Philadelphia Art Alliance
In an effort to help maintain the health and safety of our community, our galleries remain temporarily closed to the public.
Visit our outdoor exhibition, Resist Covid–Take 6! now on view in front of the Art Alliance and at other locations across our campus.
Aug. 18–Oct. 8, 2021
The Philadelphia Art Alliance of the University of the Arts is pleased to present the first Philadelphia exhibition of works by Nyeema Morgan.
Nyeema Morgan’s meticulous drawings, sculptures, and installations employ non-identical repetition and unexpected juxtaposition to prompt reflection on the mechanics of representation and its political/social underpinnings and consequences. For the series “Like It Is,” Morgan begins by pulling texts from the library containing the word “extraordinary” in their titles. Upon finding a book cover page presenting significant connotative and typographic interest, Morgan Xeroxes it in various positions. These replications serve as references for 50 by 38-inch graphite drawings that also incorporate incidental traces of the studio environment (shadows of the artist’s shoulder, a lamp, etc.). They are then later used as collage source material. Through manipulation and translation, Morgan correlates the speed of making and the intensity of reading, looking, and thinking; a formal strategy which troubles “ordinary” relationships between image and text (language and vision) while questioning how language mediates experience and how such mediation can be represented visually. The resulting drawings are a tour de force consideration on the use and abuse of categories and sets, of the arbitrary violence of delineating the ordinary from the extraordinary. The viewer must specifically situate herself and recognize their complicity within cultural legacy and transmission.
Born in 1977 in Philadelphia, Nyeema Morgan studied at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, earned a B.F.A. from the Cooper Union School of Art, New York in 2000 and an M.F.A. from the California College of the Arts, San Francisco in 2007. She currently lives and works in Chicago.
Morgan’s solo exhibitions include the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art, Boulder, CO; Grant Wahlquist Gallery, Portland, ME; The Bindery Projects, St. Paul, MN; the Rotunda Gallery/BRIC Arts Media Bklyn, Brooklyn, NY; and Staniar Gallery at Washington & Lee University, Lexington, VA. Her work has been shown in group exhibitions at the Bowdoin College Museum of Art, Brunswick, ME; the Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, NY; The Drawing Center, NY; the Studio Museum in Harlem, NY; and Galerie Jeanroch Dard, Paris, FR.
Morgan’s work is in the collections of the Bowdoin College Museum of Art, ME, and the Menil Collection, Houston, TX (in collaboration with William Cordova and Otabenga Jones and Associates). She has participated in residencies at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, Skowhegan, ME; Shandaken Projects at Storm King Art Center, New Windsor, NY; the Lower East Side Print Shop, NY; The Drawing Center, NY; and the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council’s Workspace Program, NY. She is a recipient of a Painters and Sculptors grant from the Joan Mitchell Foundation and an Art Matters grant.
Morgan has lectured at University of Maine, Orono, ME; School of the Art Institute Chicago, Chicago, IL; Gallery 400, University of Illinois, Chicago, IL; University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN; University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH; Brooklyn College, Brooklyn, NY; Washington & Lee University, Lexington, VA; The Studio Museum in Harlem, NY; New York University, NY; and Brigham Young University, Provo, UT.
Her work has been reviewed in Artforum, The New Yorker, The New York Times, Wall Street Journal among other publications.
Our exhibitions are free and open to the public.
Philadelphia Art Alliance at University of the Arts
251 S 18th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103
Aug. 18–Oct. 8, 2021
Primarily a video artist, Williams' work has long addressed sexuality, grief, and the body through familiar cinematic forms: subtitles, credits, the intermission. The narrative always arrives through these tropes, in particular, the montage. She pieces together found and filmed images; natural and artificial sound in combination with the Black frame,repeatedly employed around, behind, on top of images, to ask, is this space foreground or background? What if Blackness becomes the opposite of erasure? Does Blackness have to recede? Is the Blackness on top of an image a redaction, or a fathomless space of possibility? Recently, this inquiry has expanded to a body of works on paper where images are displayed flatly to reconsider the Black space as pools with depth and points of entry. By redacting these found images, she hopes to remove the privilege and power from the narrative, while creating a new narrative through abstraction. Black space holds the same space an image would–foregrounding Blackness both politically and formally.
