Philadelphia Museum of Art Recommits to its Hometown With New Exhibition

Walls of Change, a 128-foot-long acrylic-latex mural by Nigerian-American painter Odili Donald Odita, was com­missioned by the Philadelphia Museum of Art for “New Grit: Art & Philly Now,” running May 7 to August 22.  Photography by Timothy Tiebout/Courtesy of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2021, Odili Donald Odita, and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York.

Emerging from a major, Frank Gehry–led renovation, the Philadelphia Museum of Art recommits in a big way to the artists and culture of its hometown with “New Grit: Art & Philly Now,” an exhibition featuring 25 of the city’s key creators in all media, from painting, sculpture, and photography to ceramics, fiber, and video. The spring/summer show inaugurates a new set of galleries for modern and contemporary works, none more up-to-the-minute than the pieces in “New Grit,” some of which were produced during the pandemic. Among them are five commissioned works, including Walls of Change, a mural by Nigeria-born Odili Donald Odita. Currently a professor of painting at the Tyler School of Art and Architecture, Odita is a subtle colorist who explores how palette can impart meaning and induce powerful social and political associations. Flanking an airy, light-filled hallway, the vivid geometric composition is a response to seeing the museum’s famous steps be­come a site for Black Lives Matter protests last sum­mer, when the demonstrators, as Odita puts it, “activated their ideas with the building, using it as a backdrop to speak to the world.” 

Photography by Timothy Tiebout/Courtesy of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2021, Odili Donald Odita, and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York.

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