The Sachs Program for Arts Innovation and Past Present Projects are pleased to present Bliss Consciousness, an exhibition of paintings by Philadelphia artist Mikel Elam.
Presented in The Arts Lounge at the Annenberg Center, October 10, 2023–February 18, 2024, Bliss Consciousness was produced in partnership with Penn Live Arts at the University of Pennsylvania.
Please join us for an opening celebration reception on Tuesday, October 10, from 5:00–7:00 PM. Additional programming will be announced during the run of the exhibition.
About the Exhibition
Mikel Elam is a visual artist who interweaves themes of history and futurism through expressive mixed-media paintings. Bliss Consciousness brings together recent works that connect Elam’s interests in mindfulness, Afrofuturism, and an overarching philosophy of love. Elam’s figurative imagery often begins with photographic inspiration. Subjects become abstracted through his process of layering, erasing, deconstructing, and reimagining imagery. He builds interdimensional worlds around the characters in his paintings, suggesting narratives through paint and collage.
Elam’s paintings convey his belief in cultural unity. His imagery simultaneously celebrates the beauty of dark skin while emphasizing the humanity of his subjects over physical traits. These figures are grounded in reality but transcend everyday consciousness. In the artist’s words, his paintings “evoke memories of the past with a glimpse into an inclusive future.”
Bliss Consciousness is curated by Heather Moqtaderi of Past Present Projects, a project of CultureTrust Greater Philadelphia.
This exhibition was made possible with support from The Sachs Program for Arts Innovation at the University of Pennsylvania and was produced by The Sachs Program in partnership with Penn Live Arts.
About the Artist
Mikel Elam is a visual artist working primarily as a painter. His work focuses on storytelling through memory and dreams, using fragments of faces and figures to convey information and ideals about world culture.
Mikel attended the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. After receiving a Bachelor’s degree in Studio Arts/Painting, he would study at the School of Visual Arts in New York City. Mikel’s work has been featured in international publications and media. He also worked as a traveling assistant to Jazz musician Miles Davis. He also assisted Mr. Davis in achieving his visual arts aspirations as a painter.
About the Curator
Past Present Projects (PPP) fosters the development of culturally inclusive site narratives and supports artists through funded, site-responsive exhibition opportunities. PPP believes that historic sites are potent community resources, and the best way to preserve them is to engage audiences within these resonant spaces. PPP values open-minded approaches to problem solving and artistic production, diversity of thought in decision-making and program planning, and expansive attitudes toward the integration of art in everyday life.
To read an interview with Mikel Elam and to learn more about Past Present Projects, visit pastpresentprojects.org.
The Arts Lounge
The Arts Lounge at the Annenberg Center is located on the University of Pennsylvania campus at 3680 Walnut Street in Philadelphia. Visitors can view exhibitions at The Arts Lounge during Penn Live Arts box office hours, Monday–Friday, 11 AM–4 PM, and anytime the Annenberg Center is open for performances and programs.
Blissed Consciousness: Paintings by Mikel Elam is presented by The Sachs Program for Arts Innovation and Past Present Projects, and produced in partnership with Penn Live Arts. It is the fourth exhibition to be featured in the Annenberg Center’s Arts Lounge, a new hub for the creative community at Penn.
Exhibition graphic design by Giselle Marie Media.