Photo from the Women's Mobile Museum trainings in Philadelphia PA.

WOMEN’S MOBILE MUSEUM

The Women’s Mobile Museum is a social engagement project that partners PPAC with acclaimed South African photographer Zanele Muholi. It includes ten Philadelphia women that have been selected for a paid media arts apprenticeship. The apprenticeship, which marks the first stage of the yearlong project, is designed for women who are interested in media arts and museum studies but have not had access to higher education or professional training. The ten women selected for the apprenticeship in collaboration with Muholi are: Davelle Barnes, Shasta Bady, Latasha Billington, Afaq Mahmoud, Iris Maldonado, Danielle Morris, Shana Roberts, Carrie-Anne Shimborski, Muffy Ashley Torres, and Andrea Walls.

The Women’s Mobile Museum apprentices are diverse in age and background, and hail from many corners of Philadelphia. Each comes to the project with deep curiosity and a passion to study and create art. The apprentices are self-taught photographers, poets, painters, and filmmakers. They include a military veteran; a political organizer; a peer support coach; single mothers and after-school teachers.

The women are poised to make the most out of this opportunity. “The Women’s Mobile Museum feels like acceptance,” explains Afaq Mahmoud, 21, a spoken word poet who came to the United States as a refugee after fleeing violence in Darfur. “I have been left out of arts opportunities. This project is about agency and creating representation for women.”
The women will work from a studio space in PPAC’s building in South Kensington and will act as a collective as they train together and develop a mobile exhibition. “I have been working so long in isolation,” says Andrea Walls, 54, a self-taught visual artist who cites Carrie Mae Weems and Consuelo Kanaga as influences on her work. “I am excited to share a creative space and work with other women.”

The apprenticeship training, which launched on February 6, 2018, will focus on photography, video production, museum studies and visual literacy, but will also touch on topics such as writing, public speaking, graphic design and art history. The intensive training extends through April. In May, the apprentices will become collaborators when Muholi begins work directly with the group in an exploration of self-­portraiture. Muholi is a self-described “visual activist” whose work in documenting the experience of lesbian, gay, transgender and intersex people in South Africa has recently shifted to include self-portraits that examine her own place in history and culture. She sees self-portraiture as a pathway to loving and respecting oneself. Muholi and the women will also create and print photographs of at least 10 women in their lives. Through this, Muholi hopes the group will build a community of support and develop a deeper understanding of the identity politics of representation.

In September and October of 2018, the Mobile Museum itself will take shape as an exhibition that re-imagines the social hierarchies inherent in the institutional model of museums. The Museum will tour two community centers in Philadelphia: Diversified Community Services in Point Breeze and Juniata Action Committee in Juniata Park. Visitors will be invited to engage with the core participants in a dialogue about the exhibition, which asks viewers to re-­‐consider their preconceived notions of women’s bodies, roles, and identities in an exhibition space.

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Somnyama 1, Paris, 2014 by Zanele Muholi

In early 2019, a culminating exhibition will be presented in the PPAC gallery, showcasing the complete body of work produced by Muholi and her collaborating participants. The works that traveled in the Women’s Mobile Museum will be sequenced and contextualized for the gallery space, alongside video and other documentation of the entire process that began in February.

With the Women’s Mobile Museum, PPAC addresses the issues that affect women’s inclusion in the larger dialogue surrounding contemporary art, allowing them to redefine and reclaim their place in the socio-­‐ economic construct of the art world.

Learn more about the individual women here!

For questions, please contact Lori Waselchuk at lori@philaphotoarts.org.


 

Major support for the WOMEN’S MOBILE MUSEUM has been provided by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage, with additional support from the William Penn Foundation and the VIA Art Fund.

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The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage is a multidisciplinary grantmaker and hub for knowledge-sharing, funded by The Pew Charitable Trusts, and dedicated to fostering a vibrant cultural community in Greater Philadelphia. The Center fulfills this mission by investing in ambitious, imaginative projects that showcase the region’s cultural vitality and enhance public life, and by engaging in an exchange of ideas concerning artistic and interpretive practice with a broad network of cultural practitioners and leaders. For more information, visit www.pcah.us.

The William Penn Foundation, founded in 1945 by Otto and Phoebe Haas, is dedicated to improving the quality of life in the Greater Philadelphia region through efforts that increase educational opportunities for children from low-income families, ensure a sustainable environment, foster creativity that enhances civic life, and advance philanthropy in the Philadelphia region. In partnership with others, the Foundation works to advance opportunity, ensure sustainability, and enable effective solutions. Since inception, the Foundation has made nearly 10,000 grants totaling over $1.6 billion.

VIA Art Fund is a non-profit organization where art patrons join forces as partners in a new model of philanthropy to support Visionary Initiatives in Art.


Press for the Women’s Mobile Museum

‘Who Is Art?’ asks the Women’s Mobile Museum, The Temple News. June 6, 2018.

Zanele Muholi and the Women’s Mobile Museum, Artblog Radio Interview. May 15, 2018.