Arcadia Exhibitions received a grant from The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage that will support a multifaceted project by award-winning visual artist Polly Apfelbaum, who has accepted a residency with the University’s Ceramics program.
“This is Not a Rug/A Sun Bonnet Woman” will examine the impact of Pennsylvania German craft culture on Apfelbaum's 35-year practice, which fuses painting, craft, and installation informed by her in-depth knowledge of applied arts, art history, and popular culture. Incorporating a variety of materials, Apfelbaum’s work dissolves spatial and temporal boundaries to expand and redefine contemporary art.
Apfelbaum’s residency will culminate in the production of a figurative sculpture based on a painting by artist David Ellinger, who appropriated the motifs and practices of the Pennsylvania Germans. The painting, which still hangs in Apfelbaum’s childhood home in Abington, Pa., depicts a faceless woman watering a sunflower.
“The goal is to interpret the personal as political,” said Apfelbaum. “I'm starting to look back at my own history, where the inspiration came from, and relating my own complicated biography to the complex life of David Ellinger.”
The sculpture, to be produced in collaboration with Professor of Ceramics Gregg Moore, will be contextualized by an installation comprised of a handwoven rug and custom wallpaper. It will be augmented by an exhibition of works by Ellinger, curated by Lisa Minardi, executive director of The Speaker's House in Trappe, Pa. and the Lutheran Archives Center in Philadelphia.
“This is Not a Rug” is the seventh exhibition at Arcadia to be funded by The Pew Center since it began distributing grants in 1998 and the fourth such award to support a solo project by a female artist. The project will be presented across the University’s Spruance, Harrison, and Rosedale galleries in Spring 2021 and accompanied by a publication and a series of public programs.