Williams’ work has been exhibited widely in the U.S. and internationally. Selected group shows and screenings include TATE Britain, London; National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne; Reina Sofia Museum, Madrid; Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; The Center for Contemporary Art, Tel Aviv; Studio la Città, Verona, Italy; BAM, NY; The Studio Museum in Harlem, and MoMA PS1. Solo exhibitions in New York include Bellwether Gallery, Foxy Production, and Sargent's Daughters.
Williams received her MFA from The Milton Avery Graduate School of the Arts at Bard College, Annandale-on Hudson, NY; her BFA from The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, New York, NY; and participated at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture.
Williams has been a visiting artist at The Cooper Union, NYU, Harvard, MICA, and SOMA Mexico. Her work has been written about in The New York Times, The New Yorker, Flash Art, and ARTFORUM. She lives and works in Brooklyn with her sculptor husband, zany son, and a bossy puppy.
Our exhibitions are free and open to the public.
June 29–Dec 10, 2021
The Hamilton Public Art Project
The University of the Arts is pleased to present two billboards by Los Angeles-based artist Paul Mpagi Sepuya in The Hamilton Public Art Project, an initiative of Rosenwald-Wolf Gallery, on Broad Street from June 29 to December 10, 2021. Sepuya is known for his photographs that interrogate narratives of racial and gender construction, extending conceptual art with the legacies of the pictures generation (Laurie Simmons, Richard Prince, Cindy Sherman, etc.).
Born in San Bernardino, California, Sepuya attended New York University's Tisch School of the Arts and received his BFA in 2004. He received his MFA in photography in 2016 from UCLA Department of Art. Sepuya's photography invites close reading. Concerned with a studio practice that involves a deconstructed representation of the photographic act, a reconsideration of modern portraiture and a queer examination of sexuality and race, Sepuya's images take time to fully comprehend the complexity of their structures.
“Studio (0304) (0306) (0310),” for example, involves a matrix of this layered seeing: a studio setup in which the observer actively becomes observant, perceives the photographer dissect space, while mirrors reflect photographs within photographs and subtly reveal past activities within the workspace. Black backdrops functionally block vision while referencing black skin.
In the image on the second billboard, “Studio Mirror with Roses at Night (0X5A7732),” a camera on a tripod seems to look out at the viewer yet actually records cutout photographs taped to a large mirror which reflectively looks back into another deeper space behind the white wall. Photographs of roses signal romance, sensuality and sentimentality. Sepuya's works intelligently riff on art history, here Diego Velázquez, here David Haxton, here Jeff Wall, here Richard Bruce Nugent.
Sepuya’s work is in the collections of the Baltimore Museum of Art, the Getty Museum, the Guggenheim Museum, LACMA, MoCA Los Angeles, MoMA, The Studio Museum in Harlem and the Whitney Museum, among others. His work has been covered in the New Yorker, the New York Times, Art in America, The Nation and The Guardian. His work was featured on the cover of ARTFORUM’s March 2019 issue. Recent museum exhibitions include those at the Guggenheim Museum, the Barbican Centre, the Getty Museum and a project for the 2019 Whitney Biennial. A survey of work from 2008-2018 was presented at CAM St. Louis and University of Houston Blaffer Art Museum, accompanied by a monograph published by CAM St. Louis and Aperture Foundation. Sepuya is an Associate Professor in media arts at the University of California San Diego.
Sepuya is represented by DOCUMENT, Chicago, and Vielmetter Los Angeles.
Join the University Galleries team members and guests each week to investigate different aspects of what it takes to run an exhibition space. Open to all students, participants will explore a variety of topics and meet artists and curators.
The first meeting of Curated Conversations will kick off with a discussion with Sid Sachs, UArts chief curator and director of exhibitions, and artist Alex da Corte who reimagined Chicken at UArts last spring. Topics are relevant to the formal white cube space and to the artist collective space. Meet the folks who plan exhibitions at local spaces including Vox Populi and Space 1026, and even international curator Jose Roca who is planning the Sydney Biennial. Together, explore the inner workings of the modern gallery!
