Join the arts community at the University of Pennsylvania as we safely welcome back the public for a season of exhibitions, performances, new public art, and visiting artists. A range of artists will be featured across campus including Amitav Ghosh, Ulysses Jenkins, Simone Leigh, Roberto Lugo, Maya Lin, Maceo Parker, Arthur Tress, and many more.
To keep up to date with the arts at Penn, sign up for The Sachs Program for Arts Innovation Newsletter. We publish a regular rundown of the latest performances, talks, workshops, and notable news in the arts at Penn. We also recently produced a brochure highlighting the year’s top events. You may have seen it in your print edition of the New York Times or around campus. If not, below is a snapshot of what’s happening at Penn this year.
For more information on current University of Pennsylvania campus pandemic safety measures please visit coronavirus.upenn.edu.
Fall 2021 Arts at Penn
The ICA is currently presenting the first career retrospective of seminal filmmaker Ulysses Jenkins. Ulysses’s raw and electric videos captured a unique moment in LA’s divergent contemporary art scene when artists increasingly challenged assumptions about race and gender and celebrated the power of ritual, history, and rebellion. The show will travel to the Hammer in LA in the spring.
Currently on view at the Penn Museum is The Stories We Wear, a 2500-year retrospective of styles and objects. From Pre-Columbian Panamanian jewelry and 16th century Nepalese royal ornaments to the sartorial splendor of Princess Kelly and Marian Anderson, it is a range of styles and times. The museum also recently unveiled a major transformation of its Main Entrance Hall and three of its collections — the Africa Galleries, the Middle East Galleries, and the Mexico and Central America Gallery.
WXPN, one of the country’s top public radio stations, continues its excellent program series, following up to 2019’s Gospel Roots of Rock & Soul series with an extended series of podcasts, performances, and special events focused on the lesser-known history of Haiti cultural impact on the music of New Orleans. Check out Kanaval: Haitian Rhythms & the Music of New Orleans.
The Weitzman School of Design continues its ongoing Fine Arts Lecture Series with talks and performances by Mingwei Lee, Fia Backstrom, Post Commodity, Candice Lin, Pepón Orosio, Gordon Hall, David R. Harper, and Diamond Stingily. One of the newest centers at Penn, the Center for Experimental Ethnography (CEE), presents a series of talks and fellows under the theme of hyper-fictions/hyper-realism. Featured fellows include Cristiana Giordan, Greg Pierotti, Ricardo Bracho, and writer Amitav Ghosh.
The Wolf Humanities Center explores migration—from the dispersal of early humans to the mass flows of people seeking a better life today, migration is central to the human experience and the source of much innovation, art, and literature. Lectures and performances include Composer Ania Vu, author Viet Thanh Nguyen, and others.
Penn Live Arts is back in swing after a quiet year in 2020. Their renowned dance series returns in November with Dorrance Dance, featuring MacArthur Fellow Michelle Dorrance leading her ensemble through a holiday series featuring Duke Ellington’s interpretation of Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite. Jazz is the Penn Live Arts’ other legendary series, and it kicks off this year with Cécile McLorin Salvant, “The finest jazz singer to emerge in the last decade,” (The New York Times). The season continues with Nickel Creek singer Chris Thile, The Crossing at Christmas, and Harlem Nutcracker.
The Arthur Ross Gallery presents Roberto Lugo, Philadelphia-based artist, ceramicist, social activist, poet, and educator. God Complex: Different Philadelphia is a tour de force, turning the austere galleries into a melange of graffiti, pottery, and selections from the university collection. Recently featured on CBS Sunday Morning, Roberto’s works are multicultural mash-ups; traditional European and Asian ceramic techniques reimagined with a 21st-century street sensibility.
The Kelly Writers House, Penn’s writers center, presents three new fellows Amitav Ghosh, sound artist Caroline Bergvall, and athlete and sports commentator Doug Glanville. Finally, the Penn Libraries, home to the Marian Anderson archives and a thriving hub for events and activities on campus, recently announced several important new collections, including the photography of Arthur Tress and the archives of renowned children’s book author and illustrator Ashley Bryan.