The Arthur Ross Gallery and Penn Live Arts awarded The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage project grants

Two other project grants to area cultural institutions involve Michelle Lopez of the Weitzman School of Design and alum Kiyoshi Kuromiya.

Paper cut with hand-printed color.
“Girl and the World,” 2022, by Barbara Earl Thomas. (Image: Image credit: Barbara Earl Thomas/Courtesy of Claire Oliver Gallery, New York/Photography by Spike Mafford)

The Arthur Ross Gallery at the University of Pennsylvania and Penn Live Arts have been awarded 2023 project grants by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage. This year the Center has awarded 40 new grants to the Philadelphia region’s cultural organizations and artists: $9 million to 28 Project grant recipients and 12 Pew Fellows. The grants include project funding and general operating support.

“We are very grateful to The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage for its generous support,” says Provost John L. Jackson Jr. “The expressive work and collaboration represented in these projects not only bring the work of Rennie Harris and Barbara Earl Thomas to our campus but also provide opportunities for meaningful community engagement, building upon the vital cultural landscape at Penn and in Philadelphia.”

The Arthur Ross Gallery was awarded a grant of $240,500 to support the exhibition “Barbara Earl Thomas: The Illuminated Body” and a series of major programs organized for the exhibition. The exhibition, on view at the Arthur Ross Gallery from Feb. 17-May 21, 2024, features nine cut-paper portraits honoring Black cultural icons, as well as a new collaboration between artist Barbara Earl Thomas and composer and cellist Seth Parker Woods. The programming will include a presentation of Woods’ “Difficult Grace” at Penn Live Arts Zellerbach Theater, as well as a robust set of community engagement programs.

A five-person dance troupe performing on stage.
Rennie Harris Puremovement in performance. (Image: JHsumedia)

“It is tremendously exciting for the Arthur Ross Gallery to receive its first grant from The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage. We are thrilled to be able support Thomas’ full vision for ‘The Illuminated Body,’ and to present an interwoven creative fabric between the visual arts and performing arts through her collaboration with Seth Parker Woods,” says Emily Zimmerman, interim director of exhibitions and programs at the Arthur Ross Gallery. “We look forward to being able to engage with our community, to realize a high-level collaboration with Penn Live Arts, and to be able to advocate for the arts at Penn.”

Penn Live Arts received a $360,500 grant in support of a three-year residency with Rennie Harris and his company, Rennie Harris Puremovement. Beginning in September 2023, the residency will provide the hip-hop choreographer with a platform to explore his artistic vision and to generate new work commissioned by Penn Live Arts.

“We’re thrilled to have the opportunity to deepen the artistic work we’ve already begun with Rennie Harris,” says Christopher Gruits, Penn Live Arts executive and artistic director. “This new, extended relationship allows us to support the vision of a globally significant Philadelphia artist and partner in the creation of new work, while elevating important and relevant issues for our community. We are deeply grateful to the Center for making this residency possible.”

In addition to the two direct project grants to Penn, two other cultural institutions were awarded grants for projects with ties to Penn. A multimedia installation by artist Michelle Lopez, associate professor in the Weitzman School of Design, will be featured at The Galleries at Moore and the Franklin Institute’s Fels Planetarium, while alum, author, and activist Kiyoshi Kuromiya is the focus of “The Kiyoshi Project” organized at the William Way LGBT Community Center.

Michelle Lopez overseeing her art installation at the ICA.
Michelle Lopez overseeing the installation of “Ballasts & Barricades” at the ICA. (Image: Eric Sucar)