Project grants and faculty awards from the Pew Center for Arts & Heritage

  Rachel Zolf, Ken Lum, and David Hartt

Three Penn faculty have each been awarded one of 12 fellowships funded by the Pew Center for Arts & Heritage in Philadelphia. In addition, three Penn centers and a professor were each chosen to receive Pew project grants. Another project will be installed at Penn. 

Artists Ken Lum and David Hartt of the School of Design and poet Rachel Zolf of the Department of English in the School of Arts and Sciences were named Pew Fellows.

PennDesign, Penn Libraries, and Penn’s Institute of Contemporary Art were each awarded one of the 33 project grants. In addition, visual artist Hartt was commissioned to create an installation for a project-grant recipient. Another grant is to fund an artistic installation at the Pennovation Center

The Pew Fellowships provide awards of $75,000 to individual artists from all disciplines, including music, visual art, film, poetry, dance, and theater. 

Lum is a professor and the chair of PennDesign’s Fine Arts Department. He works across mediums, including painting, sculpture, and photography. He co-conceived and co-curated “Monument Lab: A Citywide Public Art and History Exhibition,” presented by Mural Arts Philadelphia in 2016. “What is at stake in my work is building an artistic language that can be a model for a global artist,” he says. “I like to think that through my practices I am theorizing many aspects of the world.”

Hartt is an assistant professor of fine arts at PennDesign. His multidisciplinary work in photography, sculpture, installation, and digital film considers the history of social and cultural ideals in relation to the built environment. His work is exhibited in museums across the country. “I want to make work that addresses power and pride and grief and desire and confusion and community and celebration and abandonment and a wandering itinerant solitude,” he says. “I want to hold all of these things together.” 

Zolf is a lecturer at Penn, teaching English courses including “Across Forms: Art and Writing” through the Creative Writing Program. She also has developed community writing projects for Penn's Kelly Writers House. Her poetry and art videos explore memory, history, ethics, and the limits of language. The author of  five books of poetry, her in-progress work, "A Language No One Speaks: The Dangerous Perhaps of Monstrous Witness," entwines her study of philosophy and poetry. “At the center of my work is a preoccupation with responsibility and response-ability,” she says, “how we are born into relation and the potential to bear witness to one another."

Project grants for public events, exhibitions, and performances are awarded in amounts as much as $300,000, with an additional percentage for general operating costs. The grants are designed to support exceptional cultural programs and experiences presented by Philadelphia-area artists and organizations, for a wide range of audiences.

Hartt was commissioned by project-grant recipient, Beth Sholom Synagogue Preservation Foundation, to create a site-responsive, multimedia installation at the synagogue, a Frank Lloyd Wright-designed National Historic Landmark, in Elkins Park, Pa. Comprising video, sculpture, music, performance, and other elements, the project will offer ways to experience and interpret an active space of faith. Hartt says he often engages with architecture in his work, which “explores how historic ideas and ideals persist or transform over time.”

The Institute of Contemporary Art’s project will examine the history, present, and future of blackness in America in a three-part, multidisciplinary exhibition, “Colored People Time: Mundane Futures, Quotidian Pasts, and Banal Presents.” The exhibition will feature the work of artists Carolyn Lazard, a Penn master’s of fine arts student in the Class of 2019, as well as Cameron Rowland, Sable Elyse Smith, and Martine Syms. 

PennDesign will present “Design With Nature Now” to highlight dynamic and visionary approaches to landscape design and development in the face of climate change and urbanization. The main exhibition in the Meyerson Hall galleries will document 26 built and unbuilt projects in which cities and regions are being designed with nature and landscape-related issues in mind. Two parallel exhibitions presented will be “Ian McHarg: Changing Landscape” in the Kroiz Gallery on the life and work of the architect and Penn professor; and “A Book of Days” at the Arthur Ross Gallery, which will feature a multimedia installation by landscape architect and visual artist Laurel McSherry, an affiliated faculty with Penn’s McHarg Center. The project is based on McHarg’s pioneering book, “Design With Nature,” published in 1969.

Penn Libraries will offer “Whitman at 200: Art and Democracy,” a region-wide series of cultural events designed to reassess poet Walt Whitman and his impact on art and society, on the occasion of his 200th birthday. This project will situate Whitman in Philadelphia and its neighborhoods, and will connect him to the life and art of the city, then and now. Cultural events across the region will include exhibitions at the Libraries, a tribute performance by singer-songwriter and poet Patti Smith, four newly commissioned works by Philadelphia artists Carolyn Healy and John Phillips, and performances by The Bearded Ladies Cabaret, among others. 

The Pennovation Center will be the home of an installation that will recreate the home-based artistic laboratory of musician Milford Graves through the grant awarded to the Ars Nova Workshop. The project, “Milford Graves: A Mind-Body Deal,” will be a living, interactive theater that the artist will occupy in a residency as he engages with the public. Graves, considered an icon of the free jazz movement, is best known as a drummer who has recorded with many well-known artists. He works in music, visual arts, botany, martial arts, and science. 

Two Penn alumni were among those who received Penn Fellowships: David Ludwig, a contemporary classical music composer who received his Ph.D. in music, and Alex Torra, Class of 2001, who studied theater arts as an undergraduate. 

In addition, sound artist Maryanne Amacher, who studied at Penn with composer Karlheinz Stockhausen, will be featured in a project by Bowerbird: “Maryanne Amacher: Making the Third Ear.” The multimedia compositions and large-scale installations of Amacher during her 50-year career will be illuminated through concerts, workshops, and a performance installation.