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NLM Announces Amibitious Summer Exhibition, In Pursuit: Artists’ Perspectives on a Nation, Opening May 10

NLM Announces Amibitious Summer Exhibition, In Pursuit: Artists’ Perspectives on a Nation, Opening May 10

Beginning May 10, National Liberty Museum (NLM) (321 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19106) hosts an ambitious multi-media exhibition, In Pursuit: Artists’ Perspectives on a Nation, curated by Philadelphia Sculptors. The exhibition features sculptures and large-scale installations by seven internationally acclaimed artists displayed across three of NLM’s four floors.  In Pursuit: Artists’ Perspectives on a Nation is on display at NLM from May 10 to October 28, 2024.

In Pursuit serves as a form of civic dialogue, delving into the rich complexity of the American story while acknowledging the many perspectives and journeys that have shaped it.

“NLM looks forward to inspiring thoughtful conversations on the important issues highlighted by this exhibition,” said Dr. Alaine K. Arnott, CEO of NLM. “Each exhibition NLM hosts brings together voices from varying perspectives, fostering a museum culture that values free thought, civic dialogue, and respect for all. In Pursuit offers a unique opportunity to explore liberty through the perspectives of seven internationally renowned artists and to witness art’s role in civil discourse.”

For the exhibition, Philadelphia Sculptors selected works by cross-disciplinary artist Anila Quayyum Agha, sculptor Angel Cabrales, multi-disciplinary artist Nicholas Galanin, visual artist Arghavan Khosarvi, social practice and fiber artist Arem Han Sifuentes, multi-disciplinary artist Artur Silva, and multi-media project-based artist Marisa Williamson.
Philadelphia Sculptors President Leslie Kaufman and Vice President Elaine Crivelli first approached the museum about hosting In Pursuit following a visit to NLM in 2022. They recognized NLM as a great partner for companion programming for broadening and deepening the dialogues on liberty evoked by the artists’ work.“Our curatorial goal was to research and identify internationally recognized artists who could bring diverse cultural, ethnic, and geographic perspectives on America, whose artworks examine current social, cultural, and political issues and raise important questions,” said Crivelli. “NLM is a natural host for these installations and sculptures given its history of presenting thoughtful exhibitions that invite audiences to consider the various intersections of art and liberty.”

As In Pursuit: Artists’ Perspective on a Nation unfolds, visitors are immersed in a compelling narrative that encourages reflection and dialogue, catharsis and healing, fostering a profound cultural understanding and bearing witness to the power of art as a catalyst for positive change. 

Additionally, the museum will present a series of in-person and virtual programs for In Pursuit, including performances, talks, artist-led community events, and panel discussions with historians and thought leaders on issues raised by the artworks. These programs provide opportunities for the widest cross-section of people living in or visiting Philadelphia to engage in the featured artwork. Visitors can view the latest upcoming events and engagements on NLM’s website.

To celebrate the opening of the exhibition, NLM will host a Community Open House on Saturday, May 11, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The event will feature pay-what-you-wish admission and include creative activities for visitors of all ages. 

In Pursuit is a reflection on a nation that is continuously shaped and enriched by its people, inviting viewers to imagine a shared future that honors the sanctity of one and dignity of all. The powerful collection examines themes of justice, freedom, human rights, cultural identity and belonging, exploring and expanding on our understanding of America’s past and present.

The Artist & Featured Artwork:

Immigration is among the many subjects examined in the exhibition. Pakistani-American cross-disciplinary artist Anila Quayyum Agha contributed a stunning installation titled This Is Not A Refuge, which has a light in a laser-cut, resin-coated aluminum shelter casting elaborate shadows. The shelter beckons like a mirage, beautiful from afar, shining warmth and welcoming travelers to safety, but doesn’t offer protection from the elements, privacy, or even an entrance. Agha also incorporates a looping bed of sounds and audio clips of U.S. immigrants and refugees talking about their experiences. The piece reflects on the complex issues resulting from displacement associated with people seeking refuge through immigration.

Similarly, El Paso, Texas-based Latino sculptor Angel Cabrales’s piece examines the discourse often surrounding immigration. The installation is comprised of two pieces. At the center of the tableau is a solid table, strong, imposing, made of steel patterned after the border walls near his home. On top of this table the visitor is invited to play a game, a board game about migration, The Pursuit of Happiness. Patterned after classic American games such as Life, the player goes on a journey using 3D printed pieces representing migrants and their challenges. Surrounding the center are three large projection screens each displaying documentary footage and interviews with residents and migrants speaking in turn about their experiences, A Venture in Migration. The visages of the participants are rotoscoped to hide their identities and add an othering component to their stories. 

