Over $500,000 in competitive grants from The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage will support new initatives by PennDesign and its faculty to study and expand the practice of design in the 21st century.
PennDesign earned a $300,000 Project grant with an additional percentage for general operating costs for Design With Nature Now, a trio of public exhibitions which will highlight dynamic and visionary approaches to landscape design and development in the face of climate change and urbanization, scheduled to go on view in the summer of 2019. Ken Lum, professor and chair of the Department of Fine Arts at PennDesign, and David Hartt, assistant professor of fine arts, received Pew Fellowships of $75,000.
Organized by The Ian L. McHarg Center and the Architectural Archives at PennDesign in collaboration with the Arthur Ross Gallery at Penn, Design With Nature Now comprises three parallel exhibitions and related programs focused on expanding the public’s understanding of ecological approaches to design first championed by legendary environmental planner and longtime faculty member Ian L. McHarg. In Design With Nature (1969), McHarg argued that cities and their entire infrastructures should be planned in accordance with how the landscape functions as an ecosystem: design with, not against, the way nature works.
At PennDesign’s Meyerson Galleries, Design With Nature Now will document 26 built and unbuilt projects in which cities and regions are being designed with nature and landscape-related issues in mind. Ian McHarg: Changing Landscape, in the Kroiz Gallery at the Architectural Archives, will draw from extensive archival holdings in PennDesign’s Architectural Archives to tell the story of McHarg’s life and work. A Book of Days, at Arthur Ross Gallery, will feature a multimedia installation by landscape architect and visual artist Laurel McSherry, designed to inspire visitors to think about their everyday landscapes in new and thoughtful ways.
Curated by PennDesign Dean and Paley Professor Fritz Steiner, Professor and Chair of Landscape Architecture Richard Weller, Associate Professor of Landscape Architecture Karen M’Closkey, Architectural Archives Curator and Collections Manager William Whitaker, and McHarg Center Research Coordinator Billy Fleming, the Design With Nature Now exhibitions will complement an international conference at PennDesign and forthcoming publication from The Lincoln Institute of Land Policy.
Working across mediums, including painting, sculpture, and photography, Ken Lum explores the formation of individual and societal identities as they are expressed within the context of public space. Lum was the co-curator, with Paul Farber, of Monument Lab, the citywide art and history project that transformed public spaces across Philadelphia in 2015 and 2017 and attracted international media attention. Lum is planning a project on memory and history using decorative mirrors traditionally found in Chinese restaurants.
David Hartt's multidisciplinary work in photography, sculpture, installation, and digital film considers the history of social and cultural ideals in relation to the built environment. Separate from his individual fellowship, Hartt was also commissioned by the Beth Sholom Synagogue Preservation Foundation, which received a $300,000 Project grant from the Pew Center, to create a site-responsive, multimedia installation at Philadelphia’s Beth Sholom Synagogue, offering new ways to experience and interpret the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed National Historic Landmark.