Graduate Fine Arts

Posted June 9, 2020
  • David Hartt, 'Charles,' 2020

  • Sharon Hayes, 'President Chisholm,' 2020

Hartt and Hayes Make Art for Philadelphia

Update: As of Friday, June 12, 2020, Art for Philadelphia has launched a second round of prints, this time supporting the Amistad Law Project. Among the six new works are prints by Assistant Professor of Fine Arts Michelle Lopez and Didier William, visiting critic in fine arts. 

Weitzman faculty members David Hartt and Sharon Hayes are among a group of Philadelphia-based artists participating in Art for Philadelphia, a fundraising initiative to support those protesting against police brutality. The initiative brings together limited-edition prints by seven artists, with proceeds supporting the Philadelphia Community Bail Fund.

Meg Onli, the Andrea B. Laporte Associate Curator at Penn’s Institute of Contemporary Art, is one of Art for Philadelphia’s organizers. “I have immense respect for the abolitionist work that has been happening for decades within this city and wanted to use my skillset, curating, as a means of support,” says Onli. “We can’t lose sight that what we are fighting for is Black lives to no longer be subject to unjust murder by militarized police forces."

Hartt, assistant professor of fine arts at Weitzman, offered Charles, (2020) a portrait of the filmmaker Charles Burnett, whose groundbreaking film Killer of Sheep, (1978) focuses on what Hartt describes as “the lives of working-class black folk in Watts,” the Los Angeles neighborhood where rebellion erupted in 1965 following a confrontation between a Black motorist and white police officers. Hartt explains, “I made the image in February while in Los Angeles working on a commission for the Museum of Modern Art. The subject of my film is Watts, and Charles both appears in and narrates it.”

Of his motivation for donating his work, Hartt says the project was “an outlet to contribute meaningfully towards some kind of change and to support the people on the frontlines really risking their health and welfare for a cause they believe in.”

Like Hartt, Sharon Hayes, professor of fine arts at Weitzman, found agency in the opportunity to contribute to the Art for Philadelphia initiative. “I don’t think political change moves progressively on its own,” she says. “We are all participating in this moment of political change, the question for us singularly and in collective affiliation is how are we participating, what are we doing, what choices do we make.”

Hayes selected Shirley Chisholm as the subject of her work. In 1968, Chisholm became the first Black woman elected to Congress, representing New York’s 12th congressional district in the House, and she ran for president of the United States in 1972. “I’m invested in her candidacy for the extraordinary and lasting material change it produced and also for what could have been had any number of conditions been different and had any number of people made a different set of choices in that election,” says Hayes. “To recognize that what could have been is also to invest in what can be.”

Onli’s collaborators in organizing Art for Philadelphia include her ICA colleagues Caitlin Palmer and Robert Chaney; Maori Karmael Holmes, mediamaker-in-residence at the Annenberg School; and Marco Kane Braunschweiler and River Jukes Hudson.

Art for Philadelphia launched on Wednesday, June 3, and within 24 hours had raised $40,000 for the Fund. While the project will continue until July 4, a number of prints have already sold out.