Spring 2021 meeting time: Thursdays, 4:00 p.m. EST, Jan. 28–Mar. 11
The Center for Immersive Media (CIM) at University of the Arts recently produced 360-degree documentation of the Carrie Mae Weems installation, Resist Covid Take 6!—currently on view throughout UArts’ Center City campus—that not only captures the artist’s work but also offers an immersive snapshot of the sights and sounds of Philadelphia amidst the ongoing pandemic.
Each of the components of Weems’ project brings awareness to the disproportionate, deadly impact of COVID-19 on Black, Latinx and Native American communities. This public campaign also emphasizes essential preventative steps including social distancing guidelines, evidenced by the allusion in the project’s title to the recommendation that people stay six feet apart. The works are intentionally installed on the exteriors of various venues where they can be safely viewed by the public.
The map hosts panoramic video clips created at five installation sites using an Insta360 Pro VR camera. The camera creates a full, equirectangular projection image, stitched together from six integrated wide-angle lenses. The videos are compatible with many virtual reality (VR) viewers, including the Google Cardboard viewer, which allows anyone to utilize an Android or IOS device to experience this content in an even more dynamic way.
The video clips, including one documenting the installation at the Art Alliance, show passersby encountering the project as they journey through the city. The soundtrack of cars and buses rushing by paired with individuals engaging in routine activities like dog walking are not unexpected scenes to encounter in a typical city on a sunny afternoon; however, the appearance of masks worn by the majority of those on the streets serves as an indicator of the impact of the virus on everyday life.
According to Price, “The primary goal of documenting Resist Covid Take 6! with immersive media technology is to capture the experience of being there, in the public spaces in which each of the works are installed.” Regarding how this work ties into the larger mission of CIM, Price explains, “The Center for Immersive Media is a resource and creative research proving ground where anyone at UArts may discover ways that virtual and mixed reality, performance motion-capture and human-computer interaction can augment or facilitate the work that they do. This documentation project is just one example of potentially unique ways to document public works.”
CIM’s VR documentation is a fitting accompaniment to Resist Covid Take 6!. This way of interacting with the installations reinforces Weems’ message by making the project—and by extension, the city—accessible in a safe yet engaging way that brings new dimension to the virtual viewing experience.
Conceived by Carrie Mae Weems and Pierre Loving, Resist Covid Take 6! aims to create an artist-driven public awareness campaign to educate and enlighten Black, Latinx and Native American communities about the impact of COVID-19 on their lives.
UArts is the exclusive presenter of Weems’ project in Philadelphia, where billboards, creative messaging and public art has been installed around Center City to highlight the virus’ staggering death toll. Phase 1 of the project at UArts is generously supported by the Jessica Hamilton Hardy Visiting Artist Fund.
Engage your students with this social impact project by artist Carrie Mae Weems through lesson plans and teaching resources. Develop a social impact campaign and create supporting materials like a cover story, poster design and hand fan. High school students may even use their poster design as a portfolio piece.
Conceived by Carrie Mae Weems and Pierre Loving, Resist Covid Take 6! is an artist-driven public awareness campaign that aims to educate and enlighten Black, Brown, Latinx and Native American communities about the impact of COVID-19 on their lives. UArts is the exclusive presenter of Weems’ project in Philadelphia.
The much-anticipated Invisible City catalog its here!
Invisible City: Philadelphia and the Vernacular Avant-garde is the first book to examine Philadelphia's cultural impact from the 1950s to the Bicentennial. As an interdisciplinary exploration, Invisible City highlights Philadelphia's unique contributions to visual, literary, and musical culture featuring significant architects, photographers, sculptors, designers, craftsmen, writers, musicians, painters and conceptual artists.
