Art & Culture

  • weemsbanner2

Do/Tell: Student Curating at Penn's Institute of Contemporary Art

  • Spiegel Seminar thumb
Next Story Previous Story

Do/Tell: Student Curating at Penn's Institute of Contemporary Art

By Virginia Seymour.

“Home for me is both the mysterious and mythic—the known and the unknown.” — Carrie Mae Weems

Rarely, if ever, do undergraduates get the chance to curate exhibitions at major museums. In the History of Art Department at Penn, however, the practice is commonplace, with several classes culminating in a public exhibition every year. This year, ARTH 388: Spiegel-Wilks Seminar in Contemporary Art curated a show at Penn’s Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA). Taking ICA’s 1994 exhibition Carrie Mae Weems as a point of departure, our class formed a show around the idea of storytelling and home. We had the unique opportunity of working directly with several of the artists to commission new works and working alongside the ICA staff to develop every aspect of the show from development to programming.

Do/Tell is a group exhibition that explores how ideas of home and family are constructed through the act of storytelling. It features installation, film, photography, and an archival presentation by four artists, as well as a dynamic program of conversations, screenings, writing workshops, and gatherings. Organized by the students in the Spiegel-Wilks Seminar in Contemporary Art at the University of Pennsylvania, the project stems from their research on ICA’s presentation of the 1994 exhibition Carrie Mae Weems.

Do/Tell opens Wednesday, April 22nd with an opening celebration from 6:00–9:00pm, followed by a conversation with the artists on Thursday, April 23rd at 6:30pm. Visit to explore the summer programming hosted in the gallery. Do/Tell runs April 22–August 16, 2015.


    • dotell1
    • Akosua Adoma Owusu, Kwaku Ananse, 2013, HD film, color, sound, 25 min. Film still courtesy of the artist and Obibini Pictures.

    • dotell2
    • Rachelle Mozman, La Negra y su Pequeña, 2014 (detail). Courtesy of the artist.

    • dotell3
    • Erin Bernard, documentation of Storytelling Block Party in the Kensington section of Philadelphia, 2014. Photo: Meghann Hickson.

  • Previous
  • Next

The artists:

Erin Bernard (born 1985, Marlton, NJ; lives New Jersey) received her BA in Journalism and an MA in History from Temple University. She is an artist and public historian, and the creator of the Philadelphia Public History Truck: a mobile museum dedicated to preserving the story of Philadelphia and its people. She is a former member of Little Berlin, an artist-run collective and gallery in North Philadelphia. She has exhibited at the Asian Arts Initiative, and the Fairmount Water Works FLOW Festival, both in Philadelphia. Bernard is currently Adjunct Professor of History at Moore College of Art and Design.

Heather Hart (born 1975; Seattle; lives New York) received her BFA from Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle, Washington and her MFA from Rutgers University in New Jersey. Hart works primarily with large-scale interactive installations. In 2008, she participated in the Whitney Museum of American Art’s Independent Study Program. She has exhibited at The Museum of Modern Art PS1 in New York (2010), the Studio Museum in Harlem (2012) and the Brooklyn Museum (2014) among others. She has received grants and fellowships from the Joan Mitchell Foundation, the Jerome Foundation, the Fine Art Work Center, and the Awesome Foundation.

Rachelle Mozman (born 1972, New York; lives New York) received an MFA from the Tyler School of Art at Temple University. Mozman works in both video and photography. She has had solo shows at Arteconsult in Panama City (2010), the Camera Club of New York (2013), and the Voelker Orth Museum in Flushing, New York (2014) among others. Mozman has also exhibited at The Studio Museum in Harlem (2012), the Pérez Art Museum Miami (2014), the National Portrait Gallery in Washington D.C. (2014), and the National Hispanic Cultural Center in Albuquerque, New Mexico (2015). In 2012, she was a finalist in the 86th International Competition in Photography in Philadelphia, and from 2013-2014, she was an artist-in-residence at Workspace, part of the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council.

Akosua Adoma Owusu (born 1985, Alexandria, Virginia; lives Alexandria, Virginia and Accra, Ghana) received her BA in Media Studies and Art from the University of Virginia and an MFA in Film/Video and Fine Art from the California Institute of the Arts. Primarily a filmmaker, her work has been screened at major international film festivals including Cannes, BFI London Film Festival, Berlin International Film Festival, and the New York African Film Festival. Owusu has had solo presentations at the Anacostia Arts Center in Washington, D.C. (2013), and Anthology Film Archives in New York (2014) and has also participated in group exhibitions at the Studio Museum in Harlem (2012) and Prospect 3, New Orleans (2014). In 2010, she established Obibini Pictures, a production company in Ghana dedicated to producing alternative African films for international markets.

Student curators: Isaac Kaplan, Erich Kessel, Alyssa Laverda, Martyna Majewska, Laurissa Papillion, Kimberly Schreiber, Virginia Seymour, Samantha Sharon, Madeline Smoot, Austin Spence, and Chiara Stein.

Instructors: Associate Professor Gwendolyn DuBois Shaw and ICA Whitney-Lauder Curatorial Fellow Liz Park.

    • dotellcomposite

Virginia Seymour is a BA candidate in Art History at the University of Pennsylvania. She is interested in the intersection of art and gender theory in Near Eastern art. On campus, she is the associate coordinator of the Robinson letterpress, a production assistant at Penn Press, and is on the design staff at Kelly Writers House. In her free time, she enjoys cooking, practicing yoga, and exploring food in Philadelphia.  

Top banner: ARTH 388 research trip to Prospect.3 in New Orleans.