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Rising Sun: Artists in an Uncertain America
Group Show

140 days to the ending

23 Mar - 23 Oct, 2023

Group Show


PHILADELPHIA – The African American Museum in Philadelphia (AAMP) and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA) have partnered to host the joint exhibition, Rising Sun: Artists in An Uncertain America, which will open on March 23, 2023. Featuring 20 artists at two locations, the exhibition will debut a collection of mixed-media art that responds to the question “is the sun rising or setting on the experiment of American democracy?”

Curated collaboratively by AAMP and PAFA, Rising Sun is inspired by two independent references of the metaphorical rising sun of America.///


One from Benjamin Franklin during the 1787 Constitutional Convention where he famously contemplated whether the sun carved in George Washington’s chair was rising or setting and is reported to have said at the end of the Convention, “…But now at length I have the happiness to know that it is a rising and not a setting sun.”

More than 100 years later, the symbol of the rising sun appeared again and lives on in James Weldon Johnson’s poem and hymn “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” also known as the “The Black National Anthem,” in the line “…Facing the rising sun of our new day begun, let us march on ‘till victory is won.”

"The exhibition challenges racial assumptions and also assesses the beauty of what this country could be if we dared to place our collective past under a microscope,” said Dejay Duckett, Vice President of Curatorial Services at AAMP.

“The Rising Sun artists provoke us to think deeply about where the country is today and what we value about democracy both as individuals and as members of a community,” said Judith Tannenbaum, Project Curator at PAFA.

“Franklin’s question is as relevant and resonant today as it was 235 years ago. Despite the undeniably divisive state of the country today, the fact that we are grappling with Franklin’s question provides a glimmer of hope as we move forward.”

Rising Sun invites guests to join the artists in exploring the themes, issues, and realities of the question – is the sun rising or setting on the experiment of American democracy? –  through an immersive art experience.

The multi-venue exhibition will feature audio recordings, visual projections, full gallery installations, sculptures, and large-scale paintings, drawings, and prints.

The exhibit will feature commissioned work from esteemed artists John Akomfrah CBE, La Vaughn Belle, Mark Thomas Gibson, Martha Jackson Jarvis, Demetrius Oliver, Dread Scott, Renée Stout, Hank Willis Thomas, and Deborah Willis at AAMP; and Shiva Ahmadi, Tiffany Chung, Lenka Clayton, Petah Coyne, Eamon Ore-Giron, Dyani White Hawk, Alison Saar, Rose B. Simpson, Sheida Soleimani, Wilmer Wilson IV, and Saya Woolfalk at PAFA.

At AAMP, the exhibition will be featured throughout the entire museum, utilizing each of its four existing gallery spaces, while at PAFA the exhibition will be hosted in the Historic Landmark Building, which was emptied for the first time in 50 years for this exhibition.





Installation view