In My Little Corner of the World, Anyone Would Love You, 2016, by Sharon Hayes. Performers, from left to right: Jeannine Betu Kayembe and Karl Surkan. 5-Channel HD video, color, sound, installation. Dimensions variable.
Weitzman Faculty, Staff Featured in New PMA Exhibition
Six faculty, staff, and alums from the Department of Fine Arts at the Weitzman School are featured in a new exhibition at the Philadelphia Museum of Art opening this week. The show, New Grit: Art & Philly Now, is the first exhibition in a new set of galleries that are being opened as part of the renovation of the museum’s Main Building, according to a PMA press release. Focused on local artists and their relationship to the city, the exhibition will feature work by 25 artists, including Professor of Fine Arts Sharon Hayes, Carrafiell Assistant Professor in Fine Arts David Hartt, and Marilyn Jordan Taylor Presidential Professor and Chair of Fine Arts Ken Lum. Also included in the show are Micah Danges, a color assurance specialist in the Silverstein Photography Center; Jane Irish, former Graduate Fine Arts coordinator; and alum Wilmer Wilson (MFA‘15).
The show was conceived and designed to “examine in new and striking ways how artists tackle the complexities of being and belonging, connectedness and community in our 21st-century world,” according to the PMA. Hayes says she was approached about contributing to the show after having Erica Battle, one of the exhibition’s curators, in for a studio visit a few years ago. Originally from Baltimore, Hayes moved to Philadelphia five years ago to join the faculty at Penn after spending much of her career in New York.
“The foundation of the show is about exhibiting a constellation of artists who have a shared or overlapping relationship to the city,” Hayes says. “We do not have the same relationship to the city … From the get-go it was about gathering together a field of artists for whom Philadelphia is in some ways a powerful context.”
Hayes’s contribution is a video installation called In My Little Corner of the World, Anyone Would Love You. The piece, the first that Hayes created after moving to Philadelphia, features 13 local performers reading letters from “lesbian, feminist and proto trans and queer newsletters and small-run magazines in the US and the UK from 1955-1977.” Hayes says the work considers letters to and from readers in editors published in those magazines as a site of political production, and an effort to allow for the self-narration of queer lives in an era when psychologists categorized queerness as a pathology. The piece was shot in Philadelphia and informed by Hayes’s early experience in the city, she says.
“It’s a real privilege and an honor to show in the city that I’m living in,” Hayes says.
New Grit: Art & Philly Now is on display from May 7–August 22, 2021, at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.