The vernacular avant-garde reflects the everyday. From Duchamp's ready-mades to the aesthetics of Main Street, from American Bandstand to Andy Warhol's inaugural museum exhibit, from Robert Smithson's earthwork to Robert Venturi's Guild House, Philadelphia was a city of firsts. As a gritty postindustrial metropolis built of brick and Wissahickon schist, it was central to the concepts of postmodernism through insights on the social landscape, urban graffiti and underground theater. The city produced the earliest Pop Art exhibitions, influential popular music, the country’s premier rock music magazine, substantial art schools, progressive curators and the Institute of Contemporary Art.
These ideas are thoroughly illuminated in nine essays by Rachel Churner, Jennie Hirsh, Sid Sachs, John Szwed, and Anne Wilke Tucker, augmented with interviews and writings by Willoughby Sharp, Mierle Laderman Ukeles, Robert Venturi, and Progressive Architecture. Beautifully designed by Studio LHOOQ, this 304-page catalog is illustrated with 210 images and published by The University of the Arts with funding by the Pew Center for Arts & Heritage.
Published on the occasion of the exhibition Invisible City: Philadelphia and the Vernacular Avant-garde, January 21–April 4, 2020
Invisible City: Philadelphia and the Vernacular Avant-garde is supported by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage
University of the Arts
320 S Broad St
Philadelphia, PA 19102
© University of the Arts, all rights reserved
Edited by Sheryl Conkelton
Designed by Mỹ Linh Triệu Nguyễn, Studio LHOOQ
Printed by Point B Solutions, Minneapolis with Longo, Bolzano
Conceived by Carrie Mae Weems and Pierre Loving, Resist Covid Take 6! aims to create an artist-driven public awareness campaign to educate and enlighten Black, Latinx and Native American communities about the impact of COVID-19 on their lives. This awareness campaign will use creative measures and projects to emphasize preventative steps that must be taken to ensure these community members’ safety and reinforce the absolute necessity of social distancing.
UArts is the exclusive presenter of Weems’ project in Philadelphia, where billboards, creative messaging and public art will be installed around Center City to highlight the virus’ staggering death toll. Phase 1 of the project at UArts is generously supported by the Jessica Hamilton Hardy Visiting Artist Fund.
University of the Arts is actively seeking Philadelphia-area partners to expand the scope of Resist Covid Take 6! in Phase 2. To learn more about partnership opportunities, contact Shelton Walker, chief of staff and associate VP for strategic initiatives, at email@example.com.
In conjunction with University of the Arts’ exhibition Invisible City: Philadelphia and the Vernacular Avant-garde curated by Sid Sachs with Jennie Hirsh, Alex Da Corte and Kate Watson-Wallace will reinvent Kaprow's Chicken in the same location it was originally performed, now known as the Gershman Hall of University of the Arts.
Chicken variously dramatizes, commodifies and deconstructs the trope of the chicken. In 1962, the work was staged on ad-hoc wooden stands and booths with “pitchmen” plucking real chicken feathers, live chickens being vacuumed, people behaving like chickens, records with chicken sounds and so on. In 2020, Chicken no longer promises the "new vocabulary" it once did. Rather, Da Corte will stage a progressive, animal-friendly reconsideration of what the “avant-carnival” originally considered itself to be.
Chicken will feature Kristel Baldoz, Melanie Cotton, Danielle Currica, Julia Eichten, Jessica Emmanuel, Ya-Ya Fairley, Ann-Marie Gover, Imma, Andrew Smith, Kim Thompson, and Wilmer Wilson along with Kate Watson-Wallace and Alex Da Corte; with music composed by Marco Buccelli and Xenia Rubinos, performed with Sunny Ali and Karna Ray.
Chicken features a newly commissioned text by Rosalyn Drexler.
Read the reviews:
Support for the Invisible City Symposium and Chicken has been provided by the Edna W. Andrade Fund of the Philadelphia Foundation. Support for the research, development and presentation of Invisible City has been provided by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage.
Image credit: Photo by Wang Shui, Courtesy of the artist, University of the Arts and Sadie Coles HQ
Notes on the School for Temporary Liveness is out now. This publication includes contributions by Lauren Bakst, Jon Baldwin, Donna Faye Burchfield, Thomas F. DeFrantz, VK Preston, Rebecca Schneider, Andrew J. Smyth and Connie Yu. Their reflections offer glimmers of what the School for Temporary Liveness was, and have embedded within them tools and inquiries for ongoing collective study.
