PAFA’s ‘Art and the Election’ weekend marks one year since the 2016 election

Sometimes following the news feels like this. What do artists have to say? (Benjamin West's 'Death on a Pale Horse' is at PAFA.)

Hard to believe it’s been almost a year since Philadelphians turned out by the thousands to see President Barack Obama and Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton (the line for the Independence Mall rally stretched to Washington Avenue). We voted the next day and watched the American map turn red late that night.

At the one-year anniversary of the 2016 presidential election, both the school and museum at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA) are inviting the public to talk about the artist’s job in the current political climate, “focusing on art, civic engagement and the political process.”

On Friday, November 3, at 6pm, there’ll be “A Forum on Art and the Election” at the Historic Landmark Building. PAFA’s Edna S. Tuttleman director of the museum, Brooke Davis Anderson, will helm a discussion featuring artists Sonya Clark and Amos Paul Kennedy Jr. They’ll explore how artists should respond to political divides and invite answers from the panel and audience. Clark and Kennedy will share how politics relate to their own practice, and Anderson will ask how an institution like PAFA can stay relevant amid it all.

Saturday, November 4, brings a Teen Summit from 10am to 2:30pm, in partnership with the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance and other teen-serving organizations. The Summit promises an interactive session for invited teen leaders, aimed at using arts and culture to bridge political, social, and economic divides.

That afternoon, Clark returns for an interactive performance in the PAFA galleries. For Unraveling, she’ll work alongside visitors to unravel a Confederate battle flag thread by thread, as a metaphor for something we all have to investigate and dismantle.

According to the artist, this encourages us “to think about the complexity of what happened here in this country that gave rise to this flag. It’s not easy for us to undo. It requires community and persistence.”

The weekend will finish with a Family Arts Academy Workshop on November 5 at 2pm, a “participatory print-making workshop” with Kennedy, which will “bring community members together as one voice with many messages.”

The Friday forum, Unraveling, and the Sunday workshop are all free and open to the public, with advance registration recommended. PAFA’s galleries will also be open for free throughout the weekend.