy of The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage.

Pew Fellows’ work was seen at this year’s Whitney Biennial (visual artists Alex da Corte and Denyse Thomasos, composer Raven Chacon), Venice Biennale and Walker Art Center (interdisciplinary artist Carolyn Lazard), Documenta 15 (interdisciplinary artists Camae Ayewa and Rasheedah Phillips), MoMA (visual artist Adebunmi Gbadebo), and The Public Theater (playwright James Ijames).


Continuing Conversations on Questions of Practice


Recent grantee publications. Photo courtesy of The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage.

Exhibitions and performances don’t always end at the gallery, museum, or theater exit. Center-supported projects have produced a variety of new publications, short films, and a radio documentary.

As part of her term as the Center’s Visiting Scholar, Linda Earle spoke with filmmaker and visual artist Cauleen Smith about the dangers and potentials of working with Black archives.

Curator and writer Laura Raicovich shared her insights on how the cultural sector is not returning to a “New Normal” but rather finding itself situated in a shifting, sometimes bewildering “Not Normal.”

Pew Fellows pulled back the curtain on their practices as well. Our Pew Fellows Chat series brought some of Philadelphia’s most accomplished artists together in conversation. On social media, our Pew Fellows in Process series features videos from Fellows including ceramist Roberto Lugo, filmmaker Tayarisha Poe, and movement artist angel shanel edwards.


Earning Recognition


Mark sits on a black office chair in his studio. Blue painters tape frames the wall behind him, half covered by an in-progress work. He has dark skin and short black hair and wears a black button-up shirt, black shorts, and bright blue glasses.

Mark Thomas Gibson, 2021 Pew Fellow. Photo by Ryan Collerd.

Awards for Pew Fellows included a Guggenheim Fellowship for visual artist Mark Thomas Gibson, Pulitzer Prizes for playwright and director James Ijames and composer and sound designer Raven Chacon, a National Book Award for writer Imani Perry, a Peabody Award for filmmaker Ted Passon, a Philadelphia Poet Laureate appointment for Airea D. Matthews, Ruth Lilly Poetry Prizes for poets CAConrad and Sonia Sanchez (who also earned an Edward MacDowell Medal), and induction into the American Academy of Arts and Letters for composer Jennifer Higdon.

Supported by Center project grants, WXPN’s Kanaval was named Best Radio Documentary of 2022 by the Radio Television Digital News Association, and The Trust for Public Land’s Heat Response: Creative Action for Philly’s Rising Temperatures was named one of ten winners in a national competition co-sponsored by the US Environmental Protection Agency.


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