Invisible City: Philadelphia and the Vernacular Avant-garde highlights Philadelphia’s significant contributions to visual, literary, and musical culture between 1956 and 1976. An interdisciplinary exploration that is centered at University of the Arts, Invisible City features key works by the period’s major architects, photographers, sculptors, designers, painters and conceptual artists. The exhibition is organized by University of the Arts and curated by Sid Sachs, chief curator and director of exhibitions at University of the Arts with Jennie Hirsh, assistant curator, professor of Modern and Contemporary Art at MICA. Support for the research, development, and presentation of Invisible City has been provided by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage.
Read the reviews:
Invisible City: Philadelphia and the Vernacular Avant-garde highlighted Philadelphia’s significant contributions to visual, literary, and musical culture between 1956 and 1976. An interdisciplinary exploration that was centered at University of the Arts, Invisible City features key works by the period’s major architects, photographers, sculptors, designers, painters and conceptual artists. The exhibition was organized by University of the Arts and curated by Sid Sachs, chief curator and director of exhibitions at University of the Arts with Jennie Hirsh, assistant curator, professor of Modern and Contemporary Art at MICA. Support for the research, development, and presentation of Invisible City has been provided by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage.
For questions or concerns, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 215–717–6480.
Invisible City: Philadelphia and the Vernacular Avant-garde has been supported by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage.
Leading century-old cultural institutions to join together, creating Philadelphia Art Alliance at the University of the Arts
The boards of trustees of the University of the Arts and Philadelphia Art Alliance announced that the two century-old institutions will join together. The vote of both boards was unanimous.
Under the agreement, the Art Alliance will become part of the University of the Arts, renamed Philadelphia Art Alliance at the University of the Arts, under the executive leadership of UArts President David Yager and the governance of the university's Board of Trustees. The documents to begin the state approval process for mergers of nonprofit organizations were filed on September 8, 2017. That review is expected to take several months.
"This coming together of two of Philadelphia's most historic and innovative arts institutions offers a rare opportunity," said Yager, "to preserve and celebrate that extraordinary history while creating a future that envisions even more exciting possibilities across a wide range of art forms. Bringing together these exceptional educational and exhibition components opens up a myriad of new creative doors."
"We are thrilled that the Art Alliance will continue to be an active part of the future of Philadelphia's cultural life as a result of this merger with the University of the Arts," said Carole Shanis, chairperson and president emerita of the Art Alliance. "The Art Alliance has been a multi-disciplinary art center, guided by artists, since it was founded in 1915. While, over the last 10 years, our focus has been on contemporary craft and design, we welcome the new resources and broader perspective that will come with this partnership. We are confident that UArts will find creative ways to work with us to expand audiences and programs at the Wetherill Mansion, while furthering its own comprehensive educational mission."
The merging of the two historic organizations—the university celebrated its 140th anniversary this past year and the Art Alliance its 102nd—brings together institutions that have presented or developed some of the most influential and well-known artists of the past century. The two organizations, located just six blocks apart in Center City, are landmarks of their respective Philadelphia neighborhoods.
The University of the Arts' iconic Hamilton Hall, built in 1826, is the oldest existing building on South Broad Street. UArts is one of the only universities in the country solely dedicated to educating students in the visual and performing arts, design and writing.
Since 1915, the Art Alliance has hosted art exhibits, theater and music workshops, poetry readings and recitals by renowned artists, in the historic 1906 Wetherill Mansion on Rittenhouse Square.
UArts' alumni include renowned celebrity and fashion photographer Irving Penn, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater artistic director Judith Jamison, and children's book authors Stan and Jan Berenstain, among many others. Since 1915, the Art Alliance has hosted exhibitions by artists such as Mary Cassatt, Andrew Wyeth and Man Ray, readings by e.e. cummings and Dorothy Parker, and performances by Martha Graham and Merce Cunningham.
