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Four PennDesign Faculty Members and Alumni Earn Prestigious Pew Center Grants

PhiladelphiaUniversity of Pennsylvania School of Design faculty members Sharon Hayes, Ken Lum and Brian Phillips (MArch’96), along with alumna Kelsey Halliday Johnson (MFA’12), have received funding from the Pew Center for Arts & Heritage for new research and public programs dealing with subjects ranging from sexuality in America and pioneering female artists of the 20th century to Philadelphia’s historic row houses and monumentality in the civic sphere.

“The talented artists and dynamic organizations that make up our 2016 grantees will enhance the cultural life of the region with exciting new projects and rich artistic voices,” said Paula Marincola, the Center’s executive director. The Center is a multi-disciplinary grant-maker and hub for knowledge-sharing, funded by the Pew Charitable Trusts, and dedicated to fostering a vibrant cultural community in Greater Philadelphia.

Associate Professor of Fine Arts Sharon Hayes received a $75,000 Pew Fellowship. Hayes employs various mediums—including video, performance, installation, and photography—to probe the complex intersections of history, politics, and speech within private and public spaces. Her current large-scale project, Ricerche, began in 2013 and uses a series of single-channel video, photo, projection, and performance installations for an inquiry into sexuality in contemporary America.

Curator and alumna Kelsey Halliday Johnson (MFA’12) received a $60,000 grant to present the exhibition Making/Breaking the Binary: Women, Art, & Technology 1970-1985, surveying a generation of pioneering female artists and relating their work to the technology innovators who helped shape the information age. The exhibition will include visual artists Jennifer Bartlett and Lynda Benglis, and video and media art pioneers Sonia Landy Sheridan, Joan Jonas, Lynda Benglis, Shigeko Kubota, and Dara Birnbaum.

Philadelphia Mural Arts received a $300,000 grant for Monument Lab: A Citywide Public Art and History Exhibition, which is co-produced by Professor of Fine Arts Ken Lum. Monument Lab builds on a 2015 public-art project curated by Lum, Paul Farber, and A. Will Brown that was also supported by the Center and featured an installation by the late artist and PennDesign Professor of Fine Arts Terry Adkins. The next phase will feature a series of five temporary public artworks, created by artists Ai Weiwei, Zoe Strauss, Kara Crombie, Kaitlin Pomerantz, and Alexander Rosenberg, exploring the question “What is an appropriate monument for the current city of Philadelphia?”

Architect and alumnus Brian Phillips (MArch’96), Lecturer in the Department of Architecture and Principal at Interface Studio Architects, received a $60,000 grant for a yearlong project that will survey and document fifteen Philadelphia row houses, as well as the families and stories within them, across five different neighborhoods selected by distinct phases of city development over the past two hundred years. An exhibition slated for Fall 2017 will allow visitors to experience the diverse and nuanced histories of communities through the lens of individual homes and their physical and social transformations and adaptations through time. Phillips is founding Principal at ISA (Interface Studio Architects), a design and research office engaged with projects in cities across the U.S., and with offices in Philadelphia and Cambridge; he teaches a graduate urban housing studio at PennDesign.

2016 grantees were announced and honored on Monday, June 13, 2016, in a celebration at Christ Church Neighborhood House that brought together over 140 representatives of the Philadelphia region’s leading arts and cultural organizations, artists, and civic leaders.

About PennDesign

PennDesign is an inventive place of learning where the many fields of architecture, planning, preservation, landscape and the fine arts come together on shared ground. At PennDesign, we are dedicated to design that is creative in nature and transformative in impact. In a collaborative environment that fosters inquiry and experimentation, faculty and students seek to recast the distinction between theory and practice, expand knowledge and invention through research, and contribute works of value and beauty.

Media Contact: Michael Grant, mrgrant@design.upenn.edu, 215.898.2539.