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Yolanda Wisher, Curator of Spoken Word at Philadelphia Contemporary, Lisa Marie Patzer, video artist in residence at Icebox Project Space, WHYY Black History Month roundup, Plus two great opportunities from Philadelphia Photo Arts Center

Congratulations to Yolanda Wisher and Philadelphia Contemporary, and to Lisa Marie Patzer and Icebox Project Space! These are two great appointments. Philadelphia Photo Arts Center has two great opportunities. And there's more! It's your news, delivered for you, from us. News you can use.



Yoland Wisher. Image by Ryan Collerd
Yolanda Wisher. Image by Ryan Collerd

Philadelphia Contemporary grows as Barra Foundation funds new position – Yolanda Wisher, Curator of Spoken Word.

Following Phila Contemporary’s previous hire of Nato Thompson as Artistic Director, the bringing on of Wisher as Curator of Spoken Word, with its support by Barra, suggests the non-profit presenting organization is building quickly to become a leader in the arts community here. We are excited for this. And on another note, check out a great upcoming Jane Irish installation PC is co-sponsoring with Fairmount Park Conservancy at Lemon Hill historic mansion. More below.

“Yolanda has long been a central figure in Philadelphia’s literary scene, and a leading voice in the performance of poetry as a public art,” says Harry Philbrick, Founding Director of Philadelphia Contemporary. “She is uniquely suited to bring vibrant, engaging, incisive spoken word to the people of Philadelphia.”

The addition of Wisher is indicative of the organization’s continued growth as it expands public programming and moves toward the establishment of a permanent space, and another element of Philadelphia Contemporary’s drive to expand the public’s understanding of art and curating beyond the traditional museum model and established realms of art making. The Curator of Spoken Word will engage the city’s long history of performance with a focus on demystifying contemporary art and breaking down the barriers of genre.

“Philadelphia has one of the most influential poetry and spoken word scenes in the country,” says Wisher. “Philadelphia Contemporary’s interdisciplinary approach makes it the perfect platform for continuing the growth and evolution of these forms, foregrounding the innovative voices in this community, and expanding the reach and bounds of contemporary art in Philadelphia.”

Wisher will collaborate on programming with Artistic Director Nato Thompson, who came to Philadelphia Contemporary from New York City’s Creative Time last October, as well as spearhead her own projects and programs for the organization. Wisher previously curated Philadelphia Contemporary’s Outbound Poetry Festival at 30th Street Station last April.

More about Yolanda Wisher. Yolanda Wisher was the 2016-17 Poet Laureate of Philadelphia. She holds a B.A. in English and Black Studies from Lafayette College and an M.A. in Creative Writing/Poetry from Temple University. At the age of 23, Wisher served as the inaugural Poet Laureate of Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. She is the author of the poetry volume Monk Eats an Afro (Hanging Loose Press, 2014) and co-edited the anthology Peace is a Haiku Song (Philadelphia Mural Arts, 2013) with mentor and first Philadelphia Poet Laureate Sonia Sanchez. Wisher taught high school English for ten years, founded and directed a neighborhood festival headlined by youth poets in the Germantown section of Philadelphia, and worked as Director of Art Education for the Philadelphia Mural Arts. She has led and curated many innovative and community-driven programs with local and national partners, including The Philadelphia Museum of Art, The Rosenbach Museum and Library, Jefferson University, Historic Germantown, LiveConnections, and the U.S. Department of Arts and Culture. In April 2017, in collaboration with Philadelphia Contemporary, she organized the Outbound Poetry Festival, the first pop-up poetry festival in Philadelphia’s 30th Street Station. Wisher performs a unique blend of poetry and song with her band The Afroeaters. A Pew Fellow, Cave Canem Fellow, and Hedgebrook Writer-in-Residence, she is currently the 2017-2018 CPCW Fellow in Poetics and Poetic Practice at the University of Pennsylvania.

More about Philadelphia Contemporary.

​Icebox Project Space selects Lisa Marie Patzer for first video residency. The artist’s proposed work will focus on surveillance. Congratulations!

Via Betty Leacraft, WHYY-TV has a very deep calendar of programs during Black History Month. The lineup includes documentaries, jazz performances and more.


Two from Philadelphia Photo Arts Center

Applications open for 2018-2019 PPAC Artist Residencies. Application deadline April 22, 2018

PPAC’s Artist Residency program assists dedicated, working artists in the continuation of an ongoing project, or the creation of new work. For one month of the artist’s choosing within the residency term of June 1, 2018 – May 1, 2019, PPAC provides a $3,000 honorarium, free usage of their state-of-the-art Artist Lab, a $1,500 credit towards ink and paper fees, and a $1,000 stipend for travel and/or housing, if necessary. In addition to developing and advancing their personal body of work, PPAC Artists in Residence work collaboratively with the organization to design two public events, with the goal of educating and engaging the Greater Philadelphia community. The 2017-2018 Artists in Residence included Steven Beckly of Toronto, Ontario; Paolo Morales of Arlington, Virginia; and Allison Sexton of Philadelphia, PA. To apply, visit here.

Applications open for Annual PPAC Contemporary Photography Competition and Exhibition. Application deadline June 1, 2018

PPAC’s Annual Contemporary Photography Competition & Exhibition gives two artists the opportunity to present their own photographic series concurrently in the PPAC gallery, from April 11, 2019 – May 25, 2019. The selected artists each receive a $5,000 honorarium to assist in the development and production of their show. Understanding that contemporary photography takes many forms, PPAC is open to all digital imaging, film/video, and lens-based installation work. The winners of the 2017 Contemporary Photography Competition & Exhibition were Christine Elfman of Ithaca, NY; and Mark Jayson Quines of San Francisco, CA. Their work is currently on display in the PPAC Gallery.

For more information and to submit, visit here.