Alumni & Giving

Portraits of Our Land: African American Farms and Gardens with Syd Carpenter

Monday, March 29, 2021 12:00pm1:00pm
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Virtual Event

Join us for a virtual talk with Syd Carpenter, who will discuss the history of African American farmers and gardeners and the sculptures she’s made in response to this obscured but rich chapter in American agrarian history. This talk will be moderated by Gina Michaels (MFA’93) and hosted by Jill Sablosky (MFA’79), both are members of our Penn Weitzman Alumni Association.

About the Speakers:

Syd Carpenter
Philadelphia Sculptor and Gardener
Professor of Studio Art at Swathmore College

After receiving her MFA from the Tyler School of Art, Carpenter and her husband established the 915 Spring Garden studios in 1981, a complex of over 100 artist’s studios in Philadelphia. Her exhibitions have included international and national venues including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Philadelphia Museum of Art, The Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian, Fuller Craft Museum and the Tang Museum of Skidmore College all of whom have acquired her work for their permanent collections. Carpenter has shared her work as a guest artist at the Haystack Mountain School of Crafts, Penland School of Crafts, Anderson Ranch, the Vermont Studio School and the Watershed Center. Travels to China, Ghana, Brazil, Indonesia, and Central America have influenced her work and teaching.

Gina Michaels (MFA'93)
Philadelphia Sculptor
Owner and Director of Legacy Atelier

Gina Michaels’ practice integrates the ancient tradition of cast bronze with the contemporary open forms of fabricated metal sculpture. Working with bronze directly, she liberates it from the dutiful role of replicating forms made in other materials. The process begins in a sandbox, in a spirit of meditation and play. Hands, arms, and feet press into casting sand, imprinting the expressive energy of the body into the mold. Michaels then ladles molten bronze into the hollows created by the body. Using a spontaneous, collage-like vocabulary, the cast elements are welded together, creating human/plant hybrids that are at once animal, vegetable, and mineral.

Michaels’ work has been shown in numerous solo, group and public art exhibitions in galleries, museums and public spaces nationally, including New York, Philadelphia, and Palm Springs. She is a graduate of Oberlin College, and received her MFA from the University of Pennsylvania. She also studied intensively at the New York Studio School. Michaels is the owner and director of Legacy Atelier in Philadelphia, a fully woman owned and operated foundry, metal fabrication and sculpture studio serving artists and the conservation/preservation community.

Jill Sablosky (MFA'79)
Public Artist/Sculptor

Jill Sablosky is a sculptor who works primarily with stone. Her form is architectural-multiple sculptural elements function as gathering spaces. Native to Philadelphia, she has lived and worked in the marble region of Pietrasanta, Italy, and in Glen Rose, Texas, home to dinosaur tracks and wildlife preserves. She draws inspiration from these diverse landscapes—the grand mountains of Italy and the mysterious micro world of fossilized north central Texas. Combining marble, granite, and limestones from these regions reveals layered dimensions, color, and texture. Beyond the physical, and as response to chaotic planetary and human conditions, her purpose has been to create places of structural stability - with a sense of harmony and well-being.  

Sablosky's works have been commissioned nationally for private and public settings. Outdoor public artworks are located at the San Antonio Federal Building and Western Connecticut State University. In Philadelphia, ‘functional’ sculptures are to be found at the Federal Reserve Bank and Society Hill Towers. Currently, she is working with the City of Philadelphia Public Art Program to produce the public art component for Engine 37, a historic firehouse receiving full restoration and a new addition.

Sablosky recently served as Vice-President of the Penn Weitzman Alumni Association from 2018-2020, and received her MFA in Sculpture from the University of Pennsylvania in 1979.

This virtual event is sponsored by the PWAA. The Penn Weitzman Alumni Association (PWAA) is here to be a professional, creative, and social resource to the Weitzman alumni community of over 11,000 members. The PWAA aims to support and strengthen the School by increasing communication amongst graduates from all departments and their friends, by offering counsel to its leadership, by assisting with fundraising on its behalf, and by connecting alumni from its various departments with the professional disciplines which its graduates profess.

If you require any accessibility accommodation, such as live captioning, audio description, or a sign language interpreter, please email news@design.upenn.edu to let us know what you need. Please note, we require at least 48 hours’ notice. If you register within 48 hours of this event, we won’t be able to secure the appropriate accommodations.