Several In Pursuit installations are meant to evoke direct responses or interactions from the viewer in response to historic events from the last few years. In his installation, Neon American Anthem, Alaska-based multi-disciplinary Tlingít and Unangax̂ artist Nicholas Galanin mounts a custom, neon blue sign offering patrons a proclamation and an invitation that reads, “I’ve composed a new American anthem: take a knee and scream until you can’t breathe.” Galanin envisions the work as a participatory performance piece inviting visitors to ring out with sounds of protest, mourning, or celebration. 

Just as Galanin’s neon installation was made in response to the Black Lives Matter movement, Iranian-born, Connecticut-based visual artist Arghavan Khosravi created her artwork following the 2022 Women, Life, Freedom Movement in her home country. Her two paintings, The Dichotomy and The Red Carpet (A Massacre), reflect the footage of the Iranian government’s crackdown on protestors from this time. Khosravi’s paintings approach the subject matter symbolically, weaving multilingual narratives and combining Islamic motifs with surrealist or contemporary visual elements and blending Eastern and Western imagery as they connect to universal messages about human rights. The Flight depicts a striking, larger-than-life portrait of a woman looking upward, drawing the viewer’s attention outside of the composition and, perhaps, toward a brighter future.

Korean American social practice and fiber artist Aram Han Sifuentes submitted a project she initiated in 2023 in response to the rampant gun violence epidemic and escalating hate crimes against Asian Americans. Her piece, Memorial to Gun Violence: An AR-15 was Destroyed to Make this For You is a fabric installation reflecting the constant fear and vigilance some feel in public spaces amidst the ongoing gun crisis. Created in collaboration with her eight-year-old child, I Often Think About How I’ll Stop Bullets from Entering Your Body utilizes oil and charcoal to depict their bodies on paper, flattened and folded to simulate disappearing in the face of an active shooter. 

The fabrics of Han Sifuentes’s installation are dyed with iron and pigment by Thomas Little’s project, A Rural Pen, which is derived from dissolved AR-15 assault rifles. The public is encouraged to share their reflections, experiences, and opinions on gun violence by writing on paper with A Rural Pen inks made from dissolved guns. The messages can then be pinned to the outer yellow layer of the installation using safety pins.

As a Brazilian multi-disciplinary artist based in Indiana, Artur Silva focuses his creative practice on networks of exchange, interrogating both capitalism and imperialist narratives. His In Pursuit installation, All Threats Came in Waves, fills the gallery with several alien but seemingly familiar figures. Locked in identifiable yoga poses, these beings are clothed in vegetation and glow from monitors embedded in their forms and clothing with a jungle background on the gallery walls. On closer inspection, viewers will see the monitors display footage and images that tell a story of subterfuge and secret invasion as the US worked to topple the Brazilian government in the 1960s. It becomes clear that the figures are actually carefully constructed Ghilly Suits, military camouflage used by the military to hide in jungles and engage in guerilla warfare.

Just as her In Pursuit contemporaries apply various mediums to emphasize the narratives in their work, African-American multi-media artist Marisa Williamson devises projects centered around history, race, feminism, and technology. Her installation, Seedbed V, is a ruin. It is a classroom, garden, and bed, with custom-made bags arranged throughout the space that are meant to resemble oversized seeds. Each bag is a “go-bag,” containing supplies and keepsakes in case of an emergency, crisis, or separation. 

Inspired by the legacy of Sally Hemings, Williamson’s latest project is part of an installation and performance series engaging with questions of monument. What is an appropriate moment to this foremother? How can a monument transform and evolve over time? How might a monument serve as a vessel or vehicle for other histories and possible futures?

From April 9 to April 17, NLM will be closed in preparation for In Pursuit: Artists’ Perspectives on a Nation. The Museum reopens on April 18, at which time guests can enjoy pay-what-you-wish admission to view Project Liberty: A Design Challenge, the Flame of Liberty Gallery, and the Heroes from Around The World Gallery. Visitors are invited to stop by and see liberty in action as NLM revitalizes its galleries in preparation for In Pursuit’s opening on May 10. Following the exhibition opening, NLM is excited to introduce Pay-What-You-Wish Wednesdays beginning Wednesday, May 15 until Wednesday, July 31. NLM is open Thursday to Monday, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

About Philadelphia Sculptors
Philadelphia Sculptors is the only professional organization of sculptors in the Philadelphia region. Incorporated in 1997, its mission is to promote contemporary sculpture and serve as an advocate for sculptors by expanding public awareness of the role and value of sculpture within our culture. Since its inception, it has organized numerous indoor and outdoor group exhibitions at both traditional and non- traditional venues and has sponsored programs, conferences, workshops and performances. Membership is open to all. Visit for more information.



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Adults: $12 Seniors (65+): $10 Students (with valid ID): $8 Youth (ages 6–17): $6 Children (under 5): No Charge Museum Members: Free

321 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia PA 19106 (215) 925-2800