"At a time when the arts are challenged as never before, this integration offers a wonderful opportunity to develop visionary new arts and educational programming for the Philadelphia region, now and into the future," said UArts Board of Trustees Chairman Jeffrey Lutsky.
What was to become the Philadelphia College of Art (and eventually the University of the Arts), the Pennsylvania Museum and School of Industrial Art, was founded in 1876 by Philadelphia civic leaders, in response to the growing interest in art and design stirred by the country's Centennial Exposition, and as a means to develop world-class artisans and designers in post-Industrial Revolution America. Concurrently, UArts' other predecessor institution, the Philadelphia Musical Academy (which eventually became the Philadelphia College of Performing Arts), opened its doors. Visual arts, performing arts and design joined together a little over a century later, with university status being granted in 1987 as the University of the Arts.
The Philadelphia Art Alliance, the oldest multidisciplinary arts center in the United States for visual, literary and performing arts, was established by philanthropist Christine Wetherill Stevenson in 1915 with the goal of uniting the arts by presenting music, theater, painting and sculpture in a single venue. In 1926, it moved from its temporary quarters on Walnut Street into. Stevenson's family home on Rittenhouse Square. Since its inception, it has been a national pioneer in bringing contemporary artists—many now considered icons—to the public. In its early days, the Art Alliance welcomed them when most museums and other venues chose not to present contemporary works.
Once the integration is approved by the Commonwealth, the university plans to make interior enhancements over the course of the next few years.
News & Updates
While the doors remain temporarily closed to the public, the Art Alliance continues its legacy as a hub for the arts in Philadelphia. Learn more about current renovations, exhibitions and more.
Art Alliance Writers' Workshop
The Art Alliance Writers' Workshop is for emerging writers who work in fiction, non-fiction, and/or poetry. Participants improve their writing while working with an accomplished cohort over a year of intensive courses. Upon completion of coursework, students earn a certificate in Creative Writing.
About the Art Alliance
The University of the Arts is committed to inspiring, educating and preparing innovative artists and creative leaders for the arts of the twenty-first century.
Uniting two century-long legacies, the Philadelphia Art Alliance at the University of the Arts is a center that advances the work of makers, performers and practitioners. With a deep rooted understanding of the arts as interrelated allies, we seek new perspectives and generate experiences that investigate experimental impulses. Our fluid approach to the arts reflects our learning environment and cultivates inventiveness, originality and imaginative expression.
International in breadth and diverse in discipline, the center’s programming provides exposure to the unusual, the unexpected, and the provocative, stimulating critical dialog, In a historic venue, our community will continue to reconsider established notions of making and performing and to explore issues indicative of our time.
In 2018, the celebrated Philadelphia Art Alliance merged with University of the Arts, uniting two century-old institutions as the Philadelphia Art Alliance at University of the Arts.
Founded by playwright Christine Wetherill Stevenson in 1915 and located in the former Wetherill Mansion on Rittenhouse Square, the Philadelphia Art Alliance is considered one of the first multidisciplinary art spaces in the U.S. Its remarkable legacy included presenting the work of visionary writers, composers, dancers, musicians, sculptors and architects from Igor Stravinsky and Gertrude Stein to Martha Graham, Buckminster Fuller and Diego Rivera among many other dazzling luminaries.
University of the Arts is in the midst of envisioning and developing the next chapter of the Art Alliance as a multidisciplinary, contemporary arts forum in the heart of Philadelphia. Following its incredible history, the Art Alliance will once again be animated by leading visionaries of our time and aims to serve as a lively social hub–a living room for the arts in Philadelphia.
An exciting renovation is currently underway to update and restore the intimate gallery, performance and convening spaces of the Wetherill Mansion, which was originally designed by architect Charles Klauder and built in 1906.
For any inquiries please contact us:
251 S 18th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103
Shelton Walker, University Chief of Staff & Associate Vice President for Strategic Initiatives
Sid Sachs, Director of Exhibitions & Head Curator
Michael Ciervo, Director of Exhibitions Management & Head Preparator
Mary Kay Kaminski, Program Coordinator